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Growing Pains?

Growth can be a joyful experience. My joyful growth memories include my first motorcycle, earning job promotions, graduating from degree programs, strengthening relationships, buying a home, a happy marriage, and the list goes on. I’m sure you too have plenty of joyful growth memories, memories of transitioning from one way of being to another. Growth can be a painful experience. My painful growth memories include healing after being hit by a car while riding my first motorcycle, eliminating chronic anxiety created by being in foster care, reclaiming missed opportunities, overcoming imposter syndrome, navigating deceitful people, asking for forgiveness, and the list goes on. I’m sure you too have plenty of painful growth memories, memories of transitioning from one way of being to another. However we perceive our growth experiences and however we choose to process and remember them, our transitions follow the universal pattern of order-disorder-reorder. Another way of expressing the human growth experience is: recognizing the ‘what is’ (order), transitioning out of ‘what is’ (disorder), and creating the new ‘what is’ (reorder). The pattern itself is judgment-neutral and shouldn’t be saddled with labels of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ any more than melting ice to water or a pupa’s metamorphosis to butterfly is good or bad. This relentless pattern is simply the transition from one state of being to another.

Nevertheless, like the generations before us we tend to refer to transitions as “growing pains.” We all remember our teenage years, right? That transitional period of disorder between childhood (order) and adulthood (reorder). Some would prefer to spend their whole lives there, for others it was a nightmare. Another example currently unfolding in the United States is the disorder of our cultural relationships. No matter our skin color, gender, age, or any number of immutable characteristics into which we’re each born, most of us are currently trying to transition from the old order of judging each other based on immutable characteristics to the new order of dealing with each other based on individual character. Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied this cultural disorder and growth when he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” How else do we arrive at ‘content of their character’ but through the growth away from ‘color of their skin’? While our current disorder around cultural relationships feels mostly painful, growth can be joyful. In Better Capitalism we frame this universal pattern of order-disorder-reorder and the growth for which we advocate using the terms of re-viewing, re-thinking, and re-living capitalism. Indeed, the book is divided into these three parts. Part 1: Problems on Our Plantations – Re-Viewing Economics holds the mirror up to our current, mostly painful orders such as dehumanizing treatment and income and wealth disparity. Part 2: The Promise of Partnership – Re-Thinking Economics excavates and lights the path out of our current order. This disorder – this growth – is joyful by design, making the moral and logical case for how we collectively grow the pie of our prosperity instead of further dividing it. Part 3: Putting Partnership into Practice – Re-Living Economics provides concrete guidance and examples of how to mutually implement and benefit from that growth. Growth can be joyful, and most people are about as joyful in their growth as they choose to be. In our experience the move to Partnership Economics is a joyful growth, and an important factor in its speedy implementation will be choosing and holding a joyful perspective. We say ‘speedy’ rather than ‘successful’ because we’re rationally confident Partnership Economics will ultimately prevail; the period of disorder will just be smoother and faster if we collectively take the joyful perspective.

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