GHRENovember 27, 2019
The etymology of the word growth may tell us why it is difficult to ignore its direct superficial appeal. In a balanced world both shrinking and growth have their place. Yet while the concept of growth is universally embraced and celebrated, shrinking is regarded mostly negatively. This prejudice is deeply rooted in language and how metaphors of natural growth were embedded in wider culture.
Long before modern life took the edges of winter’s discomfort, the first signals of spring must have created an intense sense of joy. In fact so much so that the proto-Germanic language had a word for it; Ghre. Ghre was used to express the feeling one gets from the land turning green again, early spring’s first sight of grasses and foliage after the dark and cold of winter. Ghreeee! It’s a joy we still share with them. Both the words green and growth find their origin in that moment of joy and in the root-word ghre that expresses it. Ghre-Green-Growth. The positive connotation is confusing once it gets taken out of context. We forget that ghre was never meant to function in isolation but as part of a seasonal cycle. It could only mean what it meant because after summer the green turned yellow and brown again, and shrunk back into the soil. Ghre, growth or green only manifests its essence within this rhythm. Yet society and the economy pursues perpetual spring. No seasons. Growth upon growth, upon growth. In pathology they have a word for that.