Sustainable Man is a conversational blog about sustainability. What an overused word, huh? It seems “sustainable” has become the new buzz word, hijacked by numerous groups that have confused and distorted its true meaning. Hijacked by corporations that define sustainability as “using fewer resources” rather than the actual term “resource efficiency”, economists that speak of “sustainable growth”, an obvious oxymoron, and by Wall street where the word is actually applied to stock market rallies, as if it were possible to have a stock market that never went down.
To “sustain” something, we must prolong it indefinitely, which begs the obvious question: what is it that we want to sustain? Perhaps we ought to start with something as simple as “life”. Preferably, a fulfilling life with as little suffering as possible. Ideally, a world where every human being has the opportunity to live a healthy life, free to learn, explore and create beauty in the world. Sustainability, therefore, is the discussion about how to achieve the goal of creating this world that can sustain this kind of life thousands of years into the future for everyone.
We start by accepting the fact that the world as we know it has been created by us, each and every one of us that lives today as well as all those that come after. Everything we see around us is nothing more than a manifestation of our conscious attitudes about the world. After all, no alien race created any object around you. The things in your home are there because you put them there. The buildings, roads, and bridges are where they are because people put them there. The government is corrupted because people let it become corrupt. We have become a complacent society, easily bought off by the next technological gadget, big blockbuster 3-D movie, or Disneyland vacation. We have created a culture that places value in ignorance, holds opinions in the same regard as facts, and encourages people to consume as much as possible (for the sake of the economy). By understanding our current cultural starting point, we can see that there is no top ten list of actions that will lead to a sustainable world. It will take a change in mindset…
That is why Sustainable Man doesn’t ask you to do anything. We won’t ask you to install solar panels; we won’t ask you to become a vegetarian; we won’t ask you to sell your car. However, we will ask you to question everything. We will ask that when you make a choice, it is a conscious one. Not conscious as in the “moral” or “right” choice, but that it is your intended choice. It is a choice that is premeditated with knowledge of the impacts of that action on our health, our families, the environment, and other beings, both locally and globally. We ask you to take the citizen’s oath, to leave this world in a better place than we found it. We must understand our responsibilities, but also our limitations. We are, after all, each just one person. But we are one person in a connected larger whole that creates the world in all of its beauty and ugliness. Sustainability is not about getting everyone to do this or that. It is about each of us making conscious choices each and every time we have the opportunity.
Our world is indeed what we make of it. Each of us has a choice a role to play in creating the world in which our children will grow. We make hundreds (if not thousands) of choices every day, not just in what we buy, but in what we do and how we treat each other. As we analyze each of those actions, questions arise about just what are sustainable values? Are they the competitiveness, greed, and fear exemplified by our current collective actions? Or are they peace, equity, justice, love, or empathy? This is the question I am asking you to ponder, to discuss with your friends and family and with the Sustainable Man community. Once you have answered this question for yourself, then it is time to live those values, taking them into account with every decision. It is time to be a beacon of light in a world of darkness. As more of us unite in a common vision of a sustainable planet, our world will begin to exemplify those values. Let us all be a part of that great generation that healed humanity’s wound of separation from nature, restored balance to ecosystems, and gave the gift of a beautiful and sustainable world to all future generations.