Archive for May, 2011

The Big Idea

Ever wonder why there are so many problems in the world?  Why there continues to be homelessness, hunger and illiteracy?  Why do both parents have to work just to make ends meet leaving no time for their children?  Why are 3 billion people still in poverty?  It could be that our solutions to our problems are not comprehensive, but one dimensional.  Well, this little picture might help us understand why we are plagued by problems and how we can deal with them.

For most people sustainability is a very vague word, but It is actually very specific and a very big idea with big implications.  The three circles represent the environmental, social and economic dimensions that make up our world and the range of options available to us.  According to the picture, what is “sustainable” is where the circles overlap.   It reveals some really big ideas that are hard to disagree with.

  • CHOOSE: The picture shows us that many options exist, but truly sustainable choices are fewer in number.  The world we live in today is focused on mostly economic concerns and usually ignores social or environmental interests.  Yes, we’ve created a machine that seems to be working, but is it really?
  • TAKE ACTION:Sustainability will not “just happen”. On our current path, we will become more aware and more “green”, but a civilization based on consumption is ultimately unsustainable. Sustainability requires us to make different choices from the ones we are making and it will be assembled from our thoughtful choices as a global community.
  • ACCEPT INEVITABILITY: The very logic of sustainability can be a tough one to swallow, but I’m just the messenger: As a species, we will eventually choose sustainable solutions because they are the only choices that insure our survival as a civilization over time.  The only reason we will choose unsustainable systems is because of short-sighted interests.
  • WIN/WIN: The great news is that there are solutions that can accommodate all three interests!  Sustainable solutions do not make economics more important than our happiness nor the environment.  It almost seems magical that all three concerns are resolved together!  No interest outweighs or competes with another.
  • HAPPINESS: And, to be sustainable, the solutions will all be ones that we like, otherwise they are unsustainable!

The world seems adrift.  The “haves” are not content and want more meaning out of life, while the “have-nots” continue to struggle in the wake of those who “have”.  We will only find greater meaning in life when we recognize that it comes through serving a purpose beyond ourselves – our fellow man, our common future.  The interesting thing is that if we ask ourselves what we truly value and the type of world we want for our children, it looks very much like what a sustainable world offers us.

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May 23, 2011 at 10:59 am 5 comments



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