Friday, July 30, 2010

Sustainability and Uncertainty

Sustainability is both a question and an answer, a challenge and a goal. I don’t know how we’re going to get there, only that we must get there. Redefining what we ‘need’ to live worthwhile lives, is a good place to start. Embracing both the certainty of the goal and the uncertainty of how to achieve it, is cool, after all, it’s the truth. There are lot’s of things we can try, but until we try them (after having rigorously thought them through, without falling back on cliches and dogma), we won’t know how well they’ll work.

Denial of the non-negotiable need for sustainability and its cousin global climate change, though very popular is some segments of the American political spectrum (the same segments that don’t believe in evolution) in the name of ‘jobs’ and religion or too much government control, is bull shit and not really an option. After all, what jobs will there be and what will religion do and how can we have too much government control if the planet will no longer sustain human life?

Uncertainty is uncomfortable. Adults are supposed to ‘know’ and be sure; and even if they know they don’t know, they’re supposed to act as it they do. What bullshit, what horrible bullshit! That way of being is, unfortunately, the norm and it has brought us all the trouble we know (pun intended). Uncertainty as to means, but certainty as to ends is a fair definition of faith. In this instance, my faith is that given our strengths, we human beings can achieve the goal of sustainability, even if we’re uncertain, now, as to the means. But we must commit to the need for sustainability. Once we do that, the how will become clear.

In this regard, Katherine Saux quotes Masahide, “Barn’s burnt down. Now I can see the moon.” The barn burning down seems like a difficulty, but it allows us to see the moon. The need for sustainability seems like a difficulty, but who knows what great and wonderful things we will experience, once we commit to it? Sustainability is an opportunity in disguise. The barn represents our ‘normal’ thinking about sustainability, that it’s not really an ‘issue’, that jobs, economic growth, political victory, living the good life and having the next Iphone are more important.

When the barn burns down, as it is now, when it becomes clear we can not sustain our way of living for many more generations, we can let go of what we thought we needed and see the moon, the real source of our good. We can see past the transitory, false securities of our current relationship to the planet and to one another, and see the moon, the opportunity, the pattern of perfection that is inherent in embracing the need for sustainability along with the uncertainty of how to achieve it.

“We always stand at the point of limitless opportunity. Who says bad news has to be bad? Maybe its time to go out and look at the moon.” – Katherine Saux

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