After years of working in a competitive business environment, having been seduced by the gods of progress and capitalism, I had an awakening that reshaped the way I now saw the world. I began to realise that what I had been taught at university and various other institutions just did not stack up. It became blindingly clear that the current economic model with its fixation on growth was flawed, highly unsustainable and detrimental to both society and the environment. Our entire financial, economic and social systems are hinged on the premise that markets will continue to grow. This concept itself is unsustainable as we live in a finite world. Every company listed on the stock market is dependant on continuous growth. My question was, how can economies continue to grow indefinitely? The answer. They cannot. After further research and questioning it began obvious that we are on the verge of a quantum shift. Our society and economies will have to radically change if we have any chance of surviving as a species.
My research, personal experience and a number of life changing events led me to start documenting some of the common themes that underlie what has brought humanity to this point of convergence. After systematically breaking down what constitutes a human life, I realised that a significant piece of the sustainability puzzle is not in technological improvements and developing more advanced systems, but rather lies in the way humanity sees itself engaging within the natural systems. I discovered that there were a number of reoccurring aspects that play a significant part of in a person’s life, all of which influenced how we interact and impact the environment.
Sustainability is much bigger than simply developing more efficient ways of doing things. It is about the way we view the universe, it is about our humanity and touches on the spiritual realm. Einstein was indeed correct when he said: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” At the end of the day, sustainability and the survival of the species is about understanding what is important in life. It is about reassessing what we want from life. Much of our current way of looking at things is based on attachment to old ideas that stem from our conditioned states. Once we examine why we do the things we do, it becomes obvious that we have separated ourselves from the very thing that gives us life and makes life worth living.
Sustainability and living in harmony with each other and our planet is essential to our existence. As many of our ancestors discovered, sustainability is crucial for survival. Ironically the last century has been fuelled by our use of non-renewable resources, which will more than likely come to an end shortly. The unfettered exploitation of fossil fuels has added a layer of complexity to our ecomomic, social and environmental systems, which is starting to cause instability in the way these systems function. The concept of ‘peak oil’ is possibly the most serious crisis humanity will face in the coming decades. Oil is highly correlated with climate change and the exponential increases in human populations. While there are alternative forms of fuel, there is no immediate alternative as abundant and dense in energy as oil for transportation. Even if other alternative fuel sources come to life in the next few years it will take decades to establish the appropriate infrastructure.
Humanity must make a massive change to the way we live so we avoid economic, social and environmental disaster. While there are many people out there acting and trying to educate others, the inertia and lack of political and corporate will stifles the majority from becoming aware of the seriousness of the issue. Our distraction with being entertained and living lives of conformity has led us to this self-denial. It will take a collective effort to be able to avert this convergence of crisis.
Humanity has been given the ingredients for a sustainable life throughout time. The ancient scriptures and teachers have told us what we need to do to live a happy and prosperous life, cultivate happiness from within and to treat all living creatures within our environment with respect and compassion. However, much of humanity has become focused on the trivialities of life without looking at the big picture. Understanding how our actions impact and influence our environment is crucial to progressing on our journey toward sustainability. The key to sustainability is awareness. It is time to reassess. Do we want to move forward in a sustainable manner or do we want to go on living lives that are focused on profitability and self-interest? One of these paths leads to a life of suffering, pain and eventual capitulation, while the other path leads to brighter, more resilient and regenerative future…
Excerpts from: One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…
Cover Image: Loren Kerns Flickr