Is this sustainable for humanity?

The 'sustainable model' that I try to gauge myself against is that of equality for humanity. If it’s not sustainable for everyone, then it’s not sustainable.

When I find myself doing something on a regular basis, I ask myself the question, "Is this sustainable for humanity?" I try to imagine, to the best of my ability, replicating what I'm doing across all humans on earth and then I try to decide if that’s sustainable.

"Is this particular food I'm eating sustainable enough for all 7 billion humans to sit and eat the same meal with me today?"

"Is this method of transportation that I'm using sustainable enough for all 7 billion humans to ride it with me today?"

"Is this project or job or career that I'm pursuing sustainable enough for all 7 billion humans to pursue the same project, job, or career with me?"

"Is buying a brand new paperback book at the bookstore sustainable enough for all 7 billion humans to buy one with me?”

“Is what I’m creating or producing on a regular basis something that 7 billion others could create or produce alongside me?”

I keep asking myself this question, over and over: "Is this sustainable for humanity?"

It's almost impossible for me to know with accuracy what’s sustainable for everyone, but at least by asking the question and framing it in context of all humans I gain a better understanding and perspective around my lifestyle choices.

Can 7 billion humans consume meat while still maintaining a sustainable ecosystem for the planet? Nope. So clearly non-meat diets are the way to move forward.

Can 7 billion humans drive their own combustion-engine vehicle while still maintaining a clean environment and healthy planet? Nope. So clearly public and mass-transit systems are the better, more sustainable option.

I don’t know how all the pieces fit together. There are so many variables that go into answering such big questions. But that shouldn’t stop us from asking them. Simply asking the question always yields a feeling in one direction or another.

Applying a little knowledge and commonsense goes a long way towards guiding those feelings in the right direction. By asking the big questions and allowing their answers to shape our decisions, we’re far more likely to do things that make sense on a global scale.

A little over a year ago I began asking this question on a regular basis. It all started when I was purchasing a pair of minimalist running shoes online.

As I contemplated the $112 price tag, I began to wonder if such a choice made sense on a global scale.

Assuming everybody on Earth could afford such a purchase, could the Earth itself support the manufacture of that many shoes made of those same materials?

It quickly became obvious that given a scenario where all humans had to wear the same shoes, we would collectively find a much cheaper solution using materials that were already in abundance and which already needed to be reused.

This solution would maximize durability, allow everyone to make repairs and alterations to their footwear with the most basic tools, and ensure maximum ergonomic compatibility with the human body.

Did such a solution already exist? Certainly after thousands of years something as basic as footwear must have evolved to the point where it was sustainable, right?

I used the greatest resource of knowledge humankind has ever created and did a little research online. I learned about the Tarahumara, the native American people of northern Mexico who run hundreds of miles a week using sandals fabricated from old rubber tires.

The sandals simulate barefoot running, which I learned research is showing virtually guarantees injury-free running. We don’t need special shoes — we are literally born to run.

I’ve been wearing and running in my own handmade pair of huaraches for over a year now, making repairs and alterations as necessary and being quietly reminded with each step of that decision I made after asking the question, “Is this sustainable for humanity?”

If we all gauge our decisions against a backdrop of equality for humanity, then we will recognize the significance of our individual actions and those actions will naturally gravitate towards what makes sense for everyone.

It used to be that we were so disconnected from each other that it wasn’t possible to find globally harmonious solutions. It used to be that everybody would make decisions based on their local knowledge and access to resources.

But now, in a ever-growing global society where an increasing number of us have access to resources from anywhere on the planet and the collective knowledge of humanity, our individual choices matter more than ever.

How we choose to live, what we choose to do, the things we choose to buy and eat and consume, all of it has an ever-increasing impact on the rest of humanity and those of us affecting things on that global scale have a new responsibility to work towards what is sustainable for everyone.

To work towards a future of global social equality, we must start by making decisions that reflect a respect for that equality and we can start by asking the question, “Is this sustainable for humanity?”

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  1. Is making decisions according to a board of directors or share-holders are the primary concern, sustainable for our future? Definitely not.

    Who killed the electric car? Pharmaceuticals, electronic products with a 1 or 2 year shelf-life.

    Seems like the first step is going down your path of individuals questioning sustainability, then hopefully we can demand it of our governments and corporations.

    I really enjoyed this post Raam. (I’m reading a lot about Ayurvedic medicine right now, which has some very simple, healthy and sustainable solutions, which has me also beating this drum)

    • Electronic products with a 1 or 2 year shelf-life is one of my biggest pet peeves. We already have the technical know-how and the materials necessary to create electronic products that last 10-20 years easily. The problem is, it’s not in the best interest of those whose only interest is profit. That’s why I treat my electronics like things I will be keeping for 10 years. I take care of them and I don’t upgrade unnecessarily. If I do upgrade, my used-but-like-new electronics get resold.

      Governments and corporations are made up of individual people. If enough individuals change, the governments and corporations will follow. It’s when individuals don’t care that governments and corporations are left to own and end up making choices that negatively effect society in the longrun. The bottom line is, more of us need to care about our individual choices.

      I think Ayurvedic medicine is a perfect example of how we’ve overcomplicated so many areas of science and ignored some of the greatest wisdom available all in the name of ego and money.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, Andrew!

  2. Excellent words, Raam. Collectively we are all One, but as One, each “one” of us can move the mountains and in fact it is the only way mountains will ever be moved. Instead of shirking our personal responsibilities as citizens of the globe and blindly handing them off to groups, organizations and governments, we must take the “bulls” by the horns ourselves. How many revolutions have begun with one individual? As you so eloquently state that “we were so disconnected”, it reminded me of our chat over a couple of beers here in Georgetown: it struck me when you stated how for the first time in history, OUR history would be accessible on the net forever, so to speak, and how our ancestors would be able to so effortlessly learn of our ideas and creativity. And it brings to mind the gist of your article, to me, in that we are now so connected that the power of “one” can be multiplied overnight into bold and powerful action. Thanks, my good man, Peace & Love ~ Ricky

    • Thank you, Ricky. Yes, and even more importantly than recognizing that our history will be available indefinitely for the foreseeable future is recognizing that we are writing that history right now. Everything we publish online — from blog posts to comments to Tweets and Facebook messages — all of it will represent a searchable, tangible record of what we felt was important at this point in history. Future generations will run algorithms that mine this history to find patterns and trends. It will be studied to understand what was important and what we thought about the future.

      What we learn now will be re-learned in the future and built upon. Unless we take that seriously and start the ball rolling in the right direction, the future will need to relearn and reinitiate everything that we could be learning and initiating right now.

  3. hi Raam-
    the amazing quality of sustainability is that it is also a test of durability, it truly is the solution that will have longevity. for example: when living on a remote caribbean island the only shoes that did survive the elements were my own feet… that and a pair of ‘jellies’ made from old tires (which technically are not sustainable either). so yes~ nature is here to stay and we eventually will return to balance & harmony or be deemed unsustainable by our own choices.

    • Hi Kara,

      Sustainability is most definitely a test of durability and I think one thing that nature teaches us is that adaptability and reusability are the greatest paths to durability. Nothing in nature really lasts forever, but all of if belongs to a recycling process — all of it lives in harmony with the rest of nature.

      So many of our man-made creations violate the most basic principals of nature. If we design and create for harmony and reusability instead of short-term usefulness and monetary cheapness, then we’ll be much closer to sustainability.

  4. Raam that is an excellent post. Your words make me think about so many things that are wrong in the world today (War, starvation, hatred, selfishness, etc). If people would start to think with the mindset of “Is this sustainable for humanity?” instead of “What benefits ME the most” we could improve so many things in this world.

    You also remind me that we as individuals can benefit so much by making the decision that we will not follow in the footsteps of the mainstream anymore. We will not waste our lives being unhappy and being afraid. Instead we have made a choice to stop and change the direction of mankind even if it is only one person at a time.

    • Thank you, Charles.

      Finding the courage and confidence to stop following mainstream is so necessary. We need to recognize that we create our own mainstream by making educated decisions and doing things because they make the most sense to us, not because everybody else is doing it.

      The herd mentality has a lot of influence over humans, but we all have the power to choose different, to think different, and to be different.

  5. When I first visit the US I could not believe how many homeless people, both poverty stricken and military veterans, were living on the streets.

    I remember asking myself, How can the richest country in the world allow so many of its citizens to live on the streets?

    How can the richest country in the world allow 50 million of its citizens not to be covered with health insurance?

    The reason, as I later realized, is that people are totally comfortable with inequality.

    Inequality is probably the biggest risk and the most imminent threat to our society. It leads to not only poverty but also crime and domestic violence.

    “Equality for humanity” is a great title Raam. Thanks for spreading the word!

    Well said Raam, Keep spreading the word!

    • You’re absolutely right, Tal. Comfortability with inequality is incredibly dangerous. Look at slavery: people were comfortable with it for a long time, until enough people started standing up and making a stand for why it was wrong.

      I think it’s easiest for those who are better off to ignore and accept inequality as a fact of life and that’s why it’s those people who need to lead the charge towards changing that mentality.

      Something isn’t made right and necessary just because we haven’t known anything different.

  6. I have to disagree with the sentiments behind this post. While I think you have the right intentions, I think inequality is something that is inherent to human societies. There will always be social classes and those that are better off than others – whether that is with today’s currency or some future, alternative method of measuring affluence and wealth. There will always be someone better off, more capable than you.

    Can 7 billion people eat meat? Maybe not. But do 7 billion people want to eat meat? No. There are entire societies that don’t and millions of individuals that choose not to. I think the overall balance is more important than individual balance.

    Socioeconomic inequality isn’t a threat. Inequality provides the motivation, the incentive, for change.

    • Mike,

      Inequality is only inherent to ignorant human societies; it’s absolutely not a requirement and absolutely not a necessity.

      The term “better off” is extremely arbitrary.

      Better off to a homeless person living in India might mean having a blanket during monsoon season so that he doesn’t die of hypothermia at night (this actually happens).

      Better off to a middle-class family in the United States might mean having a car or credit card that’s paid off.

      What we need to look at is living standards, quality of life, and basic human rights. Can there be equality in those regards? I believe the answer is yes. In the future, “better off” for everyone could simply mean living a life where you’re happy and where you’re doing something you love.

      There are entire societies that don’t eat meat not because they choose not to but because it’s not affordable. As more of the world develops and societies merge, those in the developed world will be looked at for guidance. Their actions and choices will be copied (this is already happening — look at how westernized much of the world is becoming).

      If we, as individuals and affluent societies, are not setting an example that is sustainable for the planet as a whole, then everyone will suffer the consequences in the long-term. It’s not enough to ignore the changes that are already happening and attempt to hold into the old norms (inequality, class systems, etc.). Once upon a time, slavery was the norm. “Who would do all the work if we didn’t have slaves?”

      Inequality doesn’t provide motivation for change. A desire for improvement, for growth and discovery, for peace and happiness, for security and legacy — that’s what provides motivation for change. It just so happens that right now inequality is unfortunately riding alongside those, so it appears to be the driving force.

      • I agree with you that there could, and should, be a minimum “baseline,” if you will, of living standards. And I believe that is possible.

        However, when you start talking about global social equality, or communism–where everything is shared equally, true global equality, you’re opening a whole new can of worms. While a resource-based global economy may be possible, similar models have been proven to fail (but that’s a whole other debate).

        The way I see it, every individual is different and has different functions. Communities are all different, and have different functions. To say no one can use, buy, or create something because it is not sustainable for all is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are many good things that are perhaps unsustainable that nevertheless provide inordinate value to society. Again, the overall balance is greater than the individual.

        You mention that inequality doesn’t provide motivation for change and that instead, the desire for improvement causes change. But what is the root of that desire? The desire stems from those who see problems and want to fix them. If everyone is truly equal, what will the problem be to fix?

        And that’s where this all comes from. Because I think people naively believe if everyone is equal, and everything is sustainable then there will be no problems. Theoretically, perhaps. But not when you take into account human nature and greed. There will always be those looking for an edge, for more power. Even if somehow the elite of the world today crumbled and your vision was actualized, someone would take their place.

        Or maybe I’m full of shit. Either way, I support the principles behind the post, but perhaps not the methods.

          • I’m in agreement with you. I’m not saying all our decisions and actions should be shaped by answering the question, “Is this sustainable for humanity?”, but rather that we should use that question to guide the purpose behind what we’re doing. In that respect, exploring space is absolutely sustainable for humanity — without going into space, we will certainly run out of resources for humanity to continue.

        • Mike,

          Thank you for continuing the discussion here.

          Social equality and communism are not the same thing. See the following description of social equality from Wikipedia:

          Social equality is a social state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in a certain respects. At the very least, social equality includes equal rights under the law, such as security, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, property rights, and equal access to social goods and services. However, it also includes concepts of economic equity, i.e. access to education, health care and other social securities. It also includes equal opportunities and obligations, and so involves the whole of society.

          Social equality requires the absence of legally enforced social class or caste boundaries and the absence of unjustified discrimination motivated by an inalienable part of a person’s identity. For example, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, origin, caste or class, income or property, language, religion, convictions, opinions, health or disability must not result in unequal treatment under the law and should not reduce opportunities unjustifiably.

          Social equality refers to social, rather than economic, or income equality. “Equal opportunities” is interpreted as being judged by ability, which is compatible with a free-market economy.

          The other important thing to remember is that right now we think in terms of this planet — our available resources, land, etc., are all limited to Earth. In the near future, that will not be the case. (Already companies are forming to begin mining asteroids for metals and there is discussion about what laws will be required for individuals and companies to acquire land on other moons and planets.)

          I’m not saying that nobody should buy, use, or create something simply because it’s not sustainable for humanity (if that were the case, I’d be against the creation and usage of technology, which I’m most definitely not). What I am saying is that we should work towards such a model by asking those questions.

          I also believe the root desire for change is not inequality: it’s pain. Nobody wants to be uncomfortable or in pain, so we change. Time itself works against us, causing things to decay and transform. Humans work against that in search of less pain and more comfort.

          I agree with you that if all those in power were removed today, there will simply be anther group to replace them. That is the world we live in right now. That’s the imbalance that exists. But that’s not how things need to remain and I believe it’s in all our best interest to start working — individually and together — towards a society where the balance is far closer to global social equality.

          • Raam,

            Sorry for the delay in response, and thank you for taking the time to respond so thoroughly. I’m beginning to realize we actually see eye-to-eye.

            I just don’t subscribe to the dewy-eyed thinking that suggests one day “we will all be equal.” And neither do you, it seems, which is the first impression I got. Equal, perhaps eventually, through globally standardized social rights.

            However, cognitive distortions and the “grass is always greener” mentality are inherent to human nature; there will always be those that are more privileged than others, those born with more innate talents or intelligence. On a large scale, that will still result in inequality, different groups or “classes.”

            In my opinion though, while pain may indeed be the root cause of change, it may no longer be the wisest. Humans have evolved to seek pleasure, avoid pain & conserve energy for survival. Western culture exemplifies this – yet you (and I as well) condemn the wastefulness of much of Western culture. While it would be nice if, through our pain, we developed a “desire for improvement, for growth and discovery, for peace and happiness, for security and legacy,” it seems that many of our contemporaries merely have developed the desire for a Big Mac and a shopping spree.

            If pain is the driver of change, I believe the pain of living the “typical Western lifestyle” will soon catch up to society as a whole. And I guess that’s really what you’re all about – exploring better alternatives. As well am I.


  7. To play devil’s advocate, what is the tipping point for “is this sustainable for humanity” ?

    For example, do I stop using my cellphone and computer? There is no way the world could support the power, the minerals found within computing devices, the labour to produce 7 billion cellphones, let alone the towers required to operate them.

    I think people need to make more informed choices about their actions, the food they consume, the materials they use, as well, but we need to retrain people into believing new is not necessarily better and comes at a higher global cost.

    • James,

      This is a question I’m asking myself all the time, but my feeling is that technology does far more good than bad in the long run.

      Let’s take cellphones and computers as examples: Both provide a means for communication, which reduces paper waste, decreases travel (for visiting people and for transporting letters), and speeds up progress (research, discoveries, and information can travel and spread more quickly, thereby improving everything else).

      Also, both provide access to knowledge, which is very important and, I believe, should be basic a human right. Access to knowledge improves societies and provides the tools necessary for our species to evolve in a more sustainable direction.

      Can the Earth support 7 billion mobile phones? Well, we’ve already got around 5 billion and the infrastructure to support that, so I’d say yes. However, I think we need to change the way we look at materials and longevity. Computers and mobile phones shouldn’t be replaced every year or two… they should last at least a decade or more.

      Things like solar power and provide a clean, practically unlimited source of power. What needs to change is our mentality around these things.

      As I mentioned in my first comment at the top, the shelf-life needs to change and each of us can start by maximizing the longevity and usefulness of the technology we keep with us. I have very little paper waste because I do nearly everything digitally. I refuse to buy paper books when digital versions are available — who cares if digital is less comfortable to read: it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

    • Tal, I’ve put a lot of thought into this every time I fly. One of the reasons I travel slowly is because I don’t think I could feel OK with flying every month or two. When I do fly, it’s strategic: to cross an ocean or because the timing requires faster transport. Otherwise, I always opt for public transit: trains and busses.

      This year I’m going to purchase carbon offsets for all my flying. (I’ll probably go with TerraPass.) I think at the very least that’s something we should all be doing. The money to purchase carbon offsets goes directly towards projects that reduce carbon output, such as wind farms and solar installations.

      In the longer-term, I’d really like to see more attention put into improving the efficiency of flying. Right now it’s only slightly better to drive somewhere than it is to fly, and that doesn’t even take into account all the extra pollution you’d generate as a result of longer travel time (eating along the way, staying at hotels, etc.). Maybe I should start an airline with a focus on sustainability. I imagine there must be ways to improve flying, both from an operational perspective and from a mechanical perspective.

  8. I really enjoyed the question, “Is this sustainable for humanity?” Thank you for sharing it.

    I wonder if it is necessary to ask, answer and then arbitrarily restrict oneself accordingly to one extreme.

    For example, you question if it’s sustainable for everyone to eat meat. But in reality, it’s a matter of preference among humanity: some people enjoy eating meat, some people don’t.

    Certainly, if everyone ate the same amount of meat as the eager meat-eaters — that would be impossible to sustain. But it would be sustainable for everyone to eat a little meat at regular intervals. And there will be fluctuations from that equilibrium, as some people don’t eat meat, and some people are eager to.

    Hopefully we can find a way to discover the right balance.

    • Mitchell, thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      I don’t think I was talking about restricting to one extreme: Is not eating meat really an extreme? If people stopped eating meat today, all the grain that goes into feeding the animals used for meat could suddenly be used for humans who are starving all around the world: If everyone stopped eating meat today, we could instantaneously cure world hunger and stop massive deforestation. (Of course that’s not going to happen immediately, but is that not a good thing to work towards?)

      Is it really so important to maintain the ability to eat meat when nutritionally we don’t need it? I agree that if things were balanced, it may be possible to make it sustainable in the long-run, but that’s not happening. Instead, irreversible damage is happening at the expense of individuals fulfilling their desire to do what they want.

  9. Raam,

    This is a great question to ask and to have it direct your actions but it strikes me that the question assumes that everyone should or wants to do the same thing…or even can.

    I made a feature length film about the origins of poverty and why it persists in a world with so much wealth so the issues of equality and consumption of resources is something close to my heart. I have been invited by the UN to speak about it four times.

    For example your comment on meat – the fact of the matter is that the entire world can indeed eat meat in a sustainable way if we don’t eat industrially produced meat and expect that everyone should be eating sirloin steaks for every meal (not sustainable ecologically and other ways). But if we diversified our meat intake and included insects there is more than enough.

    I love that you are making shoes (so, so much) and how that strikes a blow towards the consumer economic culture we live in that requires eternal growth…but you learned about it by researching on the internet.

    The internet runs on miles of wires (and we are past Peak Copper that much of the wire is made of) and is only possible because of the rare minerals used in chips and circuit boards (like coltan) that are essentially stolen from west and central African countries and continue. That theft strips Africa of forest and continues to disrupt political stability because Western nations play both sides of the conflict to keep access to coltan cheap and easy.

    So is using the internet not sustainable? What if you are using the internet for activism towards correcting these issues…does that excuse that person?

    Do only those who are aware of resource use and the strain they are under get to use them in a pro-social way?

    Those of us who are aware of these issues must engage in resource jui-jitsu and use our extra ordinary access to resources and use them consciously so that equality is better manifested.

    There will always be those who have more and less…and I am okay with that. Perfect equality is neither possible nor necessary. But an extractive system (such as the one we have now) that eliminates the possibility of people to have access to their own wealth while incentivizing greed is criminal.

    And then there is the whole notion of inner sustainability…but that is a different conversation.

    • Hi Matt,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for the work you do.

      You mentioned that everyone could eat meat sustainably if it wasn’t produced industrially. That may be true, but is that realistic? With the direction the world is moving, is it realistic to work towards sustainable meat production? Would it not make more sense to remove meat from our diet wherever possible (where meat is not the only method of obtaining nutrition, as it is for some remote cultures)?

      I also question the reasoning behind supporting the continuation of meat in our diets: Why? Just because we want it? At this point in history, should we not be looking at practical ways to reduce our energy expenditure and make use of the science that shows meat-based diets increase the probability of so many diseases?

      I agree with you on engaging in “resource jujitsu” and using our extraordinary resources consciously and for activities that move the world forward (as opposed to engaging in nothing more than entertainment and money-making). As I mentioned in my reply to James, access to knowledge should be a human right. The technology we do create should be built with longevity in mind (as I mentioned in my reply to Andrew).

      We have the know-how to begin working on long-term sustainable solutions to nearly everything. What needs to change is our foresight and purpose: Right now so much is about making money. So much of our focus is short-term (one lifetime at the most). We need to shift that focus into the longer-term and that’s why I feel asking a question like “Is this sustainable for humanity?” helps individuals make choices that move things in that direction.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more about how so much of the general sound is about making money, expanding, growing. Eternal growth is cancer and cannot be sustained.

        You wrote:

        You mentioned that everyone could eat meat sustainably if it wasn’t produced industrially. That may be true, but is that realistic? ——————– of course it is realistic. There is a real grassroots paradigm shift happening around food all over this country and in Europe. That can spread. It is also in competition with a much uglier food system that we know about.

        With the direction the world is moving, is it realistic to work towards sustainable meat production? ———Yes, because consumption of meat isn’t going away.

        Would it not make more sense to remove meat from our diet wherever possible (where meat is not the only method of obtaining nutrition, as it is for some remote cultures)? ——– The meat that should be removed from our diets is the meat that is poison. The meat that is poison comes from animals that are fed stale gummi bears, grains, and the processed feces of other animals. Sadly their are cows, pigs and chickens that are forced to endure this…and worse.

        I also question the reasoning behind supporting the continuation of meat in our diets: Why? Just because we want it? At this point in history, should we not be looking at practical ways to reduce our energy expenditure and make use of the science that shows meat-based diets increase the probability of so many diseases? ———— The science on this is deeply incomplete. But more and more research is being done that reflects a different health reality. What was only a few years ago considered the gold standard – The China Study – has now been totally debunked and Campbell has had to recant some of his skewed research.He has been shown to be a philosophical advocate as opposed to a good or complete scientist in regard to diet. The fact of the matter is that for 2 1/2 million years humans and proto-humans ate meat as a preferred food source. Once agriculture came in we got smaller and sicker and the diseases of civilization came into human culture. Meat from animals that have led lives either totally in nature or closely replicating what would have been found in nature are good for human health and do not cause disease. We would not be who we are today without that meat.

        This is part of the process of using reason towards our resource jui-jitsu at every level we must consume any resource. Thanks for writing back. Hope this finds you well.

  10. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Raam. Slow travel is indeed a good compromise (and has more depth to it from my perspective).

    “Maybe I should start an airline with a focus on sustainability” – I might be wrong but I think that is what Richard Branson is trying to do with Virgin airline.

    • If that’s the case, then Virgin has done a horrible job with marketing. To me, they’re a high-priced airline with fancy branding and I’ve never been able to afford flying them.

      I’d love to see a budget airline that promotes their goals for sustainability. Perhaps doing things like sacrificing frequent flights to maximize the number of seats filled on a plane, or giving you the opportunity to pay extra to buy carbon credits along with your ticket that will offset your carbon emissions for that flight — stuff like that.

  11. It’s an interesting question Raam. Sustainability for humanity is like the realization that most people in the developed world is part of the global 1%

  12. I’ve love to think that the small changes will turn into large changes. That we should become the changes we want to see in the world.

    To think that eventually it will make a difference.
    On a small scale, yes sustainability can be accomplished for the few who really put forth the effort to participate.

    For the vast majority though, they will be happy to be spoon fed with mass produced ‘step on your neighbor’ to get ahead mentality.

    In good time, more people will come to sustainable living as they see resources being depleted.

    On the other hand, plenty will become violent, and hoard the remaining resources for themselves.

    Look at Earthships for example. A beautiful, sustainable way to craft affordable and self-sufficient housing. The amount of red tape to build one of these is astounding, in favor of mass produced , carconegenic structures that require being plugged into the system.

    • Yes, that’s unfortunately true, Jeff, but that should not preclude someone from being the change they wish to see in the world. We are all raindrops of change. Setting an example — being a living, breathing example — is the best way to inspire and pass on the inspiration.

  13. Thanks for putting this question forward. It’s not new – but we need reminding.

    Does it work only for small, close to home, relatively easy answers?

    What about bigger questions – how many children per family – 2 doesn’t work for everyone so is 1 the answer for every family? Can all people with cancer get treated with toxic radiation and chemo – no, so is no treatment the answer for everyone?

    • I think asking this question even for the bigger questions is certainly useful and perhaps it will lead us towards looking at things from a different angle:

      Should we be “treating” cancer itself, or should we be questioning its underlying cause and focusing on balancing the body? Should we have children for the sake of fulfilling curiosity, family expectations, irresponsible sexual behavior, or hormonal callings, or should we have children when we feel that we have something of value to pass onto them?

      Big questions no doubt and I certainly don’t claim to know the “right” answers, especially for those two questions of which I have very little experience. But I do think that reframing questions and finding other ways to look at things always gives us an advantage in the end.


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