Monday, March 5, 2012

Greater than Sustainable


I have been thinking about the term “sustainable” as it pertains to the type of work and lifestyle that I am seeking. I am not very fond of the word. It does not capture the essence of what I am really striving for, and it doesn't do justice to those who are striving for positive change in the world. Yes, the sustainability movement is positive and necessary and healthy and good, but it's title needs work. Here are some definitions from an online dictionary:


  [suh-steyn]  Show IPA
verb (used with object)
to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of,as a structure.
to bear (a burden, charge, etc.).
to undergo, experience, or suffer (injury, loss, etc.); endure without giving way or yielding.
to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, as under trial or affliction.
to keep up or keep going, as an action or process: to sustain a conversation.


 [suh-stey-nuh-buhl]  Show IPA
capable of being supported or upheld, as by having its weight borne from below.
pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reusesustainable agriculture. Aquaculture is a sustainable alternative to overfishing.
able to be maintained or kept going, as an action or process:a sustainable negotiation between the two countries.
able to be confirmed or upheld: a sustainable decision.
able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds: a sustainable life.

If we keep making our collective goal “sustainability,” this only means that we will “endure without giving way,” “Maintain or keep going,” “support, bear or uphold.” Is this really what our goal is? I would argue that it may be just the opposite, that what we truly want to do is change the current system, improve, regenerate, modify, enlighten, empower, evolve, and enliven our way of life.

The closest definition of sustainable that pertains to the common usage in terms of ecological, economic and equitable sustainability, is: “a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse.” But even this, I would argue, woefully understates the passion, vision and and dreams of people involved in 'sustainable' works.

Those who are dedicating their lives to finding a new way of living which embraces modern technology and health advances while renewing and nourishing the resources upon which we depend are not interested in simply “sustaining” the status quo.

Sustaining the species? Yes. Sustaining our resources? Yes. But sustaining current ways of living? No. We are moving beyond.   

No comments:

Post a Comment