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Sustainable Thoughts Part I: Reconstructing The 3 Pillars

April 16, 2013

The ideas represented in this piece formed text in 2010. Restructured and here to share in a 2-part series. Enjoy.

Tri-Pillar Debilitation

It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re coming from. The foundation we face is the mechanization of society that arose with industrialization to create a structured system of development dominated by developed countries. It requires machines and many external inputs to run these machines and create profits. As a result, energy, climate and food are 3 decaying life-support pillars of the world.

In response to energy, we can start with a focus on natural, human empowering, human operated systems that are self-regenerative and autopoetic. Mechanized, industrial societies emphasize technology to take people and labor out of the picture. This approach is dehumanizing and unsustainable in that it requires finite resources to operate and only leaves people to less meaningful, less enjoyable, less fulfilling lives. People struggle to divert, but often have no choice but to succumb to the path of least resistance, the path governmentally organized to sustain one’s livelihood, which supports the corporate, industrial, unsustainable framework – the root cause of 3-pillar decay.

Developing Deserved Necessities

Climate, food and energy are 3 abundantly natural resources. Humans harness them, but they are not human-made.  They are basic, deserved, pleasurable necessities of life. They are quality, real and trustworthy. Nature does not skimp on costs to produce shoddy trees, rivers and sunshine.

The natural environment we inhabit lives in accord with universal values and ecological self-regulating systems. We are part of the ebb and flow of life, coexisting, yet we have separated ourselves.

It was a neat trick, but will not last. The sheer force, complex simplicity and utter reliance on the environment we inhabit consistently reminds us of our values as a species. New generations are wise to the game and find less concern with glamor and glitz (…not all), but want quality.

In the age of mass production led by industrialized market economies, economic logic leads to decreased quality of products. From toy cars for kids to kitchen tables, the average item on the shelves is second or even third rate – meant to be bought, trashed and upgraded in a short period to perpetuate consumption.

Lasting Quality Versus Consumptive Quality

Technology assisted cheap manufacturing, but also aided in our socially supported trade of quality for quality, meaning the definition of quality has been psychologically revised.

Gone are the days of quality in terms of craftsmanship. It is something of the past or something unique and generally unreasonably priced, when it used to be the standard. Today, quality is more quickly linked to quality service, pretty presentation, accessibility and affordability.

The Bright Side Of The Beast

Answers are increasingly becoming supported and transmitted throughout society. Some solutions are being acted on and while others waiting to be acted on, youth are the agents of change.

New knowledge and approaches to life must reach the ears of the youth, so youth can grow as a new generation with new understandings, values, ethics and morals to transform the status quo. When the new mixes with the old, the traditional, pre-oil dependent strategies of living blend with the vast potential of innovative thought and applications for novel systems that mimic nature in a self-generating manner. When these are applied to communities and represented via social institutions within societies, those actions bolster interactive social institutions and personal social conditions for lasting change.

Some call it a living democracy, whatever this culmination is coined, it is an active democracy focused on sustainable living, rebuilding beyond society’s 3-pillars. “The way it is” can change from the machine, profit and consumer driven structure inducing stress and emptiness to involved work, knowledge and connection resulting in fulfillment and enjoying life. We can use technology to advance the latter, instead of support the former.

Connecting the Disconnect

The evidence for a connected, yet disconnected society is evident. We blog, text, Tweet, Facebook, Instigram, Pin, email, etc. to share our lives more readily than sharing time with others. Face-to-face relationships are diminishing and taking with them essential life-skills leading to successful work lives, but more importantly the fundamental personal independence and well-being that grounds all social activity, connects society and generates tangible emotions.

Face-to-face versus technology driven communication is like comparing grass-fed beef to conventional in some ways – where they both provide the same edible piece of meat, but one is produced far more quickly and cheaply and the quality and benefit of eating grass-fed superiorly outweighs conventional.

Take another technological example of diminishing health and well-being – the “slow, children at play” street signs. They’re still there, remnants of the past, but where are the kids? When was the last time you actually saw kids playing in the street – and playing on their iPhone walking down the sidewalk doesn’t count.

Kids are no longer faced with down time, where they may sit bored and be forced to devise creative forms of entertainment, the anecdote to boredom is at their fingertips, only the side effects are grand and unlisted. These new lifestyles create a generation lacking ingenuity, where money buys ideas, entertainment, survival, etc.

If the pillars of energy, climate and food continue crumbling, where will people be left? Self-sufficient resiliency will be gone with the wind as no oil, extreme climate and need to produce sustenance (in the extreme case) leaves an answerless hard reality.

Simple Solutions

The more that is produced, the more there is to be consumed and the less time we find for ourselves. It is the paradox that producing timesaving machines leaves us with less time. In this stressful debacle, people are increasingly seeking simplicity, and simplicity is the solution that may just bring far greater results.

We’ve come to see the old as trash or out of style, to be discarded – whether a computer or pair of jeans being sent to the dump or elderly being sent to nursing homes. Resourcefulness and appreciation of traditional knowledge, however, holds secrets to posterity’s prosperity.

Thought patterns and styles of living less reliant on technology will lead to the greatest application of technology today. We must look back in order to clearly see forwards.

Let’s focus on a transformed future necessitated by our industrialized past and confused present. In order to fulfill the future to our best, we must understand knowledge that was basic to life for generations before us.

In perspective, we must look into our rearview mirrors more often as we drive forwards. The more we check our mirrors and understand what is going on behind us, the faster and more progressively and accurately we can proceed ahead.

What do you think? Are these ideas still relevant today? Do you hold issue or support certain points?

Check back for Part II, addressing a model for international sustainable change.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2013 5:43 pm

    Good post. Where do you think water fits into your paradigm?

    • April 17, 2013 12:30 am

      Great concern. Water is instrumental in all areas – energy, climate, food and more – and must never be overlooked or taken for granted. Thanks, Alex.

  2. April 19, 2013 10:43 am

    I think so many of us now express the need to slow down and live a simpler life, but we’ve become trapped in a way of life that increasingly speeds up and creates more overload. I agree that we need to consider our history to move forward in a more sustainable way.

    • April 24, 2013 1:05 am

      Great point. We really do need to slow down. It’s an interesting paradox that the more time-saving technology created, the less time we seem to have. Thanks, Andrea.

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