Sustainability is the possibility that humans
and other life will flourish on Earth forever.
Reducing unsustainability, although critical,
will not create sustainability.
Well, I did it! I have sent my new book manuscript to a publisher in hopes they will accept and publish it. A long time coming, but finally off my computer screen. Now what? Some patient waiting before I hear from the publisher, and a lot more time available for other activities. Some goes to the reading and preparation for my last ME’AH semester, which covers the modern period of Jewish history. I should hear any day if I got my courses at HILR, my retiree learning center. Maybe a foot high pile of New Yorkers and other reading that sits waiting to be opened. Long overdue mundane household chores that I could justify postponing because of the importance of getting the book finished.
With Inauguration Day just a few days past, I expect to be spending some time following the new Administration. I wonder if we will see any changes in Trump’s behavior once he has been sworn in and, perhaps tones down his insecurity index. I can’t go quite as far as Ronald Reagan did in his stance on dealing with the Russians, ironically invoking an old Russian proverb, “Trust, but verify.” The original is in the form of a short rhyme, Доверяй, но проверяй (doveryai, no proveryai). Suspicious source, but I doubt that Reagan had any ties to Moscow. Update after 3 days: the answer is no.
The verify half of this is very important, but I expect will be difficult because of the shortage of reliable information, a condition that will probably get worse before, if ever, it gets better. The trust half doesn’t apply for me. The election process left me devoid of whatever leeway I normally have in observing what goes for politics lately. The transition process has moved my bullshit detector even closer to the redline. Update: We can expect to be fed a stream of ‘alternate facts.” I will be on the lookout for all sorts of apples rising from the trees.
Meanwhile, flourishing got a push from the United Nations recently. I got a note from a friend telling me of a meeting at the UN to work on a project that had been started a few years ago. To provide some context I quote from the document that was the focus of this meeting.
In reflecting in depth on the 2030 Development Agenda, in October 2015, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) convened a dialogue around the question: “ What deep human and organizational transformation is required to support the goals of sustainable development, and how might such transformation arise in human beings who have experienced suffering and trauma?” Around the table were respected policy experts, psychologists, neuroscientists, academics, ethicists, journalists, spiritual leaders and those who work in the field delivering UN programs. Their collective interest was to consider the question of human flourishing and sustainability with attention to an increasingly global, inter-spiritual and multicultural convergence on the “interconnectedness” of the world’s seven billion people. The main conclusion was that sustainable development requires a “spiritual transformation” of ourselves and the organizations we are linked with that actively extends to the societal, global, and ecological levels. (My emphasis)
I do not have any details of the meeting, but believe it was devoted to this idea of ‘spiritual transformation.” The document clearly, in my reading, argues that sustainable development taken in the economic sense alone is insufficient to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
I am not sure I would have chosen the word spiritual to contain the program being developed, but, in any case, the arguments are very close to those I make. The document stresses interconnectedness and what I call caring actions. I cannot say much more now because I was not at this recent meeting.
I am surprised and a bit embarrassed that I had not heard of this initiative at the UN. I am very impressed with the way they speak about “sustainable development as a transformative spiritual phenomenon,” clearly making the goal distinct. The most intriguing part of this document is the reference to authenticity. It is hard to find this idea mentioned anywhere, but in a bureaucratic document from the UN. It is clear to me that the framers of this do understand that the kind of acts they argue are necessary can come only from a very special kind of care, care I call authentic. Such care shows up only when the actor sees acknowledges the legitimate needs of the target of action. I call this an act of love; so does the UN document.
An elevation in the experience of oneness, conscience, and unconditional love that is necessary for human progress is imperative if we are to respond fully to the suffering caused by inequalities, violence, natural disasters, wars, and displacements and post-conflicts that have become chronic for individuals and entire communities around the world. Many people everywhere now are searching for ways to pull hearts together based on the consciousness of oneness. They are turning toward many perennial forms of spiritual practice where the authentic self can shine through into a life of inner peace and love
Wow! I am looking to see how to get involved. This effort is a ray of light for me in a sea of gloom.