Tuesday, March 29, 2011

“Keeping Going when the Going Gets Tough” by Donella Meadows

This is an except from Donella Meadows' book, The Global Citizen.  It eloquently captures my inspiration for working towards a sustainable world.

I keep myself going by keeping my feet planted firmly on the ground of present reality by my eyes on a vision of a better world. I can see that vision in some detail. I can see how the energy systems could work, how the farms will look, how materials will be handled, how human needs will be met, how people will care for one another and the earth. Nothing in that vision is impossible. Indeed, I can see it so clearly because I have seen every piece of it actually operating somewhere on earth.

It calms me to stay in touch with my vision because I see that the task of obtaining it is quite simple. It would be much simpler, in fact, to bring forth a world in which the interconnected, mutually reinforcing goals of environmental sustainability, economic sufficiency, peace, and justice are reached than it would to continue on our current stressful, expensive, self-undermining path. Whenever I lose my way, I get myself back to my picture of the world I am working toward. In that vision all the separate topics I write and speak about fall together in harmony—population, energy, materials, land use, a new economics, a new kind of leadership based on the wisdom of the people, and a new (or renewed) morality.

Even if I didn’t have a vision, even if there were not evidence of workability right under my nose, I would lean toward an optimistic interpretation of events simply because optimism works better than pessimism. When I’m captivated by hopelessness (and I have my hopeless interludes), I don’t do much, and much of what I do is more vindictive than effective. It’s only out of a sense of real possibility that I can produce any useful results in the world.

When some people make mistakes, we way, “Well, they’re only human.” When people act stupidly or selfishly, we say, “That’s the human condition,” as if membership in the species Homo sapiens were a life sentence to blundering and malevolence. But we also talk about “humane” treatment, and we praise a person’s “real humanity,” and in so doing we acknowledge the noble essence within ourselves, the godliness in each of us. It is out of that nobility, which every one of us can feel inside and yearns to express, that we can create a sustainable world.

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