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People, Planet, Profit and the Underpinnings of Sustainability.

Submitted by Anonymous on January 4, 2011 - 5:59pm
Community and Our Soul Future

During the first week of June 2007, 3 separate news paper articles appeared in three very diverse publications telling the reader about sustainability and something else.

The first article appeared in the Victoria publication - Monday Magazine for the week of May 24-30, 2007, featuring the Gaining Ground 2 conference to be held the first week of June. In bold letters the articles began with “Heaven and Hell:” and then goes further by making reference to “our myths and religious stories” that “reflect the very structural conditions of life.”

The second article appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist on June 7th,

written by Carolyn Heiman. It was an opinion piece that reflected her impressions of the Gaining Ground 2 conference and she wrote of a “prayer meeting” atmosphere and the “talk of love, the spirit and having compassion.”

The third article appeared in the Globe and Mail on June 8th. Under the heading – “Preaching the gospel of green”, Trevor Boddy writes that three recent events in south-western B.C. ( Evening with David Suzuki, Smart Growth B.C. Conference and Gaining Ground 2) left him with “something turning in his stomach.” That “something” was his sense that all three events were turning increasingly to “a religion in- the-making.”

What is so curious is that all three authors invoked some form of religious or spiritual undertones to these events on sustainability. Heiman and Boddy them dismiss them or at least, do not know what to make of this undercurrent.

Is it mere co-incidence or is there something to the notion that underneath all the sustainability and rhetoric there is something much deeper?

Several of the articles’ authors raised the notion of an eco-religion in the making yet Boddy got it right in his last paragraph when he writes – “there is a green ethos at the core of all the world’s mayor religions. The green movement does not need to become a religion itself to harvest this legacy of spirituality-driven stewardship.”

I would argue that for the green movement or sustainability to not just be a passing fad, it will have to acknowledge the spirituality that underpins it.

I believe it is important right at the start to define what I mean by spirituality, as the word has become overused of late. The definition by Andre Delbecq seems clear, complete and contemporary – “ The unique and personal inner experience of and search for the fullest personal development through participation into the transcendent mystery. It always involves a sense of belonging to a greater whole and a sense of longing for a more complete fulfillment through touching the greater mystery ( for me that is God). My test of authenticity is the extent to which progress in the spiritual journey manifests itself in loving and compassionate service.”

Another way to state this is that we are “hardwired” to search for deeper meaning in the universe, and to the extent that we are able to integrate those aspects of people, planet and profit in our lives, the fuller personal development we have achieved.

At this point, I also want to separate “spirituality” from “religion” as they are not the same thing. People from many diverse backgrounds and religions are involved in sustainability matters. I believe they are motivated by that search for something larger than themselves and the desire to integrate people, planet and profits, fulfills that desire. Religion is the organizational aspect of spirituality. I believe that one can have spirituality without the trappings of organized religion.

The relatively recent discovers of science now point to a universe that is emerging and evolving through co-creation. The old hierarchical, linear models of being that shaped our lives in the past are breaking down. What is emerging is a much more holistic, integrated view of our world, led by ecology and the biological sciences. Increasing, we are beginning to understand that if we are to have any future for our children and our children’s children, we will have to act differently. We will have to understand that the future very much depends on our understanding of our spirituality or inner vision. For a viable future to come about, we will require that inner vision in order to make intellectual choices and adjustments regarding people, planet and profit.

Put another way, what is our inner vision or “soul future” that supports and guides our sustainability efforts? It is our “loving and compassionate service” to each other, to the planet, and to our economy that will assist the sustainability movement in helping life achieve its highest destiny.

Our understanding from the new sciences that we are interconnected with all matter in the universe – when we heed that yearning for connectedness, we realize that deep in our soul is the impetus to change the world for the better, in a sustainable and balanced way that balances the needs of people, planet and profit.

What we saw happen at the David Suzuki event, the Smart Growth B.C. Conference and Gaining Ground 2 events, is the gathering of people joining in the work of bringing about a “soul future”.

June 13, 2007

Detlef Beck