Sustainability. When I ask people about sustainability the answers vary widely. From the idea of long-lasting businesses to maintaining the status quo. It’s a concept that is understood differently all over the world and even if people are familiar with the official Brundlandt definition, many disagree. I want to make a pledge.
I believe it’s time to ditch the concept of sustainability and introduce a new concept, which is a lot more tangible and transformative than ‘sustainability’.
And this word is ‘reconnecting’. Reconnecting to ourselves, to the human and beyond human world. A reconnection to these fundamental aspects lays the path for every thing else. It influences how we act with ourselves, others, the land we use, the animals, the plants, the mysterious. Reconnecting is focused entirely on the process and not on the goal. Every person on this planet has a sense of what it feels like to connect to someone, or something. It doesn’t need a lot of explanation. It’s universal. Recent research shows that it’s our connection to other’s that defines our overall happiness in life. Our connections are the foundation. Moreover, within the word reconnect, the complex system we are all part of is represented. The entanglement of each element within the system and to acknowledge this entanglement. A system is not about the single elements in it, but about the relationship between them. It’s only logical to think that when you connect to other people, you can’t harm them. When you connect to yourself, you take care of your health. When you connect to the land, you make sure it’s not being harmed. It also involves very direct, concrete actions. To reconnect to my neighbor, to my community, to my city. It’s not me, in here, my ego. But me in a system. And since I am part of this system, I can only thrive as much as the system thrives. It’s an interconnection and the basic idea of systems science. Conclusion The term sustainability hasn’t served us in the way we needed. The relation, the connectedness, determines how we life this live on this planet. The term sustainability leaves us empty handed.
“Modern scientific findings validate the underlying connectedness of all living beings. Insights from complexity theory and systems biology show that the connections between things are frequently more important than the things themselves. Life itself is now understood as a self-organizing, self-regenerating complex that extends like a fractal at ever-increasing scale, from a single cell to the global system of life on Earth.” (Lent, 2018)