It’s a new year (already 6 weeks in!) and once again I am reminding myself of my basic ‘mantra’ for sustainability…
When we talk about sustainability, it’s not just about ‘the environment’ – it’s about people too. We are inseparable and totally dependent on the natural world. But more than that, without social justice and peace-building on many, many different levels of life… our society will not be sustainable either.
So every year, my ‘New Year’s resolution’ is to refocus on these fundamental principles of a sustainable life: Simplify, Steward, Serve. (From a spiritual perspective, I have another two – Soak and Surrender – which you can read about at another of my blog sites, if the spiritual journey interests you: here.)
Simplify – reduce the clutter of having too much, at the same time lessening our impact on the planet; regain a heart of gratitude and a lifestyle of enjoying simple pleasures, instead of wanting too much; and redirect the energies spent in doing too much – freeing up time and energy for what is really valuable and fulfilling.
Ethically and spiritually, I also feel that simple is best – instead of long debates, legalism and dogma, which only serve to divide us, ‘fill all spaces with love’… Love really is the simplest answer to every conundrum, and the simplest way to live. Ask yourself continually, “Will this action, choice or path lead to more love, or less”? The answer is usually far simpler than we want to admit… because the selfless path, while usually the more difficult one, requiring self-sacrifice and self-control, is usually the one leading to more love.
Steward – use what you have in your hand, and use it responsibly.
This includes giftings, time, money, possessions and influence. This is also about not wasting – either through lack of use, misuse or overuse of anything…
On an individual level, this brings fulfillment and a sense of contribution to the lives of those around us.
On a global level, if we as humanity would be good stewards in our position of immense power and advantage over the planet – animals, plants, landscapes and resources… and each other… well, we wouldn’t have such gross levels of environmental degradation, social injustice and poverty.
Serve – cultivate a spirit of generosity, helpfulness, volunteerism and ‘going the extra mile’.
Be proactive and creative in finding ways to serve those around you, starting at home and in your local neighbourhood, but also reaching out to others you have very little in common with, or communities in turmoil across the globe.
Serve daily, serve cheerfully, serve humbly, serve wholeheartedly, serve without expecting anything in return, or even any thanks.
Just serve – because most of us have been given so much more than we need, so much more than we worked for, so much more than we ‘deserve’…