Sustainability means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but in academia it focuses on balance. Academia, more specifically, focuses on balancing the Economy with the Environment while always focusing on Equity. What does that mean on a small scale, though?
It’s always so easy to criticize the Giant Corporation (McDonald’s, Ikea, Walmart) for the Evils they inflict upon the helpless little guy. We often take refuge when we can “stick it to The Man.” But, what opportunities are we forgoing on a personal scale?
Sustainability, then, means balance. And one vision of that balance is found in Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia. In his very thought provoking books, Callenbach details many ideas, one of which is the 20 hour work week. What would happen if the government mandated no one work more than 20 hours per week. What would our lives look like?
Recently, my family got sick with a nasty cold. No, it’s not the Swine Flu (or Avian Flu, or Bird Flu, nor West Nile!), but it has laid us up! We’ve been incapable of doing the most mundane chores around the house – like dishes and trying to figure out what’s for dinner because this Nasty Cold sapped our energy. Last Friday, Levi and I spent the day snuggled in a blanket, on the couch, watching hours of OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting, PBS for Oregon). I even endured Barney and his “I Love You” song because we lacked the energy to do anything different. I had many high hopes for the first day Levi and I would spend together, alone, while Daddy was off learning how to be a mechanic. Alas, life had other plans.
Remember, being sick is often nature’s way of saying, “Dude, you overdid it, and you need to take a break.” “You need to rest, Dear,” Mother Nature gently reminds us with a bout of the Nasty Cold.
So we did. We rested. Levi and I watched T.V. My body wouldn’t allow me to work on projects with deadlines looming. Nasty Cold prevailed.
The irony of the situation is when other greenies forget these basic balance reminders. We can argue the psychologies of selfishness, the fears of missing deadlines, the lack of trust the whole shebang screams… but the point is this – we must remember Balance. When we preach balance of Nature’s Services, we can’t forget one of the most important… sleep well young one, you have a big day ahead of you.