When I started to write this article, I thought I wanted to talk about sustainable agriculture vs. industrial agriculture in an earnest, informative way that made sense to the average person, giving them a basic understanding of the issues, etc, etc. But life got in the way.
I realized that I think in terms of 'sustainable' & 'industrial' as they apply to every aspect of life, not just to agriculture.
Very simply, sustainable living means nourishing cycles of life - in taking what we need, we give back to support life, so there will always be more & better for everyone - a sustainable green lifestyle.
Industrial refers to activity, industry, making, doing, consuming, using, progressing. It's linear, not cyclical or reciprocal. Industrial thinking leads to resource use without conserving, replacing, or renewing. It's a direct result of a rational, scientific, "man-as-master-of-nature" approach to life.
I reject the industrial world view, and have for many years been moving toward a simpler greener lifestyle, from a desire to do less, consume less, worry less & enjoy more. Sounds good, right? Here's the catch:
I see what's going on, in agriculture, social structures, economics, politics, and religion. I've become more aware of the impact of my actions on the global environment. At the same time, I've realized that there's just so much I don't know, don't understand, can't absorb, can't do.
Living in the world, it's impossible to avoid being caught up in these conundrums, and I don't want to be a recluse. I like to feel tuned in to the world. But I've found that I'm tuned to a different frequency than much of the world, and there's a sympathetic resonance from all the others who are similarly tuned. And from elsewhere, there's another resonance that makes me feel anxious, depressed, angry, and determined to prevail.
You could call these opposing frequencies 'good' & 'evil'. But that's too abstract. There's a fragile division between the two; it's too easy to mistake one for the other, to think you're completely right when you're only half right, and so on. We may eat healthy food, do yoga, wear organic clothing - but live in toxic houses, sit on a toxic sofa, drive around in a polluting car, fry our brains with TV's, cell phones, computers & microwaves, use non-renewable energy to heat our buildings, throw away paper etc.
Then there are the millions of people in the world who don't get enough to eat, and all the children who starve to death every day. That makes our concerns seem rather frivolous.
We can work 24/7 to fix everything that's wrong, obsess about living the perfect green lifestyle, and there will always be things we're not doing, or not doing right. As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has said, "You can't solve the problem on the level of the problem." and "There is no perfection in the relative."
Good and evil are always there, and we are always choosing, whether we're aware of it or not, but if we had to go around consciously choosing, every moment, we'd soon be insane.
Obviously, sustainability requires a holistic approach. And to be holistic, we have to, well, BE holistic. Start taking steps to develop inner harmony resulting in spontaneous right action. So what if it takes us 100 lifetimes to become enlightened? It's the innocent intention and the effortless process that matters. We can start with our own lives, and work from there.
It's interesting that world-ruler multinational corporations panic when their gross revenues drop by even 1%. Think what an effect it would have, if you and ten others like you in your community or your neighborhood, acting from a level of deep personal commitment, began living sustainably.
What if people like you and me, in communities across N. America, started eating mostly organic food, used 10% or 20% less energy, replaced worn out clothing with organic, walked or cycled as much as possible instead of driving.
What if we bought locally produced goods whenever possible instead of automatically going to Wal-Mart, cooked more meals at home in place of fast food, shopped at the local farmers market once a week.
Surely we can influence ten other people to some extent, and they ten others in turn? On that level, sustainable living is practical, and workable.
In communities all over the world, as consciousness grows, people are doing their best to live the sustainable life - modestly, quietly, and consistently. It's true we haven't won yet, and at times things look overwhelmingly grim, especially after reading about the insanity that passes for government, and the tragedies that happen every minute, everywhere in the world. We can't help feeling it in our hearts and worrying about it.
Again, we can't solve the problem on the level of the problem. More words from the wise: "To dispel the darkness, you must bring the light."
We are the light. Let it shine! - Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian, July 2004