Originally, the word sustainability referred to ‘deep ecology’. Yet, during the past several years it has slowly become associated with the broader question of what exactly is being sustained by the individuals, corporates, conglomerates and companies that are misrepresenting or have lost sight of its original meaning. As a response to this, a new word has emerged in the past decade – ‘Regenerative’ – an all inclusive term which primarily considers the ecosystem as a benevolent and whole living system; an interrelated and co-dependent phenomenon that needs to be organically sustained. Our disconnection and disassociation from this system and our position of dominance over the Natural World is leading to an ecological breakdown on a scale never before known. We stand on the threshold of a critical point of no return. The only way to prevent a catastrophic outcome is to augment regenerative practices and policies – fast – for we are running out of time.
We Are the Cause and the Solution
The stark reality is that we are the cause of this breakdown and we are its solution. We cannot leave it to the politicians and governments who continue to fail to act, or are simply not acting fast enough. Nor should we relinquish our own responsibility by leaving it to the major ecological/environmental organisations to sort this mess out. In fact, the greatest opportunity we have to literally save the Natural World, of which we are an intricate part, is to begin to make the necessary changes within our own lives.
We need to look inside our kitchen and bathroom cupboards, our fridges and freezers, our garden sheds, at our shopping lists, eating habits, our choices of entertainment, become more aware of our carbon footprint, the origins of the materials and sources (and the excess) of the clothes and shoes we are wearing, and how often we change our cars and electrical and technological devices. The time has come to truly consider the degree to which the way we live our lives is supporting (or not as is mostly the case) regenerative sustainability. Reducing our use of unnatural materials, substances and foodstuffs that cause our planet harm and instead cultivating and developing a regenerative way of life is now of upmost importance.
The Web of Life
We are all part of the intricate, interconnected, interdependent and interwoven Web of Life – a phenomenal, organic, wholly natural and infinitely intelligent eco-system designed to sustain ALL of life. The ecological scenario confronting us reveals the extent to which we have become disconnected from Nature, ourselves, and each other.
So, where does the spiritual dimension fit into this ecological, environmental, sociological, psychological and political crisis? There is a split between soil and soul and not only does this separate us from the roots of our being, but from Mother Earth herself. This split is a defining factor in terms of the predicament that we as a humanity and the natural world are now confronting. We simply must take ownership and responsibility for what we have created and use our response-ability to discontinue our (albeit unconscious) participation in the ecological destruction, degeneration and chaos that surrounds us.
We have much to learn from the Indigenous Cultures and their ancient lore and ways. We ourselves have lost our way as individuals and as a human race and are caught in the grip of a colossal environmental predicament. From a psychological perspective, the current state of the world reflects the human shadow, its unintegrated personality, which has become divorced from the soul. We need to align the personality with the soul, both personally and collectively, and reconnect to the Web of Life.
Modern society separates us from Nature and thus we are disconnected from the very source of Life that flows between and interconnects all living beings and forms on this planet. As the Priest and Ecotheologian Thomas Berry so aptly said: There is now a single issue before us: survival. Not merely physical survival, but survival in a world of fulfilment, survival in a living world, where the violets bloom in the springtime, where the stars shine down in all their mystery, survival in a world of meaning.
The solution to our crisis is to be found in our very own hands.