The principle of sustainability is a balance between social, environmental and economic domains (Environment Agency, n.d.). To get a better grasp on the principle of sustainability and balance we start from the idea of oscillations in a state where dynamic systems find synchronisation across many different time scales within living systems (Lloyd, 2021). Here synchronisation is a balance between opposing forces an idea we can apply to our social, environmental and economic cycles. For example the synchronisation of the weather stimulates the synchronisation of microorganism in the soil which synchronises food production. Without food we wouldn’t have a society nor an economy. Therefore the rhythms of life in the environment, society and economy keep us, humanity, going. Critically finding a balance between these domains to keep us adaptive and sustainable away from maladaptive and chaotic states arising from chronic stress is really important. But why?
Because this synchronisation is not only essential for sustainability and realising balance in our lives but also as a source of inspiration. Since so much of our love and creativity emerges from a healthy society and environment. When we follow the principle of sustainability we are seekers of synergises to improve the health of our environment, economy and society. This all helps us lead towards creation, innovation, love and art. The synchronisation of balanced night and day can be a source of inspiration ! (and a cycle of renewable energy).
“Awake ! For Morning in the Bowl of Night, has Flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight, And Lo ! The Hunter of the East has caught, The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light” (Khayyam, 1985)
However, our concept of sustainability and balance is being disrupted and imbalanced by corporations. These corporations who use social scientific methods to categorise us into identified values and lifestyles then encourage our consumption of their products so we can “realise our full potential” (JustAdamCurtis, 2017, 00:43:30). Critically, I’ve put “realise our full potential” in quotes because it would be false to assume we could realise ourselves purchasing products till our earth’s ecosystem collapses. To this end its the manipulated narrative fed to us by corporations that strokes our fantasy with unlimited material growth. Strategically they direct their products towards our lifestyles because our desires are unlimited unlike our practical material needs. Not only can we not “realise our full potential” following this philosophy of unlimited consumption but as Darwish (2016, pp.40-50) argues we support the increasing wealth inequality that creates an unsettling and disconcerting reality of social malaise and environmental destruction.
Taking hold of the wheel to drive back towards the principle of sustainability requires moral courage with fortitude. In order to challenge the corporate ideal that unlimited economic growth can solve all our environmental and social problems we need to knock off the principle that economic growth always requires a necessary trade-off between environmental and social health. Granted economic growth is important but so is our environment and society. They all function together to ensure our health and well-being. In fact the environment is one of the most creative and loving forces which can help us realise our full potential.
“For mountain and stream, tree and leaf, root and blossom, every form in nature is echoed in us and originates in the soul whose being is eternity and is hidden from us but none the less gives itself to us for the most part in the power of love and creation” (Hesse, 1969, p.99)
Darwish, H. (2016). Pluralism and the Idea of Balance in Eastern and Western Philosophies. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301342613_Pluralism_and_the_Idea_of_Balance_in_Eastern_and_Western_Philosophies/link/571365a308ae4ef745288e9d/download
European Environment Agency. (n.d.). principle of sustainability.
Hesse, H. (1969). Demian. Panther Books Ltd.
JustAdamCurtis. (2017, January, 3). The Century of the Self – Part 3: “There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads; He Must Be Destroyed”. YouTube.
Khayyam, O. (1985). Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Fitzgerald, E., Trans.). Bracken Books. (Original work published n.d.)
Lloyd, D. (2021). Oscillations, Rhythms and Synchronized Time Bases: The Key Signatures of Life. In: Stefanovska, A., McClintock, P.V.E. (eds) Physics of Biological Oscillators. Understanding Complex Systems. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-59805-1_14