Four Questions for a Sustainable Society: Is It Beautiful?

| 3/19/2010 4:05:03 PM

Tags: four questions, sustainable society, sustainable future,

Purple CloudsFairness and repeatability are purely practical considerations. They are the utilitarian components of our vision-creation process. They are relevant questions because they contribute directly to sustainability. If it’s not repeatable, it can’t contribute to sustainability. If it’s not fair, it won’t get the necessary support from people.

Beauty contributes indirectly.

If we need a vision for a sustainable future then we need a lot of people to contribute their own ideas and energy to forming and realizing that vision. If we are to attract the energy of millions of people to the task, then we must start with beauty in the frame.

I was in Germany and Poland during the spring of 1994, about five years after capitalist West Germany and communist East Germany were reunified. We drove back and forth from one side of Berlin to the other numerous times. Traffic flowed freely. But the contrasts between the two sides of the city remained obvious.

West Berlin was an affluent, creative European city whose skyscrapers, shops and museums were comparable to those of New York, Los Angeles or Paris. East Berlin was decrepit and plain — depressing in its institutional practicality. The streets around the core of East Berlin were like the halls of a public hospital in a state of decay.

Fairness and repeatability were at the core of the Eastern Bloc’s communist and socialist policies through the first two-thirds of the 20th Century. If a single concept characterized the values of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it would be fairness across all the strata of society. The great thinkers who first conceived of socialism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries — Robert Owen, Henri de Saint-Simon, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx put forth fairness and repeatability as imperative morals on which their new societies would be built. And to some extent or another those societies were built — in the USSR, China, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

howard hendricks jr
1/3/2011 3:41:24 AM

The Navajos had it right all along: In the house made of dawn, In the house made of evening twilight, In the house made of dark cloud and rain In beauty I walk. With beauty before and behind me, With beauty below and above, With beauty all around me, I walk.

6/22/2010 12:00:18 PM

I agree with "KCashatt" that socialist and communist societies are not fair in the least. But I would like to point out that they did not come close to following the true ideas of which they are described for. In our world today we can see that capitalist society is the strongest form so far. As such, we need to follow those ideas to appeal to the newer generations and to current generations if we have any hope of finding a Utopian society. The idea that beauty is important to society to accept change is obvious. But also ease and comfort is something else that is just as important to our society. Whether it be time concerns or laziness or just lack of taking the time to do things right. One thing is clear. Our society doesn't have the common knowledge that is apparent to most sustainable people as it was to our forefathers. We must promote our ideas and give the ways that are not only easy but effective to bring about change. Spread the knowledge and help to make things seem as though they are everyday changes. This way even the most stubborn person can see that change in the right direction is the best way.

tim nelin
6/22/2010 10:32:59 AM

It's real simple, folks! If we keep breaking it, and don't know how to fix it, then maybe we should stop breaking it. THE EARTH, I MEAN.

5/10/2010 9:22:11 AM

In response to the "Is it beautiful?" I wanted to beg to differ about socialism/communism being fair when the elite groups/leaders - in military and government within those previous societies where not within the "fair" groups of the rest of the people within those nations and still aren't in socialist countries today. Proverty is rampant and the lack of free enterprise cause the mind set of the people to "give up" knowing they will never be able to "get anything" than what they have. It is awful and disgusting. China also has the biggest problem in the world with pollution-it isn't America-this inot to to say that America doesn't pollute. However the premise of your whole piece is that beautiful does have an effect on people-it promotes creativity-however I am not sure that it does that for everyone or else you wouldn't see garage on the sides of our roads and freeways.

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