Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
A quality life is inevitably made up of small achievements. Our relationships are formed by thousands of short, often trivial communications and the occasional shared experience. We build trust that way. Careers materialize from millions of small tasks.
I’ve developed a habit of testing my ideas and actions, however small and trivial, against a set of questions. At work many of the questions are specialized. “Does this build audience efficiently?” “Does it make money?” “Will it make money?” “Does this contribute to building a positive culture?” “Does this represent our shared values?”
More important, though, are some of the general questions: “Is this fair?” “Is it repeatable?”
The exercise is therapeutic. Rather than asking, “Can we eliminate our business’ dependence on fossil fuels,” we ask, “Is our energy usage fair and repeatable? Does it contribute to a beautiful, abundant future?”
The answer is almost never a simple “no.” Generally speaking, the answer is partly yes and partly no. Where the answer is positive, we can feel some sense of satisfaction and leave things alone. Where the answer is negative we generally find ways of changing our practices for the better and, again, getting some satisfaction from the improvements.
This essay is excerpted from Beautiful and Abundant: Building the World We Want published by B&A Books in December, 2010. The book is available now on the Mother Earth News bookshelf.
Photo by Bryan Welch