In order to make and keep the world a better place, sustainable people not only do what they are good at but also help others become their best selves. More information and more action don’t bore them. They systematically get things done and establish various back up plans for problems that may arise. They are honest about the severity of the issues at hand and their corresponding remedy. They respect themselves, their superiors, their inferiors, as well as the nature.
People like these are the creators of stable economies, inclusive societies, good governance and safe environment on earth. They lead us to sustainable development and are the ones who will change the world for good. They are passionate, skilled and knowledgeable in alleviating poverty and in fair distribution of solutions to the farthest areas. Above all, they love everyone. Despite their ability to shake the world, they are humble, understanding, and trustworthy.
I am training myself to become a sustainable person. So far, I have realized that despite all massive opportunities or huge experiences that make us all sustainable by formula, challenges to word’s sustainability still lie in the lack of proper attitudes that we apply in our daily life, and so there lies the solution. Good attitude towards development is not magic or a trick for some, but a game that everyone can win. For me to understand what sustainability means, it was worth learning the following three lessons:
- What we expect from the planet is too much: We love our planet and enjoy being alive. However, our greedy search for survival, wealth and power cannot allow the earth’s main resources to thrive. Our beyond-control technology and wrath-induced weaponry, all driven by selfishness, cannot give us a chance to celebrate our free blessings. We produce enough but consume less due to diseases we cause to ourselves during the production process. Seeing our friends die of diseases we contributed to does not build us, but shocks and tears us apart. We cannot thrive in a world where war zones are our main investment targets or where hospitals are homes to millions. For us to achieve sustainable development, we all need to learn how to “enjoy responsibly”
- Our great skills and knowledge lack critical information: There is no other creature in record that was able to accomplish what humankind accomplished. We are genius. We are kings and queens. We are thinkers, inventors, and decision makers. However, our knowledge to the world is still limited as it has weak values to help scale the solutions we create. Despite making the world smaller and closer, we barely understand what is going on in our societies because we think our skills in one part of the globe are enough. Yet, we cannot scale and achieve sustainability if our skills do not connect with the society that we want to create solutions for. We need to know and understand what motivates societies before throwing the so-called solutions to them.
- Good attitude is the backbone solution to our problems: Despite having a deep interest and, sometimes, innate calling about a particular subject, plus an enormous know how that we possess, our attitude to our others and to the physical planet is not as good as it should be. We lack a dose of care for the mother land. We tend to inquire for the best and expect more at no or unfair cost. We have all we need to live in harmony with the environment but we always push against the planetary boundaries. Without good attitude, passion and skills cannot make the world sustainable.
Serious threats against sustainability
You will be surprised to see that most of sustainability threats derive from what we call opportunities that we run after every day and night. The problem is not insufficient finance, insufficient time, or lack of will. The problem is not a lack of skills and knowledge. The problem is a lack of proper attitude in the search-for-survival process. We fail to use our passion, skills and knowledge to maintain sustainability because of our wrong attitudes. Let me tell you how:
- We have very shocking inequality in economy and living standards: Before the industrial revolution, the word was fairly equal in problems and solutions. But look now. The rich became richer while the poor became poorer. The weak cannot easily make it because the strong keeps strength on their own and don’t want to share. Powerful people celebrate victories while the weak are in tears behind the scene. Fair resource and happiness distribution please.
- We still dwell on unjust leadership systems: Some of us say justice doesn’t exist because of what they experience. We’re in a world where men still have a voice over women, where guns are peace-building tools, and where basic human rights are compromised by a few commodities. Why can’t we make peace talks work? Why should some of us enjoy the sufferance of the others?
- We have poorer social inclusion and less love: Futurist warned us when they said love would become low. This has happened already. In secrecy is where dark acts are planned and implemented. We need more light on what’s happening. As long as wealth is concerned, we blindfold others, exclude them, marginalize them and eliminate them for us to maximize our gains or to hide our bad deeds. Transparent systems and processes are more than needed.
- We are environmental illiterates: When we need to eat, we don’t care about tomorrow or after tomorrow. We get what we want, dump the waste, and run away. At the moment, we avoid to remember that the more we take out of the environment, the more exhausted it becomes. We dig deep. We tear and shear. We don’t care about long-term damages as long as we meet our short term needs. What will happen when the world is paralyzed due to its complete failure to carry our heavy burdens? We have to be realistic about our actions and effects.
- We create scary technologies: We create many insecure technologies that if we don’t keep them safe, we’ll blow this planet. Let’s mind the way our “free for all” tech offers will affect us and our surrounding before we distribute them. Let’s also leave room for natural processes to work as usual. We’re still on earth that runs through natural, not artificial, processes. You can’t digitalize everything and ensure absolute safety at the same time.
A sustainable remedy
Serious problems require serious solutions. Here is what we need to do to become and remain sustainable. Nothing is new at all. But mastering each of the following requires repeated training, and support form others. I am trying to live by these 6 attitudes and have made great progress so far. It’s not easy. But it’s possible.
- Love everyone: We more than need to love each other and will not go far if we don’t. As this saying reminds us: “In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you”. Love for all is fundamental to sustainable development.
- Put attitude first: Instead of testing your fit for a career through knowledge or skills, give yourself a trial exercise and see how appropriate you do the work. The way you naturally behave and approach the work is unique. It comes from your inner character. While you can build your skills and passion, attitude is a set of values that you don’t just express, but that you live by every day, every time. Improve your attitude and the rest will be sorted out.
- Educate for change: Teach people how to respect themselves and others. Teach them universal human rights. Teach students how to create healthy relationships with others in all parts and stages of life. Teach students how to learn and how to create real solutions not just new things. Everyone struggles with these things, so being introduced to them at school can prepare us ahead of time and potentially boost success in our future. Schools like African Leadership University and University of Edinburgh are trying to do this through their Global Challenges majors. More than ever, we need to teach people how to know who they are, what they want and how to live in harmony with the rest of the world.
- Ban all unhealthy paths to wealth: Smuggling, corruption, theft, piracy, coups, deforestation, fracking, human trafficking, poaching, etc.
- Beware of technology: Keep it safe for now and for the future.
- Love everyone: You read it right. I wrote this again. We more than need to love each other and will not go far if we don’t. As this saying reminds us: “In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you”. Love for all is fundamental to sustainable development.
We can end the world’s sufferance and be free in our lifetime. However, there is a cost associated with that: adopting positive attitudes and behaviors on top of our skills and power.