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Sustainability at the Whole, the Part, and the Greater Whole

In looking at some writing I had done about sustainability in a human system, I found this statement that relates to sustainability at all levels of a system--the whole, the part, and the greater whole.  It speaks to me of why generative engagements are so critical, whether I am doing personal work, reaching out interpersonally, or working with a team or larger community.  What do you think?

"Sustainability at any one level is not possible unless there is some level of sustainability at all three levels.  We are too interdependent in human systems to believe that we can ignore  sustainability and health at any level.  If individuals are not healthy, the family is not.  If families are not healthy, the community cannot be fully healthy.  If the communities are blighted, the nation cannot sustain over time."

It looks like a pretty bold statement that may overreach, but I don't think so. For instance when you think about the work of Soros and others who talk about a nation's health and peace as they relate to the existence of "public goods." The idea is that those nations that don't have healthy systems of public goods cannot establish a peaceful or healthy society.  Public goods are used in slightly different ways, but they generally refer to societal systems that accomplish the following functions.

  • provide equitable access to education
  • assure justice and equal access to opportunity
  • establish an economic system
  • address issues related to health
  • create adequate infrastructures - such as highways, utilities, regulations, etc.

Consider the challenges our country is currently experiencing in any and all of these areas, and it becomes abundantly clear that we must engage with each other in generative dialogue and action to begin to address sustainability issues at all levels of our society. 



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