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A deeper dimension of sustainability

Sustainability is now a mainstream word. People feel the need to put an adjective in front of it, i.e., economic sustainability, or environmental sustainability, I suppose in an attempt to focus its meaning. It is to me a word that connotes far deeper dimensions than many seem to consider—an ethic about how we are to treat each other and our world shared widely among humans from all walks of life.

I recently heard from my friend Al Weed, a farmer and soldier and one of the most thoughtful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. He also is a driving force behind Public Policy of Virginia.  Many moons ago, we worked together on a sustainability program in Charlottesville. One of our projects was something called the Interfaith Roundtable on Sustainability, funded by the Virgnia Foundation for the Humanities, with the strong support of another old colleague and VFH staff member, David Bearinger.

That Roundtable, composed of conservative and liberal representatives of area faith and ethical traditions,  crafted a meditation that helped to provide the moral underpinnings for what I came to understand “sustainability” to mean and in an indirect way provided the impetus for the creation of Conserv. With times as they are, it seems to me their words are more relevant today than they were a decade ago.

Affirmation

for Interdependence, Respect, and Responsibility:

An Ethical Framework for a Sustainable Future

Preamble

As people with differing beliefs, we travel on different paths:

reverence for a creator and the creation inspires some of us;

a realization of interdependence through enlightenment moves others;

while others respond from considerations of personal ethics.

Whatever our starting point in faith or belief, we have reached consensus on the following, and fully endorse its relevance to the human condition:

All life is connected.

No life is lived alone.

Humans, animals, and plants depend upon each other

through an interdependent web of physical and spiritual relationships.

Because each life influences all life, human prosperity is bound with the fate of all the earth.

We believe

that we are only one part of life;

that all parts are precious;

that we are responsible for every part.

We are called to appreciate the wonder of life,

to recognize its inherent value, and

to respect the right of all living things to live through mutually beneficial relationships.

Our purpose is to care for life,

to be concerned for ourselves, our families, our friends,

and all living beings of the present and future.

Our response as individuals and communities should be service to other people and other species,

not to harm or destroy anything indiscriminately,

to share the earth—limiting our space,

creating and preserving places for all life to flourish,

through awareness, cooperation, justice, and love.

Signed this 22nd day of September, 1997, the the members of the Interfaith Roundtable on Sustainability

Daniel S. Alexander

Wayne B. Arnason

Brenda Brown-Grooms

David Collyer

Frank Forehand

Charles Lancaster

Andrew W. Mackey

Sandra R. Newhouse

Ernest Q. Reed

Mark Salata

William Stewart

Doyle Thomas

Andrew Trotter

and

Christina Wulf, Staff

- Michael Collins

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