Friday, June 21, 2013


For reasons that would not be of great interest, I have reflecting on the concept of “love” lately and am going to share a few postings on the matter.  Here is a wonderful passage from my friend and sometime collaborator, the late Donella (Dana) Meadows.  In many conversations when we were together, the topic of love  often came up. 
Dana wrote the following in 1992.  With some minor editing it concluded her co-authored sequel to The Limits to Growth, Beyond the Limits.
One is not allowed to say that in public any more.  Anyone who calls upon the human capacity for brotherly and sisterly love, generosity, compassion, will be met with a hail of cynicism.  Once when I tried to do so, a high government official stood up to say, "Of all scarce resources, love is the scarcest."
I just don't believe that.  Love is not a scarce resource, it is an untapped one.  Our jazzed-up, hustling, quantitative culture does not know how to tap it, how to discuss it, or even what it means.
 I am a child of that culture, and worse, a scientifically trained one.  I have been educated to trust in practicality, not in love.  But I have also been trained to see whole systems, and the more I do that, the more I see that practicality and love are in fact the same thing.  What is love, but the ability to identify with someone or something beyond your own skin?  Love is the expansion of boundaries, the realization that another person, or family, or piece of land, or nation, or the whole earth is so intimately connected to you that your welfare and his, her, or its welfare are one and the same.
In truth, of course, we are all intimately interconnected with each other and with the earth.  We have always been.  Love has always been a practical idea, as well as a moral one.  Now it is not only practical but urgent.  It is time to accept the astonishing notion that to be rational, to ensure our own preservation, much less that of nature and of future generations, what is required of us is to be GOOD.  We have to look far into the future, react to signals before they come, care for and share the resources of the earth, and moderate our numbers and desires.  We have to create a culture that draws out of us not only our technical creativity, our entrepreneurial cleverness, our individualism, competitiveness, and cynicism, but also our wisdom and our goodness.
It can be done.  We can be patient with ourselves and others as we all confront a changing world.  We can empathize with resistance to change; there is some clinging to the ways of unsustainability within each of us.  We can include everyone in the challenge; everyone will be needed.  We can listen to the cynicism around us and pity those who indulge in it, but refuse to indulge in it ourselves.
The world can pass safely through the adventure of bringing itself to sustainability only if people view themselves and others with compassion.  That compassion is there, within all of us, just waiting to be used, the greatest resource of all, and one with no limits.

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