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.
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
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.