Native Americans have no word for sustainability. This statement, made by a Native American in a video this week, has had a huge impact on me. The fact that they are always being deeply aware and treating nature as a living being has really made me think. The Native Americans haven’t needed a word for sustainability because they’ve lived it. What does our future look like if we continue to use the word sustainability as a marketing ploy and don’t implement it?
On the way to class the other day, I realized how often many of us, including me, take the path of least resistance without even thinking about it. As I rushed across the parking lot and on to the sidewalk, I looked around to observe Mother Nature. Just as I stepped off the sidewalk to take a shortcut across the grass, I stopped. Whoa, the grass would soon end and the path ahead of me was worn down to dirt. I stepped back over to the sidewalk and took the long way around. I realized I can’t do anything about the sidewalk that is already in place, but I can be aware of my surroundings and take a few extra steps instead of blatantly stomping across the Earth’s carpet.
The history of Easter Island was also very alarming. Easter Island is a perfect example of what the depleting our nature resources can do to a civilization. As the natural resources are exhausted, quality of life plummets, and then all order is lost. We have a perfect example of what could happen again, which should be enough for us to reconsider our current situation. If we don’t make changes quickly, we’re headed in the same direction. Most people either won’t admit it, don’t believe it, or don’t care because they don’t picture it happening in their lifetime. What about our grandchildren? Are we willing to destroy their future? Picture another generation of your family, fighting for their lives. Picture a child with your last name in the future, a child without clean air to breathe, an earth without proper vegetation for them to thrive, and even something as grotesque as cannibalism to survive.
This is not a pretty picture, or the way I want to see my family in the future. However, if we don’t modify our behavior now as a society, it won’t matter if we have a word for sustainability or not. Right now we have a word for sustainability, but if we don’t make the necessary changes immediately, there are no words to describe our future.