The term “sustainability” is often used in conjunction with discussions about the environment: reducing our carbon footprint, recycling, and generally working towards making a better world for generations to come.
After thinking about ways to improve the world, both now and for the future, it came into my mind that how we treat the world can reflect how we treat ourselves. Do we respect each other and listen to each other’s opinions, or do we simply dismiss those with whom we do not agree? Do we make an effort to get to know people from different walks of life and backgrounds, or do we try just to surround ourselves with people who fit within our comfort zones?
When we make efforts to have a cleaner city locally, as well as cleaner air and water globally, it means we do care about what we leave behind. How we relate to our fellow humans can also affect the state of the world. The most global and dramatic example of this is war.
However, even locally, negativity in our day-to-day interactions can poison the world around us in ways that can be as toxic as an oil spill on a lake. Hurt feelings and divisions between neighbours can be as difficult to clean up, and the effects can linger for years.
A sustainable world is one with peace and harmony. We can only achieve that by being aware of our “social footprint” – the impact of our words and actions upon others. If we want to heal the world, we have to heal ourselves. This doesn’t mean you should give up recycling if you don’t get along with someone, but rather that you are willing to examine the relationship and heal it, under the appropriate time and circumstances. A sustainable world needs sustainable relationships.