Historically, Indigenous cultures have shared the belief that all beings are interconnected. Their traditional way of life is grounded in the balance between all living things and decisions are made with this delicate equilibrium in mind. Western civilization has developed a very different perspective. With a way of life centered in growth, economic wealth, and power, decisions have generally been made based on accumulation and consumption. This has lead to the imbalance of our Earth’s systems and many disenfranchised beings.
Using the word “sustainable” to qualify development did not happen until the early 1970s in the famous report “Limits to Growth.” Through their research and projections, a group of Italian economists and scientists determined that the (then) current rate of depletion and overconsumption of the planet’s finite resources would have “apocalyptic” effects on our population and our growth in the next 100 years. These concepts weren’t even on the western world’s radar until fifty years ago, all the while native peoples have been witnessing this disequilibrium unfolding and suffering great consequences.
When we discuss the concept of “sustainability”, it is important to acknowledge that indigenous peoples are the true teachers. We learn and borrow from their wisdom and their way.
Dig deeper with this resource: Jacobus A. Du Pisani Professor of History (2006) Sustainable development – historical roots of the concept, Environmental Sciences, 3:2, 83-96, DOI: 10.1080/15693430600688831
If this subject matter interests you, we have more resources here: teachable.com.
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