It’s All About Worldbuilding
This is my personal vision of what sustainability is, in its largest sense, and how we move forward with it. This understanding underlies my vision of the world of my New Trails series, which sometimes falls short (of course!) and sometimes outstrips us. But our challenges are that society’s challenges, too; it’s just farther along, in some ways, and I hope we can take guidance from its enactment of its reality on this road we all travel. So take the following as my own thoughts, and perhaps you can see them playing out in the worlds I create in my own writing.
Let’s start with Supreme Court Justice Ruth B Ginsberg, who spent a lifetime working toward the creation of an equitable society, one where everyone, of every gender and every race, could flourish. She would be appalled, and grief-stricken, and furious, to see what the Court has done with it since.
Let’s commit to realizing her vision.
A sustainable civilization focuses on three things, with the intent to create flourishing on every front.
- The relationship between ourselves and the Earth, which centers on caring for our forests and rivers, deserts and watersheds, rainforests, oceans, and the other lives we share this planet with. It is about seeing ourselves as a ‘small blue dot’ in the cosmos, a beautiful blue ‘spaceship Earth,’ and celebrating our place in the web of life. And it’s about recognizing and acting on our responsibilities to serve all of those connections.
- The relationship between ourselves and each other, which focuses on caring for ourselves in all our wonderful diversity, whether those differences are those of race, or gender, or faith, or some other aspect of our lives. It’s about respecting our places on this Earth, whatever community we call our own. It’s about celebrating love of many kinds, and finding ways to meet each other in difficult conversations, recognizing our common humanity even amidst fierce disagreements.
- And the relationship with our selves, which is about recognizing our own worth as individuals, committing to the learning process of moving through the lifespan, and of finding the sometimes difficult joy of coming home to who we are.
This blog, and my novels, are about how we achieve the flourishing that Justice Ginsberg strove to enact. I want to open a discussion of who we are and who we can be in this dangerous, transformative moment of crisis, on all three of the arenas that allow for the realization of a sustainable civilization.
It won’t be easy.
This moment isn’t easy, and the choices we must make, the commitments that we face — they aren’t easy, either. They’re not supposed to be.
We’re worldbuilding, in the deepest sense of the word, and it’s up to us what kind of reality we create, in all its wondrous complexity.
Every one of us engages in this action, all the time. We choose how to build our own worlds, what is right, what is wrong, what we believe and what we reject. We choose who we interact with, and what we say, and how we want to look. We shape the world that we live in, and we see it as true and real, and it never occurs to us that we ourselves created it.
We are, each of us, authors of our own fictions. And each world built is real.
How terrifying. And how liberating.
To realize this is to empower ourselves to change the boundaries of our world, the rules we choose to believe in and live by, the goals we want to achieve, the purposes we decide are worth pursuing.
Now our entire world, and all the societies on it, are in crisis as we struggle to figure out what kind of civilization we want to build as we move forward.
Will it be compassionate? Or coercive? Will Black Lives Matter, or do we all have to look the same on the surface of our skin?
Will it be about participation? Or is tyranny easier? Do we put ourselves out there, shaping our world through signage and protest, or do we let others make the hard decisions, closing our ears to different voices?
How much power, agency will we have in this world to come? How much do we want? And what are we willing to do to commit to it, engage in it?
And perhaps most importantly, who do we want to share this world with? People just like us, in color and culture and faith? Or people who are different in every way?
The answers to these questions matter, to each and every one of us. They matter for our society, for all societies, for our planet and our world.
As a novelist, I build universes where I can play out the answers to these questions. As a writer of articles, I use my knowledge of policy to shape a path that can enable flourishing for all. And as a college lecturer, I construct classes where my students can find their own ways to engage with the creation of a sustainable civilization.
Come join me on this journey, as we all discover who we are and can be, as individuals, communities, and, perhaps most importantly, as a people.
The Path Forward:
Here are some steps I feel can move us forward in this moment.
- Right now voting is one of the most important choices we can make to support the creation of the world we want. Make a plan, and follow it. Don’t be paranoid, just careful. Check with your county clerk, or your Secretary of State, or even at places like vote.org for the right steps to take. Vote early, whether by mail or in person, and ensure that your ballot is received, and counted. And be safe.
- Vote down ballot. Don’t just choose the top name and send it off. All offices matter now, whether it’s President, the federal Senate and House, your state Senate and House, judges of your community, and so on, right down to the members of the school board.
- And above all, interrogate those you choose to represent you. Do they honor the same vision that you do? Do they serve empowerment and growth of all of us, or just some of us? Look past what they say, and examine their actions, how they’ve voted, who they support. Are they kind, or is cruelty the point? Then make your own decision, and check the box, or not.
- Support the candidates that want to build a better world for all of us, not just some of us.
- Money is one way.
- Post signs, or support those who do.
- Walk in protest, or stand in solidarity with those who do.
- Stay your path.
- Believe that what you do in your life counts toward the creation of the more perfect civilization we’re working toward, even if what you do seems small and mundane. What we’re trying to do, trying to build, is complex, deep, and messy. If you’re trying to live into a vision of a better world, then that intention matters, however it’s enacted.
Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.
19 thoughts on “How Do We Create a Sustainable Civilization?”
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