by Scott Lewis | Brightworks CEO
The turning of the annual calendar always brings with it a range of associations, not the least of which is the idea of new beginnings. We mark the occasion with a ritual of making resolutions that often vanish as quickly as our holiday leftovers, and yet, we still carry this intangible sense that after all, a new year is a chance for a fresh beginning. It is the eternal human impulse to want a fresh start, to have another chance.
And somehow, deep inside, this desire for another chance has roots in an eternal optimism that says no matter how bad things have been in the past, there is still a possibility of a better tomorrow.
This resonates strongly for those of us in the sustainability business. How can one look with open eyes at a world with so much trouble – from war and famine to financial scandal to the degradation of the vital ecosystems that sustain our prosperity and survival, and not simply despair. The answer has to lie in some sort of deeper wisdom, which reminds us there have been challenges in the past, whose answers were not always visible at the time, yet human perseverance and ingenuity somehow provided solutions that could not have been imagined before they were invented.
And that is precisely where we stand today in the endeavor to create a post-carbon, socially equitable sustainable economy. As Paul Hawken said in his brilliant 2009 commencement address to the University of Portland graduating seniors:
If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.
That captures it pretty well: ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.
Ordinary people doing the extraordinary. That’s what it’s all about. As 2012 dawns and sparks in us that sense of new beginnings, won’t you join us in doing something extraordinary?
Happy New Year.