Guest Blog: Conversation, lifestyle and sustainability

Alejo Etchart holds some graduations, but is reluctant to labels and prefers to be called a conversationalist. Four years after quitting the sustainability arena to navigate ‘the self’, he realizes that learning to live a kind of first-hand life, reducing his market-reliance and consistently rejecting all manfestation of falseness, is the only that he can do for sustainability. With such purpose, he is undertaking a centre for Spanish language learning for foreign speakers[i].
  
Falseness rejection has to do with what one eats or wears; where one buys goods or services (remarkably energy) from, puts his savings in or travels in holidays to; what’s the goal of the business that one works for or the fuel his car consummes; how one faces relations… rather than with being persuaded that the world outside should follow another evolution pattern and to try persuade others on it. This said, it does not involve that working on the ‘big thing’ (e.g., national or international climate change negotiations) is useless –opposite, it is necessary in this ludicrous world. But such consistent rejection of falseness inevitably leads to the negation of interests diversity very existence; and, might working on agreeing different interests not be an unintended way to reconfirm them? What if such world’s ludicrousness met its way in fewer and fewer humans? On the other side, although international treaties would make global change more feasible, we cannot wait for them, because a huge deal of legislation and time that we don’t have would be needed; and because, at the end, the responsibilty would again lie on each and all of us, humans.

Some months ago, while in my daily mountain walk, I received a call from a good friend. We held a long talk, and before goodbye he said that he could see himself conversing by my side. Beautiful word, conversation. It derives from latin versare, which indicates movement (turn, change) and from the root con, for ‘in common’. To converse is therefore to ‘move together’. It is not to dialogue (etym. ‘speechify rationally’), or to argue, convince or persuade. It is not a matter of arriving to a final agreement after a discussion process. To converse is to move together all along the expression process. Conversation occurs in inverse proportion to the impediments it meets. When interests exists, either to convince, to gain yield, recognition, shame or any other advantage; or when prejudices impede the observation of what is happening as something new, conversation may hardly flow.

Similarly, universe is the ‘sole movement’, even when it manifests by means of infinite organisms –out of which we humans are only a case, as lettuces, nails, minerals, water or earth are. We are all manifestations of life’s diversity, concentrations of energy under an temporary specific form. We all feed eachother, being homes to the energy that moves the sole movement and that the sole movement regenerates. So, only universe –or life— may converse, and can only do it with itself, in a continuous learning process.

The life energy that through us manifests, remains after our organic activity comes to an end: our bodies are buried or burnt, then corrupted into humus, liquids or gases, which turn into earth or air, plants or gas flows, into animals that then die and continue the never ending evolutioning process of birth, sacrifice and re-birth that Ken Wilber shows to be driven by certain tenents[1], as recent scientific findings support[2]. The strong controversy that such findings have caused in the scholar field was tackled many years ago. Wilber[3] gathered texts by some of the most brilliant phsysicits in history (Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Einstein, Jeans, Planck, Pauli and Eddington) that agree, even being mystics all of them, in the uncapability of science to deal with mysticism. As Wilber puts it: “in the mystical consciousness, Reality is apprehended directly and immediately, meaning without any mediation, any symbolic elaboration, any conceptualization, or any abstractions”. A space of mental silence, thoughts-, emotions-, prejudice, judgements- and intentions-free,  is  needed to transcend (and include) science to approach to such apprehension. Prominent philosopher M. Heidegger urged for the use of poetry as best-equipped to reveal being[4].

It’s not hard to realize how ubiquituous falseness is ‘out there’. When our mind stops convincing us of how good and necessary we are, it becomes clear that we also have much falseness it inside, that our lifestyles are packed with it. When conversation with friends leads to this issue and, soon after, to their jobs, a barrier consistently arises, normally expressed in an ok-yes-but…-everybody's-got-to-make-a-living!-style. The conversation normally ends at this point because, obviously, in our Economics-driven living civilization, jobs are needed. An etymological exposition about the word prostitution could be relevant here, but you can probably guess it out; so it might be more adequate to precise what Economics mean here, and what difference is made with economy.

Let’s convene to call economy (with lower case for being a common word) to the law followed by life through any manifestation, there were (scarce) resources exist. A river flows to the sea havig into account the whole: its own power, the power it may gain by meeting more tributaries, the hardness of the rocks and land it meets, … and the infinite complexity. A tree grows with the same criterion, considering the richness of the land where it lies, the power it may gain from other living creatures, the protection to other trees that it may need to remain alive itself... (it might be surprising to learn the new scientific findings about plants' intelligence). The life exression that each of them is has into account whatever it needs. Animals, plants, microorganisms… populations, communities, ecosystems, biosphere… they are all manifestations of the economy of nature[5].

On the other side, let’s call Economics (with capital initial for being a convention) both to the academic discipline and also to the prevalent (and so biassed) understanding of the word economy in our civilization. Economics don’t consider all resources (resource implies scarcity), but just some of them: capital, land and labour (by the way, is labour scarce, or is its opposed –employment— which is scarce?). They do not, and could ever not by themselves, take into account all what might be grouped under ‘natural environment’ (water, breathable quality air, biodiversity and the wide variety of resources that nature provides with) as far as they have no owner to pay to for its use and they are free-access. So, Economics, by not being holistic (not having into account all resources), necessarily behave anti-economically, breaking the natural balance detrimentally to those recources that it does not consider[6]. Attempts have been made to bring some natural resources into Economics, but they often fail following this inconsiderateness[7]; and also following human stupidity –which is not, as we know, any scarce.  The mantra of the Green Economy that we must give nature a value to protect it is, at least, extremely high risk. A system adopts and adapts what fits into it, and turns the rest down. Evidences show that the worlds’s environmental state is deteriorating alarmingly[8], if we con’t dare to say irreversibly.

We can feel the abyss’ breath right before us, and yet our most basic instinct impedes us to realize that hope is just a mere illusion. So we keep on researching, speeching, negotiating, failing to meet, blaming on others and so on, without seing inside each and all of us the deep root of any form of conflict: separation[9]. Thousands of species and civilizations have perished before[10], and ours will follow the same path. It may be too hard to accept the evidence, but nothing perdures forever, but life itself.  Life will continue with or without homo sapiens, but it is sure that on our civilization it cannot count, neither with the golden calf that presides it.

Something new will sproud from collapse. Certainly, it will keep memory of what was before[11], integrating and transcending it. What depends on us is not to prevent it, but to care for the earth, for novelty to grow from wholesome seed. No undertaking might ever be more noble, integral and splendid.



[1]     See http://www.theinnercoach.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Ken-Wilbers-20-Tenets.pdf, summarized from Wilber, Ken (1995) Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. The Spirit of Evolution. Boston: Shambhala.
[2]     Kaku, M (2013) Is God a Mathematician? Youtube-Big think [video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jremlZvNDuk [Last accessed 24 march 2017]
[3]     Wilber, K (1984) Quantic Questions. Boston: Shambalha.
[4]     Rogers, B. (2006) Poetic Unconvering in Heidegger. Aporia 122. Available from: http://aporia.byu.edu/pdfs/rogers-poetic_uncovering_in_heidegger.pdf [Last accessed 26 march 2017]
[5]     Ricklefs, R. and Relyea, R. (2013) Ecology: The Economy of Nature. 7Th ed. New York : W.H. Freeman and Company
[6]     Etchart, A. (2012) Comunidades y negocios sociales: hacia una propuesta sistémica. Public Policies and Territory.  Politics and Terrirories 1 (3). [Last accessed 24/3/2107]. English version here.
[7]     See: Heelm, D. (2009) Climate-change policy: Why has so little been acheved. In: Helm, D. and Hepburn, C. (2009) The Economics and Politics of Climate Change. Oxford NY: Oxford University Press.
[8]     Fathehuer, T. (2014). New Economy of Nature- An Introduction. Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Ecology 35. Available from: https://www.boell.de/sites/default/files/new-economy-of-nature_kommentierbar.pdf [Last accessed 26/3/2107]
[9]     Krishnamurti, J. And Bohm, D (1985) The Ending of Time.  NY: Harper San Francisco. Available from: http://www.jiddu-krishnamurti.net/en/the-ending-of-time/1980-04-01-jiddu-krishnamurti-the-ending-of-time-the-roots-of-psychological-conflict [Last accessed 26/3/2107]
[10]  Montesharrei, S., Rivas, J. and Kalkay, E. (2014) Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies. Ecological Economics 101, 90-102. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800914000615
[11]   Laszlo, E. (2004) Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything. Rochester, Vermont: InnerTraditions.



[i]              Estilo de Vida (lifestyle) arises with the purpose of being home to conversation. It’s formally a centre for foreign language speakers to learn Spanish, and also a strength that joins the momentum to a resilient, ecolocal rural lifestyle –a fruitful life in the rural environment is a must also to provide resilience to urban livings nearby, as well as to take in an increasing population that might find in it a refugee from the exclusionary path that the poor undersating of economy follows. 

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