This I Believe

Michael - Solomons, Maryland
Entered on June 30, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

Dear ‘This I Believe’,

It’s been a strange but enlightening road I’ve traveled since I graduated from the University of Florida and embarked on the American Dream. I’ve changed professions twice and have been faced with many personal challenges and triumphs. But, today I can say without doubt my true passion is the advocacy of social, economic and environmental sustainability. My second livelihood of thirteen years working as a DoD contractor has given me unique insight into some of today’s most unsustainable practices and priorities as well as into the people, communities, industry and government entities that develop and implement these practices and priorities. It has helped me to understand how to create a common ground to educate and share basic principles of sustainability and balance to those who otherwise find it to be a foreign language. Bottom line, I’ve come to believe that the fundamental shift to sustainability and balance will occur only when individuals become personally enlightened by the principles of sustainability, who then share their enlightenment with their family, friends, and neighbors… eventually transforming whole communities. I believe our national diversity has largely been marginalized by a consumption based economy that has evolved to produce a homogenous formula of goods and services whether you live a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho or in a metropolis such as New York City at the mouth of the Hudson River.

The impact of our current unsustainable way of life I believe can be most dramatically understood and recognized by a consistent pattern of declining health (increased incidence of illness and disease) over the past century and the erosion of meaningful relationships (increased incidence of personal isolation) in America. All the other impacts such as the significant damage being caused to the biosphere can be recognized as personal problems requiring immediate attention only after as a society we first rediscover and rebuild what I believe to be the most significant loss that would have otherwise led our society to choose a different path… that is the loss of local communities… unique and diverse in terms as social, economic, cultural and religious genome. Healthy ecosystems are resilient, which are sustained through biodiversity. And so I believe therein similarly lies the key to accomplishing a fundamental societal shift to the principles of sustainability and balance…. rediscovering and embracing that which makes us diverse as people, friends, neighbors… communities, in the ways I listed above. I call this the next great frontier to be discovered, or perhaps… rediscovered. Presently, I believe our society and way of life reflects, among other things, a coast-to-coast homogenous economy based on consumption driven by an unsustainable economic engine using fossil fuel, which has greatly influenced our domestic and foreign policies.

I believe our economic engine is need of retooling, fueled by such sustainable energy sources as wind, solar, geothermal and hydrogen. But the exact form and deployment of such energy generation I believe must be determined at the local community or regional level to determine what mix of energy production and use will be most sustainable and least impacting to the biosphere. This determination cannot occur without first determining what our real local energy requirements ought to be based on the principles of economic, social, cultural, and environmental sustainability and balance. I believe this will create resilient and diverse systems of energy capture, storage, production and distribution from coast to coast…. reflective of communities that have embraced and are distinguishable by their unique social, economic, geographic, and cultural characteristics… like a healthy and diverse ecosystem. Today a disruption in crude oil or manipulation in crude oil prices can cause far reaching coast-to-coast economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts.

For my part in this transformation, my long-term goal is to first go back to school to become a board certified Oriental Medical Doctor (OMD), trained in the art of traditional Chinese Medicine. Then afterwards open a healing/life center. So, the long and winding road has led me to understand both my true calling and method for sharing with others the principles of sustainability and balance. The method… becoming a healer to help individuals to regain and sustain optimal health… balance of heart, mind, body and spirit. I believe it will be this healing of individuals that will be the quintessential catalyst that will enlighten individuals and eventually entire communities to the principles of sustainability and balance. I believe this healing will reveal how our own state of sustained harmony is intrinsically connected to the natural world in which we live… that we are all but a microcosm of the natural world surrounding us. I believe that this healing will reveal that the imbalances (i.e. pollution of the air, water and soil, destruction of biodiversity, etc) we create in the natural world are manifested in us in the form of disease and illness. This I believe will then become profoundly understood as a society and that our sustained existence depends on how we choose to coexist with Mother Earth… or not.