A cool thing about vanpooling is getting to read things I’d never have the time to read otherwise.My latest favorite read is a Newsweek article about compassionate behavior.
The big research finding is that emotionally secure people who feel safe in the world are more likely to help others and be kind to them. People who feel insecure and with few or poor relationships, or who see life as unmanageable, are less likely to be kind or generous.
How does this relate to sustainability? Sustainability requires us to get past our greed. For the U.S., sustainability is largely about consuming less. People have trouble believing that, even though it’s a well-known fact that we’re 4% of the world’s population consuming 25% of the world’s resources.
Much of the sustainability movement, particularly within the private sector, is based on consuming differently — but not less. Electric cars are one of the larger-scale examples of this. The day that their manufacturers promote carpooling and electric car sales with equal alacrity, or having just one car per household, is the day I’ll start promoting electric cars. That’s mostly because our culture has swallowed the Koolaid that tells us more is better. If you’re poor, more is better. But few of us are truly poor. Many in the U.S. just feel that way due to watching TV and advertising.
A large body of international research proves that more after our needs and then a few wants are met, more income and possessions does not lead to more happiness. But more and better hhuman human relationships are proven to create more happiness.
The research Newsweek reports is that when emotionally insecure people receive support and encouragement and observe the positive actions of others, they become more kind and generous, themselves, less grasping and greedy. So, what I’m thinking this morning is that one of the best things we can do for sustainability here in the U.S. is to build our webs of human relationships.
Right here, in whatever neighborhoods and workplaces we’re in, we can practice kindness and generosity that is contagious, and build the emotional security that bonds us to each other, rather than to the endless pursuit of possessions that our culture has been on in recent decades.