Leadership Blog

Sustainability of our World, and Freedom

Posted on April 28, 2013 | in Sustainability | by

“What ‘freedom’ was for our parents’ generation, ‘sustainability’ has to be for ours.  If we do not bring sustainable values into our banking systems and ecosystems, we are going to end up more ‘unfree’ than if the communists had won the cold war — because without sustainable practices, repeated crises in the market and Mother Nature will impose more limitations on our way of life than anything the Soviets ever could have.” …  a quote from Thomas L. Friedman, co-author of That Used To Be Us.

To put this into personal perspective, the first time I read this, I recalled a conversation with my father, Berl J Kleckner, a World War II Battle of the Bulge veteran.  Berl was a proud soldier who spent two years with the 4th Infantry Division, much of it on the frontlines of battle.  In one of those rare moments when he opened up about the war, my father cited their mission to protect “freedom,” hence the connection I drew when reading Friedman’s quote.  When asked how he was protecting freedom, he soberly responded that he knew that they must go to Berlin to stop Hitler.  He said, “Each American soldier was personally willing to risk it all to kill that evil man who was planning to take away our freedom.  It was our duty and we each expected to personally do the honors.”  Risk it all?  Our duty? Now, align that level of commitment with Friedman’s comment.

So, what is the “Sustainability” that we must bring to the forefront of our focus and values?  In this context Sustainability is:

  • Doing what it takes to manage our planet’s material resources, society, schools, energy, businesses, communities, governments, environment, peace, and more… to sustain a higher quality of life with each other for generations.
  • Creating value for the future
  • Putting more into the world than we take out.

No one company or individual can save the planet from our sustainability risks.  However, each organization and person must be more rigorous and deliberate about how we live, consume, and contribute.  Achieving a Sustainable society takes everyone doing their part.  Sustainability must be in our DNA, or, in Friedman’s terms, in our values.

From a business perspective, an exciting aspect of what I have seen is that 99.99% of Sustainability initiatives are mutually inclusive of financial benefits, whether it be reducing energy used in the home or reducing raw materials in a manufacturing process.

Our goal is a better quality of life for future generations.  Our previous generations have succeeded. Now it is our turn.

Next week, specifics on how we can bring Sustainability home to our organizations and families.

This week, and every week, put more into the world than you take out! … and Pass it on!


One Response to “Sustainability of our World, and Freedom”

  1. John Dallas says:

    I had never compared sustainability to freedom before this article. Yet it is true that if leave a world for our grandchildren where they are all sick from the poisons we put in the environment then freedom becomes of little value. If our grandchildren have to spend a fortune to clean up the environmental messes we left them, then they may wonder if capitalism is worth the cost. And similar things could be said about other things that are pointed out in the article such as governments, education….
    Our parents sacrificed, risked their lives, so we could have it good. What are we sacrificing for the future generations?

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