The ongoing challenges of sustainability in a culture that talks sustainability but opposes it in practice.

June 3, 2024 by Joshua
in Leadership, Nature

For those readers who haven’t signed up to my mailing list, every Monday I send a newsletter of the past week’s posts. For the newsletter’s introduction, I write what amounts to another post, usually a summary, reflection, or noting the highlights. I felt last week’s introduction merited being a post of its own. Here it is:

I almost forgot to post that I started my third year off the grid last week: Year 2, day 365 of my apartment disconnected from the electric grid.

I hit challenge after challenge. It’s never easy. Still, the most common responses tend to include questions that experience has shown leads to conclude “Oh, that’s why it’s easy for you but not for me.” It’s hard to live with internal conflict like “I don’t want to hurt people and wildlife but I am, so I’ll tell myself that what I do doesn’t matter.”


That excuse and countless other rationalizations and justifications that are ultimately bogus work for a while, but when someone shows their falseness, the internal conflict returns. Now making that internal conflict of violating ones own values requires more rationalization and justification: show that Josh is privileged or can do it because he isn’t married, etc.

My point is that our greatest challenges aren’t technological. They’re internal: facing our internal conflict and overcoming the fatuous, self-serving lies we mollify ourselves with.

Living more sustainably in a culture that disdains it isn’t about individual action. Two big results:

1) I learn what it takes to lead others by leading myself. No action compares remotely with learning effective leadership. Having fewer kids, eating less meat, flying less, etc all pale in comparison to the ability to lead others to embrace living ever more sustainably so they feel gratitude for starting them on that path of continual improvement. To date, I’m aware of no one leading in sustainability. You can’t lead others to live by values you live the opposite of and no one else is even trying. If I’m missing someone, please let me know. I’m looking.

2) I resolve my inner conflict and create inner peace. I can look the next generation in the eye and tell them I’m doing all I can to create the healthiest, most secure contacted and safe world possible for them. Most people can’t look their children in the eye and say so. Telling themselves individual action doesn’t matter mollified their consciences, but led them to give in and fly, order takeout, buy the big SUV. They’re actively making their children’s futures less healthy, safe, or secure.

I can only say these things because I’ve found and developed a way out, which I teach in my workshops and upcoming book. People love the results. If you’re interested, contact me. Actually, if you’re not, I’m also curious why not so I’d welcome being contacted.

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