That was a comment left on a Chinese site. Don’t bother Google translating it because the second part of the sentence comes from an old Chinese poem. I don’t think there is a language-bot out there that can appreciate the reflections of a poem. Luckily, my mother’s insistence and enforcing my memorizations of famous Chinese poems when I was young has its benefits. I can pontificate about sustainability and tell you a long-winded story about wild grass.
Caution: this may take a long and winding road. . .
According to some sustainability pros, the body of sustainability can be encompassed in three E’s – equality, ecology, and economy. Each independently important and correlates in our lives to bring us to our sustainability crisis. I had recently searched through my memories about what sustainability means to me. It started from my bicycle days in Beijing, advertised for Ai WeiWei’s cause, and came to a short break on the “dark side.”
Yeah, I dove into the deep end on that last one … but my excuse is that I was trained as a rambling fool, so you will have to excuse words like “metaphysical sustainability” from time to time.
But I do believe there is a deep connection, a philosophical connection, between our perception towards others and nature and how that manifests through concepts of human rights and environmental conservation, all waved by the fabrics of our economics.
But our economics also attributes power and special interests. In China, this is the State; here, it is . . . well, you know what those special interests are. By those special interests, we get a conglomerate of inequities: political rights, environmental rights, basic human rights and rule of law, right to information, etc. A few people are getting rich while we pay with our health and our freedom.
I would like to think we can change things for the better. But I remember the thousands of years of world-wide imperialisms, feudalisms, and all the other –isms; and I have a funny feeling that we haven’t got anything really right. We simply changed the target of our exploitation and understand survival a bit better. Face it, We never had utopia, but we are at least learning more and more about our three E's and our own very survival.
Perhaps that is where our hope lays, a better understanding of ourselves and our survival.
This is the part about the poem, and you have to put yourself in reverse: (cue punch line drum effect here)
“. . . miles and miles of grass on this field,
Year after year they come and go;
Even wildfires cannot subdue their will,
When spring winds come, they shall rise once more.”
The poem was meant to memorialize the will of life in wild grass; I will leave the expert literary interpretation to the experts.
When the reader quoted the last two lines of that poem as part of the comment, “中国的贪官是判不完的、、有点：野火烧不尽、春风吹又生、、” he used it in the reverse, mockingly expressing his despair for no meaningful changes in China. The comment was left on an online editorial listing all of the corrupt officials, (but complaining no one had been executed since 2007). I felt an eerie reminisce of the madness of the Cultural Revolution.
Leaving China and its troubles aside.
I often feel our own sustainability efforts in the US face the same kind of vicious cycle China experiences with its corruption. Because we are driven by economics, are we doomed to continuing special interests? only we will see new “green-washed” ones? I've heard Green is the new Black, and I really hates those black tie parties.
What I can say about the US is I can at least learn as much as possible to see for myself. In China, even that is controlled and only for the interests of the State.
So I exercised my new freedom today: I enrolled and was approved for LEED certification. I don’t care much about the certification itself, but I am excited for the body of knowledge I will learn.
Even though it seems I grip and complaint a lot, I do in fact enjoy what I do here and I do think the water is half full . . . and I want to help fill it to full just so we can all be optimists. Cheers