6. Sustainability — Bedrock for Moral and Ethical Decision-Making

The Durations of Existence
The Durations of “Sustaining”
Brief Summary

This is the simple logic of the seven values: Conscientiously using these values in the decision-making processes in families and organizations will unconsciously result in the material and social sustainability of families, organizations, communities, and societies.

Material and Social Sustainability

Material Sustainability Social Sustainability
 < Quantity - Object Based  > < Quality - Value Based >
Material Environment —
Natural Resources are valued as material assets.
Social Environment —
Individuals are valued as social assets.
Sustained by: Sustained by:.
Increasing Quantity Available, 
Decreasing Usage,
Recycling and
* A symbiotic relationship  between individuals and organizations. Organizations  improves the quality of the individual’s capability …
… to participate effectively in organizations, which increases their social value to society.
* Individuals then become “social assets” whose innate capabilities can be nurtured and developed.

© Copyright Daniel Raphael 2014, 2018

If we decide as families, communities, and societies to embrace both material and social sustainability, we need to know for how long, and what “sustaining” really means. The table below provides clear definitions of the two branches of sustainability that are necessary for a society to “become sustainable.”

The Durations of Existence

Survival presents us with the immediate appreciation of life now and the threat of death within this day or the next.

Existence presents us with the necessity of assuring our survival over a period of time with death still being a constant reminder in our daily activities.

Maintenance presents us with the necessity of assuring our existence is maintained into an indefinite future. And this is the place where most people and their communities and societies exist — in an indefinite future.

Stability. As a society moves toward social sustainability it has begun the process of making decisions that assure it has a definite, peaceful, and stable future.

The Durations of “Sustaining”

Sustain: To lengthen or extend in duration. This also implies a continuation of what exists already, which may not be sustainable.

Sustainable:  Capable of being sustained in the long term.

Sustainability:  The ability to sustain.

Social Sustainability: The ability of a society to be self-sustaining indefinitely…, for 5 years, 50 years, 250 years, 500 years and more because of the intention for its existence and the design of its functions.

Consciously choosing UNsustainability is to choose the death of societies and the quality of life of all future generations. It is an immoral decision whether made consciously or by the omission to decide. It is an immoral decision because it primarily violates the values of growth and equality of the generations that have not been born.
Trying to achieve sustainable growth is first of all an oxymoron — it is contradictory and impossible. Many people in business strive to sustain growth of their corporation’s profits. Eventually, that becomes an impossibility, which at the present time has not yet shown its ugly face. Then an existential moral problem will exist. Do we exploit the material environment to maintain profits and our high standard of living compared to the rest of the world, or do we begin to practice conservation (decreasing usage, reusing, recycling, and re-purposing) to support the children of our future generations?

One of the intentions of this book is to make people aware of our moral responsibilities to the billions of people of future generations, and that includes our children’s children and great-great grand children. When we discuss the primary value “equality” what we are talking about is designing our material resources and social institutions so that social and material resources are available to nurture and support the development of the innate potential of those future generations.

Brief Summary

Now the question. “Do we want our societies and our way of life to become sustainable or UNsustainable?” We can make that decision once we appreciate how intimately our decisions today will affect the survival, existence, stability, and sustainability, in their broadest definitions, of those who have yet to be born.

As you can see from the last three paragraphs, the “rules of engagement” for resolving these difficult situations must come from the Seven Values, their Moral Definitions, Ethics Statements, and Expressed Ethics. Relying upon humanly conceived value systems and interpretations will only lead to more and more difficult situations, (read, Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous, “VUCA”), with no final authority to rely upon. If our societies are to be sustained, then we must rely upon the authority of the seven values and apply them to the decision-making processes of all organizations to give families, communities, and societies the same longevity as our species.

Educating the Younger Generation

Insects are born fully educated and equipped for life—indeed, a very narrow and purely instinctive existence.  The human baby is born without an education; therefore man possesses the power, by controlling the educational training of the younger generation, greatly to modify the evolutionary course of civilization.

The security of civilization itself
still rests on the growing willingness
of one generation
to invest in the welfare
of the next and future generations.