Words have power. Any great orator knows that words and the way they are used is important because words have power - they can limit or they can set free. The right word can determine the success of an outcome. Don't believe it? I give you the word "revolution". Revolution is used for unsuccessful attempts to gain power. Why? The word itself was originally used to describe the course of planets in their orbits - no big change there, just a continuance after a perceived departure. If the revolution were to succeed it would be referred to as a change of power. Words make a difference.
|So what about the word "sustainable"? Lately I have been wondering if, by using this term we are not striving for the wrong thing. Do we really only want to sustain what is? Or is the point to give ourselves a better future, to move humanity ahead? The modern term, from the 1980's supposedly, is "sustainable" living. Researching the etymology of "sustainable" reveals that it actually comes from the 1610s and means "bearable," from sustain + -able. Attested from 1845 in the sense "defensible;" from 1965 with the meaning "capable of being continued at a certain level." (1) Not very hopeful, is it?
I certainly do not want to keep the current order of things nor do I want to throw the baby out with the bathwater and abandon all progress humanity has made to go back to basics. There must be a more middle ground. But what would we call that?
The word "thrive" comes to mind and it is in use among some groups. Ever the literate soul, I checked the etymology of the word and it comes from Old Norse, meaning "to grasp to oneself". Somehow that does not express what I wish for a future society.
We need a word that means that we get beyond our constraints, that we find a better way. We need a word that means a breakthrough, a breaking free and setting a new course of action, a better one.
Where do we find such a word? The word "evolve" is such a word yet it bears a context of eugenics. It means to "unfold, open up, expand". Perhaps a word such as the old Latin abundantia, meaning fullness, plenty, which gave us our word "abundance" after a short trip through Old French, would suit? I am searcing for an abundant life not a sustainable one, after all. Aren't you?