June 13, 2011
Dept of Social Work, Amritapuri
A person once told Chancellor Amma he wanted to study sustainability and she replied, “The old way of life was sustainable.”
In Kerala, it used to be that every village had a forest, like a natural reserve, where villagers could worship, enjoy and learn from nature. It symbolized the deep, almost mystical, interdependence between man and nature.
“The people of the village carried that knowledge of the closeness of nature into their daily lives,” stated Bri. Meera, while making a presentation at the First Annual International Conference on Society, Technology and Sustainable Development.
Meera also emphasized that in ancient times the development of society and nature went hand-in-hand and were mutually supportive.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true today. Contemporary development is moving at a pace, such that it often overlooks the needs of the marginalized. Or even has the already rich prosper at their expense.
The international conference provided a platform to explore the fundamental attitudes and actions that have led to the current destructive and unbalanced state of growth. It also created a medium whereby professionals from all sectors of society shares their experiences and imparted wisdom regarding how to live a sustainable life in these modern times.
Re-establishing the equilibrium among humanity, nature, societies and spirituality was a prevailing theme in all conference presentations.
From around the world they came, sharing their hearts, their struggles and their hopes for a better future.
“I don’t at all regret taking a ten hour flight from Johannesburg to get here … there is so much I am learning at this conference …,” said George Okechukwu Onatu, Department of Town and Regional Planning University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
They each had valuable perspectives to offer …
“Cross disciplinary interactions helped us gain new ideas that can help solve problems,” remarked Dr. Paul Harrison of Deakin University, Australia.
… And shone a light on essential elements needed to make ours a sustainable world.
“I never knew that there were so many aspects to sustainable development, so many threads, and the best part is they were all unraveled here,” said Dr. Anil Kumar from NIT Calicut, who won the best paper award.
The seriousness of the situation was never trivialized or minimized …
“Sustainability is key to our very existence in this world. Everything has to have its balance,” stated Dr. S. Krishnamoorthy, Registrar, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.
“We are sleepwalking towards disaster,” commented Mr. Pravin Patkar. “Mother Earth is very kind and compassionate. We need to remind ourselves of what we owe the next generation.”
Whether speaking on urban development, renewable energy, water conservation, indigenous traditions, disaster management, education or spirituality, all speakers drew the connection between their areas and sustainability.
Collectively their contributions provided a comprehensive representation of today’s problems as well as the solutions drawn from past traditions and present advancements.
Their efforts will not be wasted.
We once lived sustainable lives. We can do it again.