Solidarity and Sustainability
A Newsletter on the Socio-Ecological Impacts of Religious Patriarchy

Volume 1 - Number 6 - October 2005
Luis T. Gutierrez

The primary goal of this research is to facilitate progress in the path from patriarchy to solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable human development. This journey attempts to understand how to mitigate all manner of patriarchal and misogynic barriers to human development and, in particular, how to overcome the enormous obstacles caused by religious patriarchy. There is no presumption of new discoveries. Rather, it is a matter of integrating existing knowledge (experience, wisdom, empirical evidence) to show that true religion should never be an obstacle to human development. The United Nations "Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs) are used as point of reference.


The focus of this issue is sustainability and the sustainability ethos required to sustain sustainability. Sustainability is not static. It is the dynamic process of sustaining both the stability of human civilization and the stability of the human habitat. It is not be to achieved once and for all. There will always be patriarchs seeking wealth, and power, and honors. There will always be Tsunamis and Katrinas to recover from. The journey toward sustainability will never end.

The only way to sustain this journey is by fostering, even nurturing, the symbiosis of solidarity and sustainability. The Greek word synhistanai comes to mind. It means "to place together," or "to bind together." This placing or binding together includes interaction, reciprocity, mutuality, dependence on each other. It is not a matter of choosing between solidarity and sustainability; rather, it is a matter of choosing both solidarity and sustainability. The Japanese word heiwa, which connotes the unity of competing or even opposite priorities, also applies to the "solidarity and sustainability" duet. So does the Chinese symbol for "crisis," which is the juxtaposition of the symbols for "danger" and "opportunity."

This applies to all dimensions of solidarity and sustainability, including:

  • The solidarity required for the sustainability of the human habitat.
  • The solidarity required for the sustainability of human institutions.
  • The solidarity required for the sustainability of human civilization.
Each of these dimensions of solidarity and sustainability requires an ethos willing to test everything, keep what is good, and let go of what is harmful to the human person, or the human habitat, or both. In both secular and religious institutions, the age of tradition for the sake of tradition is past. It is time to seek a deeper understanding of good traditions, and discard traditions that no longer can serve the glory of God and the good of people. It is time for believers of all the religions to spend more time on their knees, and then be willing to work together (ora et labora). This is not a moral exhortation. The signs of the times are clear, that "business as usual" is no longer a feasible option.

Note: This issue includes a supplement on population and sustainability issues, authored by Adam Werbach and reprinted with permission from The American Prospect, Volume 16, Issue 10, October 2005.

Table of Contents









Figure 1 is a revised version of the solidarity-sustainability process model. Please keep in mind that this newsletter is "work in progress," and therefore the explanatory notes should be improved (clarified, amplified, simplified, ...) are we gain new insights in our learning and understanding. The core model itself may change if required by the triple objective of growing in truth, freedom, and care.



Sustainable development requires authentic human development, and therefore gender equity. It follows that sustainable human development mitigates patriarchy. As the solidarity ethos and human maturity increase, tolerance for patriarchal behavior decreases. This applies to both secular and religious institutions.



Softening the patriarchy mindset entails recovery from three addictions: absolute power, wealth accumulation, and profuse honors. This paves the way for the emergence of the solidarity ethos, and makes possible the journey toward sustainability. The triple addiction is replaced by truth, freedom, and care. Hierarchical control is replaced by network collaboration. Gender equity makes this transition feasible and sustainable, since gender inequity is the root cause of the patriarchal mindset and the triple addiction to power, wealth, and honors.









Sustainability is a catalyst for authentic human development. As sustainability increases, it enables integral human development to increase at all levels: physical, intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual. Growth is no longer measured primarily in dollars; peace and wisdom are more important. Subsidiarity enables human decisions to be made at the level that concrete action is needed. This may require three major levels of governance: global, national, and local. Global, to keep the peace and assure the integrity of the human habitat. National, to foster and oversee the quality of public services as required in various regions or nations. Local, to manage basic public services and assure that all children are prepared to become good local, national, and global citizens.



The collective solidarity mindset makes possible the journey toward sustainability. It is impossible to undertake this journey unless the solidarity ethos prevails. Cross-gender solidarity is critical. When gender inequities are removed in both religion and society, then it becomes possible to work for sustainability, which is achieved by human decisions and actions pursuant to both individual benefit and the common good of humanity.

Figure 1 - The solidarity-sustainability process model

In brief, the core model is composed of four "states" of the collective human mindset: patriarchy, solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable (human) development. There are four "phases" or transitional changes to move from one state to another: from patriarchy to solidarity, from solidarity to improved sustainability, from sustainability to sustainable (human) development, and from sustainable development to mitigation of patriarchy. These are not discrete, sequential steps. Figure 1 shows the "main feedback loop" flowing clockwise, but there may be counter-clockwise dynamics as well. The journey toward solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable development is an exceedingly complex one, and keeping the core model relatively simple is helpful to keep track of the dominant dynamics; else, we would be buried in minutiae. While keeping in mind the "big picture," this issue attempts to provide some insight on the sustainability state. The reader may wish to review the basic concepts of sustainability [01].


Phase 2, or the transition from solidarity to sustainability, is not really a matter of going from one state to another, completely different state. Solidarity and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. They are, like the two sides of a coin, mutually complementary. There can be no sustainability without solidarity; and there can be no solidarity without sustainability.

There can be no sustainability without solidarity, because sustainability requires human decisions and actions that take into account the common good of humanity, including the conservation of the human habitat.

There can be no solidarity without sustainability, because solidarity requires a well-conserved human habitat. Solidarity cannot happen in a vacuum, or under dysfunctional environmental conditions that preclude healthy human interaction and collaboration.

In other words, solidarity is social sustainability, or sustainable human behavior, and this can happen only in a sustainable human habitat. Conversely, sustainability is solidarity between humanity and nature. The solidarity of nature toward humanity has never failed. In fact, the solidarity of nature toward humanity has shown unbelievable resilience and endurance under human abuse. This resilience, however, is not unlimited. It is time for humanity to reciprocate.

A system analysis of this symbiosis (mutual dependence) between solidarity and sustainability must be interdisciplinary, and include the social, economic, financial, political, ecological, demographic, and moral (religious) dimensions, just to mention a few. Several attempts have been made to do this kind of analysis [02], but there is as yet no convergence on any model being the most useful to understand current trends [03]. Therefore, there is no visible convergence on the most critical issue of how to redesign public policies to steer human behavior toward sustainable behavior [04].

This lack of convergence is due to superficial analysis. The symbiosis between solidarity and sustainability is not to be found in physical and chemical phenomena, nor in purely biological phenomena. These are simply symptoms; the real connection is much deeper. This connection cannot be found even if the social, economic, and political forces involved are considered. Again, these are observable symptoms, but the root connection is much deeper. The root connection can be found only at the deepest levels of human nature and human behavior. Human nature is "gendered to the core" [05]. It follows that human behavior is also gendered to the core. Human behavior is the basis for both human relations with humans and human relations with nature. Therefore, it is at this core level of human nature and behavior that the root cause for social and ecological dysfunction is to be found. This has been well explained by Fritjof Capra [06], and again very recently by Adam Werbach [07]. Werbach's article is reprinted with permission as a supplement to this newsletter.

Capra and Werbach are but two of a growing number of scholars when it comes to isolating gender inequity as the root cause of the combined social and ecological crisis facing humanity [08]. In brief, gender inequity is the root cause of both socio-economic inequities and chronic abuse of the human habitat. There are many other observable symptoms, but gender inequity is the ethiology lurking under the surface. These effects of gender inequity have grown exponentially since the industrial revolution, fueled by financial manipulation of science and technology, and further exacerbated by the religious gender inequities of the patriarchal religions. It is in this light that we should consider decisions and actions pursuant to achieve solidarity and sustainability.


The human habitat is the biosphere, i.e.,"that part of a planet's outer shell—including air, land, surface rocks and water—within which life occurs, and which biotic processes in turn alter or transform" [09]. The sustainability of human civilization is contingent on the sustainability of the human habitat, or biosphere.

There are two basic, mutually reinforcing, threats to the sustainability of the human habitat: population growth and material consumption [10]. Both global population and global consumption rate of materials have been growing exponentially, though recent data seems to indicate that population growth is slowing down a bit [07]. But even if population stabilizes, continued exponential growth in material consumption is unsustainable in the long term.

Let us consider a decomposition of the factors driving consumption and population growth:

      • Unplanned reproduction
      • Planned reproduction
        • Abstinence
        • Contraceptives
        • Abortion
      • Renewable Resources
      • Non-renewable Resources
        • Pollution Abatement
        • Environmental Restoration

Unplanned human reproduction is no longer a feasible or moral alternative [11]. This is so even if the sexual partners are consenting adults. Most of the time it is unprotected from HIV and other diseases. Granted that the bed is the consolation of the poor, it is critical to enable them to avoid unplanned reproduction. Needless to say, gender inequity is at the root of most unplanned reproduction via rape and sexual promiscuity.

Family planning, or planned reproduction, is the only feasible alternative. The best form of planned reproduction is abstinence. Yes, abstinence. Abstinence is best to support family stability, builds character in both men and women, and is the only way to make sexual relations truly human and open to both the gift of love and the gift of life.

Even is abstinence is the ideal, experience confirms that sometimes what is ideal is the enemy of what is good. Contraceptive technology is a mixed blessing though. When used in a responsible way, in the context of a committed marriage relationship, they can be very helpful for natural family planning. When used in an irresponsible way, by partners who want pleasure without responsibility, it becomes an obstacle to building human character, and therefore an obstacle to authentic human development. This is so even if both the man and the woman are consenting adults. Inevitably, some form of patriarchal gender inequity is lurking underneath irresponsible sexual activity.

Irresponsible sex, planned or unplanned, often leads to abortion of the fetus. Abortion has a long tail. Without getting into the moral controversy surrounding this procedure, it is fair to say that, in addition to killing a baby, having an abortion is never without nefarious long-term consequences for both the mother and even the father. Women who have had abortions tend to suffer depression and other mental and physical problems. Men who run away from a pregnant woman, or encourage a pregnant woman to have an abortion, are showing utter weakness of character. Patriarchal domination is the real enemy, no matter what disguise is used.

In brief, the issue of population growth is not just a matter of numbers. The current rates of population growth are higher in the poor nations, and lower in the rich nations. This does not make either one either right or wrong. Surely, there is no need to overpopulate the planet with hungry children who can never get an education. But there is no need to destroy the family by sexual promiscuity or any form of irresponsible sex. Responsible sex, based on gender equity between men and women, is the only way to take care of both the numbers and the dignity of the human person.


Even if the global population is stabilized, unlimited exponential growth of material consumption is unsustainable [12]. Consumption entails a flow of material resources. This flow starts with extraction (mining, harvesting, etc.) from the biosphere. The material resources may undergo several transformations while traversing the economic system. The flow ends when the materials are either discarded or recycled.

Renewable resources can be recycled and reused, and therefore their use is compatible with sustainability as long as they are used at rates that allow time for nature to recycle them. The natural recycle time is different for different resources and different ecosystems. A well-known case in clearing rain forest for cultivation. In the rain forest, at any given time, most of the nutrients and minerals reside in the trees. If the trees are removed, the recycling capacity of the ecosystem is destroyed and, as a result, the land becomes arid after a few years of cultivation and harvesting.

Non-renewable resources can be used, but are not amenable to recycling. Therefore, the amount of such resources in the biosphere is finite. Fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, etc.) are a critical example of non-renewable resources. The current world economy runs on oil. There is ample empirical evidence that extracting more oil from existing reserves may soon start yielding diminishing returns [13]. It is impossible to predict the financial and political repercussions of severe oil scarcity. Even if alternative technologies (hopefully based on renewable energy sources) become available, the cost and time required to change the energy infrastructure of the world is bound to be huge.

A negative side effect of using fossil fuels is that they produce emissions of pollutants such as CO2. There is already more CO2 in the atmosphere than ocean phytoplankton and land photosynthesis can absorb and recycle. High concentration of CO2 are suspected to be one of the factors inducing global warming, which in turn may have unpredictable effects on climate and weather systems. The polar caps are melting. The ocean waters are becoming warmer. Warm waters are a significant factor in the formation of hurricanes such as Katrina and Rita, of recent memory.

Another negative effect of pollution is that in some cases it produces irreversible damage to the human habitat and, when the damage can be reversed, it is usually at a great cost. Pollution abatement activity therefore adds to the local, regional, and global rates of consumption, including consumption of both renewable and non-renewable resources; and, in the process of cleaning the air, cleaning the water, and getting rid of (often toxic) solid waste, more pollution is inevitably generated. Remember the Exxon Valdez?

Do we need to remind the reader that the driving force behind excessive consumption (and the resulting pollution derivatives) is the patriarchal addiction to wealth accumulation?


Human behavior is strongly conditioned by institutional behavior. It is hard to think of any institution in the world today that does not share the mentality of unrestricted economic growth pursuant to unrestricted material consumption [14].

Among secular institutions, the modern corporation is typical. The only thing that matters is to maximize short-term financial gain. Growth always means a larger profit margin, one quarter at a time. Growth never means human growth, in terms of enhancing opportunities for employees to develop their talents for their own good and the common good. Corporate management has absolute power. Labor laws tend to favor management and offer little or no protection to labor. Customer service is now "customer care," meaning that customers can expect "care" (whatever that is) but not real service. Those who protest against unethical business practices are summarily dismissed. Whistleblowers are fired and cannot get another job.

Government agencies are the same dog with a different collar. Mismanagement of taxpayers' money, revolving doors, and many other forms of corruption are common. Sadly, this is specially true is the developing world. Even schools and universities are driven by bureaucratic goals that all too often contradict the real needs of the students. Teachers continue to be poorly paid, especially at the K-12 level. In the universities, it is "publish or perish." What really matters now in most universities is to bring in large grants to enable professors to pursue more research, and then be able to publish more in order to get more grants. Teaching and helping students are incidental.

Religious institutions are notorious for both wealth accumulation and lavish spending, especially in the West. The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has paid millions of dollars in compensation for pedophile activity by priests. One wonders how much is spent in liturgical vestments and unnecessary buildings. The new cathedral of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain, and the new basilica of Our Lady of Peace in the Ivory Coast capital of Yamoussoukro ($150 million-plus, bigger than St. Peter's) are huge monuments to ecclesiastical extravagance. And, since the Roman Catholic hierarchy has absolute power in the church, there is nothing the faithful can do, other than pray and pay.

In comparison to the resilience of the biosphere, the sustainability of human institutions is precarious. The financial institutions may be the most susceptible, since their existence mostly depends on playing smoke and mirrors. Religious institutions may be the most resilient, since they change very slowly, and presumably enjoy divine promises that "the gates of hell shall not prevail." Most human institutions, secular or religious, will continue to consume excessively, abuse their power, and cover themselves with honor mantras until forced to change by the ecological revolution.


Human behavior is strongly conditioned by culture. Historically, religious practices have been strongly conditioned by secular cultures. But the converse seems to be the current trend: the love of God resounds in the events of history, totally independent from organized religion; and humanity continues to make progress toward a better world -- a world of justice and peace, a world of democracy and participation, a world of sustainable human development. Gender equity will be a critical ingredient in this process [15].

Saint Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in Rouen's market square on May 30th, 1431. She was 19 years old. She was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress. Atefeh Rajabi was hanged in public in Neka, Iran, on August 15th, 2004. She was 16 years old. She was condemned to death as an adulteress. Both were put to death by religious institutions. Both were put to death (after utterly illegal trials) for the same reason: they had challenged the absolute power of the religious authorities.

The cultural influence of all patriarchal religions remains strong, and is manifested in basically the same way for all religious traditions, irrespective of geographic location: resistance to the inevitable dismantling of patriarchal hierarchies and their replacement by fully participatory circles, or networks. The cultural influence of non-patriarchal religions remains very small, because most religious people remain attached to patriarchal religions. How this unfortunate situation will evolve remains to be seen. But neither solidarity nor sustainability can be achieved as long as the religious patriarchies continue to freeze the mindset of their adherents.


In summary:

Prayers for Global Collaboration and Progress toward the MDGs

MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Fact: From 1990 to 2004, poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean showed minimal improvement in terms of development, while poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is pervasive and increasing.
Prayer: Loving God, you love us more than we can comprehend, and you weep because of the world's injustices – whether they are rooted in hunger or poverty, ignorance or violence, pollution or disease, discrimination or apathy. Give us the strength to struggle for justice for all people. Fill us with your spirit and speak through us for those who have no voice, so that we may be your instruments of hope everywhere. Amen.

MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education

Fact: Children of women with five years of primary education have a 40 percent higher survival rate than children of women with no education. AIDS spreads twice as quickly among uneducated girls as it does among those with minimal schooling.
Prayer: Gracious God, help us to share our blessings of health, education, food and clean water with all of your people, offering a more hopeful life for millions of your children. Amen.

MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Fact: According to UNESCO, there are more than 850 million people in the world who do not have the opportunity to learn to read and write. Two-thirds are women.
Prayer: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Precious God, enlighten us to provide women everywhere with equal dignity and opportunity. Inspire every society to oppose violence against women and strengthen gender justice. Amen.

MDG 4: Reduce child mortality

Fact: More than 25 percent of children under age 5 in developing countries are malnourished.
Prayer: "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me" (Mark 9:37). Loving God, we pray for the 30,000 children who will die today as a result of poverty and other preventable causes. Strengthen us to not tolerate this reality. Give us the compassion to meet their basic needs for food, clean water, health care, education and freedom from exploitation. Amen.

MDG 5: Improve maternal health

Fact: A woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy. This compares with a 1 in 3,700 risk for a woman from North America. An estimated 529,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes.
Prayer: Dear God, lead us to advocate for suffering mothers and families around the world, whose health, dignity and choices are in jeopardy due to illness, poverty, hunger and violence. Amen.

MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Fact: Every day, 8,000 people die of HIV/AIDS. Every 30 seconds an African child dies of malaria, a treatable disease. Education and low-cost prevention programs can drastically decrease these statistics, making Goal 6 achievable.
Prayer: "[Jesus] welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing" (Luke 9:11). Compassionate God, you have the power to heal. Open our eyes to the plight of people, especially children, who will lose their lives today due to HIV/AIDS and malaria. Empower us to be instruments of your healing by advocating for affordable medicines for our brothers and sisters who do not have the means to cope with their illnesses. Amen.

MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Fact: More than 2.6 billion people – more than 40 percent of the world's population – do not have basic sanitation, and more than 1 billion people have no access to safe sources of drinking water. Forests, which contribute to the livelihoods of more than a billion people living in extreme poverty, continue to shrink in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia due to unsustainable practices.
Prayer: "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (Psalm 24:1). Creator God, thank you for the earth and for its beauty and abundance in which we partake. Help us return this gift by being good stewards of your creation. Equip us to seek justice for your creation and for the world's poorest people. Amen.

MDG 8: Develop a global partnership for development

Fact: To close, we remember the proverb, "If you want peace, work for justice". The United States can do its part in reaching Goal 8 by supporting the ONE Campaign's call to devote an additional ONE percent of the budget to poverty-focused development assistance.
Prayer: Reflect on Proverbs 31:8-9, our charge to speak up for the poor and hungry. God of Justice, inspire us to urge our government to take this charge to heart and commit the United States to meet all eight Millennium Development Goals. Great Spirit, may the world be ONE in solidarity with hungry and poor people. Amen.



Below is a selected list of references. This is not intended as a comprehensive bibliography. Care has been taken to include references that reflect opposite viewpoints in some controversial issues. Some references are supplemented by relevant quotations as well as brief comments relevant to solidarity, sustainability, patriarchy, and gender equity issues.

[01] Basic definitions of sustainability can be found in Definitions of Sustainability, ECIFM, University of Reading, UK. Another useful reference is It's All Connected: A Comprehensive Guide to Global Issues and Sustainable Solutions, by Benjamin Wheeler et al, Facing the Future, 2005. This book has several companion booklets with activities and exercises to support the learning and teaching of basic sustainability concepts.

[02] Some examples are as follows:

[03] Glenn, Jerome C. and Theodore J. Gordon, 2005 State of the Future, American Council for the United Nations University (ACUNU) Millennium Project, 2005.

[04] Flavin, Christopher, WorldWatch Institute Editorial and Presentation, WorldWatch Institute, September 28, 2005. Another example: Summary statements in today's meeting of the General Assembly Plenary, United Nations General Assembly, 20 September 2005.

[05] Sax, Leonard, Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, Doubleday, 2005, page 237.

[06] Capra, Fritjof, The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture, Bantam, 1984, 464 pages; The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, Anchor, 1997, 368 pages; The Hidden Connections: Integrating The Biological, Cognitive, And Social Dimensions Of Life Into A Science Of Sustainability, Doubleday, 2002, 320 pages. The following synthesis is quoted from the 2002 book, page 265:

"Among the many grassroots movements working for social change today, the feminist movement and the ecology movement advocate the most profound value shifts, the former through a redefinition of gender relationships, the latter through a redefinition of the relationship between humans and nature. Both can contribute significantly to overcoming our obsession with material consumption.

By challenging the patriarchal order and value system, the women's movement has introduced a new understanding of masculinity and personhood that does not need to associate manhood with material possessions. At the deepest level, feminist awareness is based on women's experiential knowledge that all life is connected, that our existence is always embedded in the cyclical processes of nature. Feminist consciousness, accordingly, focuses on finding fulfillment in nurturing relationships rather than in the accumulation of material goods."

[07] Werbach, Adam, The End of the Population Movement, The American Prospect, Volume 16, Issue 10, October 2005. Werbach's article is reprinted with permission as a supplement to this newsletter. The subtitle of the article captures the essential insight:

"The challenge isn't population control. It's sustainable development, built upon the emancipation of women and economic opportunity."

[08] The reader may wish to take a quick look at the previous issues of this newsletter, in particular the following annotated references:

V1, N1, May 2005, references 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12
V1, N2, June 2005, references 2, 3, 11, 12, 13, 14, 23, 45, 46
V1, N3, July 2005, references 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14
V1, N4, August 2005, references 6, 10, 17, 18, 22
V1, N5, September 2005, references 13, 14, 17, 19, 20, 21

[09] Biosphere, Wikipedia, 2005.

[10] See, for example:

[11] There are many online sources of information and data on population growth and concerns about environmental impacts. The following are recommended:

[12] There are many online sources of information and data on global consumption, sustainable consumption, and concerns about social and ecological impacts. The following are recommended:

[13] See Volume 1 Number 5 of this newsletter. Some key online references are as follows:

[14] The following provide good discussions of the interactions between cultural and institutional behavior, both secular and religious:

[15] The following references are recommended:


This issue includes a supplement on population and sustainability issues, authored by Adam Werbach and reprinted with permission from The American Prospect, Volume 16, Issue 10, October 2005.


The following are links to previous issues of the newsletter:

V1 N1 May 2005 ~ Cross-Gender Solidarity

V1 N2 June 2005 ~ The Phallocentric Syndrome

V1 N3 July 2005 ~ From Patriarchy to Solidarity

V1 N4 August 2005 ~ Synthesis of Patriarchy and Solidarity

V1 N5 September 2005 ~ From Solidarity to Sustainability

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"Resources move from the poor to the rich.
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Vandana Shiva

Luis T. Gutierrez







Copyright © 2005 by Luis T. Gutierrez

From Patriarchy to Solidarity and Sustainability

Pelican Symbol

The pelican is an ancient symbol of commitment to sacrificial service in all dimensions of life. The following excerpt from the Physiologus (author unknown, circa 4th century CE) captures this ideal: "The long beak of the white pelican is furnished with a sack which serves as a container for the small fish that it feeds its young. In the process of feeding them, the bird presses the sack against its neck in such a way that it seems to open its breast with its bill. The reddish tinge of its breast plumage and the redness of the tip of its beak fostered the folkloristic notion that it actually drew blood from its own breast." The Physiologus found the action of the pelican, interpreted in this manner, to be a symbol of sacrificial service and, therefore, a particularly apt symbol of Jesus Christ (cf. Luke 13:34b). While professing no particular religious affiliation, Solidarity and Sustainability is fully committed to the promotion of human solidarity and sustainable development.

"The most alarming of all man's assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable ..."
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962.

"As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos, because he is no longer involved with nature and has lost his emotional "unconscious identity" with natural phenomena."
Carl Gustav Jung, Man and His Symbols, 1964


Feedback from readers, subject to editing, will be included here, as well as responses from the editor if appropriate. Please note: inflammatory feedback will be discarded.

Subscribers also can submit announcements (to be posted free of charge) consistent with the goal of this project. Please note: announcements must be brief and provide a point of contact, including the person's name and email address.

Please send your inputs by email to: Editor

Recent Feedback

C. J. Wong, a science librarian and editor of the Organic Family Magazine, wrote the following: "I've just read a bit of your web site, but you have some really interesting ideas presented there. I've never read such detailed information in this area and it is usually not interwoven the way you have done it. I'm not a scholar in this area, but I do agree with you on many points. I honestly feel that if women, and more specifically mothers, had anything to say about things they would be more just and there would be less war. Most mothers would do anything to protect their young."


Thanks for your kind comments. I am no scholar either, but this is my retirement project, and I feel very strongly that male-female balance is needed for the governance of both social and religious institutions. Else, we shall never be able to outgrow mostly male (not to say male-only) hierarchies and their insatiable appetite for wealth accumulation, absolute control, and honorific titles. It is not a matter of idealizing women; it is simply a matter of recognizing that authentic human development is hampered by the absence of peace, nurturing, and dialogue.

Jamie Glazov, editor of Font Page Magazine, wrote asking for clarification about the themes and goals of the newsletter... "please explain the themes to me, and what you stand for, in simple language ... explain to me in layman's terms please."


Solidarity = a social order in which decisions are made taking into account both personal interests and the common good of humanity.

Sustainability = solidarity + decisions made taking into consideration that the integrity and conservation of the human habitat is crucial for the common good of humanity.

Patriarchy = a social order in which roles of authority and governance are reserved for men alone, based on the premise that men are superior to women physically, intellectually, and spiritually.

Religious patriarchy = patriarchy + roles of religious authority reserved for men alone, based on the premise that God is male and only men can image God and serve as a bridge between God and humanity.

The basic theme is that humanity cannot make much progress toward solidarity and sustainability as long as most important decisions are guided by the patriarchal mindset. The reason is that, by excluding women from roles of authority, the right-hand side of the human brain is also excluded. Decisions made exclusively by the left-hand side of the brain will have a propensity to seek wealth accumulation, absolute power, and hierarchical honors ... and often by violent means.

Religious patriarchies are the worst kind, not because religion is bad (in fact, I believe religion is indispensable and I am a religious person myself), but because even violence is used "for the glory of God and the good of souls." This is the reason religious wars are usually the most ferocious. Another reason that religious patriarchies are an obstacle to human development is that they tend to freeze human mental habits so as to conserve "tradition" at the expense of progress.

The bottom line is that gender balance in all forms of governance (both secular and religious) is the best way to ensure that we "keep what is good, give up what is bad," both for the glory of God and the good of humanity. Therefore, we must pray and work to exorcise the patriarchal mentality from all human institutions, both secular and religious.

Wish I could explain what I stand for in fewer and simpler words, but this is where I am. If you have any suggestions, I need all the help I can get.

Leslaw Michnowski, Professor of Management, Saint Cross University in Kielce, Poland, and the High School for Management in Legnica, Poland, wrote to inform us about the Earth Global Community.


I have reviewed the Earth Global Community website, and it has a lot of good content. In fact, I have added it to the list of resources (see below, in this column).

The Earth Charter Initiative is very appealing, though it seems to make God and the soul of humanity one and the same, and I have some reservations about this "new age" concept. I was delighted to see the Global Government and Global Constitution initiatives, though I doubt our grandchildren will see a global government; but it will come in due time, because globalization will make it indispensable. I see keeping the peace and overseeing the integrity of the human habitat as the two main functions of global governance.

The Global Dialogue 2006 process is the best part. I would like to participate myself, and plan to encourage people to participate by including an announcement in every issue of the newsletter (see below, in this column). The announcement is brief but links to the Global Dialogue 2006 website.

I am grateful to all those who took the time to write.


The United Nations

The United Nations Organization has an extensive network of websites, some of them including global databases. Some of the most useful are listed below. For an index of all the UN websites, go to the UN Website Locator.

UN Main Portal
UN CyberSchoolBus
UN Development Program
UN Environmental Program
UN Millennium Goals
UN Millennium Campaign
UN Millennium Project
UN Statistical Division
UN University
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3. Promote gender equality and empower women
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6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development


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New Resources

Recently published:

Becoming Part of the Solution: The Engineer's Guide to Sustainable Development, by Bill Wallace, ACEC, 2005, 209 pages.

2005 Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI), Esty, Daniel C., Marc Levy, Tanja Srebotnjak, and Alexander de Sherbinin, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, 2005.

It's All Connected: A Comprehensive Guide to Global Issues and Sustainable Solutions, by Benjamin Wheeler et al, Facing the Future, 2005. This book has several companion booklets with activities and exercises to support the learning and teaching of basic sustainability concepts.

Trends in Terrorism: Threats to the United States and the Future of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, by Peter Chalk, Bruce Hoffman, Robert T. Reville, Anna-Britt Kasupski; RAND, 2005.

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) requires insurers to offer commercial insurance that will pay on claims that occur from a terrorist attack, and for losses on the scale of 9/11, TRIA provides a "backstop" in the form of free reinsurance. The authors describe the evolving terrorist threat with the goal of comparing the underlying risk of attack to the architecture of financial protection that has been facilitated by TRIA.

Exploring Religious Conflict, by Gregory F. Treverton, Heather S. Gregg, Daniel Gibran, Charles Yost; RAND, 2005.

Reports the result of a workshop that brought together intelligence analysts and experts on religion with the goal of providing background and a frame of reference for assessing religious motivations in international politics and discovering what causes religiously rooted violence and how states have sought to take advantage of or contain religious violence-with emphasis on radical Islam.

Human Development Report, UNDP, 2005, and Human Development Data, UNDP, 2005. See also, Human Development Report in the News, UNDP, 2005.

Development and Sustainability, Fritjof Capra, Center for Ecoliteracy, 2005.

News & Comments

Family Planning Subtracted From MDG Equation, by Thalif Deen, IPS News Agency, 13 September 2005.

Reinterpreting Patriarchy, Damanhuri, The Jakarta Post, 25 September 25.

The Roman Catholic Church of Corruption, by Mel Seesholtz, Online Journal, Philadelphia, 27 September 2005.

A disgusting story of sexual abuse of children -- boys and girls -- at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and the cover up by several high ranking members of the clergy up to and including the local bishops and even the Vatican. While we are going around the loop of the core model, let us keep in mind that religious patriarchies are the root cause of all gender inequities in religion and society; and from these gender inequities, all other inequities follow.

"Plowing fields" and marrying little girls in the Quran, by James Arlandson, The American Thinker, 26 September 2005.

This well researched article provides much food for thought. There are many good and devoted Muslims, both scholars and activists, searching for ways to reinterpret the Quran and other Islamic teachings in a non-patriarchal way. My heart goes out to them. It is possible to imagine men marrying nine year old girls in 7th century Arabian world. But now, in the 21st century, for high ranking Islamic leaders to keep teaching this (and doing it!) is very hard to accept and understand.

Also very disturbing are the continuing news about abuse of girls and women in Islamic theocracies such as Iran. For instance, consider this case: Islamic Misogyny - Part 1, Islamic Misogyny - Part 2, Islamic Misogyny - Part 3, Islamic Misogyny - Part 4,
by Jamie Glazow, Front Page Magazine Symposium, October 2005.

"Tehran's despots recently hanged a 16-year-old girl. What is it in the Arab-Islamic culture that breeds the demonization and dehumanization of the female?"

Atefeh Rajabi, 16 years old,
hanged 15 August 2004,
Neka, Iran,
for alleged "adultery"

"The man with whom she had allegedly had sexual relations with was also arrested but he only received 75 lashes apparently and then freed!"

" ... according to the Islamic Republic of Iran's interpretation of the Shari'a ... a woman is automatically the seductress, however young and innocent. According to them, a man, no matter how old and promiscuous, is considered to be a "victim."

There can be no solidarity without cross-gender solidarity! There can be no sustainable development without gender equity! We must be patient and tolerant. But can we tolerate intolerance? Thank God for the following piece of news:

October Surprise: A Call to Share Sacred Seasons, Tent of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah, Philadelphia, PA.

The Tent of Abraham, Hagar, & Sarah is a gathering of Jews, Christians, and Muslims who have been building a 'Tent' of shared spiritual concern for peace, justice, and healing of the earth. Arising from this effort has been a call to take part in 'God's October Surprise'.

Children, the Focus for Islamic Solidarity, Medical News Today, 30 Sep 2005.

World must fulfil pledges on gender equality or else lose war on poverty – UN, UN News Centre, 6 October 2005.

Gender Inequality Heightens HIV/Aids, by Lamin Njie, The Independent (Banjul), 3 October 2005.

Peace Prize co-winner admits that globalization is inevitable, Pravda, 7 October 2005.

For more news and information related to global stewardship,
go to
collected feeds.




Global Dialogue 2006 begins August 1st, 2006, on the Internet, and end August 31st. Roundtable Discussions begin on the Internet today, now. Participate now. No need to wait until August 2006 to dialogue. You can organize your own Discussion Roundtable.

For more information,
click here.

Mind & Life
8-10 Nov 2005
The Mind & Life Institute, in conjunction with co-hosts Georgetown University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, presents:

Mind and Life XIII:
Investigating the Mind 2005
The Science and Clinical
Applications of Meditation
DAR Constitution Hall,
Washington DC
November 8 - 10, 2005

The Dalai Lama will participate fully in all sessions

For conference and
registration information,
click here.


1. Meditation-Based Clinical Interventions: Science, Practice, and Implementation
2. Possible Biological Substrates of Meditation
3. Clinical Research I: Meditation and Mental Health
4. Clinical Research II: Meditation and Physical Health
5. Integration & Final Reflections


Applications of meditation are now common in the treatment of stress, pain, and a range of chronic diseases in both medicine and psychiatry, and some approaches are currently the subject of NIH-supported clinical trials and research studies. At the same time, the power of our non-invasive technologies have made it possible to investigate the nature of cognition and emotion in the brain as never before, and to begin to explore the interfaces between mind, brain, and body, and the implications of particular forms of meditative practices for modulating and regulating biological pathways to restore or enhance homeostatic processes and perhaps extend the reach of both mind and body in ways that might potentially promote rehabilitation and healing as well as greater overall health and well-being.

Recent studies are showing that meditation can result in stable brain patterns and changes over both short and long-term intervals that have not been seen before in human beings and that suggest the potential for the systematic driving of positive neuroplastic changes via such intentional practices cultivated over time. These investigations may offer opportunities for understanding the basic unifying mechanisms of the brain, mind and body that underlie awareness and our capacity for effective adaptation to stressful and uncertain conditions.

For more information:
Mind & Life Institute