1, 6. Support, maintain, sustain, uphold all mean to hold up and to preserve. To support is to hold up or add strength to, literally or figuratively: The columns support the roof. To maintain is to support so as to preserve intact: to maintain an attitude of defiance. To sustain a rather elevated word, suggests completeness and adequacy in supporting: The court sustained his claim. Uphold applies especially to supporting or backing another, as in a statement, opinion, or belief: to uphold the rights of a minority. 3. suffer, bear, stand, stomach. 13. sustenance, subsistence, keep.
In permaculture circles, the term “sustainability” has now become “regenerative”. Those of us who have been striving for sustainability have recognized that the erosion of our natural support systems has reached the critical point. The damage already done is to such an extent that more dramatic measures than simply reinforcing the foundation and refusing to participate in further destruction is no longer enough. Therefore, the processes we now engage in must both repair and sustain: regenerate.
Let’s look at the human body, which naturally deteriorates, like any physical form, over time. Many of us have found that even a lifetime of what were once considered “good” practices is simply not effective in preventing degeneration—that’s just life, right? We are told that this is just aging: “a fact of life”. But is it…really? We know all about cellular regeneration—our entire body replaces itself on a cellular level over and over throughout our lives, and it is the damage we inflict upon ourselves which leads to reproduction of less-than ‘perfect’ new cells. Is it always ‘less-than’, however—or is there potentially a process by which the regeneration can actually improve on the original? When we break a bone, the mending process can create a stronger bone mass, if the body is given enough support during the healing process. Could it be, then, that this process of proper sustenance could also be applied to other human body systems, and beyond that microcosm, to the macrocosm of our big collective body: the Earth?
If we were to consider each of our bodies as individual cells in this larger body, as indeed many spiritual practices tell us “we are all One,” then one way to look at the cells which do damage to the larger body could be considered cancerous. If we were to attack these cancer cells the way in which modern medicine approaches the dis-ease, we would irradiate the entire body in order to kill those cells—much like a nuclear holocaust. Wars are our way of attempting to surgically remove ‘tumors’—all in the name of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. The conundrum which any soldier surviving battle may relate, however, is that in the course of eradicating the ‘enemy’, he may recognize that his foe is indeed, very much himself—a different form, yet still the same. We are all bodily forms, units in the same system.
Science fiction has even gone to the length of creating ‘them’ as alien life forms—some evil, wicked, destructive, others benevolent, but all, still: Other. Regardless, as we are all cells in some greater system—that is a fact which neither science nor spirituality refutes—the ‘them’ in the universe of possibilities is still us. Shakespeare said “there is nothing new under the Sun”, and we know that this is true, because all new life comes from material which already existed, in some form, prior to the creation of any new body, be it cell, plant, animal, or planet. The system is elegant, a symphony of simplicity in grandiose complexity—it is life.
If we are to support ourselves, our bodies, each other, and our planet, we must first recognize these simple facts—we are, truly, all part of the grand scheme. To sustain the system, we must turn from habitual destruction and focus our energy instead on repair. To regenerate, we must choose to feed rather than starve, to share knowledge, resources, and time. When we choose to value our time equally, when we recognize one another as all part of one body, not only will we be healed, but we will also begin the process of healing our home, with us still a part of it—because Mother Earth has her own ways of dealing with cancerous overgrowth. When a part of the system becomes too greedy and takes up more resources than it gives to the system, it will be undermined in some fashion in order to restore balance.
The theory of the ‘tipping point’ posits that it takes only a minute percentage of the collective to create change on the largest scale. Therefore, if each of us—that is you and I—were to devote one tiny fraction of our attention beyond the daily maintenance of our personal support system to focus on community, the point would be reached virtually in an instant. So, what are you doing today? Got time?
One easy way to focus this energy is in the form of currency known as time banking—an exchange of a valuable commodity often overlooked in our daily existence: Time.
Get involved—join your local timebank, BE the difference.
In the Tampa Bay area, visit TampaBayTime.org for more details—there are events all over each month, one happening this week (see details: Casa Seranita Update – Two Events Coming Up)! Elsewhere, visit Timebanks.org.