As an infinitely broad and rich umbrella concept that connects everything of humanity and nature, “sustainability” can be easily related to ideas as lofty as saving the earth from global warming or to activities as mundane as recycling trash. But, the effective means for sustainability, just because of that, is as plenty as its meanings. One of them is the sustainability-inspired and –inspiring new approach to arts and humanities, such as reading Daoism afresh, not as a reputedly do-nothing philosophy of passivism, but as a philosophy of “can-doism” that suggests constant fine-tuning or creative flip of our minds to improve the otherwise much strained human-to-human and human-to-nature relationships. Likewise, we can also benefit significantly from the special “environmental imagination” of eco-criticism that draws inspiration not from Daoism or Thoreau, but from Confucianism that teaches us how to respect nature, not as our convenient “figure of speech,” but for what it really is, contrary to its commonly perceived human-centered approach. From our familiar literary and art works, such as James Wright’s “A Blessing,” Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave,” and Henry Moore’s “Two Large Forms,” we can equally learn so much from so many intricate scenarios that could impede and/or improve the sustainability-related vital humanity-defining fundamental relationships. In reality, there is also well-coordinated effort in making commerce and culture complementary forces of sustainability. Long You of Zhejiang, China, is a case in point. Clearly, to achieve the goal of sustainability, as Einstein would argue here, “it is not enough to teach man a specialty” without also teaching him of our world through the Humanities for the dispensable global vision and local sensitivity to help make our planet a holistically well-balanced sustainable healthy living environment.
Professor of Humanites, Department of Humanites, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas, USA
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