Augusto // Open our minds

There are some ideas that span generations – ones that resonate with individuals regardless of their age or background. The concept of a sustainable, just and thriving society is hopefully one of those terms, and as I travel around this summer, I hope to illuminate those conversations. Yet just as languages vary from country to country (such as Portuguese between Brazil and Portugal), an understanding of sustainability varies just as widely among individuals.

As I traveled from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Interlaken, Switzerland, I had the privilege to ride on the train with an older gentleman named Augusto. Augusto was originally from Spain but for the last 20 years has been living in the northern part of the Netherlands. He was a smaller man with an excitement and energy for telling stories, and after a few hours, was opening up and sharing some of the wisdom he has gained over the years with me, providing a glimpse of his understanding of sustainability.

Although we didn’t directly mention the term sustainability often because of our language barrier, the concept behind the term was hard to miss. Through our conversation, two key themes were repeated:

1) Opening our minds to see the beauty around us and know how to help
2) The importance of inter-generational communication and cooperation

Augusto shared with me a lot of different thoughts, one of which emerged was what he felt was the biggest problem facing our global society. People live their lives with their mind closed and as a result, only see the bad residing in the world. They close themselves from seeing the beauty all around us, and therefore are not able to recognize how to help in the situations of bad. Augusto shared that “as much as I try, it’s impossible, it’s very difficult” to know how to help others at times. “Why does god not intervene and help people sometimes?”

For Augusto, he believes that god waits for others to act before directly intervening – god wants to see us make the attempt to try and help in the pressing problems facing society. We just need to stop waiting and start trying to help people, both with their personal problems and the collective problems facing all of society. The main problem is not in our bodies, but in our mind. We have the capability to create a sustainable society, but are we willing to change our mindsets to recognize how to make the situation better?

One of the ways that emerged as an important strategy for breaking out of this closed box we have created for our minds, is by relying more heavily on inter-generational communication and cooperation. We all experience each generation, some of us are just further along on that track. Older generations are able to share some of that wisdom they have gained on the journey, and kids can teach adults how to expand their minds.

“I love everybody, including my enemy, because we all think the same.” At our core, we all long for the same basic needs and desire to create a better world for our families, communities and the world. We all share the same god and are united in this journey called life. If we can expand our minds to the point where we realize that we are all on the same journey, both young and old, then perhaps we can begin to uncover the beautiful mystery ahead of us to create a sustainable society – but it won’t be easy getting there.

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