WHY THIS BOOK SERIES IS IMPORTANT TO ME
CRC Press (an imprint of the Taylor and Francis Publishing Group), a large publisher with representatives in over 100 countries, has asked me to create and shepherd a series of books on global issues. I have chosen "Social-Environmental Sustainability." My purpose in accepting the publisher's request is to find potential authors who have the foresight, courage, and will to raise their voices on behalf of the world's children by elevating the level of social consciousness of the causes we set in motion and thereby improving the consequences or effects for all generations—present and future. For me personally, this series of books is my way of leaving this magnificent plant spinning miraculously in space a little better for the privilege of having been here.
Although CRC publishes primarily textbooks, I successfully wrote a series of reference books in the 1990's (within the Taylor-Francis publishing group) for a general audience on "Sustainable Community Development." This letter is to inquire whether you might be interested in contributing a volume to this series. If you have a specific interest, specialty, or a burning topic, and can write a successful proposal, I would be honored to have your book included as part of the series. Your book can be sole-authored, co-authored, or an edited volume of contributed chapters.
If you are wondering why I consider this series of books vitally important, please take a few minutes and continue reading. As you may know, there is a proverb in parts of Africa and among the South Sea Islanders that states: It takes a village to raise a child. This maxim holds a truth that extends well beyond the village. Namely, for a village to be healthy, it requires a unifying factor to integrate the myriad interactive components into a functional whole. And that unifying factor is the villager's focus on the children.
If we were to ask ourselves, for example, what it would take to design a community that might ensure our children's happiness, we would find ourselves engaging the whole of the environment. This is a self-evident truth when one considers that every interactive system requires a unifying center around which it turns. Moreover, for life, human or otherwise, to have any measure of good quality, the basic components of the global commons must be given the highest priority: from clear air, to pure water, healthy oceans, fertile soils and healthy food, to parents who are psychologically mature enough to be loving, to asking their children what kind of future they want their parents—as trustees—to protect for them as a legacy from one generation to the next. What, you might ask, do I mean by the "global commons?"
The "commons" is that part of the world and universe that is every person's birthright. There are two kinds of commons. Some are gifts of Nature, such as clean air, pure water, fertile soil, a rainbow, northern lights, a beautiful sunset, or a tree growing in the middle of a village; others are the collective product of human creativity, such as the town well from which everyone draws water, a city park, a museum of fine art, a city bridge across a river that unites the park and the museum.
We humans have jointly inherited the commons, which is more basic to our lives and well-being than either the financial market or the state. We are "temporary possessors and life renters," wrote British economist and philosopher Edmund Burke, and we "should not think it amongst [our] rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance."
This latter point is critical because children have an intuitive wisdom with respect to sharing the commons, like we once had as children, but which we have forgotten in becoming adults. In essence, we have lost our way in a hurry, worry, and competitive materialistic world of clashing ideologies and power-hungry ideologues waging war against one another in order to "control" the circumstances—a physical impossibility. It's thus increasingly clear to me that a society of adults in such a world has little or no real appetite for social-environmental sustainability. Without a firm commitment to social-environmental sustainability, however, no society has a viable context within which to greet the children it brings into the world—much less nurture them.
To nurture children, we must have the context of social-environmental harmony based on social-environmental equality, which translates into social-environmental justice, which translates into social-environmental sustainability. Here the linchpin is social-environmental justice, which, by its very nature, asserts that we owe something to each and every person who shares the planet with us, both those present and those yet unborn. In this context, all we have to give of real value to one another—ever—are love, trust, respect, and wisdom gleaned from our experiences, each of which is embodied in the ramifications of every decision that gives birth to an option we pass forward.
Each person—whether child or adult—has a gift to give, and each gift is unique to that person and critical to the social-environmental whole. All gifts are equal and different. What is true for individual human beings is true for cultures and societies because each is equal in its service to the Earth. Each life, each culture, each society is equally important to the evolutionary success of our planet, whether we understand it or not. Each also has its own excellence and cannot be compared to any other. All differences among people, cultures, and societies are just that—differences. The hierarchies or judgmental levels of value are human constructs that have little or nothing to do with reality. Every life, culture, and society is a practice in evolution, and each is equal before the impartiality of Nature. Although cultural values may change with time, basic human values do not.
And it's exactly because options embody all we have to give the children of today, tomorrow, and beyond, that social-environmental justice, in the form of basic human values, must necessarily form the context of human equality. In this sense, a decision in the present always represents a circumstance in the future, and if the decision—wherein we allow the children no voice—bodes ill, that decision is analogous to taxation without representation, which countermands everything an enlightened government stands for, be it a democracy, a monarchy, or some other form of government.
Looking around the world today, various segments of the global community are blowing themselves to bits and in the process needlessly, recklessly squandering the natural-resource base on which they and future generations depend for survival. Children are being ushered into emotionally shattered lives, where their inner poverty will compound the outer poverty they face in the spiritual/cultural/economic chaos of disrupted lives; gutted cities; corrupt, power-hungry governments; and war-torn, fragmented landscapes. These generations may well grow up thinking that hatred and destructive conflict are the norm, which continually fosters the unworkable paradigm of a black-and-white world, in which "I'm right and you're wrong" and "you're either for me or against me."
Is such a future unavoidable? Must we increasingly become a world of victims in which there is no escape from an eternal dysfunctional cycle of abuse and combat? If abuse, and the combat it engenders, is indeed the lot of humanity, then time and history will grind wearily on to the only social outcome possible, the ultimate destruction of human society, taking much of life on Earth with it. Is this the lesson human history is to continue teaching as each day's activities are recorded in the archives of eventide?
In my estimation, social insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over, despite the lessons of world history, while each time expecting new and dramatically different results. This is a simple summation of the way in which Western industrial society navigated the twentieth century—a century that was permeated by a deadly grapple between the immediate wants and demands of people and what the environment could sustainably produce.
And what about the twenty-first century? Will we finally make a positive, behavioral correction and truly accept our responsibilities as guardians of planet Earth, the biological living trust, for the beneficiaries, the children of today, tomorrow, and beyond? Or will it too be a century of lethal, economic struggle among the polarized positions of the supremely dysfunctional among us? Are they—once again—to be allowed to determine the legacy we of the present generation bequeath all those who follow us? The choice is ours, the adults of the world. How shall we each choose?
If you have an idea for a potential book, one you feel committed to create for the betterment of our world—or know someone who does, please contact me. We can then discuss your idea to see whether it will fit within the attached series description. If so, I will send you the book proposal format. Your chosen book project must have a clearly sustainable-environmental component because the series is designed specifically to demonstrate the reciprocal relationships between society and its environment. A book on purely social issues will not fit in this series. I look forward to hearing from you.
Series description: If we want a world of true social-environmental quality to live in, we must change our materialistic values and habits—and be persistent in that change. We must reach beyond where we feel safe and dare to move ahead, despite the fact that perfect knowledge will always elude us.
There are no biological short cuts, technological quick fixes, or political hype embodied in our current symptomatic thinking that can mend what is broken. Dramatic, fundamental change in the form of systemic thinking is necessary if we are really concerned with bettering our quality of life—even that of next year.
Social-Environmental Sustainability is a series of books designed to examine our human-caused, global problems in terms of Nature's biophysical support systems and to propose sustainable solutions that will move society toward an ecologically sound environment and a socially just culture. Each book in this series will be thoughtfully selected to add a new dimension to the resolution of our problems—not just repackage old ideas. In this sense, each book comprises part of a roadmap of where to go and what to do when people are at last forced to accept the changes they have fought against for so long. Finally, each book is an unconditional gift from the author(s) to all generations—present and future.
Chris Maser, Series Editor
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