In all your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at lawmaking, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and always have in view the present and the coming generations — the unborn of the future Nation.
This philosophy can be found not only in Native tribes in North America but also in the ideals of various peoples throughout the world.
I have my own take on this philosophy. I believe what the Iroquois Confederacy is referring to is social equity. And taking this one step further, I believe what they are discussing is green and sustainability social equity
What Do We Mean by the Term Social Equity?
The concept of social equity arose in the early 19th century during the Industrial Revolution. It was created to address and challenge the exploitation of human labor of the many for the wealth and prosperity of the few.
Today, green and sustainability social equity is designed to guarantee that all people have fair and equal access to a healthy, safe, and sustainable environment and are free from environmental harm. Not just the few, but all.
For instance, the comment above that “self-interest shall be cast into oblivion” reminds me of the history of green-certified cleaning solutions and products. True, in the 30 years since Green Seal has been operating, organizations around the globe have recognized the value of green-certified cleaning products and methods and made significant strides to incorporate them into their cleaning operations.
However, we still see far too many situations in which the key reason some organizations do not select green cleaning products is price or the perceived “better” performance of traditional cleaning products. These concerns are no longer applicable, as performance and price of green products are virtually indistinguishable from those of traditional products.
Rather, what makes this a social equity issue is the lack of concern for the negative impacts these traditional products may have on the people using them.
The Pandemic and Social Equity
This came to a head during the pandemic. What is now called “indiscriminate disinfecting” was occurring all over the world. The same happened during the SARS pandemic. Everything and anything was being disinfected, no matter if disinfecting was necessary or not. In fact, this is still rampant in the United States and many areas around the world.
It was a gut-level reaction to the pandemic. Although disinfectants have served us well, we know excessive, indiscriminate use of these powerful chemicals can be harmful to the user, the custodial workers we just mentioned, many of whom are on the lower rungs of society.
This happened and continues to happen because the self-interest of the many has been cast over the health concerns of the few — those hired to clean and maintain the health of the facilities we live, work, and learn in. However, we do not live in a vacuum. What negatively impacts one segment of society eventually negatively impacts us all.
Just look at the excessive heat and developing drought in the western half of the United States if you need an example. No one, rich or poor, can escape it. This means to protect our environment, green and environmental social justice must prevail.