The simple sentence “Everyone Can Flourish in a Viable Society on the Islands of Peace" is full of meaning. It is Ålands vision for a sustainable future. It is timeless and comprises of three parts.
The first part – Everyone Can Flourish – articulates the desire of society to enable the flourishing of each individual according to their capabilities. It is neither should nor allowed to flourish, it is can. It is the individual who decides to participate, and at the same time flourishing requires responsibility and active efforts by each participant. It is not we can flourish, instead it is everyone can flourish, because there is no we without them.
It is an open everyone and involves people outside of Åland as well as other living things. A limit is also incorporated, your flourishing cannot hinder the possibility of others to flourish.
What do we mean by flourishing? In our view, flourishing comprises of at least three aspects: wonderment, contentedness, reconciliation.
Wonderment is the ability to marvel at the contradictory human life and our simple and yet complex existence.
Contentedness is the ability to be satisfied and exercise moderation in life. Instead of feeling a constant urge to strive for more, a satisfied person holds the wish to contribute.
Reconciliation is to be at peace with oneself and other people. It is the ability to move on and see all experiences as a valuable part of life.
A person possessing all these abilities is also resourceful and creative. The person can flourish and enables the flourishing of everyone.
A viable society
The second part is in a Viable Society. Viability is our ability to cater for our necessary needs without adverse effects on future generations, workforce here or elsewhere, or other living things in form of animals and the living nature. It means sustainability in all aspects of our lives, food, living space, transport, and energy. Viability is prosperity, but not necessarily material prosperity.
Viability is created by hard and meaningful work, be it paid or unpaid. It requires good leadership, which with courage and integrity signals safety and ability to navigate ever changing circumstances.
The third part, on the Islands of Peace, visualises a society living in harmony with the starting point of life, the water. Islands surrounded by clean water which unites the societies of the Baltic sea and the Nordic countries.
The Islands of Peace are our place on earth, our context, and a unique aspect of Åland. The society of today was not built overnight. Beyond welfare and comfortability glimpses of a heritage from generations long past, their knowledge and work in interaction with nature. We manage this heritage, we dig where we stand, and we step of in our local conditions. And we use the word “we” in a welcoming way: it is a “we” for everyone willing to live and function on Åland, and it is a “we” open for the world. Åland is part of a greater context.
We use both the demilitarisation and the work for sustainability as a powerful steppingstone into the international cooperation, for example considering the Baltic sea as a sea of peace and ever cleaner water.
Above all, the idea of the Islands of Peace is a matter of peaceful relations, between you and me. It is an idea of a society without violence, neither physical, verbal, nor sexual. A society of individuals in dialogue with their surroundings, growing in understanding.
The realisation of the Everyone Can Flourish idea is a society no one have yet to experience.