Permaculture Ethic I – Care of the Earth

Permaculture design decisions are governed by 3 ethics.

  1. CARE OF THE EARTH
  2. CARE OF PEOPLE
  3. RETURN OF SURPLUS / FAIR SHARE

The second & third ethics are based on the first one. And in current times, the Earth Care is the most critical one.

The sad reality is that we are in danger of perishing from our own stupidity and lack of personal responsibility to life. If we become extinct because of factors beyond our control, then we can at least die with pride in ourselves, but to create a mess in which we perish by our own inaction makes nonsense of our claims to consciousness and morality.

There is too much contemporary evidence of ecological disaster and it should frighten us all. Our consumptive lifestyle has led us to the very brink of annihilation. We have expanded our right to live on the earth to an entitlement to conquer the earth, yet “conquerors” of nature always lose. To accumulate wealth, power, or land beyond one’s needs in a limited world is truly immoral, be it as individual, an institution, or a nation-state.

The experience of the natural world and its laws has almost been abandoned for closed, artificial, and meaningless lives, perhaps best typified by the dreams of those who would live in space satellites and abondon a dying earth.

Humanity in its present mindlessness, may be the one disturbance that the earth cannot tolerate. What is more, we will either survive together, or none of us will survive.

What we have done, we can undo. There is no longer time to waste nor any need to accumulate more evidence of disasters; time for action is here.

A person of courage today is a person of peace. The courage we need is to refuse authority and to accept only personally responsible decisions. Like war, growth at any cost is an outmoded and discredited concept. It is our lives which are being laid to waste. What is worse, it is our children’s world which is being destroyed. It is therefore our only possible decision to withhold all support for destructive systems, and to cease to invest our lives in our own annihilation.

A basic question that can be asked in two ways is:

“What can I get from this land, or person?” or

“What does this person, or land, have to give if I cooperate with them?”

Of these two approaches, the former leads to war and waste, the latter to peace & plenty.

Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself… to harm the earth is to heap contempt upon the creator… contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

(Cheif Seattle, 1854, responding to a U. S. government offer to buy Indian land.)

THE PRIME DIRECTIVE OF PERMACULTURE.

The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existense and that of our children. Make it Now.

Reference 
Mollison, Bill, Permaculture - A Designers' Manual, 1988, Tagari Publications, Tasmania 7325, Australia.

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