[permaculture] 3rd ethic

Lee Flier leeflier at comcast.net
Wed Dec 9 17:47:37 EST 2009

Hi folks,

I haven't had a lot of time or inclination to participate in this list 
of late, although I still lurk when I can.  I really enjoy reading all 
the different points of view and usually, someone else says something 
like what I'd have been likely to say, so I don't feel inclined to jump 
in. :)

But this discussion brought up something interesting.  I did my PDC in 
1997 with Bill Mollison and Scott Pittman (hi Scott!), and I wrote down 
the 3 ethics as they were presented in the class, in my class notes 
which I still have.  And it's interesting to me that Bill apparently has 
expressed the 3rd ethic differently at different times, because I 
thought the way it was presented in my class was perfectly stated.  The 
3 ethics were:

1) Care of the earth.
2) Care of people.
3) The return of surplus to care of the earth and its people.

This is how I have always taught it to others, and I think it's a 
perfect way of stating it for several reasons:

1) It underscores the patterns of care, surplus and abundance as being 
*cyclical*, as Toby described eloquently in his article.  The third 
ethic feeds into the first two and vice versa, and there are cyclical 
patterns of scarcity and abundance.  It's not a linear progression.

2) There's not such a need to define "how much is too much?" or "what is 
surplus?" in hard terms because by following the ethics as stated, 
giving and receiving are basically the same thing.  If you follow the 
third ethic, you are naturally following the first two, and if you 
follow the first two, you will naturally follow the third. Anything you 
invest in care of the earth (in which you live) and of people (of which 
you are one) is something you will also personally benefit from.  This 
concept seems to have been discussed in this thread, but I think the way 
it's worded above is a great way to express the concept.

So I was surprised to hear there's been so much restating of this 
ethic.  It seemed clear to me from the beginning. :D

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