[permaculture] 3rd ethic

Lee Flier leeflier at comcast.net
Wed Dec 9 18:15:01 EST 2009

One other thought on this topic: Toby suggested in his article that our 
lack of connection with spirit increases existential emptiness which 
leads us to hoard things and operate on an economic principle of 
scarcity.  I'd like to put a finer point on that: I think that modern 
civilization inherently was founded on the distrust of nature.  We don't 
want to be subject to nature's whims to whatever degree is possible, so 
we seek ever more control over our circumstances.

Of course this isn't a bad thing overall.  I think if we really had to 
trade places with somebody who lived a few thousand years ago, we'd 
appreciate most of what we have today.  I'm no Luddite, for sure.  But I 
think in the process of all this, in our intense desire to keep nature's 
(very real) *cruelty* at bay, we've forgotten about all the parts of 
nature that *work*.  We've forgotten about its *generosity* which is 
every bit as real as the bits we don't like. :D  Everything in nature is 
fantastically over-engineered, designed to create surplus and abundance, 
and proven to do so over millions of years of evolution. But of course, 
one has to follow certain principles to enjoy that abundance.  If we 
exceed carrying capacity, if we hoard stuff, if we introduce rapid 
catastrophic changes into a natural system then it will die.  And we've 
done that so much that most of us haven't truly seen an abundant natural 
system at work in our lifetimes.  Bill Mollison, I guess, is one of the 
few who has, because his far off corner of the world hadn't yet been 
screwed up when he was a child.  So it's no wonder he was so driven to 
teach this stuff - he knows how much we've lost.

So I think a lot of what's involved in practicing and teaching the 3rd 
ethic will have to do with re-connecting with, and demonstrating, the 
abundance found in natural systems, and the ways to work with and 
enhance that abundance.  A sense of being connected to the divine, as 
Toby suggests, helps foster this attitude because the idea of everything 
being God's handiwork makes it easier to grasp that we will be cared for 
if we work with nature as opposed to considering nature an enemy that 
must be conquered.  But I think that because we've mostly lost that 
connection to the divine, we'll have to reconnect in reverse - people 
will have to regain a sense of the divine by observing how much is 
really possible on earth, how abundant natural systems really are. 
Fortunately, we CAN demonstrate it.  That's what I think permaculture is 
all about. :)

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