This doesn’t really seem that difficult an ethic to embrace on the surface but when you start to dig a bit deeper it is an incredible challenge. Many people who try to apply permaculture ethics and principles to their lives become aware of how abundant life is. We have so much! And as Christians we often celebrate the abundance of creation. If we were to look after creation then there would be plenty to go round and everyone would be able to have more than enough to have a good quality of life.
The incredible challenge I find in this is “how much is enough”? Do I really need that sexy looking car? (Is it the car or the girl driving the car that’s sexy?) Do I really need to replace the sofa every three years? (Will I have paid for it in three years time?) Do I really need to eat that second helping of dessert? (The girl on the TV advert hasn’t got any fatter eating it!)
If you read the bits in brackets you may realise that the challenge presented to me has a lot to do with advertising. I try to live with what I think is enough but advertising tells me I haven’t got enough and tries to persuade me to consume more. In the process of pursuing more for myself I forget about others who are less fortunate than myself. I am convinced by the adverts that there may be a shortage so I need to get it now, which means I have too much which I don’t use and so I waste some of it. And I get stuck on the merry go round of consumerism. And I can’t get off …….
But if you do get off, and you stop and look around you, what do you see? I see unhappy people pursuing a dream that cannot satisfy. People Care is partly about helping each other to stop the consumer merry go round and helping to find themselves as people rather than as consumers, as human beings created and loved by a generous God. Then it will be easier to find out what is enough, to realise just how rich we really are and to care for each other.
For me, this is what Jesus tries to help people to do. As I said in the first article about Earth Care, ” I believe that Jesus saw all creation, all people, all animals, plants, soil, water, food, everything, as God’s creation, as part of a giant gift economy, to be cared for, to be tended, to be loved, to be appreciated, to be valued. Not to be consumed, abused, treated as of no or little value, commoditised, discarded.”
So for me, the second Permaculture ethic, People Care, also rings true. It resonates with my faith and my being.