Ethics In My Life #1

Day 1 – we had a discussion about how the permaculture ethics showed up (or not) in our lives. The assignment we were set was to complete the One Planet Challenge Eco Footprint Questionnaire which asked various questions about our carbon footprint and impact on the world. There were a couple of different calculators to try and I also had a go at this one from WWF.

The results were based on the premise “if everyone lived like me, how many planets would we need to sustain our existence?”. I found the results quite shocking as I consider myself to be a pretty low impact person – my result was 2.7 planets (2.8 on the WWF one!) compared to the national average of three.

Here is the action plan that came out at the end of my One Planet Challenge test, after I put all my data in. It’s difficult – I reckon a lot of the stuff on there I am already doing and the bits I’m not require major structural works to my home which currently I can’t afford – things like double glazing the sash windows and putting in cavity wall insulation, which, to be honest right now I have no idea what that would entail or even if it’s possible. At every turn there’s something new to investigate.

Anyway, here’s where I think the major gaps are in my Action Plan and how they relate to the permaculture ethics. First I analysed the results based on ‘gaps’ – where I think I need to focus attention – the ethics in brackets are the ones which I think would be met if I worked a bit harder to do these things:

  1. insulate walls, loft and water tank (earthcare / peoplecare)
  2. setting thermostat to 18-21 degrees C (earthcare)
  3. take less flights… I took two return long haul flights in the last 12 months! (earthcare)
  4. could I borrow or hire rather than buy something? (peoplecare, earthshare, fairshare)
  5. buying more sustainable wood products rather than plastic / metal (earthcare)

Then I analysed the results where I am already doing ‘good’ things but perhaps they don’t meet all three ethics (no ‘sweet spot’). Here’s what I came up with.

  1. shopping locally, seasonally and organically – pretty good at this which I think meets earth care and people care (me!) but perhaps if I increased the amount of food I buy in bulk and do more collective based purchases, I could get better fairshare and peoplecare ethics in there too.
  2.   Got a garden and try to plant local varieties of foods and design in a permaculture way (still learning). But I do feel that we could get better use out of the garden and more people could benefit from it. Perhaps (no definitely) we could get a better yield and as sometimes we struggle to maintain it, we could get more folk to help out? and offer them stuff form the garden in return, as well as a nice place to hang out… just some thoughts

The third part of the exercise was to think about something we do in our lives that we’re passionate about and analyse whether/ how the permaculture ethics show up in that thing. I choose KUNG FU & CHI KUNG! (I always choose Kung Fu and Chi Kung!). So…

  • Earthcare: so, in our practice, we do not harm the earth, in principle. The art is hand to hand combat or solo practice. There’s no direct damage to the earth. Weapons however, hmmm – we have wooden staffs which are most likely not made of sustainable sources and other weapons are made of metal (swords etc). Probably not the most ethical things in terms of their production, or arguably their use – but I think that is arguable…  
  • Peoplecare: We have a regular class which is a great family feel and a network of friends who look after each other and look out for each other. The network is worldwide which gives great opportunities to learn from and with people in different cultures. We practice an ancient Chinese system of martial and healing arts – which  is awesome for health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual cultivation.  As a martial art it is compassionate – I realise this could spark some debate but let me share with you our 10 Shaolin Laws which we all sign up to:
    1. Required to respect the master, honour the Moral Way and love fellow disciples as brothers and sisters.
    2. Required to train the Shaolin arts diligently, and as a pre-requisite, to be physically and mentally healthy.
    3. Required to be filial to parents, be respectful to the elderly, and protective of the young.
    4. Required to uphold righteousness, and to be both wise and courageous.
    5. Forbidden to be ungrateful and unscrupulous, ignoring the Laws of man and heaven.
    6. Forbidden to rape, molest, do evil, steal, rob, abduct or cheat.
    7. Forbidden to associate with wicked people; forbidden to do any sorts of wickedness.
    8. Forbidden to abuse power, be it official or physical; forbidden to oppress the good and bully the kind.
    9. Obliged to be humane, compassionate and spread love, and to realize everlasting peace and happiness for all people.
    10. Obliged to be chivalrous and generous, to nurture talents and pass on the Shaolin arts to deserving disciples.
  • Fairshare: this is another really interesting one. We are duty bound through the Laws to pass on the arts to deserving disciples (students). Then there is of course a debate about who is deserving. And there is a fee structure for students to pay. Our school is not the cheapest to access, but then, I’d say it is the best (I would wouldn’t I). There is certainly a conversation around how accessible these arts are financially so does everyone get their fair share? Well – once someone has learned Chi Kung, they are free to practice it on their own for free. You can learn the arts from a book (although I wouldn’t advise it). When thinking about these arts and fairshare it does require a definition of what’s fair and who might be ‘deserving’ of learning the arts – probably likely to spark debate but there it is…

Now for a picture of a polar bear on a melting iceberg. Just to pull us back into the real world!


Google search uncredited photo / sourced 16.02.14


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