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Living Lightly on the Earth — Basic Principles

Living lightly on the earth

Name any topic and you can do research and find volumes of facts about it. Especially on the Internet. Or you can simply reflect and state the basic principle involved. Adopting the principle then allows you to work out the details, or to answer new questions that may arise on the same subject.

Such principles can guide our lives. They permit social breakthroughs to be made. Some of these breakthroughs have been quite radical: two are the casting aside by many people of racial stereotyping and of gender stereotyping. Some whole societies now consider both sexes and all races as equal in talent as well as in rights; another example is the end of the reign of cigarette smoking. Far from being seen as something cool or sexy, smoking is now seen as an insult to oneself and to those in the smoker’s vicinity.

Traditional beliefs CAN change. Social change CAN occur!

“Living lightly on the earth” is a wonderful example of a general principle. It conveys the idea of being a good steward of the earth, not raping its resources but treating the earth with respect. “Living joyfully and sparingly” is another. It can guide our daily steps, not only in energy conservation but also in moderate eating and drinking. Here are some areas of concern, and possible principles for each. “Global warming” is not mentioned since it’s probably a subset of these.

Subject area Basic principles to guide our daily actions
Physical Exercise It imparts flexibility, strength, endurance and muscle tone and has almost no “downside” as long as we don’t trip and fall. We should make use of every occasion to walk, run, get up and move around. We should invent new occasions to do so, and question every mechanized mode of moving around or getting things done without physical exertion.
Energy conservation Step lightly on the earth; follow the natural cycles of sunlight moonlight; walk, run, bike, canoe, everything but drive around in an automobile. Stay at or near home with the lights down low; furnish your home with inexpensive, simple design and materials; heat or cool your house passively to the extent possible. Grow some vegetables and base your meals on them, including grains, using a modicum of meat as the secondary element.
Weight loss a) Obesity is a serious health problem that leads to a host of killer diseases. It is also ungainly, unsightly and detrimental to one’s self-image.
b) People are like dogs, in that we will eat whatever food is put in front of us. From caveman days we have also inherited an amazing ability to store food as fat, since cavemen run out of food on a cyclical basis. Therefore it is essential for us to place strict limits on the size and contents of our bowls, and the frequency of setting them out. Eat small, very tasty dishes. (One is speaking metaphorically of course — does anyone use bowls anymore? Does anyone cook anymore? Or have take-out containers taken over the world?)
Conservation of the environment Greenery is in every way healthy, cooling, restful, full of oxygen and respectful of all the forms of life that evolved over millions, even billions of years, and by greenery we don’t mean bougainvillea. We mean the native woodland and savannah such as surrounded the earliest humans. Our world populations should be limited in numbers and grouped in towns and cities, with small areas for intensive food production. The remaining earth should revert to what it was only one hundred years ago. Vast areas of undisturbed, native vegetation should dominate the earth.
Integration Look at all these things together. Can they be summarized into a basic, overarching principle to guide our individual lives, and our governments?

jwp
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April 2018
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