“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.”
– H G Wells
I’m not sure who this saying is attributed to but it’s quite good!
“Democracy is not about changing the people in power but about changing the minds of the people in power.”
It seems to me that, too often, we change one set of people for another set of people who have the same or very similar mindset. Economic growth seems to be more important than people and the planet. Somehow, it must be easier to change the minds of our elected leaders than to find people who think differently and get them elected!
It’s October 14th, I was sat in the garden and I realised how long it is since I last put a post on this blog. It’s probably because I am involved in so many other blogs I keep forgetting to add something to this one. It has been such a busy year so far and a big chunk of it seems to have been taken up with having a hernia operation and recovering from that (more on that another time) but the biggest change in our lives this year (besides our daughter leaving home!) has been the arrival of Buster. In fact it was he that suggested that I should be posting something on this blog.
We were sat in the garden on this lovely sunny morning, I was drinking a cup of tea and he was eyeing up my chocolate biscuit when I realised that I hadn’t taken many photos of him, so out came the phone and I took a photo of him and then he took one of me. What a handsome pair we make!
I am constantly amazed at the parallels I find between my faith as a Christian and Permaculture. In Permaculture and the environmental movement there is the idea that there is a tipping point in time when enough people in the world recognise our destructive ways and start doing something about it so that the environment overall starts to be regenerated rather than destroyed, a point where the good we do starts to outweigh the bad. Christianity, of course, calls this turning from bad to good “repentance”. A traditional Christian viewpoint sees repentance as the point where we realise that we need to turn our life around, away from evil and death and towards goodness and life, away from the “Devil” and towards Christ. But in addition to this, the daily Christian life is about continuous turnings, daily repentance as we turn from the destructive towards the creative and the Creator.
The Greek word used in the Bible is metanoia and this word has been used in many ways but particularly in reference to “a change of mind”. In fact there is a movement of people who use metanoia to mean a turning from our affluent lifestyle to a life of “more with less”, a rejection of consumerism and materialism as the basis of progress.
The recent death of Margaret Thatcher has brought the Prayer of St Francis back into the news and reflecting on this prayer I realised that here we have a prayer for Christians and for the Permaculture movement. Here is my suggestion for an expanded version:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
Where there is greed, sharing;
Where there is violence, peace / shalom;
Where there is brokenness, wholeness and healing;
Where there is shortage, sufficiency;
Where there is scarcity, abundance;
Where there is over-consumption, rebuilding and regeneration;
Where there is sterility, fertility;
Where there is monoculture, biodiversity;
Where there is death, life;
Where there is destruction, creation.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
I’m just reading an article about community that draws from the tradition of the Dagara people now situated in Burkina Faso, central West Africa and Ghana. In this article Malidoma Somé says:
The Dagara people have an elaborate cosmology to support this. It begins with the idea that every child has returned from the world of the ancestors with a specific purpose to fulfil, which is regarded as a gift. So, there is the assumption that people are born with a gift that they are bringing to the family, people and culture that they are born into.
Members of the community do everything they can to support the child and bring their gift out into the open.
It is interesting to compare this with our education system which is more like a factory where all children will be turned out “above average” (derr!) and all expected to be taught, educated, shaped, manipulated, knocked into the same shape to fit the current economic model.
The idea that “people are born with a gift that they are bringing to” society is so much more creative and wholesome.