I have been meditating on the ethics of consuming. We as living beings have to consume to live. It is in our nature to use tools, to feed, to create art, to procreate, to preserve and pass on knowledge to the next generation. We are part of the cycle of life. We consume. It is natural.
That said, as a species, our consuming is creating massive environmental disaster. Currently, the rate of species extinction is 100 – 1000 times higher than what we see in the fossil records. There is no place on Earth where the effect of humans isn’t felt. The human population just keeps growing. In my short life of almost 46 years, the population has doubled! Three and a half billion is now seven billion! And everyone keeps consuming. As I said, it is in our nature to live – and living requires consuming.
So where do we draw the line, ethically speaking, when it comes to consuming? Obviously we can’t continue as we have. Within a few decades we will reach the limits of Mother Earth, and then will come the inevitable collapse (and it will be ugly). So how to live now? What is okay and what is not okay? What is the ethical question we need to ask when we consume? My mentor posed this question: “Would it be okay if everyone was did what I am about to do?”
Think on this in all aspects of your life. What if everyone bought what I am about to buy? What if everyone took out of the environment what I am about to take? One quickly realizes that almost everything we consume is unethical.
So how do we live? That I can’t answer for you. Sometimes I wonder if we should live at all. Obviously Nature cannot support the current population; much less the geometric growth we are achieving. But to me, while I have something to offer, while I can make a difference, living is the ethical choice. When I don’t have these things anymore, it is time to stop living and give my body back to the Earth.
We as a species need to fight our own nature when it comes to consuming and procreation. We can do this. We do this all the time. The sex drive is huge. Do we sleep with anyone who says yes? No, we don’t. We negotiate relationship. Most everyone is monogamous. We control the instinct. So I know we can control the urge to consume. We need to separate need from desire. And the most important place we need to do this is in the desire to have children. There is no need to breed. Giving the current state of our beloved Earth, we have to stop procreating. We can do this consciously or we can let Nature do this cataclysmically. Either way, we will have to lower the population. All ethics aside, we have no choice.
These are heavy truths that most people just do not want to think about. We do everything in this country to avoid talking about it. We still have fertility clinics for people to whom Nature has said, “don’t breed.” And we interfere. We add more people when all over the globe there are millions and millions of children who need a home. We have a cult of life in this country. People spend endless resources to prolong life. This time is paid for by the environment. We fear death so much, we sell off our children’s future to avoid it. It is time for this culture to stop making death the enemy. Death is a friend that allows the cycle of life to continue. I forget who said this but it is so wise: “Life shouldn’t be measured by the length but rather by the breadth.”
Why I am writing this depressing stuff? What does this have to do with Druidry? For me it has everything to do with my spiritual life. Learning to live in sacred relationship to the Earth is what this is all about. And the Earth is telling me something. I think we as Pagans can lead the culture in establishing a new paradigm where we walk within the bounds of Nature; considering our actions; considering the future generations; working to restore the ecosystems; ending consumerism; and honoring all aspects of Nature as sacred (especially the importance of death which is currently the enemy of the cult of life). We can do this. We as people whose entire religion is based in Nature, should lead the way forward. If we don’t, who will?
Blessings of peace and simplicity,