A Moral Obligation

I tend to be both insecure and introspective…utilizing my introspection to analyze my own insecurities…uncertain of my conclusions.

Yup.  I’m a mess.

I spend a large amount of my time evaluating my own decisions, actions and motivations.  For example my recent post about why I have cows?  Grass is a low-input, low-value good.  Converting grass to something of higher value is desirable.  How do you convert acres and acres of low-value forage?  Cows are a pretty good option.

But why do I have cows?  Wouldn’t it be easier to park my tookus on the couch with a book in hand?  Wouldn’t it be easier to order a pizza or to buy peaches already canned?

I could live as if there were no tomorrow.  I could eat whatever I wanted, smoke, drive like a maniac, money wouldn’t matter…remember this in Groundhog Day?  I wouldn’t have to concern myself with my children’s future…there is no future.  No future? no concern about consequences of my actions…no moral consequences.  Like Bill Murray’s character, I wouldn’t even have to floss.

Well, that doesn’t sit well with me and it all boils down to this: I believe this is a moral issue.

We could, as residents of this world, simply consume as much as we can as fast as we can…living to have fun.  Unfortunately, the sun is very likely to rise in the morning.  Then what?  There is only so much leftover pizza within reach of the couch.  At some point I have to walk to the kitchen for more (ugh, work).  But there is only so much pizza in the freezer.  Then I either have to go to the store to buy pizza or I have to dial my phone (work, work, work) and ask someone to cook and deliver a pizza to me…and they will expect payment.  Ugh!  There is only so much money in my wallet, in my checking account or available on my credit card.  Now I either have to wait for someone to give me money, I have to take someone else’s money by force or I have to trade some portion of time I would normally spend on my couch for money doing any number of things I may not want to do. Worst of all, that cuts into my pizza-eating couch time!

Beyond simply meeting my own needs for MOAR! pizza, I work to contribute positively to the world around me. To some extent, I’m seeking to increase my surplus so I can buy better-tasting pizza but I’m also working to ease the pizza burden of current and future generations. And I feel this is something we are obligated to do. Whose planet is this? Does the planet belong to some long-dead pharaoh? How about George Washington? Should I preserve Illinois in the memory of Abraham Lincoln (lol)? How about my father? Do I want to prevent Illinois from turning into a desert or a chemical monoculture (same thing really) for my still-living father’s sake? Maybe…but that’s really not enough. I seek to enhance the soil ecology for the sake of generations yet to come, not to impress my wife.

I’m not going to own this land forever. In the light of that truth I have two options. I could, if I desired, strip the land of all wealth taking every dollar of value from the soil then abandoning the victimized soil to time. No big deal, it happens every day. Instead, I could seek to increase the water-holding capacity of my soil, improve my timber, solidify my fences and repair my buildings…not seeking peer approval, not seeking a higher resale value, (though both would be a natural result) but to hand the next owner something better than what I was handed. It’s not easy to build value into some things but farmland…that’s something else. It requires that I enable the farm to produce more than is consumed and that I return surplus to the land…cycling nutrients through. Distilled down to its essence, farming is the business of catching and holding sunlight and rain…then cycling surplus sunshine and rain back through the system. This could be done on a balcony in a 5-gallon bucket.

It strikes me as immoral to consume more than I contribute. I feel we have a moral obligation to produce.  That means seeking to increase and make the best use of all resources under my control. Everything from kittens to eggs to dollars and especially my children’s childhood.

How can you apply this to your own stewardship?

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One thought on “A Moral Obligation

  1. I had some neighbors who were soon to be retired farmers. In the year or two before they sold the farm to younger family members, they put considerable expense into improving the land with berms to catch the water and save erosion. I had so much respect for that. They had the same outlook as you and Julie. I respect that, as well.

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