The Ten Commandments-Commandment Four-Sustainablity

Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God ; you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or the traveler who stays in your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth , the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy, Exodus 20:8-11.

   A sustainable society is that one in which persons produce more than we consume. The arts, the sciences, politics, defense: all depend on the production of an agricultural surplus. Historically, cities arise when farmers first start to grow more than they need for subsistence. Cultures disappear when the farmer cannot produce more than enough, whether the destructive cause is war or disease or drought. 

   Totalitarianism went the way of the divine right of monarchs. Marxist-Leninism (called variously socialism or communism or collectivism) can be found in shards of the Berlin Wall, kept in collections like moon rocks, as though from another planet altogether, done and gone. Recently, unregulated capitalism shook to its roots, the global economy swamped by a fracture of its tectonic plates, movements far below the surface, resulting in a tsunami that buried the economic beach dwellers.

   What is sustainable? Apparently, no political system maintains itself, no economic system offers perpetual succor. What is sustainable?

   The greatest concentration of private wealth in history amalgamated in the American middle class between the end of WWII and the mid-1970's. Outside forces began to chip away that wealth in the mid-70's and down to today but for about twenty years, persons who started with little or nothing were given the advantage of government funded education, home ownership and agricultural surpluses.

   Have your eyes glazed over yet? Stay a moment more, the history lesson is nearly done.

   These people, this generation of which I write lived in an era of plenty with a mindset of want. They had survived the last Great Depression and World Wide Violence Redux. The survivors reentered society with the firm knowledge it could all go away, just now, and stay gone for a long time.

   They knew John Kenneth Galbraith's maxim, to wit, "The market can remain incoherent far longer than you can remain solvent."

   The post-war, conformist, survivor generation, lived in an era of great prosperity with a mindset of great want. Naturally, they wanted a sustainable social order.

   This is a matter of godliness. God, too, wants a sustainable social order.

   In fact, so we would not constantly demand more, God showed us what God did in six days and said, "Learn to say, enough."

   In fact, God set out a day of rest and hedged it around with so many guards, you could not much move without getting busted. No proxies, no hired guns, no putting the beasts to work. Sit and think. Work hard six days, fine, but the seventh day, sit and think.

   Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. Holy, that is, set apart for deeper pursuits, the Day of the Soul.

   More is not sustainable. There is that point where utility begins to diminish, first at the margin, then, where the margin erodes to the very center. More is not sustainable, nor is it necessarily holy.

   Effort is sustainable.

   Family is sustainable.

   Hospitality is sustainable.

   Enough is sustainable. You just have to decide what is enough. To live in peace and good order, to live in dignity and help others live in dignity, to walk in peace with God and peaceably with one's fellows; these things are sustainable.

 

  


4 thoughts on “The Ten Commandments-Commandment Four-Sustainablity”

  1. “Recently, unregulated capitalism shook to its roots, the global economy swamped by a fracture of its tectonic plates, movements far below the surface, resulting in a tsunami that buried the economic beach dwellers.”
    My question is, when did we ever have an an unregulated capitalistic economy? Last time I checked, there is a regulation for just about everything. Heck, I can’t put a car port up without a city waiver.
    Overall, I agree with your post, just not the above statement. You could put, “Recently, regulated capitalisic economy shook to its roots…” and I would totally agree.
    Tim

  2. Beloved Tim,
    There is a huge difference between a regulated industry and an industry in which the regulations are actually applied. For instance, the constitution of the USSR was a most lovely document. It guaranteed freedom of religion, of speech, of the press and of assembly. What no one argues is that none of the “regulations” were enforced.
    The recent economic tsunami need absolutely no new regulations to fix the problem. What it did need was someone minding the cash register.
    Hence, my stance that the capitalist system that most recently collapsed was unregulated. Here I stand.

  3. Right Reverend Rick,
    😉
    You can stand there, and I’ll still hold you dear to my heart. However, I’ll still have take my stand that it is a regulated system. I agree that some of the regulations weren’t enforced. No argument there. However, I’ll also point to certain regulations that paved the way for humanities broken nature to take root and then bloom into our current economic crisis. If you look back to the Carter years, you’ll find something called the Fair Housing Act. This was given a bump by the Clinton Administration as well. This started it all by forcing Banks to take bad loans. So you see, it isn’t that Unregulated Capitalism was tried and found wanting. You might say it was left still wanting to be tried.
    😉
    Yeah, I took the quote and totally secularized it.
    Personally, I wouldn’t want totally unregulated markets. I would hate to go back to a day when children had to work slavishly in factories. But, to blame the collapse on the lack of regulation is a misnomer, imo.
    Much Love,
    Tim

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