Respect Life Ethics
Ethical principles in permaculture have been formed by examining views and beliefs held by a variety of indigenous peoples, traditional cultures and societies. The three core ethics include ‘Earth Care’, ‘People Care’ and ‘Fair Shares’.
Permaculture really does mean working with and caring for nature. Not in a shallow ‘corporate social responsibility’ way but on a truly informed and intimate level. Earth Care therefore aims to enable all life systems to continue and increase.
Permaculture accepts that ‘everything gardens’, that is everything has an effect on its environment and we must then proceed to ‘garden’ to meet our needs accepting that we are one strand in the web of life.
Permaculture is based on cooperation and mutual aid. People care means looking after self, kin and community. Effective permaculture systems are designed to meet the needs of human communities, not just the basics of food and shelter, but also the emotional, social and spiritual needs.
A prime directive of permaculture is for us to refuse authority and ensure we actively take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children and future generations. People care means that all are enabled to access the resources they need for a good quality of life. Natural systems are based on diversity and permaculture embraces this on a cultural level too, celebrating the contributions of different groups and individuals.
Fair shares integrates people and earth care in order for us to consider how to maintain a reasonable standard of living while sharing resources and setting limits to population and consumption. It means accepting the limits of natural worlds and instead embracing renewable resources and living systems. It also means re-distributing surplus.
All of these ethics can combine to become the basis of what is fundamentally is fundamentally a respect for life. Ethic-free systems cannot be sustainable in the truly long term. Respecting life also means embracing life; that is choosing living systems over non-living ones in a culture that likes to convert the living to the dead.