• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • jordan barton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Mike Haasl
master gardeners:
  • John F Dean
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Stacie Kim
  • Jay Angler

Why proselytize?

 
pollinator
Posts: 281
170
forest garden fungi trees foraging urban books
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A seemingly simple and honest question:

"Why proselytize permaculture?"
 
George Yacus
pollinator
Posts: 281
170
forest garden fungi trees foraging urban books
  • Likes 1 Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Related questions:

Mollison wrote:The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.



2) Given Mollison's quote above, for you as an individual, shouldn't it be enough to just do it on your own, never sharing it with anyone else other than your children?  
 
George Yacus
pollinator
Posts: 281
170
forest garden fungi trees foraging urban books
  • Likes 1 Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
3) Do you consider it ethical to "convert" someone who is both very happily satisfied and knowledgeable in their living a chemical-based lifestyle (They enjoy conveniences of monocultures, herbicide, agro-chem, fungicide, etc, while knowing their effects on life around them); especially if you know for certain that "converting" them will:

-Take away their personal time
-Introduce mental stress due to lifestyle change
-Decrease quality of life / luxury / convenience
-Increase physical discomfort through less reliance on petrol, and more on people labor
-Introduce mental stress through increase reliance on community
 
George Yacus
pollinator
Posts: 281
170
forest garden fungi trees foraging urban books
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

4) If you as an individual believe that it is ethical to proselytize permaculture (knowing it will temporarily "harm" or inconvenience another person as in the list above), what is the basis for your ethical framework leading to your decision?  In other words, what belief system are you ascribing to which enables you to temporarily harm someone else?
 
pollinator
Posts: 3842
Location: Toronto, Ontario
551
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If I am understanding your position correctly, you posit that it's immoral to convert people away from what they're doing. That position completely ignores the harm being done by the individual to the system as a whole.



"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one." Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Mollison clearly intended that permaculture be spread to as many as could benefit, for the benefit of all. As long as we're talking about a science-based approach that stresses the importance of observation, and quantification where useful, I don't see a problem with, for instance, indoctrinating children, mine or anyone else's, with ideas that suggest that we should try to emulate nature's established patterns in the establishment of our own systems, if for no other reason then to benefit from nature's systemic inertia.

This is a personal view, but I see fewer problems with indoctrinating children into permaculture than I do with some sects of the faith that raised me having done the same. There are no elements of faith involved in permaculture. It's essentially just the ninja of design science; it is aware of its specific environment and situation, and makes use of both to greatest advantage. You don't have to believe in microbes in the soil; you can see them through a microscope, and note their actions in the soil and compost pile.

I feel another glaring issue I have with the point of view taken is that self-harm is to be permitted, and cherished as a banner of affiliation, even as it does direct harm to the biosphere and everything living on it except, perhaps, fungi. While individual choice must be protected as a right, I feel we must also focus on what we want to be free from, what harms we expect society to step in and prevent, for the greater good.

While I feel it's reductive, I think my favourite answer to the OP's question is, "Because biocide is the greater harm to all, even for those who choose not to see the reasons for it, or have been kept from the information by their personal choices." I am, of course, implying that biocide is the end-result of choices based on one's personal convenience and comfort, externalising social and environmental harms to generate a profit (in the case of the individual, their "profit" includes all the good things the OP mentioned, like extra time, ease, and comfort, or even extra yield at no extra effort, brought by a system that destroys nature and sickens people).

-CK
 
George Yacus
pollinator
Posts: 281
170
forest garden fungi trees foraging urban books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Chris Kott wrote:If I am understanding your position correctly, you posit that it's immoral to convert people away from what they're doing.



I actually haven't fully formed or expressed my position yet.  

I've only asked a few questions to see folks' (ethical) thoughts on sharing concepts which will inconvenience or temporarily harm another individual who will be non-receptive.  

The tension and inspiration for my questions come from these two threads:
1)  Receiving door-to-door evangelizers, and this one on
2) "infecting a billion brains."

In the first post, there is a general sense of disdain expressed among people about evangelizers, even though the door-knockers may have good intentions and believe they have a long term ethical high ground for sharing their personal religious views.

And I can't stop casually thinking about that 2nd post.  I find Paul Wheaton's discussion about the moonshot goal of 1B persons aware of permaculture pretty intriguing from a strategic planning view.  The idea of trying to inform (with the goal to positively change) 1,000,000,000 people's minds and actions, even though it will harm them at first.  Sounds like a similar problem that the door-knockers face.  

It's been ages since taking an ethics class, but it sounds like your ethical justification for permie proselytizing is a form of utilitarianism.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
Posts: 3842
Location: Toronto, Ontario
551
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems to me that utilitarianism is a good place to start. It just needs shoring up in terms of protecting diversity in multicultural contexts and the rights of individuals not in the majority.

I mean, as there is no real moral absolute applicable across all cultural contexts, what other measures beyond the happiness or opportunities of the individual, all individuals, do we have to gauge right?

The nearest we can come is the Golden Rule. It is present in most major forms of belief and ideology, even if it is couched in terms of avoiding damage to the system.

It seems to me that if we generalise the Golden Rule to something that essentially translates to not degrading the system and not infringing upon others' opportunities, including by direct or indirect, intentional or unintentional harm, utilitarianism takes us where we have to go.

That way, activities that cause harm to the system are unacceptable. Essentially, any product of anti-systemic thought would be considered unacceptable. So no easy-answer bandaid solutions like fertility or pest control from petroleum, ergo no practices that require them, meaning no monocrops, because nature doesn't like that and sends pests to take care of it. Extractive processes wouldn't be acceptable without a commensurate amount of buffering and repair to succour the system.

So we could harvest lumber, but trees would have to be the best resource solution for the problem, they would have to be harvested with minimal environmental detriment, and resources would have to be redirected to balance the extraction to directly address the environmental harms caused.

What this would mean is that if there were better resources available to do the job, they would be the better, and therefore more acceptable, choice. So paper wouldn't be made from pulped trees, but rather from a field crop that generated sufficient biomass in a season and didn't require harsh bleaching, like hemp.

Lumber harvesting would probably be carried out by means that destroy the least terrain. Short of airlifting cut trees by solar electric heavy-lift cargo airships, that would probably mean situating access trails on-contour, using the disruption to ameliorate natural hydrology and stimulate natural succession, and using either horse or electric traction to pull trees out. It might also be followed by the introduction of beavers, which respond to the sound of running water, to dam it and control erosion, making systems of ponds that lead to the ocean, and even introduction of locally appropriate salmon species to take ocean resources and redistribute them upstream.

Needless to say, any ideological coercion would be anathema, as coercion essentially holds as its goal obviation of another's will. Any persuasion would need to be open and evidence-based. So traditional evangelisation or proselytization of any sort would be right out, and essentially education is what we'd be left with.

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 1137
Location: Southern Oregon
309
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't find it useful to compare religious proselytizing to teaching people about permaculture. One is faith. based and one isn't.
 
master steward & author
Posts: 24193
Location: Left Coast Canada
7231
3
books chicken cooking fiber arts sheep writing
  • Likes 16
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What paul wheaton has to say here speaks to me.



Observation 1:  most people find folks one or two levels up took pretty cool.  People three levels up look a bit nutty.  People four of five levels up look downright crazy.  People six levels up should probably be institutionalized.   I find the latter reactions to be inappropriate.

Observations 2:  most people find folks one level back are ignorant.  Two levels back are assholes.  Any further back and they should be shot on sight for the betterment of society as a whole.  I find that all of these reactions are innapropriate.



It seems like a ginormous waste of energy to proselytize to someone I think is "an asshole" and, in turn, who thinks I'm "downright crazy".  

Instead, I like the idea of building resources so that when people are ready to ask questions, they can find helpful information.  
 
steward
Posts: 35167
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
  • Likes 24
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Raven and I had a meeting today and she said that she would like to use all of our meeting time for me to respond to this thread.


A seemingly simple and honest question:

"Why proselytize permaculture?"



Is it simple and honest?

The word "proselytize" suggests a religious element.  I don't think that permaculture has a religious element.  Maybe some do.  I have been accused of running a cult, to which I say "yes!  A gardening cult!" and then others say it is NOT a cult, because it has no religious angle.  So then I add "if you are part of my cult, then if you are good, when you die, you get seasons 2 through 10 of firefly."  So that's about as close to religion I get with permaculture - as a cult leader.  It is possible that others find it a bit more religious, but I think those folks quickly move on to biodynamics.

The word "proselytize" also suggests that a person might invade somebody else's space and force feed them a message.  I might find an unwitting person on a street corner and start preaching to them about permaculture when what they really wanna do is read their text from their friend.  Or quietly watch the clouds pass.  Or contemplate the smell of a really great piece of blueberry pie.

I confess that I wish to infect a billion brains with permaculture.  And maybe I will accomplish that before I die.  My techniques are to share lots of bit and bobs with podcasts, videos, and writing extensively about my philosophies.   And people find this stuff randomly or through searches or something.   I think this is more me sitting in my own corner and babbling rather than  doing stuff that the word "proselytize" suggests.

So if you wish for us to embrace this being a "simple and honest question" (which you do) then we have to explore whether "proselytize" is a fair word to use here.   Are there examples of "proselytize" worthy of examination to make the question appear to be simple and honest?  

You mention my efforts to answer a simple and honest question at my summer events.  Somebody asked me about what can one person do that will do the most for permaculture - and I wrote my attempt to answer that question.  This seems to be the core of your concerns with "proselytize".  

Let me eliminate the indirection and be direct:  I hope to infect a billion brains with permaculture.  I probably won't be able to pull it off - but I might.  And I will try.  

Now let's explore if "proselytize" is a "simple and honest" question in this more direct case.  I think setting the cult silliness aside, none of it has any religious element to it.  Nor is there any invasive push.  I have currently reached about 200 million people - most of whom came here to permies through search engines.   Those people had a question about something and they elected to read the information on this web site.  


Your subject line is "Why proselytize?" and then your first post is

A seemingly simple and honest question:

"Why proselytize permaculture?"



And it seems you think that I am the one doing this.

I think that using the word "proselytize" vilifies my work.  It brands my work as most likely religious and also suggests that I force feed my information to people that do not want to be force fed.  

I think this reminds me a bit of the question "Yes or no:  have you stopped beating children?"   The question is loaded to the gills with ugliness.  Without uttering a word, the person being asked the question is put into a vilified light.  And the question is so dark that it suggests the person being asked is utterly guilty until they can prove their innocence many times over.  

Therefore, I object.  I find that the question is not "simple and honest" but stinks of unearned ugliness.  

I think a more honest version of your question would be "Should we all be okay with Paul attempting to tell a billion people about permaculture?"  With this question, you would be being direct in how your question is directed at me about the billion people thing.  And there is no suggestion of religion, nor is there a suggestion of "captive audience."  

 
A feeble attempt to tell you about our stuff that makes us money
Natural Swimming Pool movie and eBook PLUS World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set - super combo!
https://permies.com/wiki/135800/Natural-Swimming-Pool-movie-eBook
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic