At the January 21, 2012, meeting of the Diocese of Virginia Stewardship of Creation Committee, the Rev. Catherine Hicks (at that time, our SoCC Chaplain) gave a meditation on James Nash's book, Loving Nature: Ecological Integrity and Christian Responsibility.
The Ecological Virtues
In his book, Loving Nature: Ecological Integrity and Christian Responsibility, James Nash suggested a list of ecological virtues that are useful guidelines for any group working to promote Christian responsibility in the multitude of ways in which we relate to God’s creation. The following virtues, Nash says, “are the patterns of personal and social perspective and behavior that, if followed, can make ecological integrity a reality.”
- Sustainability - is living within the bounds of the regenerative, absorptive, and carrying capacities of the earth, continuously and indefinitely. A sustainable society takes care of its needs without putting future generations in jeopardy.
- Adaptability - is living within the bounds of natural limitations and cycles, avoiding unnecessary risks, and allowing room to recover from novel problems. An example of lack of adaptability is reducing an ecosystem or a species’ population to a remnant that can be destroyed by a single natural disaster. Not everything requires adaptability; many things can be changed, but some things ought not to be changed. Moral wisdom is knowing the difference.
- Relationality - is the acute sensitivity to the fact that everything is connected with and has consequences for everything else….relationality requires us to think holistically.
- Frugality - connotes thrift, moderation, efficiency, simplicity of life- style, and stringent conservation.
This virtue belongs only and progressively to the prosperous.
- Equity - is justice in the distribution of the world’s goods and services, so that all human beings have the essential material conditions for human dignity and social participation.
- Solidarity - is the moral response to the reality of human interdependence…the virtue that seeks to institutionalize –economically and politically—global responses to the ecological crisis.
- Biodiversity - is the extension of solidarity to the whole biosphere… This virtue seeks to save other creatures for their own sake, not solely for the sake of humanity.
- Sufficiency - means that solutions must be in proportion to the intricacies and magnitude of the problems…the virtue of sufficiency impels us to find solutions that are a match for the problems.
- Humility - is the virtue that “recognizes the limitations on human knowledge, technical ingenuity, moral character, and biological status. Humility is the guiding norm for all the other virtues.
Food for thought from the Stewardship of Creation Committee.
Visit the Stewardship of Creation website; blog with us; or network with your Holy Comforter Partner Parish Representatives to the Diocese of Virginia Stewardship of Creation Committee, Hilary Smith and Ben Gregg.
Plan to attend our 2012 Conference on Food and Agriculture Sustainability issues on Saturday, September 29, 2012 at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Richmond.