Friday, July 9, 2010

The 11th Commandment

Even though it's longer than all the others combined, I thought this suggestion for an 11th Commandment, quoted by David Montgomery in Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations (2007), was appropriate:

"Thou shalt inherit the Holy Earth as a faithful steward, conserving its resources and productivity from generation to generation. Thou shalt safeguard thy fields from erosion...and protect thy hills from overgrazing by thy herds, that thy descendants may have abundance forever. If any shall fail this stewardship of the land...thy descendants shall decrease and live in poverty or perish from the face of the Earth."

- W.C. Lowdermilk, Conquest of the Land Through 7,000 Years, Agricultural Information Bulletin 99 (1953), U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

1 comment:

  1. CJ,

    If you're interested in the concept of stewardship, you might at some point want to check out pp. 73-80 of Sibyl Schwarzenbach's ON CIVIC FRIENDSHIP, where she talks about stewardship vs. private property in relation to Locke. Locke conceived the commons as given us by God to be stewards over. Schwarzenbach writes, "Although the concept of a stewardship of God's property remains the background normative standard of Locke's theory--continuously regulating the modern form of property in civil society--it becomes increasingly imperceptible in the thought of later thinkers and ultimately vanishes in the thought of a contemporary libertarian such as Nozick" (p. 75). I could write more, but perhaps that's enough to give you a sense of whether to take a look at Schwarzenbach's book.