tending our inheritance

BY FUMI TOSU | March 6, 2021
Today’s Readings

Drawdown refers to industrial civilization’s “drawing down” of the Earth’s resources at a rate many times faster than the planet can replenish them. Our society is utterly addicted to drawdowns of the life-matter provided by Mother Earth, including fresh water, forests, top soil, metals, and minerals (such as copper, cobalt, and “rare Earth”).  

tending our inheritance

In Jesus’ famous parable, the younger son demands his share of the father’s inheritance, and spends it all on “a life of dissipation”—in effect, drawing down his inheritance until it is gone. In the story, a famine hits just as he has spent everything, and in desperation he decides to return home, where he hopes to find plenty. Indeed, he is not disappointed for plenty there is, not because the land in “his father’s home” has infinite reserves, but because it is well-tended by his father, older brother, and the rest of the community. We can imagine an ecosystem in balance, where humans don’t take more than the land can give, and repay the land base with careful attention and tending. There is no drawdown here.

Famine is but one natural consequence of a society bent on a life of dissipation.  Extreme weather, desertification, drought, wildfires, species extinction, and wars fought over ever more scarce resources are some others. In the story, the younger son hits rock bottom and comes to his senses. We have had our share of famine many times over. What will it take for us to say “no” to a system that is destroying life itself? How can we tend our inheritance, and leave our descendants an even richer treasure than we received?

For Reflection: 

  • During this Lenten season, where are you being challenged to “tend our inheritance” as a global citizen?

5 replies
  1. Avatar
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    This is such a great and uncomfortable question! To “tend to our inheritance” is a responsible way to live our Gospel lives. I am saving up for an electric car so our air will be cleaner. I think/change the way I use the resources of this earth, but there is always need for improvement. I explain to my grandchildren how to use the resources of the earth in a more parsimonious way. I imitate those who I notice use less and less of the resources. In some ways using less resources sets me free as I am not accountable for what I don’t have, however, I need a tsunami of people that think this way to make a difference. Time and a change of heart will make a difference. People seem to shy away from having too much stuff, which is a movement forward. With the help of God and each other we can “tend to our inheritance” with love and affection for the next generations!

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    Mike Wisniewski says:

    Very good reflection, Fumi. Thank you. We also have to remember that the U.S. imperial war machine is the greatest consumer of fossil fuels, thus the greatest polluter on the planet. Not only are the U.S. Empire’s diabolical endless wars destructive, but the death machine’s mere existence is destructive as it endlessly pollutes and destroys on a daily basis–all in the name of corporate profits, and the U.S. quest for global and cosmic hegemony at all costs. May God have mercy on US.

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    • Avatar
      Eileen Quinn Knight Knight says:

      Mike,
      My son and you would be on the same page. He talks about the deleterious effects of capitalism as you point out. Little by little we can change that by others thinking and being like you -the greatest abuse of fossil fuels is as you state the ‘diabolical endless wars’ that we participate in!

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      • Avatar
        Mike Wisniewski says:

        Unfortunately, this entire filthy rotten and corrupt system cannot be changed little by little. It is well beyond change, beyond redemption. If Luke 4:5-8 is truthful, then our only option, our only hope, is a nonviolent revolution. Only then can we create a new society in the shell of the old. A society founded on gospel principles, a society dedicated to the common good with authentic freedom, democracy, equality, and justice. A society that rejects militarism, greed, and suicidal and omnicidal ways.

  3. Avatar
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Nice. Thanks Fumi Tosu. Thus wrote Mahatma Gandhi: “The earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our fore fathers but on loan from our children. So we have to handover to them at least as it was handed over to us.”

    Reply

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