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”).
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?
- During this Lenten season, where are you being challenged to “tend our inheritance” as a global citizen?
Fumi Tosu is a peacemaker, storyteller, and teacher. He currently works as director of recruitment and engagement for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. Prior to this, he was a Catholic Worker at Casa de Clara Catholic Worker in San Jose, CA. He received his master of divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.