Ethics serve as a set of moral standards that guide our decisions between right and wrong. Through them, we develop rules, an understanding of fairness, and a criterion by which to judge our actions and our lives. This notion is found in business, family, and friendship. In addition to that, however, ethics transcend into lifestyle. How ethically do you live, even when it comes down to the food you eat and the clothes you wear?
Before be begin to answer this question and more, let’s define ‘organic’ as well. At its most basic level, organic is defined as “of, relating to, or derived from living organisms.” Some might say this essentially means “life”, and I would be quick to agree. In addition to this, organic is also referred to as “simple, healthful and close to nature; ‘an organic lifestyle.’” Here, one takes the idea of natural and applies it to a style of living – eating, drinking, and surrounding oneself with as many natural things as possible.
So, how do ethics come into this?
We noted that ethics are a set of moral standards by which we should conduct our actions. Like all lifestyles, living organically has a set of those same principles. Let’s spell some of these out:
- First and foremost, we as people must have a respect for nature, mother earth, and its creations.
- We should always try to minimize the impact on the environment.
- People ought to live sustainably; that is, people should not live beyond their means, nor should they live frivolously at the expense of the earth.
- We should treat our bodies with the same respect we treat our world – minimize the negatives and work hard at keeping it healthy.
- Life is finite, and because of this, we must conserve and protect the world for future generations.
There is definitely some overlap with each principle, but there are also some clean distinctions. If we were to point out one major theme, we may be tempted to say ‘preservation’ or ‘protection’, and I think either one of those would work. To me, another key idea of an organic lifestyle is promoting the sustained and healthy development your body and nature.
Beginning with the first principle, there is a definite appeal to ‘respect’ as a concept in and of itself. We know it right to respect those we look up to, to respect ourselves, and to respect our loved ones. With an organic lifestyle, that same respect is given to the planet. Let us remember: the planet is the womb for our species, much like the mother provides the womb for the child. Without her, we would surely not exist, so with no question at all, we should respect the entity that provided us with life.
Of course, many of us would probably opt in for supporting and protecting the environment rather than destroying and exploiting it. However, in practice (unless we are very self-sustainable), we unfortunately contribute to a level of destruction no doubt, which is why principle number two states that we minimize our impact. For many reasons, a totally elimination of human impact is impossible, and because of these, we must work as diligently as possible to lessen the destructive effects.
Closely in line with the second principle, the third states we should live within our means. Not only does this minimize the impact, but it also lessens then demand for things that exacerbate that impact. Here, the key difference is in mentality. Yes, we should avoid destroying the environment, but on top of that, we should avoid desiring or pursuing lifestyles that run the risk of violating any of our principles.
This theme is also applied to our own bodies. In many ways, the religious saying “your body is a temple” is quite accurate. Not only should we constantly provide upkeep for our body, but we should also take time to reflect on our character, our health, and our pathway in life. Although this is true, keep in mind that a little turbulence is always good.
Finally, inherent in the very process of life, is death. This is not a negative, however. Instead, it should prompt us to plan. We will all be gone someday and it will be our children and grandchildren dealing with the world’s problems. It is our responsibility, then, to do what we can now. All organisms must focus on the continuation of the species, and humans have the luxury of forecasting the future.
Ethically speaking, these principles seem to ring true in most if not all cases, which is at the core of why they are so appealing. Organic living may not be easy due to modern trends and quick, fatty foods, but living ethically never is. Whenever we put boundaries on our actions, we limit ourselves, and the more limits we have, the harder it is to function. That, in a nutshell, is the price of living morally. We must fight for our beliefs and we provide models for others to follow. This, I believe, is what makes organic living so ethically appealing.