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Welcome to the E-Conference
Looking Forward to Rio+10: Reporting Progress
on Land and Agriculture
Record of Contributions
Message 40 - Intervention by Brian Lewis
Tue, 20 Mar 2001 10:40:38 +0100
Responding to the most recent two questions posed by the moderators,
questions 3 and 4, I wish to propose one more direction for our mutual
consideration. This issue is land tenure, land use, land and its future.
Returning for a moment to the macro-question of worldwide sustainable
development, is not the "root" question one of empowerment of the people? It
appears so to this participant. What is needed to realize the wealth of
opportunity are agreed ways to address the challenges and opportunities.
These need to be widely shared, yet present a common understanding of belief
patterns and practices both for the leadership and also the people. I wish
to share some of the ancient, more than 25 centuries in the old, thoughts
and perspectives on this last question raised.
One of the foundations on which the government of laws is erected is 'among
the people there is a regulated livelihood.' What is called the people's
regulated livelihood? In animal husbandry and horticulture, special care
must be paid to the seasonal requirements. In growing the cereal grains
effort must be devoted to plowing, cultivating, and weeding.
Plenty of deficiency can be the issue determining whether the government
will be stable or shaky. There are tow major reasons for this: One is the
psychological reason; the other is the material reason. 'For the people must
obtain those things which they want, and after that they will be heedful of
their superiors; after they have become heedful of their superiors,
governing can be well carried out.' Moreover: 'When the people are
prosperous, they will be content with their rural communities and value
highly their homes'. Satisfied with their communities and valuing their
homes will make them respect superiors and be fearful of committing crimes.
When they are respectful toward superiors and fearful of committing crimes,
they are easy to govern. When people are poor, they create uneasy conditions
in the countryside and show scant concern for their homes. When the
countryside is uneasy and people are not concerned about their homes, they
will dare to disrespect superiors and violate the laws. When they disrespect
superiors and violate the laws, they are difficult to govern. Thus it is
that well-ordered states are always prosperous while disorderly states are
always poor. Therefore those skilled in ruling will first enrich the people.
The principal devices for stimulating agriculture do not go beyond simply
assuring farmers all convenience in pursuing agricultural tasks, and
encouraging them to engage in agriculture as the basic activity and to
refrain from pursuing the superficial activities. Therefore, the former
kings provided farmers, scholars, merchants, and craftsmen, the four
categories of people, exchanged skills and traded the products of their
work, so that the profits of their year-long labors did not allow any one
(of the four categories) to gain unfair advantage over the others. Thereby
the people's labors were combined and hey gained equitable benefits from it.
To achieve these ends, six policies were at that ancient time formulated.
What are the six policies? Clear lands for cultivation, give aid in building
homes, improve horticulture, exhort officers and people, encourage diligence
in farming, repair wells and houses; this is called enriching the people's
livelihood. Develop unused sources of wealth, transport stored
accumulations, repair roads and paths, make customs stations and markets
function more conveniently, extend care to the startings and stoppings (of
goods in transit); this is called circulating the people's wealth. Canalize
the flooding streams, repair ponds and ditches, cut channels into
backwaters, dredge out silted riverbeds, open up blocked waters, give care
to crossings and bridges; this is called bestowing benefits on the people.
Lesson the imposts, lighten tax levies, relax punishments and penalties,
grant amnesties for criminals, remit minor infractions; this is called
liberalizing government measures.
Provide support for the aged, care for the young and orphaned, and give aid
to the bereaved and widowed, investigate illnesses, and commemorate the
victims of disasters; this is called assisting the people in distress.
Clothe the cold, feed the starving, aid the impoverished, relieve victims of
emergency, and support material needs where resources are exhausted; this is
called giving relief to the impoverished.
Elements comprising the governing of the former wise kings were: one, to
acknowledge heaven; two, to make one's person upright; three, to employ the
worthy; four, to feel concern for the people; five, to make the institutes
of government clearly manifest; and six, to engender accomplishment. At that
time there was also consideration for the practical aspects of governance
and society. The methods to achieve good government are first to banish the
four afflictions, then to uphold the five administrative tasks.
The first of the former is falsity, the second is selfishness, the third is
self-indulgence, and the fourth is extravagance. Falsity throws the people's
customs into disorder. Selfishness wreaks damage on the laws.
Self-indulgence leads to transgressing the proprieties. Extravagance
destroys the institutions...When people's customs are in disorder, morality
will be abandoned...When the laws suffer damage, then the times face
decline...When the proprieties are transgressed then the rites are
lost...When the institutions are destroyed, then the desires will have full
license...These are called the four afflictions. To promote agriculture and
sericulture in order to nourish their (the people's) lives; to investigate
the good and the bad in order to make their customs upright; to disseminate
cultivation and instruction in order to encourage their moral
transformation; to erect military preparations in order to hold up the
sovereigns majesty; to make rewards and penalties clear and precise so as to
provide control over the laws; these are called the five administrative
tasks." (Writer drawing from ancient Chinese historical records and
I find it pertinent to our thoughts, discussions, and planning to seek out
in history examples of thought and practice, which provided for the
improvement of the people and of society. In ancient times, unlike today,
there was no industrial revolution creating both wealth and havoc; no
communications revolution providing access and connection with the wisdom of
the world. In those ancient times there was a practical need to solve
problems, to improve the life of the people, to promote social and
environmental welfare. Are those distant times so different from our time
today? Let us work hard and determinedly to address the problems and issues
we face so that our future generations will realize the wisdom of those of
us in these generations.
The efforts represented through the involvement of all persons and
institutions in this electronic forum and the resulting recommendations and
programs presents reason for hope to identify and implement solutions for
the problems we address.
Brian Lewis, The REED Program