Originally written for the recently published: THRIVABILITY: A Collaborative Sketch
Dear Prudence, the much maligned goddess of foresight! She was given a bad name during the 1960’s when the Western World busied itself breaking apart Judeo Christian Moral Codes in the name of sexual and spiritual liberation. In the West, many of us have come to associate prudence with control, rigidity, aloofness and over-cautiousness. We have posed her against the lighter gods of levity, expressivity and permission and attempted to seduce her from her lofty towers. We have chaffed against her restraint. We have positioned her in antithesis to freedom.
We threw the baby out with the bathwater.
Prudence is an eternal virtue and an ecologically integral value. To be prudent is to be willing to take a profound pause to listen to the greater context before we act. In so doing, we are empowered to choose wisely and to participate practically. Prudence is a quality of being that supports the path of thrivability.
Prudence walks, slow and stately, on the high path of perspective and is unafraid of the small sacrifices made for the greater good. She’s not a kill-joy. She simply doesn’t get lost in immediate gratification. She is response-able: able-to-respond with appropriateness, measure and compassion. Qualitatively, she holds down the fort when things get turbulent.
The life impulse is immediate. Prudence reaches across the flow of time, weaving past, present and future.
Desire fires towards its own satisfaction. Prudence invites restraint.
Play gifts levity. Prudence gathers gravity.
Fear instigates reactivity. Prudence counsels courage.
Consumption is a basic function of life. Prudence knows when enough is enough.
Prudence holds the patient counsel needed to co-generate a sustaining now.
To be prudent is to apply sound judgment in practical affairs with the long view in mind. Prudence is embodied in the ageless sage, the laughing grandmother, the responsive parent, the diligent gardener, and the exquisitely attuned child whose actions are lensed through a living sense of interconnectivity to the whole. Prudence is embodied by those who can see, feel and respond to life as an intricate web that requires stewarding. When we act with prudence, we are dancing with greater cycles. When we act with prudence, we engage with and celebrate our dependent co-arising with the One Great Life.
Thrivability requires this long view. In the praxis of thrivability, we are reverse-architecting a regenerative physical-psycho-social-spiritual ecology for humanity’s place in the universe. We are living the question of how to co-generate coherency and balance in our personal and collective relationships with the More-than-human world. We are beginning to co-create regenerative culture.
Prudence knows that our freedom and survival are delicately interwoven with our responsibility and restraint. Practicing prudence, we do the “karmic math” in order to determine how our choices and our actions will influence tomorrow. We feel how this moment impulses out into the future for seven generations to come. We pause. We attune. And, we choose wisely.
First published as part of
a collection of over 60 essays and images crafting a topography for thriving
curated by Jean Russell