James Rebanks is a pithy and compelling writer and an impassioned farmer.  I loved and celebrated his Shepherd’s Life and recently enjoyed his personal and thoughtful description of what it takes to return farming to a more sustainable trajectory. 

Here he touches the raw nerve of sustainability. In daring to mention the possibility that we might have to give up or cut back on anything to start living within the limits of our planet, he is drawing our reluctant attention to the ‘elephant in the room’ – our collectively untrammelled appetite to consume. 

We are choking to death on our own freedoms. The merest mention that we might buy less, or give anything up, and we squeal like pigs pushed away from the trough. 

Among our many freedoms are the freedom to change, and the freedom to exercise self-restraint or to shift our perception of what makes us happy.  Let’s see if we can do it without squealing.

Source: James Rebanks, English Pastoral: An inheritance (London: Penguin, 2021), p. 267

Photo credit: Elaine Alex at unsplash


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