In nature, everything is part of everything else. Cycles and systems are all inextricably linked together to form a whole environment. Microscopic organisms are just as important in their place as larger living creatures. The solar cycle and the water cycle interact, and both plants and animals are necessary to the food chain.
The rest of life is no different. Our hours and days and weeks and years are bound together by an inextricable web of events, circumstances, and relationships. Remove one piece, and suddenly the whole puzzle falls apart.
Should it come as a surprise, then, that many of those who succeed in the country lifestyle tend to view their farms as a whole? If we change one aspect of what we do, we change the entire picture. What we do to the soil, for example, affects the nutrients available to our gardens, which in turn affects the size and quality of the harvest, which in turn affects our diet for the rest of the year, which in turn affects our health. And if we sell some of our vegetables, we will still further increase the impact of what originally started with the soil, because the effects of our actions will spread to each and every one of our customers.
Nothing takes place in a vacuum. Whatever we do to a part will affect the whole. Every decision we make will have an impact, not just on this one corner of this one property, but on our whole lives from that moment on. It will affect every single person around us, too, whether directly or indirectly—family, customers, friends, acquaintances, guests. It will even affect our relationship with God. Makes you stop to think, doesn’t it?
Neglect of this principle is a big part of what’s wrong with the status quo today. How many of us:
- Consider long-term impacts?
- Wonder about unintended consequences?
- Stop to ask what caused the problem in the first place?
Veterinarians treat symptoms instead of the underlying diseases, farmers pour chemicals on their crops instead of trying to heal the land, livestock owners rely on drugs instead of working to eliminate the need for routine medication, and so on.
Of course, a caveat we should keep in mind when analyzing the bigger picture is that our finite minds cannot grasp it all. There will always be something out of focus, something left out. But there is grace in nature, as in all other areas of life. If this concept of the bigger picture colors our approach, encouraging us to pull in loose ends and consider the consequences of our actions, our decisions will be much more sound.