Penny wise and pound foolish (Early 17th century)
1st March 2019
‘Penny wise and pound foolish’ reminds us that it is often our way to seek less expensive solutions to the problems we face. Unfortunately without a concern for the long term and the implications of our penny-saving now, things can add up to being altogether more costly. We need only reflect on the tragedy which followed from the use of cheaper external cladding on Grenfell Tower, contributing to the deaths of 72 people, to realise the truth of this.
The same thinking may also be seen to contribute to the way we use natural resources and the impact that our lifestyle choices have on our environment. In our rush for cheap energy, food, clothing etc, too little concern is given to the many long term costs which are accruing, including climate crisis, which the young people of today will be left to manage.
It is concern for this and anger at the short termism of most politicians, that led 15 year old Greta Thunberg to call young people around the world to walk out of school and strike, on Friday 15th February. Although the nature of the protest was not entirely sanctioned at Wychwood, we fully endorsed its spirit and allowed girls an expression of solidarity within school, while a few of the older girls did join others at a rally in Oxford. It is heartening to see young people taking such initiative and calling their elders to account!
In the past (and present) responsible landowners would plant trees for the generations to come, knowing full well that they would never reap the fruits of their labours themselves. It was costly, but no matter, for their planning was longer term and there was a sense of Stewardship towards the land and those in the future who would benefit from it. In the Bible this is presented as the purpose of human life, to act as good stewards or caretakers of all the created world, so that it is habitable for the human generations to come and the diversity of all life on earth.
The challenge for us therefore is not just to opt for what is cheapest or most convenient for us now, but to listen to our children and with them, seek the best solutions for their future.