The Effect of Resource Scarcity on Societal Stability

While reading the Parable of the Sower, I found myself returning to the looming threat of resource scarcity and the potential ramifications that it poses to the stability of Lauren’s world. It isalso necessary to analyze what the concept of resource scarcity means in reference to social class, and relative location.

During the first portion of the Parable of the Sower, which is set in a walled off neighborhood compound outside of Los Angeles, it is apparent to the reader that the scarcity of resources is an ever-present threat. During this time period in the novel I found the ongoing battle between the residents of the neighborhood and the outside thieves to be particularly important to my discussion. I found that the following exchange between Corey and Lauren’s Dad perfectly illustrates the ongoing struggle against resource scarcity:

“They ran away this time, but they won’t always run.”

“I know”

“So what, then? You protect rabbits or oranges, and maybe get a child killed?


“We can’t live this way!” Corey shouted.

“We do live this way,” Dad said. There was no anger in his voice, no emotional response to all her shouting. There was nothing. Weariness. Sadness.


If you unpack the underlying reasons behind each actor involved, the utter helplessness and inevitability becomes quite obvious. From the perspective of the thieves, Lauren’s neighborhood represented everything that they did not have; safety, security and sustainability. On the other hand the adults of Lauren’s neighborhood viewed these thieves as an existential threat to their way of life and to the livelihood of their family’s. From Lauren’s perspective this incident only solidifies her belief that their current way of life is unsustainable; soon the potential for reward will outweigh the potential cost.

This violent battle over available resources that is described in Parable of the Sower has become an ever growing problem for many countries in our own international community. Political scientists Jon Barnett and Neil Adger formulate a concise argument that outlines the growing threat of climate change on resource availability and specifically who will suffer the greatest due to these changes. Barnett and Adger logically state that, “the more people are dependent on climate sensitive forms of natural capital, and the less they rely on economic or social forms of capital, the more at risk they are from climate change.” So essentially the poor rural communities will be the most directly effected by climate change at least at first. If this argument has peaked your interest you can find it here:

This situation sounds very similar to the vast population of poor people in The Parable of the Sower, who do not have the economic or social means to properly survive. The overall point theme that keeps popping out of me throughout the process of writing this post comes down to a battle between the “haves” and “haves-not.” In my opinion, the frightening relevance of Parable of the Sower to the current situation in our society should serve as a wake-up call to the men and women who lead the nations of the world. Active change must be taken, unless we want to suffer a similar fate as the neighborhood that Lauren once called home.



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