Commemorating the Earth Day, here is an essay I had written for a National-level competition, keeping in mind Robert Swan’s veracious statement – ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it’.
It has become a commonplace to say that we live in an age of comfort, advancement and ease, in a progressive enclosure. I, feel differently. It is a paradox of sorts. I agree that the scientific explosion we have encountered has unintentionally given us a divine right to transform our physical and social environment, and ourselves to forms we deem best. However, what we have deemed best is not necessarily the best, and we refuse to refute our assumptions.
We are living in a world that owns great problems and greater consequences. Population explosion, an unequal distribution of resources, poverty, nuclear power, an alarming dominance of wealthy conglomerates, irrational fundamentalism and a host of environmental miscarriages – pollution, climate change, peak oil, water crisis, loss of biodiversity, deforestation and an unlisted many more. But the greatest threat of all this is our belief that someone else will save our world. It is a cultural problem that we have – to know them, not to address them but choose to remain indifferent.
We are creating an environmental and social imbalance, and are ignorant of it because we have shut down our inner conscience. We are not helpless, but are convictionless. By gradually becoming opaque, we are not only keeping our world at abeyance, but are allowing it to decay into a depraved and degenerated society.
The reasons for this are many. Primarily it is in our social culture. Religion, for instance gives us cues. I have more than once heard people reassuring me that when all evil amounts to an unbearable level, then an incarnation of the Supreme Power shall tread this earth to save it. And we keep waiting. But, there is a God in us – our conscience. Where has it gone?
Our art, literature and cinema, instead of enabling us to recognize the plight of our times and try to change it, jettison from nowhere a superhero with superhuman powers, who comes right in time to save us from black waters. Even our local and regional art supports an idea of glorification of a single person solving all problems of his neighbourhood!
Also in recent times, a campaign of personal satisfaction has begun. We are told that we can be happy and content, no matter what is happening to and around us. This has led to a general agreement that one can look away from the havoc and remain complacent.
For the most part, our social milieu is also constructed on such thinking lines. We depend upon one member of the family to take complete responsibility. We run away from making important decisions and leave it to the chosen one. We fear risks. We want to see change, but live callously.
Any problem, small or large, we point our fingers at the government, and the people who enable its functioning. But as ourselves, we have no inner discipline, no thoughtfulness. Most of us always refer to this planet in third person, as if it is not ours to protect. We do not want to participate in even the small changes we are capable of.
With nature, we have been playing, for centuries. What if one day, it turns back at us, in a crushing role–reversal? As heartfully forgiving it is today, as fiercely beastly it can be tomorrow. And we are fragile creatures. A researched prediction states a ten percent decrease in biodiversity due to climate change. Such a prospect must have terrified us. But, I see we are not affected at all. What does this mean? That these problems have yet not entered our daily lives, politics, essays and ways. This is changing and for the better, because if we do not even acknowledge the problems that we are having and nod our head to the fact that these problems can surmount to catastrophes, we already fail to find a solution.
Thinking about it, our modern inclinations in fashion, engineering, medicine, architecture, etc are delinked from being a part of the solution to the problems of the world. We human beings are vehicles of geological and emotional change. It is in our hands to lead the change – to either the better, or the worse. Our practices, hence, need serious revision.
Reducing our consumption levels, for example. Our familiarity with high-consumption lifestyles has blinded us to the destruction we are causing – we simply want to preserve what we have, no matter what. A moral change threatens us.
This cannot be solved at a personal level. It needs collective action, which now seems to be in exile, sent to by our penchant for isolation within the vastness. Our cocoon of comfort, despite its loveliness is insubstantial.
All this is because we are unaware of our mighty power. A complete realm of life has gone unaddressed – the domain of feelings inside us. Most of us have very little feeling about anything. This thwarts our thoughtfulness and conscience. We have to open up. Feel the tunes, and harness the immense human power we have. We will then realize our negligence and act. Until when will we wait for someone else to come and save us? We are our own saviours. This is our Earth. As sensible and sensitive individuals, we must take measures to create a better place for living, and this individual change, must metamorphose into a collective force. That is possible by being aware, by feeling love, by holding on to our natural and spontaneous desire for civilization.
I may have refrained from resolutions is this essay, but am alive to the native possibilities of the human spirit. By investing dreams, thoughts and feelings to words, I yearn to move forward from this atypical ignorance. I believe I have just taken the first step.