March 14, 2012

Disasters mirror our action

Whether complex emergencies (those created by man’s anger towards man) or disruptions to our lives caused by natural events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, avalanches, hurricanes, etc, are all we impose on ourselves. There is very little we can do to avert some of these natural occurrences that are part of the normal settling process of our planet earth. But the consequences of these events become disastrous to us because we are unprepared for these. We locate our cities along coast lines and rivers, we mine our land and cut down our forests unmindfully, and we create divisions and discontentment within and among our societies that end up being risks to us that we have to burden ultimately.

Nature has these events to occur for the purposes of its evolution and for the crust to settle and cool and renew as a part of its regenerative ecological, biological, meteorological and physiological processes that make our earth what it is. In the process, it becomes a more habitable place for us animals and humans. When we are in its way, we get hurt, injured or eliminated. But Providence gives us our sense of thought and reflection that enables us to survive our terrain. Unlike in other animals who have a natural instinct to detect natural occurrences through a sixth sense so to say and take evasive action (you may recall that during the great Asian tsunami of 2004, very few animals died where as scores of human lives were lost), humans have had this faculty dulled over the eons by the very fact that we have a more thinking brain. But many of us may not use this God-given blessing to think through the consequences of our actions in an objective enough way for the very big obstacle we have that is our ego. It seems it is always selfish desires that come before social harmony or our very own survival. In our interaction with our ecosystem, we project this selfishness. Even when the voice is loud and clear that our present global environmental and ecological disaster is the result of our mindless greed – that it is the consequences of our very own human action (not of other animals) we go on plundering.

In our total oblivion to ecological truths and the blindness to the fact that we share a common home with other living species too (what the science community calls biodiversity), we mine our earth and seas to its bowels, level great swathes of our rain forests, and spew out the belch of our materialistic production into the pristine air for the short term gains that make companies richer than countries. No wonder that our profligate behaviors are reciprocated by nature that goes beyond its ecological functions in the intensity of the events that we observe and the devastations that we experience. Unfortunately, it is the small carbon foot-printed poor of the world that suffer the brunt of this ecological bludgeon. Surely, we can’t eat the cake and still hope to keep it. Realizing that ecological truth of the ripple effect (“a flutter of a butterfly in Rio will affect the weather in Beijing”) must drive us to be more thoughtful and wisely think through consequences of our action. All our great Religions tell us to “think before we leap – of the consequences, and that we cannot hide from these”. Only through such responsibility can the Gaia survive. Perhaps I should say “we humans, can survive on Gaia”. As the old adage goes, “This earth doesn’t belong to the present generations, we have merely borrowed it from our unborn children”.

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