Monday, July 23, 2018

How many second chances do we get?

At this very moment, within a hundred miles of you, a persistent waterfall is gushing down towards your taps. It isn't particularly keen to satisfy your thirst, but it will do so.
At this very moment, on the outskirts of your polluted city, a vegetable is fattening up by robbing nutrients from the elements. It isn't keen to provide nourishment to you and your loved ones, but it will do so.
At this very moment, somewhere in your vicinity, so close that you can almost smell it, a flower is pushing up against the soil, aspiring for sunshine and colour. It isn't keen on adding beauty to your world, but it will do so.

The cow doesn't give us milk. We take it from her, Nature does not exist for our pleasure or gain, but we derive both from her. We have more in common with nature and less in common with money. So when we choose money over nature, are we siding with our neighbours over our family? Is that the true meaning of the phrase Love Thy Neighbour?

Here are a few shocking facts of today:
1) Food aggregators are more important than food producers. The farmer sells to the wholesaler who sells to the retailer who sells to the chef who sells to the food aggregator (Swiggy, Zomato, what have you). We value the player closest to us and damn the one farthest from us. Guess who we can do without? And even when we do value the roots of the supply chain, we infuse the "organic sustainable locally-grown" food with an aura of awe. This was supposed to be natural, not special.

2) When I searched for "natural beauty" on Google, I got a bevy of ads for skincare products and procedures. I had to revise my search string to "beauty of nature." We have usurped the meaning of "natural."

3) The most successful political leaders of today are those who can point out to "us" who the "other" is. They have successfully divided us. Nature binds us together. From the equator to the poles, from Greenwich Meridian to Greenwich Meridian, we are connected together by an intricate network of winds, mountains, water bodies, deserts, forests and glaciers. Again, just to be clear, this equilibrium isn't keen to make our life on the planet pleasant. It just developed thus and it might continue being so if we don't tip it into the abyss of anarchy.

4) We have given up on any economic framework other than capitalism. You could be as spellbound as a citizen of Communistic China or as spellbound as a citizen of Consumeristic California... you have the illusion of political choice, but you no longer have a fig leaf of economic choice. Greed has been declared the most important human emotion and ambition without an economic dimension is now the biggest sign of lunacy. If you want to become a CEO, you can read books that help you. If you want to propagate a sustainable way of living, they will make a documentary on you.

Today, a news article declared how the Arabian Sea spat back tonnes of garbage onto the shores of Mumbai. Those fond of metaphors see a sign of intelligent nature here. Nature is neither intelligent nor dumb. It is merely beautiful and wholesome. Nature doesn't care whether we live or die. If we choose the path of self-aggrandizement and myopia, we will perish. Nature will live on. It will find a new equilibrium, albeit a less inspiring one. But then, intelligent life may not be around to be inspired.

Before we conquer the stars, we must bow down to the earth. Do we have the humility to do so? Or do we need a few million more second chances to acknowledge the humility of choice?

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