I woke up early today and tried watching the sunrise but the mountains were misty and murky from last night’s rainfall. I went back to sleep knowing I wouldn’t see the sunrise, not in this weather. I dreamt of a time before it felt like the world was constantly hurting on one issue or the other, and when I woke up it dawned on me how the sun never rose on this year, and how it still struggles to shine through and it is already June. Then I remembered that this has been the case for almost all of humanity’s history.
Humanity in all its leaps forward has had more adverse effects on the planet than good. There is too much evidence of it to even try to deny the fact that humans are a virulent race (for the planet). Look at the waste we produce that goes unchecked and directly hurts the environment, the wars that we wage in the name of some stupidest reasons (when it comes to brass tacks), the resources we plunder, the sections of different people we ignore or even listen to, the delicate consumerism which does more harm if left unchecked, look at racism, look at us! I mean look at us this year, exposed as the real animals that have a better cerebral capacity than most.
Look at human civilisation right now, we have every resource available to tackle a pandemic like this, we have enough person-power in skilled labour, as inventors and scientists who are behind the science of it, socialites and activists who work for the right reasons but lack these resources and are mostly not heard. We have enough resources, the brawn and the brain, but we still fail to look after our kind let alone look after the planet, or look after the environment.
If there was a possibility for us representing as a species in an intergalactic sentient beings’ conference, if that possibility were true, we would possibly be ridiculed for the system that humans follow, maybe a few would probably be lauded for creating such biased system that favours the rich and powerful in dire situations, a system that is followed by billions.
“It is the flashiness that is doing this to the world, everyone is chasing some fool’s gold. I get it. I get the connection part, although I cannot work the damn things (waving an old Nokia 100 series phone),” says a 75-year-old lady from South Sikkim.
“Everybody needs recognition, not just connection, hence this chase for glory. The movies show the same thing, the TV shows the same thing. I hear my granddaughters speak of people like they’ve known so much about them and still be so disconnected from that person. It wouldn’t matter even if the person died, and they still talk of them as if they’d go to their funeral. I don’t know how they know so much about the person, I just see photographs, glimpses of people I don’t know doing things I do not understand,” she adds.
The grandmother talks about her take on humanity’s development,
“Everybody needs to slow down, take a breath, and do things, gently. These buildings, these roads, all in the name of unnati (development); there used to be a thick patch where passion fruit grew, I loved that patch of land, they turned it into a public toilet no one has used in 10 years. Yes, maybe it is the way forward, as my grandson told me of flying cars when I’d be this age. Khai tah? (Where are the flying cars?)”
According to the 75-year-old, us Sikkimese have had a pretty modest relationship with nature, and now we are also headed into the same destructive path with unkind and corrupt developmental projects. Bitter with the world she sees around her today, she still hopes that a better world is created by the generations to come.
“It is your young ones who need to change the world now, but again with all the flashy fay-shan (fashion) that you are ready to kill people/or die over, it is a challenge. I feel that if anyone can heal the world, it is our children if they are determined to right the wrongs in the name of development.”
“By healing, I mean bringing back that green, that passion fruit patch over there,” she concludes, pointing at a decommissioned structure that served as a public toilet in the past for a make-shift haat bazaar (open market) in South Sikkim
Humans, if you look at us from a standpoint, are generations that pass the habitat, which is the Earth, down to their offspring. It is that simple. Generations of art, music, science, literature, philosophy, pop-culture history, history of violence as well as a history of triumphs, all that humanity brings with it; all the structures and infrastructures, all the breakthroughs in science, all the ideas, all the myths. Yes, humanity brings destruction and violence and religion and everything evil, but humanity also brings hope, humanity brings its spirit, the same spirit that animals share with us, and the same spirit that every living thing shares with us. It is a spirit of co-existence, peace, and love that humanity has forgotten somewhere in this race to the top. All there lies, in the middle, a part where there is coexistence, anywhere else and it is extinction for the human race by our own hands. An idea, which is, discussed much of late, possible extinction of humans (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/17/opinion/human-extinction-climate-change.html). People don’t even care if humanity goes extinct, studies have suggested. (https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-find-we-don-t-care-all-that-much-if-humans-go-extinct
It is not how people behave, but how people act that decides the outcome of any given situation, an excerpt from Richard Wrangham (Richard Walter Wrangham is a British anthropologist and primatologist. His research and writing have involved ape behaviour, human evolution, violence, and cooking) book ‘The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution’, goes:
“Adolf Hitler, who ordered the execution of some eight million people and was responsible for the deaths of many millions more, was said by his secretary Traudl Junge to have had an agreeable, friendly, and paternal manner. He hated cruelty to animals: he was a vegetarian, adored his dog Blondi and was inconsolable when Blondi died.
Pol Pot, the leader of Cambodia whose policies killed maybe a quarter of his country’s people, was known to his acquaintances as a soft-spoken and kindly teacher of French history.
During eighteen months in prison, Joseph Stalin was always amazingly calm and never shouted or swore. In effect, he was a model gentleman-inmate, not the kind of person who would later annihilate millions for political convenience.
Because seriously evil men can have a gentle side, we hesitate to empathize with their kindness for fear of seeming to rationalize or excuse their crimes. Such men remind us, however, of a curious fact about our species. We are not merely the most intelligent of animals. We also have a rare and perplexing combination of moral tendencies. We can be the nastiest of species and also the nicest.”
Humans, as René Descartes, a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist speaks of, the duality of humans in many of his writings and research is a mind and body distinction. It is also argued about in terms of spirituality, but the French philosopher argued that the mind was distinguished from the brain and was identified with consciousness and self-awareness, what people normally call “reason” in human beings. We have that reason, which we speak to and argue with, within ourselves. Sometimes we argue about how calling people names or cracking an insensitive joke is right because it is in their race/religion/gender/caste/social background and it’s in their blood and they deserve it, but we also argue with ourselves with a reason to believe that every human is different but all of us function the same way and need love and care the same way.
That argument in a human’s mind is when we decide to let a side win the argument. It is all in our hands or rather, our minds to decide what action to implement, whether it would benefit nature, benefit people, would serve as a positive impact to all sections of people and all life, or whether it would not. There is always a choice, of standing for a cause or against it, whether that be safeguarding the environment, or fighting for gender rights, or speaking up against racism/casteism/exploitation, or speaking up against the highest power to tell them that their system is failing, it is just one split second of a decision of letting some idea win or lose. It is always either good or harmful, therein is in our hands.
Which wolf are you feeding?
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.