Living on the Edge


It was one of those late Friday evenings when you are ready to embrace the weekend after work. I was hastening to the subway to catch a train home. In the subway I found a group of people who were putting in herculean efforts for a little attention from the rushing commuters. You must be wondering what were these people doing, and why did they have to put herculean efforts to seek attention. The group represented volunteers from Greenpeace India, Indian subsidiary of the Greenpeace International, and they were trying to sound out people on the Clean Our Cloud cause – a cause to egg on IT leaders such as Apple, Microsoft and Amazon to stop powering the cloud (data centers that store our emails, pictures and music) with electricity driven by coal – one of the most sort after fossil fuel that is nearing its end. Now, you know what these people were doing. So, you must have understood why they needed out-of-the-world efforts to make people listen to them. No? Well, who cares to listen how we are eating away the Earth and digging our own graves or how organizations like the Greenpeace are grappling to save the world; hurrying home and hitting a night club is more important on a weekend.

Our apathy to our own home that was flung upon me on the subway is the impetus behind this post. After being a pest at marts to use cloth bags, this is my second step to do my bit for the Earth. The idea is not to educate you; it is to make you realize that the issues we probably jib at are not to be brushed off so easily. Do we ever wonder what happens to the million-tons of electronic products that we discard every year? We take a jiffy to upgrade our mobile phones, computers, televisions, audio equipment but we are not ready to spare a minute to know that these e-wastes are mounting up every day; and even more appalling is the fact that huge numbers of under-privileged families build their homes on this junkyard. When we relish the tuna and salmon in an over-priced restaurant, do we ever think if they have been fished from sustainable sources or if they are the result of a bycatch (wasteful fishing practices) or if fishing is depleting our oceans? When the dump truck collects the litter from our homes, do we care to mull that all our sewage, in addition to what is spewed by our industries is disposed at our seas?  Some might ask – ‘So what do you suggest? Should we stop buying new phones? Should we stop eating fish? Should we stop throwing litter out of the house?’ My answer is yes; you have no right to jeopardize the life of the Earth, just because you care so less.

For centuries man has foisted his demands on the nature, and to satisfy his ever augmenting greed has impinged into every possible habitat on this planet – from oceans to mountains to the underground earth. And what did he do after his encroachment? He drilled oil in the melting waters of the sea declining the age and extent of the sea ice that fortifies the ecosystem of the poles, and threatened the survival of species that are still unexplored. He spilled oil over the oceans and killed millions of flora, fauna and humans with the toxins of the oil. He logged and burned forests releasing tons of carbon sealed in these trees, igniting greenhouse emissions, reducing rainfall, calling upon droughts and famines. He ripped off animals and uprooted plants, and made products to adorn his home and body, and cleared land to grow crops to feed his family and build his house. Now he is on his new endeavor to generate hi-tech wastes, nuclear emissions, and hazardous chemicals that corrode our home, and our lives. Who entitled man to rampage the Earth? Ever since man was born, he has been living under the notion that everything on the planet is his, and that he is the linchpin on which the world survives. It’s high time he cleared this misconception and realized that he has his own niche and not every nook and cranny on this planet is his legacy; and that he is alive at the clemency of the environment around him, not the other way round.

A few months have passed since my taste buds started rejecting meat. Superfluous comments came in the wake of this change – “Oh! You are an eggitarian, are you? Oh! You are doing this because your boyfriend doesn’t like meat? Oh! You are an environmentalist, eh? Well, do you know even plants are living; so why eat them? C’mon, animals’ feelings are not hurt when they are killed! It’s important to kill animals to maintain balance in nature.” I wish I gave up non-vegetarian food for the environment; this post would be my third step to do my bit then! I just developed an uncomfortable feeling that I am butchering a life; and for those who think we kill plants to eat I would like to say crops, fruits, and vegetables are not killed. They are reared, and at the end of their life they become our food. Nature has her own way of maintaining balance – every being, plant or animal has its role to play and becomes a prey for the other. Man of all these beings has countless options to eat lest he feels that by killing animals he is maintaining the ecosystem. The question is not about eating meat rather about the sentiment behind it, the methods used for obtaining meat, and the animal that is ending its life. We cannot over-exploit the nature beyond its capacity to feed us.

Apparently, man is said to have supreme intelligence, unparalleled to any other creature. So what has he done with this super intelligence…evolved from stooping to standing erect, and in the wake of his evolution  let the Earth  regress– from green to decaying, from thriving to crumbling! Man has blotted out the voice of all the vanishing tigers, jaguars, cheetahs, lions, whales, pandas, to name a few. He has blotted out the sound of the gushing oceans and the swathing forests. But if you hear carefully, you can hear them calling, “Guilty!”  As an outcome of this genocide, no doubt he is living on the brink of devastation.

When I was a child I used to ask my dad why he goes to work. He used to say, “To earn money.” I used to ask, “Why do you have to earn money?” He used to say to be able to pay for food, clothes and shelter. When I grew up, and started earning, my dad felt I am spending too much time worrying about how much I earn. To justify my concern, I told him, “Daddy, money helps us get what we need to survive”. He told me, “No, it doesn’t. Nature gives us what we need to survive. Money just helps us get it from her.”

“When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned, and the last fish dead, we will discover that we can’t eat money.”  ~Courtesy Greenpeace Slogan

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31 thoughts on “Living on the Edge

  1. simply Awe struck !!! eye opener for everyone.. its time for all of us to realize that our actions are depleting the evergreen gift given to us by god in form of nature..
    eloquent work and in my words enlightened..
    u did a great job !! i liked it alot .. keep posting !!

  2. this was just excellent. The picture is really eye catching and the way you have discussed and described this, seriously makes me realize, to where are we actually leading our planet.
    and the last para has deeply inspired me, along with that quote in the end.

    1. Hey Tapish, thanks for the comment.
      It is really a matter of concern…in our day to day lives issues as these seem as a trifle thing.
      About the last paragraph…it just came out…without much thought…quoting my dad again ‘Money is a lot of things but not everything!’

      1. you’re right. we don’t care much about these things, but we should have been doing this.
        Inspiring again! I guess it keep changing roles every now and then in our conflicting minds..

      2. btw, did you check the hindi poem I posted the other day? I would welcome any comment from a hindi poet like you 🙂
        I know I sound crazy here, but plz bear with me this time 😛

  3. remarkable! very well written Lopa… its high time people realise this.. its like cutting the same branch of tree you are sitting On!!

  4. Dear Lopa,
    I was waiting to read some of your writings from a long time. Perhaps I missed some or you didnt write all this while (may be you were being like Aamir Khan to keep poor souls like us waiting for so long & increase our yearning).
    But, jokes apart, I know you write, whenever you feel strongly about something. Its’ always from the heart & that’s why you connect so strongly with your readers in the first place. This write up is stimulating & thought provoking as always. That is becoming the core theme of all your writings.
    When I read your article, I could see the change in feeling happening within me. How casually we ignore people who try to do their bit for this world. Although I am quite environment conscious & usually don’t resort to wasteful or detrimental practises, however I feel I need to do more for our precious earth.
    You inspirit in your own way Lopa that wakes up the good side of each one of us. Your choice of words & narration is like a breeze & storm, all at the same time.
    Keep enlightening!
    Love,
    Devneet

  5. The starting (startling) picture beautifully captures the essence of the post. I could not agree more with your arguments. If we just take what we need, there is enough for everyone. One day, it will be a day too late. We gotta stop NOW.

  6. Dear Lopa,
    Here I come again as your writing has beckoned me. Can I really describe in words how much I liked the way your words guide your thoughts on paper? Astonishingly brilliant is the way you channel your thoughts toward your aim for a particular piece of writing.

    We are growing but everything else around us is getting smaller and smaller due to being over-extracted for our needs. Like Gill Scott-Heraon stated, ““Man is a complex being: he makes deserts bloom – and lakes die.” While we try and turn this planet liveable and adjustable we do not realize that we also tend toward ending various life-cycles that are also a part of this planet and nature. We have become oblivious to the fact that “We are living on the planet as if we have another one to go to” as Terry Swearingen said. High time, we paid attention to that.

    I loved the picture included in the blog. Explains all of it.

    You promise to keep similar of those coming and I promise to keep reading 😉
    -Asha

    1. Wow….thank you so much Asha!
      I am really very glad to hear these words from you. It’s such a delight to have you as a reader…and being your reader too.
      We worry about the pettiest things in life but the things we should actually worry always take a back seat in our daily lives. Thanks again for your comment.

  7. Lopa this is such a well written article…beautiful is a small word..
    it is strange and sad that we are so against our own lives that everytime we are asked a minute for a cause that will eventually make our lives better, we try our best to ignore or shrug it off….
    afterall getting home or going to mall is way more important than saving nature or any other cause …no one thinks or sees the bigger picture and it is so scary
    Thank you so much for this beautiful piece
    hugs n love 😉

    1. Thank you so much Soma. 🙂
      I was really touched at the nonchalant attitude of people; that too for their own home. Man can go to levels beyond imagination!

  8. I completely agree with what you wrote and your thoughts. Unfortunately the human race lost it’s wisdom, that ancient wisdom and respect for nature that the old amer-indians had.
    “When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned, and the last fish dead, we will discover that we can’t eat money” is from what I knew a quote from Chief Geronimo, the great Apache leader.
    Great article dear Lopa!!! 🙂

  9. hey hi….lopa …………excellent way of expressing ideas and like the way you narrate in your writing, especially your last para. that “we can’t eat money”.
    well that’s true . loved your writing ………..hope see u come up again with some other inspiring articles just like this……..

    thanks and regards,
    Mandeep Ola

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