PERSPECTIVE
MAN, NATURE AND SURVIVAL TODAY
- amita paul
MAN, NATURE AND SURVIVAL TODAY



Dear Fellow Human Beings on Planet Earth,
 
This is just a small but grim reminder to you that Human Civilization is but a thin veneer on the genus Homo Species Homo Sapiens , and that Savage Chaos is our original state, to which we can relapse and regress within seconds- and often do.
 
The layer of Civilization on Humankind is thinner than the six inch layer of topsoil on the rocky surface of Planet Earth, that makes vegetation, agriculture, cultivation and therefore settled lives possible for humankind.
 
It is much much thinner and more fragile than the few miles high envelope of the atmosphere that contains oxygen that makes life itself possible on our rather improbable planet
Chaos , and absence of topsoil and groundwater, and absence of oxygen are the primordial realities to which we regress at our own peril. The process  of such regression at this stage is in all probability , irreversible .
 
Yet we are rushing headlong into it without doing much to stop or reverse it.
 
One way of dealing with this chilling truth is that we might as well have a grim laugh at it through conscious self- satire. The following literary masterpiece might be of help in the process:
 
A memory of 18th Century Britain and how its foremost contemporary Poet saw it in 1743

 

A Celebration of the Goddess Dullness

( and the progress of her chosen agents as they bring decay, imbecility and tastelessness to the Kingdom of Great Britain)
An extract: ( the conclusion)
 
In vain , in vain ! The all- composing hour
Resistless falls, the Muse obeys the power
She comes! She comes! the Sable Throne behold
Of Night primeval and of Chaos old !

Before her, Fancy's gilded clouds decay
And all it's varying rainbows die away
Wit shoots in vain it's momentary fires
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.

As one by one, at dread Medea's strain,
The sick'ning stars fade off th' ethereal plain;
As Argus' eyes, by Hermes' wand opprest ,
Closed one by one to everlasting rest;

Thus at her felt approach , and secret might
Art after Art goes out, and all is night.

See Skulking Truth to her old cavern fled
Mountains of casuistry heap'd o'er her head !

Philosophy, that lean'd on Heaven before,
Shrinks to her second clause, and is no more.

Physic of Metaphysic begs defence.
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense!

See Mystery to Mathematics fly
In vain ! they gaze,turn giddy, rave and die.

Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires
And , unawares, Morality expires

Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!

Lo! Thy dread empire, Chaos, is restored :
Light dies before thy uncreated word;
Thy hand, Great Anarch, lets the curtain fall
And Universal darkness buries all.

(The Dunciad, Alexander Pope, Great Britain, 1743)
(Book IV, lines 641 to 649) 
 
Are we really so stupid as to allow our race, humankind , our civilisation of several millennia, and our home , Planet Earth to die without as much as a whimper ?
 
If not , and  if we are to move beyond mere satire, we must turn to serious reflection. 
 
We are living in very difficult times , when our survival as a species , and that of our common home, Planet Earth and its atmosphere is under threat of imminent extinction, and deep in our bones and our guts , we all know it.
 
That is why we all live with a sinking feeling in our hearts and stomachs , at the back of whatever uncaring or defiant facade we may consciously put on. That is why we as a race are caught in a vortex, a continuous downward spiral of anxiety denial aggression violence war and chronic suicidal depression. That is why life seems so hard to each one of us whether we consciously admit it or not, and the past seems to pull us towards itself as a better happier time.
 
The worst part of the story is that we ourselves are collectively doing this conscious harm to our only certain habitat in the known universe, and are individually or even in small groups unable to stop it or to reverse this self destructive trend.
 
What kind of idiotic suicidal species does that to itself? Do even ants or wasps or bees whose brains are minuscule as compared to man destroy their own homes and habitat and basic sources of food and survival? No they do not. Do birds animals or even reptiles do that? No they have better sense, and instinctive responses than that. Only the species Homo sapiens which is Latin for Wise Man ( ironic , that ) gleefully goes about destroying its habitat and sources of food and survival and calls this suicidal process " progress" " development " or the "advance" of science, technology, medicine, astronomy, oceanography, computing , robotics spacecraft, biology , what have you.
 
In the magic,  awe -inspiring, not -to -be -denied , sacrosanct name of progress and development we are destroying with increasing efficiency and chilling speed, our earth it's soil its water its air its flora and fauna its vegetation its various species of animals birds reptiles butterflies  fish  and so on , not excluding many races within our own species , particularly the aborigines or indigenous  people, who live closest to nature and fight the hardest to preserve it besides knowing the best ways to do it. The Native Americans of the US , the Maoris and aborigines of Australia and New Zealand, the Adivasis of the Indian subcontinent, the tribal people of Africa, South and Central America the Mongoloid and Tibetan tribes of China , the Arab tribes of the Middle East- all of them are in risk of extinction and many primitive tribal groups have already disappeared. These closest friends and fiercest guardians of Mother Earth, its soil rocks mountains forests rivers and wild animals birds insects and trees, are of course they first to be eliminated, if earth itself has to be killed. We have already driven millions of species to extinction; it would not be long before we make ourselves extinct as well.
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'Economists' who not only began to see  great possibilities but even more diabolically began to actually attribute virtue to that plunder of the planets ultimately finite resources that they named as "Surplus" and "Generation of Capital" which became the Golden Calf at the new temple of the Goddess of Wealth.
--------------- 
Our earth is much more fragile than we have always carelessly assumed it to be , particularly under the unrelenting assault of increasingly more destructive tools and machines , bombs and explosives, chemicals and toxins that our modern gods , Science and Technology have helped us to invent.
 
The topsoil on which vegetation especially agriculture which made human settlements possible next to great rivers or lakes and springs that were rich self renewing seemingly inexhaustible sources of sweet water after the hunting gathering age , and thus gave birth to "human civilisation" and its fine flower, "culture" which we hold in high esteem , is on an average only six to eight inches deep.
 
This topsoil we have exhausted through over cultivation and often wrong and exploitative cultivation, and through indiscriminate and unsustainable often harmful use of hybridised or genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilisers, and  poisonous pesticides, which form the basis of the much touted " green revolution" . We have not only destroyed our main source of food cultivation through this process we have also poisoned and degraded it so that its poisons fill our air leach into our freshwater sources and our food and thus destroy our immune systems and make  us sick in unprecedented numbers with cancers, viruses, allergies, and auto immune diseases.
 
After the Industrial revolution in England exacerbated the European and later North American-in short largely Caucasian- greed and lust to plunder their colonies of raw materials and slave labour, and to glut them as captive markets after deliberately creating unnatural appetites among their peoples- say for opium in China, tea in India , and in fact addictive substances like tea coffee opium tobacco and liquor the world over, besides quantities of clothes and steel articles of household industrial and bellicose  use that people were doing perfectly well without, the loot of the earth for mined metals and other  goods like iron copper  gold silver diamonds rare earths and of forests for woods like teak rosewood mahogany products like rubber resins cocoa and toddy, and animal products like ivory, furs, pelts , horns and antlers went up a thousandfold. The increasing need for transport in turn  created increasing need for transportation fuels like coal gas and petroleum and the advent of plastics and other petroleum by products added a new dimension altogether of quantum growth of unrecyclabe inorganic products. 
This massive rise in human greed in turn necessitated the need for slaves or bonded or indentured labour from the so called lesser races and regions as in Africa India and Southern America many of whom toiled in inhuman conditions deep inside mines or in hot humid plantations of sugarcane tea coffee tobacco opium bananas and so forth , that produced stuff once again that mankind had earlier survived without and in fact lived quite happily and and healthily without, and often in quantities that were beyond any reasonable need of consumption
 
At about this time in Human History arose the pernicious breed called 'Bankers ' ( earlier despised as moneylenders and usurers) followed by an even more deadly sub species of literate human beings called ' Economists' who not only began to see  great possibilities but even more diabolically began to actually attribute virtue to that plunder of the planets ultimately finite resources that they named as " Surplus" and " Generation of Capital " which became the Golden Calf at the new temple of the Goddess of Wealth who suddenly towered over all goddesses and angels embodying virtues such as poverty chastity dutifulness frugality humility -which were rapidly transferred to the poor and the working classes by the Rich the Powerful the Degenerate and the Debauched who worshipped only wealth and made a virtue of their greed and gluttony.

This obsession with exploitative acquisition and hoarding and rentseeking extortion as well as inhuman class divides and bondage and enslavement of the vulnerable and the historically unfortunate was bound to lead to tensions rivalries and violence on an unprecedented scale which is what led to the invention of gunpowder and gunpowder based armaments like guns rifles pistols cannons as well as dynamite and dynamite based explosive weapons like grenades and bombs made deadlier and diabolically more efficient by being mounted on carriers such as gun carriages , wheeled cannons, warships and later planes missiles and submarines as well
 
The discovery of the atom and the devastating effects of nuclear fusion and fission , the Hydrogen bomb and then Chemical weapons signified a quantum leap in Man's destructive abilities , which reached unprecedented heights with the invention and use of spacecraft SND satellites which are thinly veiled warlike programs for world dominance and strategic supremacy. Has anyone ever stopped to think how many global powers test or use massive explosive devices everyday under the sea or on the surface of the earth or in space and what effect this has on the earths crust under the ocean or on dry land and upon our atmosphere? How many earthquakes and tsunamis are brought about by such earth shattering ocean displacing air polluting blasts? We think nothing if blasting mountains on the faultlines of earth's crust to build roads, dig coal, build dams or to win senseless wars.
 
These exploding misssiles bombs grenades guns even explosions launching spacecraft and satellites are giving our planet a fever that it may never recover from. Global warming is melting the snows in Iceland and Antarctica, the "Eternal Snows" and glaciers of the Himalayas the Alps the Urals and the Rockies and raising the levels of the oceans to a point where countries like The Maldives and tropical islands like Tahiti could soon be facing a sea burial, and large parts of low lying countries like Bangladesh or the Netherlands could soon be underwater while coastal cities like New York Los Angeles,San Francisco Vancouver Mumbai Kolkatta and Madras would become the stuff of history within the next couple of decades.
--------------
So where lies the solution, if any? Are we truly doomed to destruction with no way out at all? I would say we are unless we can learn collective wisdom and take collective action for the survival of life on earth as well as for the survival of the Earth itself. The Universe and Nature are nudging us to recognise that we shall all finally sink or swim together.
-------------- 
Some might say this is a jaundiced view of human progress. My simple reply would be : " See where it has brought us. We stand on the very brink of self destruction". Surely no wise person would wish for or work towards such an untoward and untimely end not only for himself but for his entire species and the lone known planet in the universe  that supports their form of life.

 
As Christ in the Good Book asks 
" For shall it profit a man , if he shall gain the whole world , and lose his own soul ? "
(The Bible , King James Version, Mark 8:35)
 
To put it another way we may have made good progress up to a point and in some directions but perhaps did not know when to stop and leave well alone. Advances in science and technology in the last 50 to 100 years have been used by mankind as a whole so unwisely and indiscriminately that we have destroyed more of our fellow animal and vegetable species, and consumed or reshaped to Earth's detriment so many more metals and minerals ( from iron to saltpetre to plutonium and uranium) and gases ( from chlorine and fluorine to laughing gas tear gas and gases used in chemical warfare ) that we have depraded more of the earth and killed maimed or made horribly ill more plants trees animals birds fish insects and other human beings than any other generation that has lived on Earth before us. Our capacity and our perverted willingness to harm our own race and our own habitat and our sheer ability and set of actions to destroy our fragile planet have increased a million fold in this one century and especially in the past have century when with the two world wars , the Cold War rivalry and now the US and NATO's unbridled greed passion aggression and mass destruction for regime change and manipulation for their own profit of the governments the culture the history geography civilisation and culture of other less fortunate or less powerful nations and continents have brought us to the verge of final and irrevocable destruction of humankind and its home Planet Earth. 
 
Sadly the worst evil is often not as easy to see or as dramatic but everyday and banal and comes in guises that confuse and confound us. For instance most of us have used gadgets like cars refrigerators and air conditioners as coveted  conveniences, without realising that with their growing and insidious use we are burning a nonrepairable hole into our ozone layer!
 
Seriously, one asks, can my one car my one coolant really cause that much harm? Perhaps not, were it only one, but the progressive increase in the usage of such ultimately harmful gadgets , seen and shown as oh so desirable for every " civilised " household has meant that the numbers have insidiously crept up till they are causing grievous harm to our environment. Take your Air Conditioner for example. The hotter it gets the more people use ACs and they use it for more of the time. The more they use ACs the cooler are their own homes for a while and often much cooler than needed but the hotter they make the general outside environment due to the heat they generate and throw outside and the more harmful hydrochloroflourons they release destroying oxygen and ozone. So also refrigerators. It seems so convenient and luxurious for one man to drive one huge car to work or to a picnic when he could have walked ridden a bicycle or used public transport instead, but when millions do it , it uses up scarce petroleum and throws more heat and deadly gases into the atmosphere than the environment can now cope with or recycle and we end up choking and burning ourselves and changing global biorhythms including wind and ocean currents and so changing our very climate in ways that are destroying traditional agriculture, horticulture, pisciculture and so on from which most humans and animals get their food.
-------------- 
Our earth is much more fragile than we have always carelessly assumed it to be , particularly under the unrelenting assault of increasingly more destructive tools and machines , bombs and explosives, chemicals and toxins that our modern gods , Science and Technology have helped us to invent.
--------------
We use the " convenient " polythene bag instead of a jute or hemp bag or a gunny sack or a cotton or straw or wool bag not realising how nigh impossible it is to recycle and how millions of such bags will end up choking our lakes rivers drains and the Good earth on which our farms and forests grow. The same goes for plastic goods. All these are luxuries or conveniences we could well have done without and have done without for centuries and millennia before this century or half century but we propagated them for the profit and convenience of the privileged few at the cost of causing irreoarable damage to our long term propspects of sustained life on an ultimately finite planet located in a finite atmosphere or envelope of oxygen dominated gases that make life possible for mankind and its attendant species if flora and fauna with whom it has symbiotic relationships.
 
We are slowly committing mass suicide and we are increasingly becoming aware of it which is the source  at bottom of our collective chronic depression and maniacal obsession with self , our senses , and selfish pleasure, in a desperate attempt at denial of the undeniably  frightening truth of our enmity and self destructive war with Nature. That is why our once beautiful planet and our once beautiful lives now look so menacing and so ugly- and we seem so powerless so impotent so helpless as individuals who feel this negativity in our very bones, to do anything constructive and effective about it, beyond mere tokenism.
 
So where lies the solution, if any? Are we truly doomed to destruction with no way out at all? I would say we are unless we can learn collective wisdom and take collective action for the survival of life on earth as well as for the survival of the Earth itself. The Universe and Nature are nudging us to recognise that we shall all finally sink or swim together.
 
If we cannot learn to get out of our tiny selves, our selfish minds, our selfish interests , our selfish pleasures luxuries and conveniences , our geographical and political boundaries, our historical and financial and intellectual and cultural or religious or ethnic disagreements, and put our minds and hearts together to save ourselves, we are indeed doomed. We may have individually and separately destroyed our planet, we can only collectively unitedly and in harmony with one another save it, conserve it rebuild it.
 
For this we shall have to step back and put  things back in perspective. First of all recognise that man like other animals or plants or other forms of life is an organism and each of us as an organism requires a certain amount of good clean healthy air water and soil as well as community and companionship  to stay alive and to live well.
 
Cities and metros in their present shape are enemies to this order of nature which huddle too many human beings together in small spaces, narrow alleys, sky high apartments, isolating crowds, where neither man nor nature has any reasonable  chance to renew and recycle waste and negativity. One man or a family of five or ten people living on 5 acres in the countryside will likely get enough groundwater through rain or digging a well or from a passing stream or river or a nearby pond Spring or lake to take care of all their water needs in a perpetually renewable and sustainable basis without twisting or straining Nature in any major way but can you see a town of a million people ever being able to do that? We are daily destroying sweet water bodies and rivers to cater to the unnatural needs of cities- including swimming pools for five star hotels while farms and dairy animals gasp for water. 
 
Clean Air is another essential prerequisite for healthy human living. Imagine a thousand human beings and more squeezed into less than half an acre of land in a 150 storey skyscraper using up each other's natural air supply from the atmosphere for breathing and polluting it with their breaths, their car refrigerator AC  effluents, their solid liquid and gaseous waste that the Earth water and air in that confined space unaided by natural soil trees and other vegetation can recycle. Why do we condemn ourselves to such hellholes?
 
Particularly when ten farming families spread over 50 acres of land would probably know one another better and enjoy better family and community relationships and healthier lifestyles , more sound bodies and minds than the pallid lonely neurotic intellectuals or fillmstars, penthouse owning billionaires and playboys or cybercoolies or other drudges living in that monstrous skyscrapers, with each his own set of neuroses and physical illnesses and social and other relationship dysfunctionalities .
 
In short we need to go back to a more natural more relaxed more sustainable happier and healthier and more sociable less selfish more sensible way of life in tune with nature. We need to think straight , love , respect and honour and be gentle with one another and our Earth Environment and Nature and give up fighting in the basis of caste creed religion ethinicity history and geography and make peace , live with less, and rethink our ideas of progress and development, replacing them wit frugality and sustainability.Oh yes and we need to stop all wars and mass migrations and refugee- making situations and activities at once, once for all.
 
Thus spake the Oracle after giving you a potted history of the world from an environmentalist and humanitarian point of view in the interest of the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest possible time!
 
Bertrand Russell begins his brilliant essay on Knowledge and Wisdom with this gem of an insight:
 
"Most people would agree that while our age far surpasses all previous ages in knowledge, there has been no correlative increase in wisdom "
 
And a relatively unknown individual called Sandra Carey pithily describes the difference between the two as follows
 
"Never mistake knowledge for wisdom
One helps you to make a living; the other helps you to make a life "
 
We have more than enough knowledge to last us several generations. Let us now try individually and collectively to obtain the wisdom to choose wisely from this vast store of knowledge so that we can continue to live and live happily in harmony with Nature rather than kill each other or live unhappily till the Apocalypse comes that we are deliberately though maybe not consciously or with the desire to do so , bringing upon ourselves.
 
Dear Fellow Human Beings, let us choose compassion over selfishness, love over hatred, Nature over Science, hope over despair, and Life over Death. Alone , each one of us must perish. Collectively, together, in harmony we shall endure. 
 
Choose wisely. Choose well. Choose now.
For tomorrow it may be too late already.







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