In the last couple of months, Chile, Haiti, Santiago and the fringes of America and Asia have seen the horrors of nature’s fury with the outbreak of Tsunamis, earthquakes and other terrible forms of natural disasters. It is reasonable and even handy to ascribe these events to the workings of nature, but for those who strongly believe that the decline in spiritual and moral values that have sustained human and material civilization for over a millennia is at the heart of the global crisis we now experience, such events do not simply pass for nature’s cruelty. At the heart of what we call natural disasters is the human person. Man’s inhumanity to nature has been the bane of our cries and tears in the face of such terrible destruction of nature and nature’s resources.
We have allowed technology and technological ingenuity to override our sense of moral restraint in our transaction with the natural world. Every day the global headlines are filled with portraits of how the engines of human civilization are bringing us all to the brink of annihilation. Yet, in the face of such startling revelations of mankind’s suicidal destruction of the natural environment through the instrumentality of the principles and praxis of modern scientific technology, man has refused to change his lifestyle in a manner that is quite in harmony with the preservation and sustenance of nature and its non-renewable resources.
We have not even seen the end of such tragic events as man’s cruelty is poised to bring us ever closer to our self-destruction. As humankind courts sanity and the serene use of nature’s resources and trades self-discipline for technological profligacy we are sure to experience the worst of what is to come. World leaders gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark in December last year for the United Nations Conference on Global Climate Change and they drew our attention to this constellation of issues which demand our urgent response. Yet not much has really been achieved in terms of bringing the human consciousness to realize the enormity of moral anaesthetics that needs to be injected in our dealings with nature, the otherness of humanity. Of course, as is the usual practice, the sanctimonious pronouncements and copious rhetoric of world leaders usually ends on the discussion table.
Our generation has borrowed the resources of future generations and there are no prospects of paying back. We are once more brought to the supreme moment when our collective moral synergies must be brought to bear on our relationship with the natural world. As Arnold Toynbee, the famous 20th century British philosopher of history once remarked, “the greatest danger to man is man.” Man has become a wolf to himself, a homo homini lupus.
As we stand at this threshold of history, the state of emergency of the natural environment calls for our attention. Unless our collective moral abilities can enable us to reliably predict the consequences of our actions, we may well be headed on the long road towards self-annihilation. These natural-man-made disasters which we now witness with a frequency that puts all our scientific and human calculations into disarray re-issue fresh warnings to us that what nature has built for many millennia will be destroyed by us in less than a thousand years. What these somber events tell us is that we must reappraise our relationship with the world of nature.
Unless nature lives, man cannot exist. Nature holds the self-supporting life system for man, and it is this live support system that the callous irresponsibility of human actions is gradually destroying. We all must say NO to destructive technology that undermines the sustenance and conservation of nature. We all must say NO to human actions that cause more harm to the natural environment and to the beautiful order of created nature.
God the creator has endowed man with the dominion over nature and not with the stewardship powers of domination. Our dominion over nature is geared towards putting nature at the service of man’s use and not at the service of man’s destruction. We often forget this divine injunction! Today, we are reminded that a radical change of heart, a true conversion of heart is at the centre of the healing that nature needs. Of course, the external manifestations of these so-called natural disasters are only metaphors of the internal pollution of the human mind which generally goes unchecked today. Dangerous man-made ideologies and philosophies rule the world and they find their seat in the human heart, the centre of good and evil.
Today, we are called to distance ourselves from the dangerous infiltration of technology which is at the heart of man’s destruction of nature. We are called to be ourselves, to be who the Creator has made us to be, to practice responsibility, discipline and careful caution in dealing with the order of created nature. Unless we all do this, we face the risk of grave peril! Whenever history is allowed to repeat itself, it is said that the prize goes up. Alvin Toffler, the famous American futurologist had predicted who the illiterate of the 21st century would be about two centuries ago when he said: “the true illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” We must learn from what is already happening to us. Let us not act on the impulses of nature. We must take the bold step now to combat the decline of moral values and visions that is at the centre of this destruction. Those who make peaceful change impossible, it is said, make violent change inevitable. Let us not allow events to happen on us. Let us be the champions at the forefront of the change needed to combat the global ecological crisis and the global climate change! Would you take a stand today? That is the question!