Moments Winging By...|Apr 24, 2003 3:10 PM| by:

From One Generation to Another

I have finally found a situation where being selfish has paid off. Astounding, isn’t it? I thought so too and for a long time kept it well hidden within me. But it’s like one of those unnecessary guilt trips one trapezes off on or rather a secret that is restless to come out.

It started with this whole environmental consciousness that took the world by storm some two decades ago. No matter what one did, it wasn’t the right thing to do and in some way or the other it invariably had its consequences on the destruction of the environment.

Extinction, Ozone, Black Hole. Then there was this cough caused by those emissions and that cancer produced by these ones. Not to forget the complete warping of climate with too much sun and too little rain or winter that never comes or snow where the sun always shines. And the last was of course this terrifying prospect of laying bare the earth’s landscape for chairs in our living rooms or then the nightmarish possibility of having to guzzle saline water when all fresh water bodies have either dried up or been consumed or then drained unconsciously by a tap that no one closed.

Ah…yes. It is the last that scares me. For I see it around the corner. But the complacent me says that the ominous ‘corner’ is still fifty years away – true that the earth is already tilting under the weight of excessive human bodies and no doubt that the soil has started to slip from beneath our feet, but there is still enough food to go around and water to drink for another fifty years. May get a little tougher towards the end, even costlier but …still there.

So why worry so much?

But then the kids factor comes in. One should also think about the next generation. What will they live on, what will they inherit?

And I say, well, that’s what human evolution is all about – survival of the fittest, adaptation. These young ones are much cleverer than us and they’ll surely think of something to fish them out of those predicaments that we are laying out for them.

Why worry…this is a chance for them to show how unique the human mind is.

And then off I go to brush my teeth, with water running carelessly as always, conscience hammering loudly, and the mind whispering soothingly, “Its just a few more seconds of frothy indulgence”.

That’s when it hits me.

I am here today , gone tomorrow. Agreed.  But then, I am going to come right back the day after. And when I return, what is it that I would have to come back to? A place which is desolate, arid, barren, frigid, lonely, clogged. This, is the gift I would have left the next generation; this, is the gift I would have left for myself.

That’s it. The realization sank home. No way was I going to settle for this raw deal. If I am sure of coming back then I’m going to make equally sure I come to a nice, friendly, cozy home. I don’t know how much I can convince others, or awaken their consciousness towards the suffering of the physical earth. I also don’t know if I am capable of applying balm to the pain that she is undergoing, but what I do know is that I can stop being the cause of her sickness; I can stop hurting her; I can cease to inflict upon her any more of my ignorance and indolence. That for me is a giant step on its own. The one that follows will exceed even this for sure. And lest I should forget why I am being careful when it is so much easier being careless, then I have only to see my own reflection in the mirror and say, “See you soon… another time, another life… but probably the same place.”

Selfish or not, in the long run, it may give me a bucket full of fresh water to bathe in on a sunny morning.


(Shonar likes to dabble with words and experiences, creating a moment that can be shared with others. Having tired of the politics of enviro-radicalism, she is now content with simply doing her own bit, as consciously as possible, hoping that it would make a difference.)