Seetha Ananthasivan has a deep interest in understanding how we can build communities which are coherent with Nature's principles. She is passionate about the development of eco-psychology as well as organic food and farming. She is Founder-Trustee of the Bhoomi College and Founder-Director of Prakriya Green Wisdom School and Bhoomi Network and Editor of the Eternal Bhoomi Magazine.
Typically today, we expect our Governments to ensure that our water and other basic needs are looked after. So Governments around the world run huge organisations with centralised control for procuring and storing grains, putting up nuclear power plants, managing water and energy systems and so on. And we, as individuals and local communities have forgotten to take charge of basic essentials for ourselves.
A defining characteristic of modern civilization seems to be the disempowerment of most people. Farmer suicides, apathetic citizens unable to take care of their waste, water and air, the desperation of students to get into colleges and jobs and their inability to find their own livelihoods, the grabbing of land by the land and industry mafia - these are all signs for us to see. And in a global and massive way we feel helpless about the free fall to disaster that our economic system and climate change are leading us to.
To live is to share. Whoever or whatever we are, sharing is inevitable - we at least share the air we breathe, the space we live in, the sources of water we use, the culture we are immersed in and much more.
By consciously sharing we are merely ack-nowledging or owning up our natural selves. By creating spaces to share in, we merely enable those who share our part of the Earth with us to get together, to live naturally, in a world that has often attempted to isolate us from others and from Nature.
Before we look at foundations for an ecological era, we need to re-visit the seed ideas of our modern civilisation and the Industrial age, says Seetha Ananthasivan.
Very often a word, a phrase or an idea can mislead us, or mislead even several generations of human beings. We have many such words that are part of the colonisation of our minds, part of determining our world-view and our world today.
‘Bacteria cause diseases’ is one such idea – and we have a world today which gives very little importance to education for immunity building that can save us from diseases of all kinds and also prevent the breeding of many disease-causing bacteria in our bodies.
The Earth is bountiful and incredibly beautiful - beckoning to us to climb those mountains, watch wildlife at dawn, relax on that beach - after travelling half way across the planet. And there are people of exotic cultures, lovely old castles and other man-made wonders to admire. Add to that our human need to be enchanted by what is new and affordable, we have a great footloose civilisation. On an average over 8 million people fly every day, and if you travel by train, the station is so crowded that the whole world seems to be travelling. But hey, so are you!
The human brain-mind is a phenomenal creation of Nature, giving us the amazing ability to make innumerable and complex mental connections. Yet, Nature failed in giving us a natural ability – that of seeing the whole picture and humans have ended up being caught up with immediate concerns, needs and feelings most of the time.
Awareness about the need of living with ecological wisdom is not lacking, going by what we see in the papers and the TV, almost everyday. Most educated people have heard of climate change and the importance of reducing our carbon foot print. (Most ‘uneducated’ people would anyway be living with a low carbon foot print)
It is generally easy to take sides, or sometimes take action, when we see direct physical violence being perpetrated. We see it every day in family squabbles and in the millions of cases pending in our courts. The world witnessed it on a massive scale when President Bush attacked Iraq, and the whole world seemed divided into those who supported him and those who did not.
Most literate people who know the word ‘biodiversity’ will agree today that it is essential for long-term survival of humankind. Tribals and traditional farmers and many others living close to nature probably know this truth in their bones. Biodiversity is essential for our basic survival needs of food and health.