Tuesday, December 1, 2020

RANJANA SHARAN SINHA

 

FROM THE EDITOR

 

What Man Has Made Of Man

 

William Wordsworth, the great Romantic poet, was reclining in a grove listening to birdsong and enjoying the spring flowers, when he began to feel rather sad: he could not help but contrast the beauty and perfection he saw in Nature with mankind's imperfections:




To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What man has made of man.

Dismayed by the materialism of his contemporaries in England, and appalled by their attitudes, Wordsworth could see that man was changing for the worse. Man, with so much power for good and destruction, has the responsibility to respect his fellowmen and the environment in which he lives. Yes, people need to respect nature and living things because the environment is important beyond words, providing vital basic services to support human survival. If we want to respect nature, we must stop seeing it as simply a set of "instrumental values" or resources and be willing to recognise that nature has "intrinsic values" because "eco-centric" ethics seem to be more relevant than " biocentric" ethics.

Indian philosophy explains environment as an organic living entity which is transcendental in nature and perceives that there is life in all kinds of things, it might be biotic or non-biotic material. There is greater emphasis on mutual dependence where living in isolation is not possible. Humans have been seen as one component of this wider reality i.e., environment. The hymns of Rig Veda view man only as the manifestation of the same reality of cosmos with equal importance. Nobody thought of an existence that was apart from nature.

In our ancient tradition and in literature Nature was worshipped with the same importance given to other deities. The sacred rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, and Kaveri were worshipped as mother goddesses. Vedic hymns are the prayers of man to nature goddess and man's duty is to protect Nature: its eco system should be nourished and saved. Like the Vedas the Indian classical literature also celebrates man- nature relationship. Kalidasa's magnum opus Abhijana Shakunthalam and his other works imbibed a deep ecological awareness and are replete with sublime man-nature relationship.

But in today's world things and attitudes have undergone a sea change. Amid our normal busy days away from stunning views of nature, beaches and sunsets, we hardly find time to have a feel of nature. We don't have the time to notice the birds calling, the bees buzzing and to enjoy the shades and moods of changing seasons. Parents are unable to teach their children about Nature and wildlife. Evidence is growing of how regular contact with nature boosts new-born children's healthy development, supports their physical and mental health and instils abilities to assess risk as they grow. Along with digital distractions and lack of interest in playing outdoors, the children are getting away and away from Nature. Who can blame them for thinking an apple is a gadget first and a fruit second?

The greatest danger to contemporary society is ecological disequilibrium. The illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade as well as devastation of forests and other wild places are the driving forces behind the crises. Pandemics and present crises are often a hidden side effect of economic development, greed and inequalities that can no longer be ignored. Given our interconnected and ever-changing world, with air-travel, wildlife marketing and a changing climate, the potential for further serious outbreaks remains significant.

It's now time to start addressing the nature-related risks caused by human activities. Humans may not have created the coronavirus, but the spread of COVID-19 has been hastened and exacerbated by humanity's long-term assault on the natural world. Such pandemics are the result of humanity's destruction of nature, according to leaders at the UN, WHO and WWF International, and the world has been ignoring this stark reality for decades.

Human activities have significantly altered three-quarters of all land and two-thirds of all oceans on Earth leading to a changing climate and unprecedented global biodiversity loss. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically demonstrated how crucial the protection of natural habitats is for human health. Intact nature provides a buffer between humans and disease, and emerging diseases are often the results of encroachment into natural ecosystems and change in human activity. If wild animals lose their natural habitats, they move to areas populated by humans, thereby increasing contact and risk of transmitted diseases. By invading their environment, we break the 'natural protective barriers' between healthy human beings and animals which are infected by pathogens, so the only person at fault here is us.

The pandemic is a stark reminder of our dysfunctional relationship with nature and emphasises the importance of living in harmony with nature. It forced us to ponder over the fact that unregulated exploitation of natural resources coupled with unsustainable food habits and consumption pattern lead to destruction that supports human life.

The current economic system has put tremendous pressure on the natural environment and the pandemic is a proof of the domino effect that is triggered when one element in this interconnected system is de-established. What can we expect to happen if we continue along our current trajectory? A recent warning from the UN that multiple famines of 'biblical proportions' could be seen within months following the pandemic, is going to be true, sure enough.

For the first time in planetary history, humans are the drivers of climate and environmental change or what is being called by the scientists as the Anthropocene. We are steering the planet towards a future where hazards and disasters will have no limits and crisis will become an all-pervasive metaphor.

Let us be contented with what God and the bountiful Nature have given to all of us. Let us get rid of greed, ignorance and disregard in exploiting the natural resources. Let us preserve the environmental or rather ecological balance for our future generation to whom we must transmit a "natural patrimony”. Then--and only then--we'll be able to wipe out negative footprints of man's relentless march and stop the devastating impact we are having on the planet and to achieve a more sustainable system.

With this edition of OPA, we are glad enough to introduce poet JULJANA MEHMETI of Albania, as the Poet of the month. Poet ANCA MIHAELA BRUMA of Romania has taken an exclusive interview of her for this edition. Let’s hope our readers will enjoy both her interview and her poems along with the whole issue consisting of more than hundreds of poems of the poets all over the world. So, thank you once again and I welcome everyone to this newest issue of OPA.

-- Dr. Ranjana Sharan Sinha

From The Editorial Desk

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