FARHAT GOWHAR IQBAL
For most people, everything in their lives is false. We grow up being surrounded by wellintentioned adults who tattoo our brains with old and outdated mentality. We are guided towards destinations that others chose for us, and we blindly accept this because we trust that the elders know better. We reach a certain age where we start to put into practice everything that we have been taught, and we proudly enter the 9-to-5 ‘elite’ club, in which everyone works to pay the bills and to live for the weekends. Unaware of our capabilities, we pursue the cycle of professional work for almost 50 years, all for somebody else, building someone else’s dream. We become so detached from ourselves that we ignore any sign that something is not right. We lie to ourselves at the end of each day that we have done enough at work and in the “prime time” of evening we deserve a taste of the comfortable lies that the media has prepared for us. We open our ears and eyes to superficial entertainment. We consciously choose to live a life dictated by the flashy and shining advertisements. We stack our fridges with so much food that we don’t make enough time to cook. At the end of the week, we throw out most of it. We waste huge amounts of food that so many on this planet would be grateful for. We’ve grown so attached to the collective mindset that we are afraid and embarrassed to go against its senseless norms. “Why should I start reducing waste and recycle my garbage if others aren’t doing it? Why should I focus more on ways of preventing pollution if others aren’t doing it?” Ignorance has reached such high levels that most people are living in their bubbles. Have we become so narrow-minded that we are not able to see what’s happening on the planet? Just take a step back and look around you! While you’re crying for more likes and hearts on social media, children are crying for food and water. While you’re sick and tired of the cold weather, people in another place are struggling with disastrous bushfires. We’ve been instilled with fear from the early stages of our childhood and this has carried on to our adult life. We’re frightened at the thought that maybe the truth we’ve been served is not that true after all. We are scared of the unknown truth, so we decide to keep living the lies. We don’t want anyone to point fingers at us, so we bow down to society’s elites who use us to fulfill their superficial and maniacal goals. We refuse to open our mind to the possibility that maybe there’s something else outside this narrow box of preconceptions and beliefs that we’re living in right now. There’s so much going on in our environment that we choose to ignore. Nature’s balance has shifted so much in the past few years, and we are the only ones to blame for this. We focused so much of our attention on building and developing technologies that we forgot to take care of this humble yet important servant that is nature. We’ve taken so much from it, but we never seem to give anything in return. Large areas of forest are cut down to make space for the urban tentacles to spread. We’re not only killing vegetation that’s important for removing carbon dioxide from the air, we are also supporting greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation is the second leading cause of climate change. We’ve polluted so much of this planet’s lakes, rivers, seas and oceans but we are still amazed when we see on TV some people struggling with murky, stinking tap water. In 2018, the UN’s environmental working group showed that some 76 million Indians are using water contaminated with a cancercausing industrial solvent. 785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who are dependent on surface water. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces (WHO data). Have things changed? No, they haven’t. Why are we not seeing this? Have we become so self centered that nothing around us matters anymore? What are we teaching our children? We need to open our eyes and act before things degrade even more. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done so far, either good or bad. We can start from scratch. It is not politics or the media that will make the change, it is us! We need to take full responsibility for everything that we do in our lives. At this very moment, we could be anywhere in the world, watching TV from our comfortable couch, looking down at our smartphones, complaining that our internet is so slow. But what are we doing for others? We take and take from life but what are we giving back? We take amazing photos of green and blissful scenery on our trips but are we doing something to keep it as green and blissful? There’s much that we can do to leave behind a clean and beautiful world. Why not create something now, so that those who’ll come after us will have something to be proud of? Why not be the generation that made the world a better place?
—Farhat Gowhar Iqbal works at Department of Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs (J&K Govt). He hails from Lolab Kupwara and can be reached at [email protected].