I am not sure how you feel right now about us humans. Maybe you don’t have feelings and it is absurd of me to think about you feel.
But this morning when I was waiting for the train here in Taipei, I somehow started to think about my experience on the train in Mumbai. I remember wanting to feel crammed into a can like a filet of wild salmon, with people pressed against me to the point where all of our auras became one. I remember asking myself, ‘everyday, this feeling? how do they manage?’
Possible theory: it’s their nurture (rather than nature). They along with all the other citizens of over-populated countries grew up with this claustrophobic environment except they don’t consider it claustrophobic. It’s their normal. China, Mexico. Your personal space is another’s personal space.
It’s ironic how when I was a little kid sitting in the backseat of Paw Paw’s green Jeep, my cousins would complain about how the other person’s leg was touching theirs. I myself was spoiled with space, complaining about having to sit in the middle seat.
But what pulsates in my mind about the train ride in India is not the canned-fish feeling but rather the image of the trash around the train tracks. And the trash in the canals behind people’s houses (Mumbai) and in the courtyards in front of apartments and commercial businesses (New Delhi).
And in Nepal.
Is trash becoming the heritage of humans as we strive to produce and innovate at an constantly increasing rate? Maybe one way to reduce the garbage is to produce less? Consume less? Buy only what you need with the intention of using it until it loses its functionality?
An aunt once taught me, “A boy does what he wants to do. A man does what he needs to do.” A boy buys what he wants, a man what he needs? This idea kind of clashes with the idea that we should remain a child at heart.
Computer games were an integral part of my childhood. They were my outlet and I learned a cool word because of one particular game I used to play, Warcraft III. The Orc race had an upgrade called ‘Pillage’ which allowed certain units of the army to collect gold while attacking an opponent’s buildings.
I think we humans are pillaging you to the death, World. We are taking so much from you at a rate so fast that you do not have the time to regenerate resources for our use. It is not sustainable. There is huge excitement over the fact that electric cars are really good at reducing the carbon footprint. But we also need to think about where the electricity comes from to charge the cars. They might just be a temporary alleviation of symptoms if the electricity being generated to charge the batteries comes from a coal power plant.
Electric cars may reduce the rate at which we consume fossil fuels but it only buys us time to come up with a better solution to the sustainability problem. Ideally, our electric cars are powered by renewable energy sources. Hopefully the energy being generated to make these electric cars is from renewable energy sources too.
World, if we can focus on the long-term investment it will be better for you and for us. Solar energy used to get a bad rap for not having competitive pricing and people saw it strictly in terms of whether it would be a cheaper way for themselves personally to consume energy. Shouldn’t the fact that we can harness the sun’s energy from a panel be enough to validate their use no matter what the cost? That in the long-run, although expensive in our lifetime, they may allow for a future for our grand children? If no one’s taking the steps, then who will? But those solar panels are bound to break down at some point in time and may need to be replaced. It would be weird if the business model of solar companies relied on revenue from new models that came out every year. (*Ahem, Apple).
World, some people believe that you are so big that no matter what we humans do, you are going to continue to do your thing. It’s almost like how the universe doesn’t give a shit about what we humans do with our lives. I remember staring out at the giant ocean of yours asking myself, “are we really having an impact on your fate?” Maybe we do have an affect. Maybe we don’t. Maybe we won’t ever run out of resources. Maybe we’ll continue to find ways to make new resources out of waste.
I hope that the new UNESCO World Heritage Site being built in Takae, Okinawa, Japan will remain pristine unlike its cousin in Nepal.
Maybe we can leverage all of the existing technologies and innovations today to restructure society in such a way that it can become 100% sustainable. Do we really have to find other planets to live on?
How would you be different, World, if we had the mindset of being a Leaver rather than a Taker?
As I cut the grass and weeds on Kiyuna and the grasshoppers and crickets fled for their lives with each swing of the weed whacker, I lived Avatar.
Life can be like a game in many ways. As I navigate the different maps and worlds around me acquiring different skills and items, I am creating a unique character that succeeds in certain battles and loses in others. But unfortunately there’s a limit to the game of life.
And just like us, you probably only have one life, World. Hopefully we’re not interfering in yours with ours.
Here’s to you, World.
PS. I think the mindset is changing for the better. Restructuring of society is happening. Maybe it won’t generate billions of dollars. But maybe it will save us billions.