Gaze skywards

On World Earth Day, make an effort to appreciate Nature’s grandeur and pause to think about Her gift of life

April 20, 2019 05:00 pm | Updated 05:00 pm IST



World Earth Day (April 22) was first observed in 1970, and is dedicated to protecting all life on Earth. This in turn means remembering that we are only one of its many inhabitants. If something were to happen to mankind and we disappeared altogether, it wouldn’t disturb our planet in the least. The theme of 2019, therefore, also means trying to harmonise our lives with the rhythms of the natural world. Already, we have endangered our own lungs by chopping down trees cover; we have weakened our sight by turning night into day; we have dislodged hapless animals from their homes — why be astonished when they raid our fields for food? Recently, in Tamil Nadu, we even let a rare species of crocodile perish because the vibrations from our party music caused it to die of stress in a single night.

Living as most of our readers do, in urban surroundings, how might we handle this call for helping Earth (and ourselves) meaningfully? Can every one of us go out and plant a tree or clean a stream? Hardly. We live on water drawn from hundreds of feet below the surface of the ground, and depend completely on Mother Earth for grain, oils, vegetables and other produce of the planet. Let us remember that no city dweller can plough a field, or gauge the seasons, in order to plant, grow and harvest his or her own food. Most of us would not dream of living in rural India but, in truth, we cannot live without what comes from there. Yet, it is they who are closest to Nature and carry the knowledge of our earliest ancestors before the coming of the industrial age. A shopkeeper might turn us away saying, “Sorry, out of stock” but Earth will never run out of stock if we know how to treat Her.

Learn to give

A message from all the scriptures is to equalise giving and taking. Those messages are not about charity as it is usually understood, though that too is an important facet of giving, but about keeping the balance straight. It is good for the self to give so that at the meta level, there are no outstanding debts to destroy our peace of mind or health.

A beautiful verse says:

One in a hundred is courageous

One in a thousand is a scholar

One in a hundred thousand is a good communicator

Only one among all these hundreds of thousands is a giver.

The least we can do while we punch the atmosphere with our CFCs and other toxic wastes is to appreciate and acknowledge the grandeur all around us made available so freely. At a poet’s meeting in Virginia, the U.S., which began with a dinner, the oldest and most celebrated among the invitees was missing, though everybody else had entered the building. When someone went to locate the poet, he was standing in the car-park looking at the sky. “Don’t you pay tribute to the moon when she comes out?” The narrator of this story, herself a poet, said that there was just a wisp of a moon but that they stood there quietly for a moment.

We have a covenant with the natural world and can find instant peace in thinking about the vastness of the sky which we ignore all the time! We curse either the heat or the rain as the seasons nourish our lives and keep Earth turning on its axis and spinning through Space.

Today, let’s spend a few minutes thinking about the gift of Life on Earth.

The author is Series Editor, Living in Harmony (OUP India).

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