Being humane

Being humane

From "hamara Bajaj," we have moved up to a small car, then an SUV and then two of them.

My journalist brother rides a bicycle to office. He returns home in the dead of the night during Chandigarh winters on the rickety cycle he has owned since his school days. He doesn’t use an air cooler, leave alone an air-conditioner, during the summer heat.

Till recently, he didn’t own a mobile phone. We scoff at his eccentricities and chide him for torturing himself and others around him. He says he is happy with his choices and comfortable without these comforts.

But for most of us, owning a motorised vehicle, ACs in our homes, offices, cars and smartphones has become as necessary as say, breathing. But even taking a deep breath seems like a scary prospect these days. In Delhi, the pollutants in the air have reached epidemic proportions.

Dr Naresh Trehan, renowned cardiologist, showed us the mirror in the image of two lungs, one of a Delhi resident blackened with soot and other, relatively pink of a resident of Himachal Pradesh in a government advertisement, in a bid to create awareness.

But do we learn? Our greed and materialistic desires, too, have acquired epidemic proportions. Remember our parents who used up their life’s earnings to buy a modest house to call their own. They just wanted an abode to spend their lifetime without worrying about rising rents and bothersome owners.

We accumulate several immovable properties to safeguard our future and our generations to come. From “hamara Bajaj,” we have moved up to, first, a small car, then a SUV, then two of them but still are rather unhappy. Look, who’s bought a nayi badi gadi. A classic case of “neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride!” As Gandhiji says, ‘Mother earth provides enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.’

It’s time we put a stop to this madness. It’s time we stop encroaching upon public land just so that we can have a small private garden in front of our house, uprooting a beautiful tree to make space for our car, using plastic bags for groceries when we could carry a nice cloth bag from home, littering public spaces. It’s time we optimise the use of our private vehicles and judiciously consume our resources like water, electricity, soil, minerals etc and minimise waste.

I do try to live this credo earnestly but unlike my “saint” brother, I can’t do without my air conditioner. But, the hot air blower I can live without during winters as it dries the air and makes my breathing laboured. See, a little discomfort to my daily existence and I mend my ways.

So let’s reprimand our child when he plucks a flower, let’s show him that a tree is more important than a car, that it gives out oxygen, not just for us but our car’s fuel to burn as well. To begin with, let’s rejoice at the immediate benefits we reap of the small little steps we take to save ourselves. And contribute further to let the bigger picture develop.

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