COVIDian Reflections: Slow Down, or I will Slow You Down

When the Dow Jones index surges by a few points, many in the world go richer and celebrate the northward journey of the index. There are millions around the world, tuned to their computer to check the daily fluctuations of their fortunes based on the movement of prices of commodities and shares. There are times when the yellow metal is capable of making people go red. Many await with bated breath to know if the median estimate projections of GDP growth by economists will be correct till countries like USA, China publish their quarterly GDP numbers! There are others around  the world who look toward and clamor for the Federal Reserve to cut interest by 0.25% Yes, you read it correct, 0.25%. Why this rush and anxiety?  Man is leveraging his excesses to generate jubilation at the cost of something that he is refusing to acknowledge or not bothered at all. I deliberately used the word: jubilation because this is not happiness but celebrating excesses through a feeling of triumph. Feeling of triumph over something! — over nature! 

Cosmetic industry is a case at hand to explain this celebration of excesses. Women use cucumber to cool down their eyes while resting to have other organic — vegetable mix — cosmetics to settle well on their faces at beauty salons. There are many women who use powder of green gram for bathing. Hasn’t the earth produced these vegetables and grams for human consumption, or for these obscene uses?  Men are not lagging behind in similar abuses of nature. Skyrocketing of men’s organic beauty products in the last few years is also taking a toll on nature. When women and men do these kinds of excesses, they are laughing at the fertility of soil and giving a smack in the face of the earth. Nature cannot bear these excesses anymore and will retaliate, or, has it already started to retaliate?

Men-grooming products is another example of how we mutilate nature with our excesses. Let’s take the case of shaving-razors. They gave us 2-blade razors first, then 3-blade, 4-blade, 5-blade, now, 6-blade razors and were telling each time that the additional blade made the shaving better and complete. Each time they add a blade to a razor, more mines have to be drilled for iron ore and carbon to make stainless steel that is used for making blades. For example, a 2-blade razor is enough for standard use, but in the place of 2X quantity of iron ore and carbon, they have to use 6X quantity to produce the steel for a 6-blade razor — 3 times more. What is the marginal rise in the utility value of a 6-blade razor as compared to that of a 2-blade razor? Nothing significant! We will throw away the 6-blade razor as at almost the same time as we do to a 2-blade razor. Won’t we? Mother Nature cannot bear this kind of excesses and will retaliate sooner than later. Or, has she already started to retaliate?

Albert Einstein once told, as mentioned in his biography, “Einstein: The Life and Times” by Ronald W. Clark, that he did not find any difference between using soap-lather and shaving cream and that he used soap-lather, instead of shaving cream, for shaving. We do not have to use shaving foam packed in an aluminum or tin can and marketed by greedy corporates. So many mines are blasted to take out Bauxite and Tin from the under belly of the Earth to produce those shiny cans. Do use soap-lather as shaving foam if possible and try to stop putting pressure on the earth. Just sharing that I have been using soap-lather as shaving foam for many years, and my shaving razor is a 2-blade one that costs only 0.50 USD. The maker, Gillette, says such a razor is for one-time use only, then, throw away, but I find it is useful for daily shaving for a month altogether. 

Sport shoes is another example of man’s excesses hitting the ceiling and causing pain to nature. Hadn’t we had times when we used the same shoe to run, walk and play different games? Yes, we had. Now, look at the scenario: one type of shoe for walking; another type for running; playing football has another type and so on. Imagine a person who does all these three things and that he/she is rich enough to buy one pair each or two pairs of each, resulting in him/her having 3 pairs or 6 pairs of shoes at one point of time. What is the implication of this excess? Three or six times more crude oil has to be pumped to generate plastics; three or six times cotton needed to be produced by the earth for the cotton laces and similar more-times’ production of other raw materials needed for the shoes’ manufacturing. Are these excesses justified?  Why do we need many pairs of shoes as we can wear only one pair of shoes at one point of time. Nature says it can no more bear these excesses and that it will retaliate soon. Or, has it already started to retaliate? 

Examples of human excesses are many: Building tourist and entertainment cottages on riversides by encroaching upon the riverbed when nature has given enough land to make such buildings, forcing the rivers to shrink. Through this, we are squeezing nature’s veins through which water-blood of nature flows to its heart of ocean that in turn pumps up water in the form of vapors which precipitate and come down as rains flowing back to oceans through the river-veins. Nature feels the pain of compressed veins and says if you shrink me, I will overflow and drown all that you built to suffocate me; well, you call it as flood, but for me, the nature says, it is decompressing my veins. Examples of man’s excesses having damaging impacts on the nature are myriad to list out.

Nature says: Let GDP grow organically but do not go overboard and take it out on me by blasting out more mines from under my belly; use the yellow metal as a means of wealth and as a way of security for rainy days but not for pageantry and adorning your daughters like caparisoned elephants during marriages; you do not need many pairs of shoes as you have only two legs; you do not have to have a large collection of watches to match with your daily dress because you can wear only one watch at a time. And nature tells these and many such things indirectly, but, do we listen to them?

Nature warned us through deluges, floods, storms, earthquakes and other natural calamities, but we did not listen. It made floods more often, but we called them flash floods; made storms violent, frequent and appearing in new places like the Arabian Sea, but we did not take it seriously, instead spent time on naming them. 

Genetics, parenting, education and there are many such factors that have significant impact on our character, but one overriding factor that is capable of regulating or restraining our character is the laws of nature. We can ignore the laws only at our own peril. The saying: “Charity begins at home.” implies that  responsibility begins at a personal level first. Every individual ought to take the responsibility to stop her/his excesses on nature and be reasonable in using nature’s resources. Nature is vast enough to absorb man’s needs, but it is man’s excesses that is making nature furious and retaliating.

Nature says: Enough is enough, and I can no more take man’s excesses!  Man, Slow Down or I will You Slow Down — is that what nature is telling us through COVID-19?

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