Let us all have some environmental sense
Our peaceful existence in society is incumbent on how well we put our senses to use. Our sense is our ability to think or act in a reasonable way. Our sense in a given situation in a nutshell is our good judgement. We are taught and reminded from time to time to have a civic sense, which is a consideration for the norms of society in our behaviour and interaction with those around. This ensures that we act, or move, or behave, in a manner that doesn’t cause inconvenience to those around.
We are also taught to have a traffic sense which ensures we have the ability to drive or walk carefully and safely through traffic without risking the lives of those around and without leading to traffic snarls by following the traffic rules. A good traffic sense ensures we do not jeopardise the lives of those around and also stay safe.
It needs no proving that having a good civic sense or traffic sense has made life easier by ensuring a balance between human independence and their responsibility to those around for we do not exist in isolation but in relation to people and things around.
The same principle applies to environment. It is time for us to realise that apart from having a civic sense or traffic sense or a sense of space, which teaches us not to intrude on other people’s physical or private space, we need to build an environmental sense.
Encouraging an environmental sense in our society is the need of the hour. An easy mantra to cultivate it in us is Mission Life, which encompasses adopting environmentally friendly lifestyles.
Environmental sense ensures that our lifestyle doesn’t impede on the lives of those around. And those around us are not just humans but also birds, animals, plants, trees, forests, wetlands, savannahs and deserts. Our entire ecosystem demands sensitivity from us and the realisation that our existence is mutually interdependent.
A message from our scriptures ‘prakriti rakshati rakshitah’ — Nature protects if she is protected — describes the essence of environmental sensitivity. We need to be environmentally sensitive to protect the environment from the downward spiral that we have set it in and in the process be able to protect ourselves from the fury of nature, being unleashed with increased ferocity all around the world in the form of floods, famines, forest fires and severe, prolonged heat waves. A Japanese concept that echoes the same sentiment is ‘Esho Funi’, a principle that human life and its environment are closely connected to each other. Both concepts encourage us to inculcate an environmental sense in us.
What does it need to have environmental sense? Just as much as it requires to have a civic sense. Awareness that our behaviour has a bearing on those around will do the trick. We know we are supposed to be polite in our mannerisms, show consideration to the elderly, women, children and disabled people, drive in designated lanes, not overspeed, or jump red lights, or honk ahead of schools or hospitals. Many of us do this on auto mode now because we have made it a part of our behaviours. Similarly, environmental consciousness is the way to environmental sense.
How we consume and how we dispose that which we do not need, how we use the water or electricity or fuel that we have all decide how environmentally sensitive we are. Policy decisions for the protection of environment will be taken by governments and businesses. But individual environmental consciousness will add pace to the efforts to save Planet Earth and live in harmony with nature.
We are not supreme beings. We are beings, just like the myriad life forms around us. Even though we may have the power to destroy them, we fail to realise this mindless destruction destroys us in the long run.