What legacy are we leaving for the grand kids?

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Mother and child fishing on the Lake Kutubu in the Foe and Fasu Tribal Land. Kutubu, Southern Highlands Province, PNG

In our haste to pimp our short lives on earth, we have altered the value system and the balance that has preserved nature for millions of years. What kind of future do we envisage for the grand kids, when we race to build jungles of concrete, steel and glass? How are we helping the future when we create artificial food, color it and store them in cans? What indeed is the life we want for our descendants when our actions show that nature conservation is dirty and primitive and concrete jungles are modern and fashionable?

The human at home in his natural environment depended on nature and was sustained by  the resources in nature. From hardware needs, to medicine and food and spirituality – all from nature.

When humans still depended on nature, the economy of nature was based on sharing  surplus because everything was perishable.  The demarcation of roles and responsibilities and the specialization of clans and tribes nurtured the barter system. Man bartered for things he did not have with things he had in surplus. The specialisation and barter system sustained the subsistance economy.

Then, man discovered plastic.The ability to cement, brick, glass and plastic inventions into eternity made him forget that life is fragile and breakable and that the human body starts dying as soon as we are born. This power to stave off wrinkles, disease and death and create life in test tube infused men with a sense of arrogance and reckless power.

The base instinct of the arrogant  man is dictated by the selfish gene.  The selfish gene is an atheist, it has no empathy nor morals. It is greedy.  The selfish gene, drunk in his own powers is concerned with perpetuating itself at all cost. Self, family, clan and tribe – that is his circle of trust. The controls put in place by society and culture to ensure co’operation, exists only within his circle of trust. Anything outside is enemy.

In his greed, man has also hastened decay rate of nature, just because he can.  Man is razing thousands of years of old forest in a blink of an eye and slaughtering octogenarian elephants and rhino to make earrings and bangles. Digging and drilling to pimp his short life – to dress it up – to make life as useful as a chimpanzee all decked out: alas;  only 1% genetic material separates humans from chimpanzees. We are but glorified chimps, so who are we trying to impress?

It is indeed a paradox: the selfish gene is short-sighted – thoughtlessly raping and pillaging and wastefully hoarding and in the process, destroying the incubator that will grow more for tomorrow. While we hoard today, there is zero guarantee that the generation tomorrow will embrace the values and the treasures we hold dear today.

Humans need to put life and living into perspective,  to acknowledge that death is inevitable, that we are sojourners.  We came from dust, to dust we will return to become worm food that becomes soil that becomes tree food that feeds humans. What then is our legacy to our future? What kind of philosophy are we passing on.

Instead of money or bottles or cans or plastic,  the best gift for the future may be  a value system. A value system that respects life. A value system that acknowledges human and nature interdependency.

We cannot control the future,  the best we can do is give the future a planet that is living. Give the future elephants and zebra and birds of paradise. Give them forests and lakes and coral reefs.  And plant a seed of respect for nature in their minds then give them a benefit of  a doubt that the seed will grow and one day  become a tree and bear fruit.

Environment conservation and environment annihilation are on the extreme ends of the continuum of human survival. In the course of living, we tread the fine line between overuse and sustainable use. Greed has blurred the line in favor of hoarding for one over preserving for all. We need to rethink our priorities and acknowledge the grim outcome of greed.

Conservation conversations are philosophical in nature. It is about the careful examination of the interdependence of man and nature. It requires that man identify and own his role in space and time. Indeed, conservation efforts require a sincere commitment to life and living where the only ego is the one that is happy to see human life and nature flourish side-by-side.

 

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