Do We Care? Really Care?

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Tsunami in Japan. Car thefts in Malaysia increase

Floods in Thailand. Computers in Malaysia cost more


The co-relation is never expected nor known, until it happened. But it is real. We are living in an interdependent world. An economic power sneezes and the rest of the world catches a cold, to borrow an oft bandied analogy.


It wakes us to the reality that we are not an island and we cannot lull ourselves to the belief that we live in isolation. Whatever happens in some parts of the world, like it or not, has an impact and consequence on us.


The aftermath of the March 11 tsunami did spawn a thriving business in Malaysia. Unconfirmed reports place car thefts in the first six month of 2011 outstripping that of whole of the previous year. It all stems from uptake in demand for car parts as supplies from Japan grounded to a halt.


The floods in Thailand submerged hundreds of the hard-disk drive factories. This disrupted  supply and considering that Thailand is the second-largest supplier of hard disks in the world, the resultant effect was a rise in prices.


These are just two closer-to-home examples but it rings true of interdependence and reinforces the need for global responsibility, individually and collectively.


As Matthieu Ricard rightly puts it “transform oneself to better transform the world brings lasting fulfillment and, above all, the irreplaceable boon of altruism and compassion”.


But the sad truth — as observed by this world renowned Buddhist monk, photographer and author — people are rarely motivated to change on behalf of something for their future and that of the next generation.


In his New York Times article “The Future Doesn’t Hurt. Yet” that examines how our insouciant ways are threatening the planet, he points out that people resist the idea of giving up what they enjoy just for the sake of avoiding disastrous long-term effects. They just resign themselves to “we’ll deal with that when it comes…”


He adds that whether people realises it or not, their actions can have disastrous effects — as the environmental changes in the Himalayas, the Arctic circle and many other places are showing.


“The unbridled consumerism of our planet’s richest 5 percent is the greatest contributor to the climate change that will bring the greatest suffering to the most destitute 25 percent, who will face the worst consequences. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, on average an Afghan produces 0.02 tons of CO2 per year, a Nepalese and a Tanzanian 0.1, a Briton 10 tons, an American 19 and a Qatari 51 tons, which is 2,500 times more than an Afghan.


“Unchecked consumerism operates on the premise that others are only instruments to be used and that the environment is a commodity. This attitude fosters unhappiness, selfishness and contempt upon other living beings and upon our environment.“


He advocates an altruistic society which “does not care only for ourselves and our close relatives, but for the quality of life of all present members of society, while being mindfully concerned as well by the fate of coming generations”.


We can make that difference and it all starts with ourselves  — to take the first step, to transform and effect change for the better good of all. We don’t have to wait for the future. Or when it hurts!


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