The Dying Declaration of Mother Earth

M R Rajagopalan

Hundreds, if not thousands of books have been written on Environmental issues—how pollution caused by Man's activities constitute a danger to earth and to all lives including human. Several Papers in several languages have also appeared and will continue to appear because every responsible thinking human being is concerned and wants to present his views.

But the *Book under review is exceptionally original and is different from other books. The very title is striking: Gaia's (Earth's) will : the dying declaration of Mother Earth. Yes, mother earth is dying. She has made a dying declaration. This is a fantastic piece of imagination—very original—by a person deeply committed to the cause of environment.

Though there are two authors—a husband and wife team of Doctors from Mumbai, the real author is the husband—Dr Manu Kothari. He has mastered not only English language but has studied books on a variety of subjects ranging from Poetry, Philosophy, Economics, History and what not. So much of scholarship has gone into the writing of this book—yet the presentation or narration is simple—easily understandable style.

This book is of 213 pages plus a preface of 3 pages. There are 15 chapters with appropriate titles—one should remember that the theme of the book is the dying declaration of Mother Earth. The first chapter is titled "I am dying"—for only a dying person can make a will or declaration. The second chapter is titled 'My will, the Preamble', chapter 5 is about "Reverence for Life", Chapter 7 deals with Needs Versus Wants recalling Mahatma Gandhi. Other chapters are on Education, Science and Technology, Energy, Economics, Urbanization etc. Fourteenth chapter titled "The Greatest Ecological Elegy"—reproducing the famous letter of the Red Indian Chief of Seattle to the US President written in the year 1854, perhaps the most original and historically the first and oldest document on Ecology.

Some excerps from the book are really fascinating. Readers should note that the word 'I' refers to the Earth and ME to Mother Earth—since it is her dying declaration.

In the preface the author sets forth the theme of his book very clearly.

Thanks possibly to a sensitized medical conscience, one has heard the pathos and the agony of Mother Earth, understood her compulsion to spell out her Dying Declaration. In the midst of her sufferings, may be despite it, her heart bleeds for her most cherished, and alas the most mischievous child, the human being. This is Mother Earth's last-ditch, desperate attempt to awaken the higher self of humans to their betterment and to achieve her own salvation.

Man has ravaged Mother Earth to the point of threatening his own survival. Man once again, is positioned to be Earth's savior through the distinct, inescapable possibility of shifting his gears from being Earth-destructive to being Earth-friendly.

This book may be savoured by every thinking human being. Clearly environmentalistic, its underpinnings of scriptures, spirituality and science will be of interest to the preacher, the philosopher, teacher and every student, not to exclude the statesman and the politician.

Man's inhumanity to man, first voiced poetically by Robert Burns, is manifestly through weapons, but this is but a fragment of the much larger and more-lasting inhumanity through those powerful among men who ravage Mother Earth to deprive all forms of life. Non-violence to all the non-humans, and through that to humans, has been a special effort of Mother Earth's narration.

In order that the contents may strike a chord with the heart as much as with the mind, the whole text is written in the form of a narration wherein Mother Earth is directly addressing her human children. The pathos and the pleadings of Mother Earth cannot go unheard.

The Red Indian Chief Seattle's prophesy that the White man will drown in his own excreta has come true for all men—White, Brown, Black or Yellow. That is "Progress"!

In the second chapter titled My Will My Preamble, the author ridicules experts and the IQ concept:
'The target population I am addressing and to whom I bequeath my WILL is the common, not-much-learned, everyman. My avoidance of the experts, the elite and the scientist arises from their limited number and their expertismic befuddledness. Notable scientists, experts have huge gaps in their very basic knowledge about their milieu. Scientists, especially when they leave the particular field in which they have specialized, are just as ordinary, ignorant and unreasonable as anybody else, and their unusually high intelligence only makes their prejudices all the more dangerous.

The overrated IQ concept has spawned far more clever and cunning rather than wise and good people. IQ often stands for Idiocy Quotient.'

Lewis Thomas, a medical biophilo-sopher has concluded that the greatest discovery of the twentieth century is human-ignorance. "We are ignorant," Thomas avers, "About how we work, about where we fit in, and the most of all about the enormous, imponderable system of life in which we are embedded as working parts. We do not really understand nature, at all". The fable of the goose that laid the golden egg is too much for the average modern man to understand. Modern man deserves the epithet Homo imbeciles.

In chapter e titled "I am no Freak" the author has expressed his anguish about the way people treat the Earth.

The coal-miner gives the coal and the farmer provides the food, which comprise the usable WEAL. All the terrestrial or marine food-pyramids are integrated, interflowing WEAL units. Life, at all levels, is just configured WEAL, from earthworm to Erasmus, baleen whale to Buddha, virus to Voltaire . or mycroplasma to Mahatma Gandhi.

England's Professor Raeburn's prophesy that the future generations will see antibiotics as a malicious trick played by Nature on mankind, may be appreciated from the fact that infections in a modern hospital—now distinctly categorized as Hospital Infections—are called DOMP—Diseases of Medical Progress. These powerful antibiotics drive away the normal bacterial flora and invite superinfections to set in. Transplants and implants put into human body so compromise the host that the friendly flora are forced to turn into foes.

The neon-signed, power-hungry city dwellers who use electricity for whatever they do, the industrialists busy making things which everybody could do well without, and the planners of "progress" dam India's venerated life-giving rivers, thus inundating on one side and parching up the other. The results are loss of WEAL production that gives food and meaning to the rural poor, forcing them to migrate to cities, plenitude of food compromised for ever with resultant increase in prices, colossal loss of trees, tragic loss of land-regeneration because of siltation, and so on. It is estimated that more than 85% of India's GNP—of industrialised India—can be afforded only by 5% Indians. The wants of 5% deny the needs of 95%. Industrial pollutants, vehicular exhaust, plastic pollution are other instances of wants smothering needs. Whenever a multi-storyed building in Mumbai gets centrally air-conditioned, the ambient air enveloping the surrounding poor shoots up its temperature by a few degrees.

Before Christ era there were Taoism, Jainism, Buddhism, the concept of God-in-everybody and everything. The 20th century AD has given the world Hitler, Stalin, Mao, atom bomb, smog, and garbage-alps that people do not know what to do with. ooo [abridged]

*Gaia’s Will : The Dying Declaraion of Mother Earth by Manu Kothari & Lopa Mehta
Publisher : Alchemy, an imprint of Mehras, Kolkata-700073

Vol. 47, No. 47, May 31 - June 6, 2015