28 March 2009

switch off... for an hour

Today is Earth Hour. Flick off the switch, sit in the dark... whatever. This is a cool thing - to go sit in a café and listen to some guy sing 'Heal the world' with his guitar. The place probably doesn't serve ethically-sourced food or fair-trade coffee, but hey! we're sitting in candle-light and making a difference, right? Sure we are! God knows what kind of carbon footprint candles have but it raises awareness, right? It affirms that people can come together for the common good. It makes you feel like you're doing something worthwhile with your time... doesn't it?

Today I am skeptical, probably more so than usual. The same folk who flick off their switches today, will leave the light on for hours on end, tomorrow. People have short memories. There are groups on Facebook and MySpace and Orkut and everywhere else to advertise 'Earth Hour' when the Earth needs more than an hour. I mean, seriously: an hour?! It needs days, months, years even; of consolidated, collective effort to undo and prevent current levels of damage. And even then we don't know.

Today I want to rant because basically Earth Hour encourages mass hypocrisy. It is an easy way out for people who don't make an effort and simply think that environmental consciousness is something you can pen into your social calendar. It is no more something that frivolous. It is a moral issue. An obligation to humanity if you will, to owe more than an hour every so often to preserve, for want of a cliché, 'Our Home'. The time for raising awareness is well past us. It is time now, for action. It is time for the greatest kind of courage to fight what is possibly a losing battle.

Today, sadly we still don't have better means with which we can cut through the mind-numbing apathy around. Ultimately the people who do most harm are the ones that look the other way. Personally I don't understand this attitude but do recognize that environmentalism is not something that can be force-fed. It is simply accepting scientific facts. It is sometimes being ridiculed. It is bucking trends. It is giving. It is choosing not to be a self-absorbed me-monkey. It is choosing to do something, anything. It is coming back to Nature.

Today we are so far removed from our 'source' that the collective human race just feels discontented. The more money, technology, convenience we have, the less happy we become. This disconnection is the reason. Environmental responsibility or consciousness is not something that can be learnt from a Playstation or driving a four-wheel or wearing designer clothes. It comes from playing in the dirt, talking long walks in the woods and bringing tadpoles home in a jar.

Today I wish for every hour to be Earth Hour; every day to be Earth Day. Because really, it shouldn't be any other way. So good going for the guy with the guitar who sings for the world...but what about the rest of us? What exactly are we doing?


Krishna Chaitanya said...

My neighbours couldn't spare even the one hour!!

Akhila Vijayaraghavan said...

Shocking but not surprised.