I’ve grieved now about the 2000+ chopped trees at Aarey. One might conclude that the battle was lost.
Or not — in that it brought together civil society rallying for a cause together. And taught valuable lessons in citizen-led change for the city.
We joined in from the margins — providing space to Aarey folk in our events and showing up in individual capacity.
From the first time in 1992 when I wrote a blurb about the Earth Summit to today, I have come to realise that the war is not about trees or development.
The war is with excessive greed.
For a society based on the dictum greed is good, we have forgotten that moderation is key, that the middle path has something of value to offer.
When greed goes unchecked, builders politicians and government officials cheat. The middle class participates till it is convenient.
Soon we’re staring at a society where no one trusts anyone and we are at war with nature as well as each other.
And how does one deal with greed outside till one hasn’t dealt with it within?
Why would someone not want cleaner air or more time with their family? But in the pursuit of that (ironically) we chopped trees and refused to negotiate the location of a car shed.
Moreover, we destroyed some more forest (not that it is new, it has been happening forever, not so much yet in our backyard).
What kind of inner deforestation has to happen for us to be able to destroy forests outside? What is this pursuit and where is it going to lead us? And to what extent is violence against nature justified if at all?
I believe we’re capable of being much more imaginative, and better and finding answers that work for both humans and non-human members of our planetary family…
A few things that I feel we must first agree on though is
* Minimizing violence : since none of us like violence on us, it is fair to assume that lesser the violence, the better it is
* Valuing the spiritual over the material : this one has cultural undertones, but life was never about getting the most….it was about realising who we are and living nobly….and that is a very different pursuit
* Confronting our greed both within and outside : a greed based system will mean that we will continuously be pushed to decide between us and mother nature and we will spinelessly keep choosing us. To the point of our collapse.
This issue has gone intergenerational now. We are destroying what takes hundreds of years to build, we’re mining what took centuries to form. And we’re robbing the yet-to-be-born generations.
It may seem very clever but in the long run, it is a path to misery and ruin.