Change begins with small acts. The title of my blog is taken from Paul Gilroy's powerful slim volume packing a resounding counter-cultural critical punch.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Haze Malaise

It's everywhere--the smell, the smoke, the sense that doom is upon us.

Some say it's the wrath of Ayah Pin exacting toil and trouble on a judgmental government and moralizing Muslim populace. Some say it's Mother Nature awakening from centuries of troubled slumber. Some say it's Armageddon--but without Bruce Willis to come save the day.

I'll warrant an educated guess that the haze is directly (and indirectly) caused by our own human greed gone unchecked; our unlimited desire for bigger buildings, more gargantuan displays of status, mammoth projections of power, spiralling out of control; our capacious sense of self without regard for our surroundings.

Nature can no longer suffer the onslaught we mete out. Nature has a logic more rational and humane than our own. We are a part of its cycle and we now sow what we reap.

The Native Americans say it best: We do not inherit the earth from our parents. We borrow it from our children.

But we have forgotten about a future beyond our immediate present. Or perhaps, we choose to deny it for the sake of our own gratuitous pleasures. There is no other word for it but selfishness.

My brother told me a few weeks ago that he had a discussion with a colleague about the Shell CEO's recent comment that the world will run out of petroleum in about 20 years and impressed upon the latter that humans will have to begin thinking of alternative modes of transportation that are not so-petrol dependent. His colleague's reply?

"Aiya... why think of these things? 20 years is still a long way away. Let the Americans figure it out. I am sure they will think of something before then."

I could only shake my head in despair when the story was told to me. This is the state of our nation, of our people, of ourselves. Sure, let some superpower do its thinking for us, like it has been doing so damn successfully.

Why do we want to bother about doing a little extra towards reducing global warming when we will be dead before the atrocities hit us? Why should we think about our children or their children if we have nothing but naive illusions about the future?

We refuse to educate ourselves. We deny truth when we see it and yet we continue to demand less lies. Are we able to face up to the facts when the haze clears?

What will we do when we find out the Malaysian companies are the ones responsible for logging and forest clearing in Indonesia? What will we do when we realize that forests are self-combusting because the world is getting hotter and we are cutting down trees to make way for more development and contributing to the escalating heat index? What will we do when we come to our senses, understand that the world is as we make it?

It may be impossible to reverse the consequences of centuries of abuse on Nature and our environment but the response is not to continue this way into the next millenium. If we were to think that way, we will perish sooner than we think and we are indeed selfish beyond hope.