Seetha Ananthasivan has a deep interest in understanding how we can build communities which are coherent with Nature's principles. She is passionate about the development of eco-psychology as well as organic food and farming. She is Founder-Trustee of the Bhoomi College and Founder-Director of Prakriya Green Wisdom School and Bhoomi Network and Editor of the Eternal Bhoomi Magazine.
This issue marks the completion of two years of our journey with Eternal Bhoomi – and this has coincided with the historic civil society movement in India led by Team Anna. Over the two weeks of high drama and sheer grit, the movement saw several small communities spontaneously forming across the country and stoking the fires of revolt against corruption; there was anger converted to determination and the people of India felt that they had discovered their voice.
Grassroots action is often thought of as something a few idealistic people do, or something that happens far away in villages and forests. The word ‘grassroots’ for the average city-dwelling student for instance, has rarely figured in school and college, since life revolves around books, class rooms and exams. Cities get a whiff of grassoots action when we find people joining Anna Hazare’s movement or start a cycling group or protest against the cutting of trees.
From the early years of the 20th century, there have been several great visionaries who realized that our modern civilization was overstepping its limits of exploitation and consumption on earth. From Tolstoy and Gandhiji to Schumacher and the Limits to Growth report, there were several warnings that we were headed towards disaster, unless we changed course to a more sustainable path.
We need to question our prevalent capitalist economic system more deeply and intensively. If we take the trouble to join the dots, we find that it is connected to many of the ills of our world - be it the rampant ecological destruction, the ever increasing urban sprawl, aggression against women and the underprivileged, or an oppressive and frenzied education system. We also need to study alternatives and ways to take our own positive steps towards dealing with them.
Ideas can be powerful. The idea of perpetual material progress has captivated human beings, especially during the last two centuries. Yet, the notion that it is natural for human beings to seek constant progress or growth – material or otherwise - is a relatively new one. For many millions of years, humankind has evolved without being enchanted by the idea of outer progress. Many thousands of communities, even today, do not care for it.
Seeing the Whole Elephant
Educational Institutions and policy makers need to play a role in preparing youngsters for the future. And the future will be determined by the decisions we make about our current development path - whether we shift to a low carbon way of life or not.
Most newspapers regularly carry conflicting or confusing news items on food and health: one day, a snippet announces, ‘Green & Red Veggies great for your heart!” while the next day –“New Drug for Heart disease”. Sometimes, reports say coffee has antioxidants that will boost your cell growth, another time there is research that shows that caffeine promotes anxiety and sleeplessness.
Imagine a world where every community or neighbourhood shares a strong sense of pride, roots and responsibility about the place it is located in, its schools, places of worship, playgrounds, the sources of its food and other commonly held resources.
Life is not only rare – life is fussy and demanding. The temperature, amount of oxygen, the alkalinity, the formation of clouds and salinity of oceans, have all to be regulated within a narrow range on earth, so that life on it can be supported. A mindboggling balancing act indeed which we take for granted in our daily lives.
This article examines two basic aspects of mental perception which can be part of our training and educational processes – to live wisely on earth.
By Seetha Ananthasivan
“A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space.” -- Albert Einstein