Saturday, 21 October 2017

Between Right and Wrong

As the national capital makes a mockery of the Indian legal system on Diwali with its shocking nonchalance to Supreme Court's cracker ban, it is time we address the elephant in the room: the utter negligence of most people towards sustainable environmental practices and their deep-rooted self-centeredness.

Source: Internet
"The city wakes up to a better air quality than 2016", the media reports. While this should be sufficient consolation for many, do we ask ourselves what is BETTER? Does better mean the picture on the right? Does better mean going down marginally by a few points on the air quality index yet remaining in the "severe" zone? Does better mean people will not suffer from respiratory problems and lung cancer on account of prolonged exposure to such air? Does better justify wrong only because it is done by many in the name of tradition? The English language does not allow for quantifying comparative adjectives, but fortunately Statistics does. The numbers are out there, for all to see. To see the grave danger we bring upon ourselves. Yet, we are busy endorsing irrelevant communal and religious arguments by illiterate celebrities and political leaders and crying our hearts out at the violation of "birth rights". We are busy overlooking facts and outdoing each other in the "best Diwali pic" race on Facebook. We are busy prioritizing own entertainment over bigger and critical concerns and conveniently putting the blame for all things bad on the next-door neighbour, the government, China and so on.

Growing up, bursting crackers on the night of Kali Pujo gave me joy like none other. The lights exuding all sorts of multicoloured hues, the night sky breaking into thousands of stars and the happinesses on the faces were unparalleled. The lungs gave out after a while, yet innocent pleasures went on unabashedly. So did things like littering on the road, on railway tracks and not caring about the environment in general. The first time I was asked not to throw empty tea cups on the road, I gladly obliged because it was important to the friend who had asked. It was purely based on emotions and not on own realisations. But maturity changes us no? Giving us the ability to introspect, to distinguish right from wrong? To think beyond ourselves? To "be the change you want to see in the world"? 

Yet, on days like today and most other days I am left wondering if compassion is just a word. If altruism exists only in Economics textbooks. And if self-righteousness has indeed driven us to the farthest corner of humanity.

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