Do you also worry you are not doing enough or learning enough? Given your standard of yourself, do you think you aren’t productive enough? Do you feel like something is stopping you from being a certain place, feeling a certain way?
Even when you do manage to get rid of all distractions and do the things you ought to work on, do you feel a certain rope kind of thing pulling you into something — away from your deed? Do you also get anxious if you do not allow yourself to be pulled by that rope?
Do you feel anxious, nervous, sleepy, tired, insecure, confused, jealous, etc. most of the time?
If your answer is yes, than it implies that you too — like me — have been falling prey to the Seven Deadly ills of modern life.
I’ve been successful in avoiding all seven of these ills as of the time of this writing.
Yes, at some point of my life, I have experienced all these which makes me sit here and think that I should be sharing these ills with the world. I — with confidence — hold these ills responsible for many of my weaknesses, unproductivity and misery. They have threatened me, sucked life’s joy and beauty out of me and have almost killed me. These are serious diseases and should be cured/removed/avoided.
I will now share my personal experiences with each and communicate why I consider them to be ills.
Here we go then…here are SEVEN DEADLY ILLS OF MODERN LIFE:
Facebook: It’s been a dozen years since I deleted my personal facebook account. In between, I have created random accounts to manage my business accounts.
The major reason I deleted my personal account all those years ago was because certain people I didn’t want anything-to-do-with started appearing there. Those included distant relatives and school-bullies (teachers included).
I was going through a transition in my life which included a lot of pdf learnings in my devices, and the last thing I wanted was their face in my sacred temple. Whenever any of those people appeared through suggestions or through posts of friends’ friend, I got agitated. I was clear with myself on the fact that I did not want to befriend them at any cost. Yet, facebook didn’t understand this! It got to a point where opening a facebook app meant anxiety. I thought: I can talk to my family members and close-friends on a cellphone, having them on facebook has less reward than the risk of those unnecessary craps appearing on my screen. I deactivated and have never had a personal account ever since.
A few years ago, when I started a publishing company, I felt the need for a facebook account. I created one with the company name and created a few business pages. My sole motive was to use facebook for work. A few months later, I was fighting with a random stranger in a stupid group! I was checking my account every ten minutes. I wanted more likes and comments on my post. I was getting more anxious. Things soon started to get personal. I began adding a lot of friends…and yet again, some unwanted people appeared! I deactivated the account soon — my business didn’t go anywhere through facebook promotions (paid/unpaid) anyway. Illness because: Facebook thrusts you into the rat race.
Instagram: Oh, facebook’s younger sibling:
how late you came into my life
and how early you disappeared! If facebook is racing in a crowded city, Instagram is you reaching the posh-area. It’s not just about running here, it’s about how hip you look while you run.
As in facebook, I opened an instagram account when I started that company. I was told that it was THE platform to reach out to young and ‘cool’ people. I created my personal account and a couple of business accounts. Looking back at it now — considering how uncool I am — I wonder what was I thinking back then!
I tried to use it for work — which for me is all about expressing who I am. But what I ended up doing was checking if each post I created fit into the norm. While this may be looked upon as being business-friendly or staying relevant to the trend, my experience was such that I had become something completely different. I didn’t say what was to be said, I said what should be said!
The original me vanished and was slowly being replaced by a cool funny youth. Once again, I am neither cool nor funny and I am proud of myself for that. Whenever I went to a place that looked nice (by posh standards), my eyes searched for a spot where I could take a photograph of myself and post it with a stylish caption. When I did it, I spent every five minute refreshing the page and scrolling down the human coolness. I hated it. My account got relatively relevant, but it was me no longer. I deactivated it. Illness because: Instagram pressurizes you to fit-in.
Twitter Where do I even start on this monster?!
During the course of my life, I must have activated-deactivated twitter on more than ten instances. I start one, gain a few followers, get fed up, deactivate. I start another, gain a few more followers, get even more fed up, deactivate again…
The supposed platform for the intellectuals attracted me for the same reason. I thought I could share wise opinions and change the world. How it ended up was, I found myself intoxicated in half-baked thoughts — always looking for a line that would increase more followers than one that was actually wise. Another thing that happened to me while I pushed for those words was I hoped some significant celebrity would retweet my stuff and I would be popular forever thereafter!
Of course, that didn’t happen, so I must have been fed up due to that too…but the bigger reason I suppose for being constantly fed up was that twitter was more for show than for a pro. I was getting exposed to mediocre thoughts disguised as world-changing just because a person with a great following had said it. Words have quick impact on me and twitter’s impact wasn’t healthy. I should rather spend time finishing, polishing my thoughts and reading finished, polished ones, I concluded. And so I deactivated. Illness because: Twitter is seeming intelligent, not being one.
Tiktok Okay, I am not familiar with this as much I am with the ones above. Yet, I have been around those who are and what I have noticed is: It’s goddamn addictive!
Uninterrupted supply of short-length videos with provocative music in the background that give you everything from the dance moves of that relative of yours to the review of that obscure restaurant in town means Tiktok has enough going-on within it to make you forget to turn off the stove. It doesn’t even allow you to get bored.
Although I do not use this platform as much, what I do know is that the more you enjoy shorter content, the more tedious longer works get for you. This means your patience dies and only quick stimulation can satisfy you. Depth gets boring. I don’t think all those are qualities you would want to miss.
Given Tiktok’s popularity, it has facebook’s rat-race quality within it. Also are twitter’s half-bakedness and TV with even more mediocre channels within it. This could only mean one thing: DISASTER!
Tiktok also seems to normalize otherwise embarrassing behavior. While it’s good not to get embarrassed at what you do, it is better for us all to not have normalized certain things. And there are lots of those certain things in Tiktok! Illness because: Tiktok satisfies your darkest urge.
Reddit While I had — without much intent — used Reddit a long time ago, I went back to it with purpose last year when I wanted to promote a link. I created a username and joined subreddits I thought would be relevant for me. Within a few days, I forgot the work purpose and started enjoying the opinions I and discussions I could read there. A few days later, I started posting comments and posts. A few more days later they started to get noticed. I wanted to post more. Comment more. I let my urge flow. I let it flow to such an extent that I still remember a morning where I shivered, fumed in anger trying to think of a reply to a comment of mine. This continued for a while.
Reddit is like school. There is knowledge there but you don’t pay attention because it is not provided well. There are bullies, and there are good guys. There are teachers. But one thing there is that, you don’t matter. YOU the person, the individual with an identity, with a context, doesn’t matter there. While it may be a nice thing considering how all other social media platforms exploit YOU, the discussions in Reddit don’t get humble and serious for that very reason. Illness because: Reddit devalues ideas.
Quora: It’s not at all a good idea to search all of your curiosities in Google. We should be able to answer certain questions ourselves — by reading and thinking about them. Yet in google you have the option to listen to credible people. It’s worse to ask random people about your curiosities in Quora. The flux of opinions you get means you will forget about thinking-for-yourself and turn into a mere pinball in the game of opinions of others. Illness because: Quora habit won’t let you think your own answers.
(Bonus) Entertainment Websites: Websites about sportsmen, movie-stars, musicians, etc. They are built and written to prove to you that the heroes they present and the works they do are superior to you in every way. That you are not like them. That you missed out being like them. That you should consume this and this to even slightly resemble them. Illness because: You can do better!
With experiences in all this, I have finally found some respite on Medium. It has allowed me to freely express ideas as these without having to worry how my neighbor will judge me, or how unkempt my hair must be, or will a Phd. from xyz trust me.
As of now, I don’t consider Medium to be among these ills. Hope it won’t get into the top seven anytime soon!
For those who live by the ultimate questions of their existence and yet cannot satisfy themselves with the religious-spiritual view. Who cannot convince themselves with the scientific-evolutionary narrative. For them, the whole situation of existing is like a long scary dream that just doesn’t stop. The meaning of life isn’t readily there!
In a world where we are taught to seek reason in all thoughts, feelings and actions, the perspective that there is still room for dissatisfaction on that ultimate question means the existence is the biggest joke, the biggest irony, the biggest paradox.
I don’t have enough courage to walk in the streets without reason. I can’t make a call to those whom I call friends without reason. Yet, here I am existing — without an indisputable truth on why I do so. Yes, if I believe hard enough or think casually enough I will be able to ignore, satisfy and convince myself on one view-point/narrative or the other, yet the fact that a question of such magnitude and relevance is open to interpretation is itself the biggest irony. Joke. Paradox.
This feeling is nothing new as far as I know. The history of philosophy is the history of this realization. Notably, there has been a Russian novelist, a German philosopher and host of French thinkers who have come up with one or the other solution to this ultimate irony.
Yet, to each generation and each individual who is foolish enough to go through it again, this problem hits newly in new places. It hits so damn hard, sucks the taste out of the juice, juice out of your life, and life out of you. It turns you into a zombie if there ever was one. You are already dead in your mind, the thing which thinks inside you is only there because your body hasn’t stopped breathing yet. In a world where they question you why you want to visit their venerated nation, you are mocked if you are the type who ponders upon the most important question that can ever be raised by any creature. Man is an animal after all. The most ironic. The most bizarre.
You have looked at animals and birds and have tried to learn the meaning of existence from them, haven’t you? But they don’t seem to care, do they? Or maybe you don’t understand them just like you can’t understand the meaning of your being. Even when you do interpret them, they all seem busy. Each and every one of them. Busy finding the next meal, busy finding the next mate, busy finding the next shelter, busy finding the next joy, busy in alertness from the next threat.
There can only be two explanations for their behavior: either they have been whispered the meaning of existence by their creator or they don’t have the ability to question. Either way, they go about fine. While you don’t see them laugh and giggle much, you don’t see them smoking and drinking in sorrow too! This perspective makes you realize that many of your human counterparts and indeed animals. Yes, they wear clothes, they speak well, they drive, they earn money, but they go by life just like those animals. But unlike in the case of animals and birds, you do know that they haven’t been whispered any secret by any god. You know that for sure, you have talked to them, you have been friends with them. You know them. They — given their quality — walking around as modern-humans with cell phones in their pocket and english in their tongue appear to you as yet another irony of existence.
But it’s not about them. It’s about you. If you could have been like them, you would have already been like them. You wouldn’t be writing or reading this line. And for you the fact remains that in a world where we are taught to seek reason in all thoughts, feelings and actions, the perspective that there is still room for dissatisfaction on that ultimate question means the existence is the biggest joke, the biggest irony, the biggest paradox.
Where is the meaning of life?
For one, the relentless search for meaning of life itself is a meaning.
Apart from that, the idea to create a meaning for yourself while you seek the real meaning can also be a meaning. This means, the things you do independent of the ultimate answer can be the penultimate meaning. You can mean to be happy, you can mean to be intelligent, popular, powerful, whatever. If the smell of money makes you get out of bed each day in excitement at the prospect of the day and the prospect of the progress you will make on the ultimate-meaning-finding process, money can be a great meaning. It ticks almost all boxes of human psychological yearns. You just have to ensure this forward-moving meaning isn’t engaging enough to distract you from your real meaning — the search for meaning.
Whether you will unlock the ultimate meaning isn’t that important. The fact that you have lived your life questioning the views that dissatisfy you and searching for your own way is, however, meaningful.
It’s beneficial to step back and observe the human race from a distance, forgetting about your own goals and concerns for a while. In the true Schopenhauerian ‘will-less contemplation’ sense.
The distance has to be perfect. In true Nietzschean sense:
Do not stay in the field!
Nor climb out of sight.
The best view of the world
Is from the medium height.
The view from this distance is worth every sight of it. I mean, just look at us:
The leader of animals, dwelling in this blue marble sort of thing which itself hangs in empty space in a monotonous cycle. Yet, we aren’t inspired by our mother: we don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. We want ‘progress’, we want to grow into something else.
‘Everything has to evolve,’ we say, ‘the earth that you see today wasn’t the same a million years ago!’
We are unique in this sense. We come up with these half-baked theories and understandings of the world and justify our actions. In fact, we come up with particularly those theories that justify our actions. It’s like we as beings only see what we want to see. Our desires are primary. Knowledge comes later. For instance, we don’t say, ‘look how disciplined earth is towards her father…’. We don’t say it because we do not like discipline. We do not want to settle. We want to eat and grow. Eat and grow even if our diet turns us into matricides. But we will come up with some theory to justify that too!
Who are we, by the way?
Some say they have evidence that some god created us, some prove that we are a result of a natural process. But I think both those views are misleading. Distractions. To hide a simple truth: we are nothing!
Yes, we are monsters who like to consume and grow but apart from that, we are absolutely nothing! Kill us now and I don’t think that ‘god’ will even notice. Yes…yes the universe is conscious through us…But what I also get is that it is yet another justification for our existence and appetite.
So the answer to the question above is this: we are nothing apart from greedy monsters. We should have long ago said to ourselves that we are greed manifested in physical form. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Greed is a virtue. It is a virtue because it ensures survival. How else does a creature like this, which believes it has conscience and knows of what it has done in the past, continue on?
Another verification of our nature is through what we worship. Among us, we revere the ones who are the most greedy. While we do this, we are doing nothing else than appreciating our essence. There’s nothing wrong with it. Once again, how else do we go on?
Enough about greed. It’s our driving force. It’s our essence.
Yes, we love science not because we love to learn, we love it because it equips us with powerful guns — and a shot at a good career, of course!
Then there’s entertainment. Our fuel. We of today need it more than the real one. Once we thought the grass was green on the other side and that was our meaning, but then globalization happened. We saw the reality.
If we had meaning other than greed, we would probably be celebrating love and all other feelings. But we have no time nor energy for those things because they consume more. They trigger our imagination. They do things to us. They make us think more. What we need is the emptying of the thoughts. How else do we reset from the exhaustion of constant want? — No, not with a Dostoevskian novel in hand. That’s why, the bulk of us today watch people review movies instead of we ourselves watching one. The former is engaging, the latter stimulating.
‘I watched it, so you don’t have to.’ = ‘I live life, therefore I don’t want you to.’
Humans = Greed + Entertainment. Where everything done for both is pragmatic while if you seek to feel the truth with your flute, you waste your time.
‘What’s your real job?’
Where are we now?
Our biggest achievement is that we have managed to build computers. If we ever needed anything to prove to ourselves that we are superior than the rest, computers have done that for us. They have shown to us that we are capable of creating an entirely new being from scratch. They are our ego inflations. No wonder the most greedy do business on it! And we talk about artificial intelligence now as if we are scared, but what we are actually doing beneath is gloating at our accomplishment. We won’t allow any other being to rule over us! The so-called best among us don’t even allow a normal human being to enter into their territory without years of worship and application.
We have created vessels to take us to the stars. We look at the sight of rocket launches and floating stations with a deep glad sigh. ‘We have achieved so much,’ we pat ourselves in the back. It’s another one of those things that has validated our superiority. One has seen fishes swim and birds fly in the air, who has seen a creature reach the outer space! We try to convince ourselves that going to a different planet will somehow solve our problems where in fact all we are doing with those dreams is trying to fill the void: we are nothing! With a fantasy:
‘May be we will encounter god — who has been sleeping — along the way and wake Him up. Or we will encounter other clever beings like us and life will be meaningful again.’
Meaningful as in new wars, new politics, new golds…
So what else do we aspire to?
What is happiness, anyway?
A neurological condition arising out of the perception that an individual has attained what it set out to attend. It could have meant a lot once upon a time, but not anymore.
What has the individual of today set out to attend?
A piece of cake in this celebration of human coronation. A few more views, a few more likes, a few more subsribers, a few houses, a few more sex, a few cars, a few more countries. A few more hours of forgeting of the existential dread.
What is the lesson humans teach each other?
Don’t kill yourself. You too can eat and grow. That’s the meaning you’ve been after.
I haven’t been-to or lived in the United States, or the United Kingdom, or Norway, or some nation similar — which means I cannot tell how those nations will make you perceive about humans, but, I have been born-on and lived in a small nation called Nepal — which means I can tell you that this Nation has made me disgusted with this species called human beings.
Q: What kind of people?
A: In general.
Q: Be specific!
A: Okay, there are two aspects to it. One is the people’s inability to manage and second is their greed.
Q: That’s common in people of all nations. Be more specific.
A: If that’s the case, buckle up!
Management: You wake up one morning fresh and hopeful about the prospects of both the world and your life. To respect that, you want to take a shower. You go to the bathroom and turn the knob of the tap: There’s no water flowing! Even the toilet lid is covered because you haven’t been able to flush the doings of last night. Still, you gotta do the morning deed. It smells bad: You get disgusted with your own smell. You get disgusted with yourself. But somehow you manage to hold yourself together. You change and decide to go out for a short walk. As soon as you leave, you are greeted by a smell. A smell so bad, so pungent, you feel sympathetic towards your toilet. That smell is from the waste that hasn’t been collected for weeks. It gets inside your nose and from there to your blood and soul. If the morning smell disgusted you with yourself, the public waste disgusts you with people. You can’t see yourself or the people around you without that smell. They seem and smell like waste. You get disgusted. You question humans in general. You wonder if other nations are similar. You return home and curse the god that placed you in this rubbish out of all the rubbish in the globe.
Pettiness: You are on your scooter and are about to park in a space. There are already ten other bikes and scooters parked. You spot a small empty space between two bikes. You, dreaming of your future, accelerate towards that empty space — but another bike rudely overtakes you and parks in that very space. You are angry. You look around and see that there are enough spaces left for ten more bikes. Why did this person have to park exactly where I was about to park? I was nearer to the spot? Couldn’t he have parked a little further? Then you argue with yourself that there’s no point blaming others, so you quietly go and park in another empty space. The empty space you saw at first was about a ten metres closer to the destination both you and that person were headed to! That person was just petty! This pettiness creeps on to you. It ruins your entire day. You enter the government office for whatever you were there for. You are already angry and hungry. You take the token and they tell you the official is out for lunch. You wait for half-an-hour — and they tell you the official has left for home. ‘Come tomorrow,’ they say and move away from you. ‘Why?’ you shout. No one listens, let alone answer. Now, they all seem and smell like shit. You get disgusted. You question humans in general. You wonder if other nations are similar. You return home and curse the god that placed you in this rubbish out of all the rubbishes in the globe.
Let’s give some background before we discuss what is a GOAT:
The modern scientifically trained democratic man wants to mock and laugh at all gods and kings
‘Haha, gods are dead. It all started with a big bang, duh!’says he.
‘Haha, kings are dead. Long live the market!’ says he.
And yet look at the irony:
The same modern man goes to concerts and worships his musicians. He comes back and tattoos the musicians’ name and face in the most intimate part of his body.
The same modern man goes to football matches carrying flags. He bows to his sports player and imitates the player in every way practical: hair, the way to walk.
And then this modern trend of calling other people G.O.A.T — which presumably stands for greatest of all time.
This term called GOAT which should have actually been used as a satire for such performers and players — who are in most cases the reminder of collective human boredom and insignificance— is in fact a term of reverence.
It is a term born out of the inner urge to see perfection, the ideal in any field. In other words, it is a term born out of the urge to see greatness, because they themselves feel tiny. It is the same urge that gave birth to literal gods and kings — Gods are great. Kings are great.
The word great then is a relative term. You are always great relative to something. The classic Taoist case. But it is an urge isn’t it? You put five random people in a room and there is an urge in you to spot the perfect among them. The best among them. The great among them. And then you put the entire human history in a plane, the urge returns: you want to spot perfection, you want to filter out the best. The great. The great among the great: the greatest. Everytime you choose a great, you are belittling others who didn’t win over your perception. Everytime you choose a great that isn’t you, you are belittling yourself who didn’t win over your own perception.
My question and concern: Isn’t this urge the cause of gods and kings? Isn’t this urge the reason why humans have drawn vague and unnecessary lines between themselves? The same reverence which sustains our weakness, which makes us vulnerable, which makes us mote in the eyes of the greats!
How much have people across all cultures suffered because of this reverence! How much have people across all societies and states suffered due to the blindness and dumbness, force and fear infused by certain religions and monarchs?
When mythology was created, the goal wasn’t reverence for this or that god(s). When people came together, the objective wasn’t to choose a king to be a slave to. Life was supposed to be contemplative, imaginative, fun and organizable. That’s why those things happened. But then those things got exploited because some couldn’t rise out of their self-doubt and those systems got converted into organized systems of power. And people suffered…
People suffered and suffered until the progeny of the same culture and society dared to wake up and ward-off such reverence. And eventually the modern man was born: out of the hatred toward reverence. The modern man was born out of hope in science and democracy. The modern was born out of contempt towards political-religion and monarchy.
The modern man was supposed to enjoy Shiva but not revere him. The modern men were supposed to dance together in a circle but with an empty center.
But why then is the same modern man who has mocked upon literal gods and kings still so passionate about greatness? And that too for mere entertainers! Isn’t he supposed to have moved beyond greatness? Doesn’t the whole idea of his secularism and democracy revolve around anti-reverence? Doesn’t the whole idea revolve around self-belief?
This could only mean one thing:
The modern man has killed-off neither god nor kings, he is merely worshiping and being ruled by new ones.
In other words, the modern man worships and is ruled by his entertainers!
Q: And why does the modern man need such superficial entertainers?
I avidly followed professional sports once upon a time — especially cricket. I ‘liked/adored/followed’ teams, players: their style, etc.
And then philosophical interests kicked in and I began questioning the essence of my so-called passion for sports. I found ignorance and vulgarity down there so I resisted and stopped!
India’s ‘festival’ of celebration of their ‘religion’ called IPL (Indian Premier League) is on these days.
Since I am from South Asia and we have this inherent tendency to compete (psychologically at least) with each other in things that we or some of us value — cricket happens to be in my blood (at least that’s what they try to convince us of). So I decided to let the blood flow freely and follow cricket passionately again.
I selected a team I thought I should like and I have been watching matches on TV, following analysis, news/gossip on the internet and also: thinking about the game. All this after a long-long hiatus.
One major change that has occured to me since this bloody-renaissance is this: I feel satisfied! I have a ‘good’ feeling going on.
There’s this massive wave of wind sort of thing inside my chest and it fills me up every time I think/see/hear of the league and when the team or the player of my choice does well. I then enter the internet and drink in each and every praise delivered for the team or the player(s). The wind drives me to do that. The more I drink, the more pumped I get. Once again, that lump/pump whatever of wind has made me feel complete.
On the other hand, if the team or the player doesn’t do well, I get agitated. A strange dissatisfaction lurks underneath as I constantly find myself not just roaming around the internet trying to justify their excellence but also imagining and playing out scenarios inside my own head. If the success of my choice fills me with a wind kind of thing, their failure fills me up with a stinky gas sort of gas.
Strangely however, irrespective of their success and failure: a general ‘good-feeling’ is inside me its thought form is as follows:
Tonight there’s a match, I will watch.
There’s a match, let’s see what they’re saying.
This is one strange drive for going through the day happily. I didn’t have such drives for a long time.
As I try to interpret the various elements present in this festival that may have been responsible for my changes, I find the following:
Support for a team or player(s): Their success winding and failure gasing me.
Competitive context: The tournament structure, the number of teams and players, the various possible scenarios, stakes mixed with my personal preferences with hearing/seeing what I prefer exciting me and hearing/seeing what I don’t prefer frustrating me.
Aesthetic(?): The jerseys, the style, the video quality creating a kind of attraction and excitement.
The Sheepiness: The number of people following this crazy nuance! Their sheer quantity providing me with justification to be-there and providing me with moral assurance.
The Zone: Everything above taking me to a zone of sorts where cricket and its context becoming an end-in-itself and the most important thing in existence. This generating assurance and warmth.
With all this, I want to look into the emotional spectrum in me — strictly in context of this cricket league.
As I mentioned above, what I have noticed in me is this flapping of excitement-frustration (wind-gas).
Now, this research here lists these as categories of emotions present in humans:
I do understand how people might find the emotions absent in me available in them in this cricket context. Some might have sexual, romantic interest towards some player or even umpires.
But isn’t it strange that some people find this cricket thing to be aesthetically pleasing, awe-some, horrorful, romantic?
I mean, this here is van Gogh’s work and van Gogh works with aesthetical things:
And this here is cricket:
Now this is what German Philosopher Immanuel Kant said generated awe in him:
Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me — Translated by Lewis White Beck
Similarly, normal people associate things such as death and ghosts with horror; nature, relationships with romance.
But won’t it be strange if people find this cricket thing to be aesthetically pleasing, awe-some, horrorful, romantic?
This scenario then is thus:
Following leagues and tournaments such as the IPL takes one to a zone. The zone stands independent of normal reality and its weltanschauung is that the league is an end-in-itself and everything else in existence is a means to the league and its success.
Inside the zone, there are preferences and those preferences generate certain emotions. Limited but nonetheless. Regarding emotions, there maybe two scenarios:
The zone does not contain all emotions of life: My case.
The zone contains all emotions of life: Some cases perhaps.
In the second scenario, isn’t it crazy that something like sports can generate diverse emotions in its consumers? This task is generally limited to arts and life. Come tomorrow with more and more resources, such sports might enhance the experience for its fanatics to such an extent that people will begin to say, romantically align with its players and love them if the players justify their ‘love’ by performing as they want to OR that people will begin to get petrified and afraid if their players do not justify their interest by performing as they want! (Some call cricket a religion in India.)
Now, this I find both weird and scary!
But do you know what I find weirder and scarier? — Case like mine (1) where while such sports aren’t providing me with a complete range of emotions, yet I am spending all of my time not just consuming but also musing them!
There may be a lot of people who follow sports just for a light escape or a switch-off, in which case these sports do no harm at all. They are games and that’s it. Maybe you read/watch a Shakespeare play; live life to the fullest and come to these leagues without taking it seriously. That’s great! But what if you live in the zone so much that you stop caring about feeling the full range of emotions and merely live within the wind-gas?
I mean that’s what capitalist culture with solid support from the scientific mentality is all about isn’t it? Take social media notifications and modern comical superhero movies for instance.
You, born in a normal family with normal requirements in life and a normal worldview properly begin your social life with your school.
There you are immediately introduced to rules and regulations. If you break them, you are punished. Your punishments are so impactful to your psyche that — after a certain while — even a thought about breaking them makes you scared. Anxious. If you are thick-skinned enough to not get scared, you will end up a hooligan, a thug.
Likewise, if you follow those rules and regulations, you are rewarded. You are rewarded with claps and medals and praises. This makes you proud of yourself. Your pride is such that — after a while — the thought of gaining more of those claps and medals and praises gets you drooling. You are lured. You want more. You want to achieve more. Hear more. Claps, praises.
And so the same formula of rules and regulations drive you through college and university where — if you perceive you haven’t been up to the rule, you get anxious and at the moments when you think you will achieve or actually achieve some kind of success, you get excited…
And this way, you get into the job market, and you go through your life.
The formula (once again) is simple for you: follow the rules and be happy or break them and be miserable.
Now, if you are lucky (yes lucky!) or crazy you will question who the fk created that system of rules in the first place. Only if you are lucky or crazy! And you will start questioning a lot of things. The foundation of the system, the motive, the people invovled, etc. etc.
There you will be stunned at your first hypothesis of the division. Yes, there is a division!
On one end were you: a normal person with normal wants and circumstances and at the other end were those who made all those rules and regulations.
And then you will realize something that will feel like a slap: a slap vicious and lethal, embarrassing and humiliating than any teacher had ever given you:
What you did or did not was always ordained, controlled, fabricated!
Yes, your entire thoughts, desires and your bloody life was designed to make you exactly the way you ended up. You were never free, you were engineered! And it was never for you, you were just a tool…
And this is where you reach that realm: The Realm of Gods & Kings!
And then you will see them for the first time in a way you had never seen them. Yes, you had always heard of them, known them: but you had never understood them. Now, you understand them. Feel them.
They are the ones who drove you around like cattle. There you will see them and tremble at the sight. Tremble at your ignorance: they are the same kings, priests, philosophers, scholars and merchants that you were taught about. That you were preached about. Who were praised and venerated. Revered. Followed by thousands of you on Twitter!
Yes, you, you do think and talk to your buddies (same as you) about your big ideas — Where did this all come from, where might it be headed; what if life and what is existence; does god exist ; do aliens exist; democracy rules! — wear pendants and tikas, sit on your yogic postures chanting om, close your eyes and pray, sing, etc. but you do that with a vicious unconsciousness. Yes, you may talk and write about Plato, but you do it without a clue, without a sense. You are just a babbler, an unconscious machine. Going bla bla bla. Talking much but realizing nothing!
But guess what: they aren’t! They are your Gods and Kings!
You had once questioned god with your friends while smoking ganja on top of that hill, hadn’t you? Now, here you have it: Plato is your god, so is Buddha, Ashoka, Alexander and Napoleon! And so is Hawking. So are Jobs and Gates: Your gods and kings. For they set the rules. They watch you move. They decide your fate. They are in the realm of gods & kings, and you — you poor normal guy: aren’t! You are just normal. A normal tool. Nothing. You are dispensable. Manageable. Organizable. You, you normal person!
And then you think you are a democratic citizen of whatever your country. You talk of your vote, and your rights, and your activities.
Here’s to democracy:
Only when each and every human individual reaches the realm of gods & kings, will democracy even begin to be practical.
Dream on, Run from bombs and surveillance!
Follow on, Praise on!
As to education:
Well, they removed this secret from the curriculum a long-long time ago!
A quick glance of known/believed human history will reveal to us one constant: Learning is essential. Vital. Crucial!
Learning in the sense of:
the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences.
But another quick glance will reveal to us one more constant: learning has never been much popular among the masses. Yes, the populace has gathered a fact here, a fact there, and have been informed, but that cannot be said to be learning. Similarly, learning has had to face obstacles from many sources.
Yet, humans have been — time and again — able to learn and generate new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences with the load of all those people carried by a selected few in all time and place. Those carriers are the people of learning. Therefore, the value of learning and people of learning is constant.
We might never know the individual(s) who first came up with the understanding of the process of bipedal walking, fire production, stone tools manufacturing; language, art— yet looking at trends of how men have learned in recorded history, we can safely assume that there was someone somewhere who first converted an event of natural occurrence into a method. Who first converted phenomenon to knowledge. Crisis into solution. Despair into fascination. Those who did all these were people of learning.
It is those people of learning who first had the idea of viewing natural items as gods. Irrespective of civilization, this has been common. We might look upon that as weakness today, but for that time and place, this was learning: understanding, knowing, the world. You can’t call them weak. If that view didn’t happen, then who knows what would have happened! They had a way to turn fear into some kind of control. Those people of learning!
Similarly, it was peoples of learning who first had the idea of organizing pre-civilizations scattered societies into an order — once the number of folks increased. This too has been a constant in multiple civilizations. You might call it natural, I call it the doing of peoples of learning. Remove them from the equation, and we might not have been sitting here writing and reading on Medium.
And likewise, the peoples of learning came up with centralized power, religious rites, aesthetic buildings, laws, etc. And it was the same people who with their learning came up with the idea of things as diverse as citizenship, republic, and reason.
Indeed the rest is history. History made and interpreted by peoples of learning.
Without the people of learning, there might have been no history. You might say, there might have been a better history, but how? showme!
Irrespective of the moods of the temples, states, monarchs, councils, universities…People of learning have stood and shined.
Here today and heading to the future, uncertainties abound. Anxiety, paranoia, and stupidity reign supreme. That’s just the way we perceive natural things. But of course, here we are people of learning. Let’s understand and DECIDE where things shall go. Where we shall go. These kinds of shaping’s have always been the task of peoples of learning. Now it’s the time for current peoples of learning.
Let’s decide the fate of us all — our mind, life, earth, and everything else. If we won’t, then who will? — — Machines of Learning?
While thinking about the ongoing war in Eastern Europe and its consequences, my thought went to the businesses that are being adversely affected – along with lives in both Russia and Ukraine, with both suffering from their respective problems. How many dreams paused, threatened; how many goals destroyed; how many ideas shattered!
I am just trying to focus on business here.
One can understand how much is at stake in the execution of one. Particularly in modern times of uncertainty in everything. The risk, the hope, the plan, etc. Of course, life has more at stake – which once gone cannot be re-attained – yet business is where my thoughts are as of now. Those that are not operational due to the lack of peace. Those that have been affected by war. What would those businesses be wanting ideologically? Would they be concerned about the realpolitik? What would they support?
This took me to Ancient India, through a book called India: An Ancient Past… written by Burjor Avari.
In ancient India, after the rise of Buddhism, there were multiple instances where Buddhism as a religion was patronized, protected or supported by merchants or rulers. Especially the former.
First, it was during the Pre-Mauryan age, when Buddhist along with Jain monasteries were built which were enthusiastically received by kings, merchants and ordinary people. After that, during the time of the Satavahanas of the Deccan, there were numerous cave sites in NW Maharashtra, which housed Buddhists. There too evidence has been found of religious charities and endowments by merchants. People belonging to other professions and crafts were involved as well. And then there were other monasteries over the Satavahana Deccan, which too were established with endowments from the Andra merchants, who the writer says, ‘were some of the greatest donors.’
During the period in the history of India when the Kushans were dominant, there seemed to have been some kind of alliance between Indian merchants and Buddhist missionaries. At various places, merchants establishing their colonies and missionaries their monasteries went in parallel. The site of Ajanta caves is said to have stood in a strategic point at the merchants’ routes. Here too Buddhist monks and monasteries were richly supported by that merchant class.
Despite some mundane differences, the things in common between those ancient Indian merchants and the modern entrepreneurs are that they both work for profit, are involved in commerce and sell their goods/services. In this way, they both can be put under the umbrella term ‘business class.’
Buddhism as a philosophy – at its root – is one that talks about detachment and salvation from desires. The whole concept then builds towards disinvolvement, simplicity, knowledge, awakening – eventually culminating in nibbana. While at a first glance, this seems to be absolutely opposite to the motives of the business class, and one might ask why on earth would they be protecting and promoting such idea, anyone who knows anything about this philosophy knows that Buddhism isn’t the type of thought that reasons towards fight, ambition and war. Making it a socially passive philosophy too. An example of this is King Ashoka who, disgusted with his actions at Kalinga, adopted peaceful doctrines of Buddhism and went around building pillars and promoting the religion. He even deemed his further conquests religious.
It is quite apparent why certain groups of people in society who wouldn’t want war would want to promote and protect this philosophy of peace. Irrespective of their faith and ideology. And among them would surely be merchants and entrepreneurs – unless dealing with weapons, unless involved in a business untouched by war, or extremely opportunist. Which is a vast majority!
I asked myself about the future of thinking after I noticed how alert I was getting using my phone, laptop and TV.
I tried to understand the alertness and discovered that there was a voice inside my head that constantly reminded me that whatever I do in those devices is being surveilled,monitored and analyzed.
What is happening now is that this alertness is getting contagious. The hangover from device-usage is getting into my head. I am getting alert while Ithink, see or talk sensitive stuff in the same manner.
As if my thoughts and views are being surveilled, monitored and analyzed.
Is this what will happen to our thoughts in the future?
Let us begin this thought experiment by imagining a habitable planet with life. Far Far away!
The planet is revolving around its own star. Its day-night period same as Earth’s.
And on that planet, let us imagine species – Millions. With variety for procreation. Just like on Earth.
Let us imagine one species among them head-and-shoulders above the rest – In intelligence and sophistication. Just like us!
Now let us decide that the planet has had life for more than a billion years. The intelligent species there has been smarting around for more than 2 million years. Just like ours!
Now let us imagine the planet with its peculiar atmosphere, water, soil, forest, etc.
Let us imagine all this with one crucial difference — it’s intelligent species not like humans. Let us imagine them different. Yes, let them walk on two feet and let them look like us physically. But let them not be like us behaviorally.
Let’s make them different.
Let’s not make them build huge buildings, monuments and structures. Let’s not make them political. Let’s not make them national. Let’s not make them create huge corporations. Let’s not make them kill each other or creatures. Let’s not make them adhere to their own mandatory principles. Let’s not make them need any kind of superficial entertainment — Let’s make them wise.
Yes, let’s imagine them greedless, free and wise. It’s just a thought experiment after all!
They didn’t build huge buildings and structures because they are okay with distributed minimalistic settlements and structures of aesthetic/experiential importance.
They didn’t organize politically because they are okay with improvisational organizing. They understand the need of community but also realize the absurdity of politics and power.
Everyone is wise enough to mind their own business and greedless enough to not want unnecessary things. Everyone has their own land and they are fine cultivating what they need and consuming it. Remember, they are not greedy, so it will work.
Now, since they are wise as such, they did not need/want big businesses.
Nor did they have to trouble other creatures for their own amusement. They live at a distance far enough to remain untroubled by other creatures.
Since they are free and wise, they didn’t adhere to mandatory customs and principles such as marriage and children. Their population is well balanced. Whenever it seems to increase, they have the wisdom to understand it, hence, there will always be those who will make personal sacrifices. They didn’t need any forms of superficial entertainment as they don’t have any dissapointments hence anxieties.
So, what will they do? How will they live? How do we imagine that?
I propose the following:
They will spend their time in philosophical, scientific or artistic contemplation and creation. Depending on individual preferences or the need.
They won’t build sophisticated technologies. There is no need — they don’t want to conquer their fellows or the cosmos. They are wise enough to be happy where they are. They will scientific technologies though. For reasons clear! They might have computers and internet.
They have understood that the only purpose of their high intelligence is to experience and understand life and the world. Nothing else matters! All is peaceful and well.
Here I want to quickly share his views on the birth and use of Hindu God Brahman and the Hindu Reincarnation system by the ruling system in ancient India. It is presented in fictional form in his historical-fiction From Volga to Ganges.
Pravahan is a king of Panchalpur (Kannauj) in around 700 BC who has modified the Hindu Religion. His lover Lopa is not very fond of that kind of thinking though.
One day she asks,
‘Why are you involved in things apart from royal duties?’
To which Pravahan replies,
‘You mean my flight towards Brahman? But Lopa, all these things are not separate from Royal Duties. Our ancestors had honored Rishis such as Vasistha and Vishwamitra for the sake of supporting the State. Those Rishis inspired people to follow the command of the king in the name of gods such as Indra, Agni and Varun. Those Rishis made the kings conduct huge and expensiveYagyasso that the public’s belief in them would persist…All this was done to establish people’s faith in divine forces…and to tell them that all we have is due to Gods.’
‘But you already had old gods, what was the need of Brahman?’
‘For ages, nobody has seen Indra, Varun and the likes, therefore a few have started to doubt…I have established the form of Brahman in such a way that no one can ever demand to see it. It is beyond the senses. No one can doubt this concept the way they might doubt gods with forms’
‘…are you doing all this merely to keep your citizens in illusion?’
‘…It is necessary to do all this to keep the state under my control…our biggest enemies are the ones who doubt gods and Yagyas’
‘But you also talk of the existence and philosophy of Brahman…?’
‘If there is an existence then there has to be a philosophy. Not through senses though, because skeptics will talk of empirical proofs — this is why I talk about subtle senses. And now I talk of such methods that people will keep searching for ever and ever without losing their belief…’.
And then Pravahan tells her about his new invention that is greater than Brahman — Reincarnation:
‘Reincarnation is the most useful. The rate at which the wealth of we feudals, Brahmins and merchants is increasing is the same at which ordinary people are getting poor. There are those now who provoke artisans, farmers and slaves by saying, “You are troubling yourself by giving away your earnings to others. They trouble you and tell you that the Suffering, Pain, charity and sacrifices you do here will be repaid in heaven…No one has seen anyone enjoy happiness in heaven…”, to which we have established a narrative. All differences in this world are the result of your deeds in your previous lives…I do not care about Truth and Lies, it (an idea) just has to be useful for me. Today the idea of coming back to this world after death doesn’t seem credible…there will come a time when all of the pathetic citizens will be ready to bear pain, suffering and injustice in the hope of rebirth…’
‘But isn’t it ruining the lives of hundreds of generations just for your selfish wants?’
‘…it isn’t wrong. I am doing such a task that even the ancient Rishis couldn’t do…’
‘You are too cold Pravahan!’
‘But I have merely acted as per my ability!’
I understand that this whole thing has been presented by Sankrityayan in a Marxist mirror. That is, this thing of Metaphysical and spiritual nature has been looked upon from a dialectic-political-economic angle. It has also been presented in an artistic/imaginative manner. It is surely a limited view-point. But, it is a different perspective nonetheless!
It is about questioning the one who said the said.
Not every species that goes extinct is because of human beings. But we are responsible for quite a few!
A quick walk around a city like Kathmandu will show you stories. Better than movies – because these stories are not just of human sorrows and glories. The stories are also of dogs. Stray dogs!
Dogs like to get cozy in winters or when it gets cold. They like to wrap themselves around their own body to generate heat.
A dog warming itself like that is disturbed by the noise of a speeding motorbike (which Nepal quite honestly hasn’t made and doesn’t deserve considering its output) which passes by the dog.
The dog is forced to get up in horror, only to realize that all is safe. No one cares about him/her enough to even intentionally bother. The biker is gone — to his friends perhaps. To watch a game of football perhaps! The dog looks on in shock. He has been robbed of his moment of warmth! No one knows if the dog will be able to sleep in there again.
Sights such as these make you apathetic towards people. While you may, a few minutes earlier have empathized with the desperately waiting human-eyes in shops that don’t sell a thing — You stop caring after these incidents.
You then start questioning — Why should I empathize with people? What right do some people have to burden others? Why are some people even existing? Why can’t there be a system that looks at animals and animal-like-humans equally?
It is nothing to be ashamed of. If the same question can be asked of dogs and other animals then why not of humans?
If more than 50 billion animals can be killed each year in US alone, what is the big deal with COVID? Let me go. Let them go.
(Such stray dogs are mercilessly killed by the municipality once their population goes out of hand.)
Why sustain a species at the price of finishing every other?
The paradoxical questions are :
Why do so many people have to live?
What is their purpose?
Why does a human get to ask these questions?
Where is the management?
To the third and fourth questions I have another question:
Is it time for an association of Post-Humans, who are intellectually superior to normal people?
Such Post-Humans can be decided on an emotional and intelligence criteria. Not IQ, Mensa or likes. Something new. Something beautiful. Something glorious!
Why can’t those Post-Humans then manage humans, just as normal humans manage animals and slaughter-houses?
Not to eat of course!
The idea is to create a situation where a superior breed of humans take control over the world and with intellect and empathy manage other humans, creatures and environment. Creating a balance.
How can it be done?
It won’t be easy of course!
But remember: It mustn’t have been easy for our ancestors to tame and manage dogs too.
The number at the time of this finishing is — 49,344,410,694!
A small background before we jump into the philosophy of cataclysm.
I grew up with Hindu/Buddhist philosophies and as you may know — there’s a gargantuan presence of the inevitability of death in these systems of thinking.
Take the goddess Kali for instance — one of the most popular goddesses around. Her name is the feminine form of Kala which implies both time and death.
Psychospiritually, death could mean the killing of Ego and Maya — the kill is optional. But it also means the finish line of a certain biological span — which is inevitable. It doesn’t mean you should kill your biological self though!
Worshipping Kali is a method of non-stop realizing the fact that death is inevitable and living according to that realization (with humility and wisdom).
Hear from one of the most popular ‘experts’ of the system:
India imposed an economic blockade on Nepal. Since every day-to-day stuff comes from there, things got pretty hard!
Basically, there was no fuel so everything inflated. From food to clothes, every fkn thing! You had to plan for a week to travel a distance of 30 km and if you agreed to do it — you had to share a bus with ~150 co-pathetic souls which had a capacity of 60 at most. That too at a high cost.
But the most vicious inflation took place in the most dreaded area — inside the head!
Here you were, hardly recovering from the natural catastrophe that didn’t take you away only because you were lucky — and now you couldn’t even trust humans! Bastards from the South could march in anytime with their leather boots and take you to their concentration camp — Yes, you thought these!
And then 2020 came andCOVID happened. You sat at your home wondering what the brothers from North and West have spread around the world. You come from one of the most irrelevant nations in the world which means the richer folks could be experimenting on you and you could do nothing about it! Your perspective on vaccines or the whole issue didn’t count too. You were nothing! And you could be thrust into nothingness anytime they wanted!
So you spent all your time on the internet with the intention of understanding the world and then knew all about Climate Change, Food Crisis, Water Crisis, World War 3, Asteroids, AIs, etc. etc — all serious contenders to end this human hubbub!
All this has accumulated into an understanding of the world where:
Some of us have started to constantly realize the fact that catastrophe is inevitable. Philosophy of Cataclysm is real.
My point is —
There is a new philosophy in the market place. It is called Cataclysm. Or it could be called inevitabilism, even catastrophism, maybe end-of-humans! Decivilization???
Even that’s not the point though.
The actual point is that we may have to start a new religion:
Where we invent a new God. This God shall be the symbol of impending catastrophe. This God’s only job will be:
To make us constantly realize the fact that cataclysm is inevitable!
So the possibility of cataclysm remains and determines every breath we take, every hand we shake.
Let’s discuss more of this philosophy of cataclysm.
Sensing what humans were doing to her forest, a tiger at a national park started getting paranoid.
‘They will destroy this all one day. I will have nowhere to go. There’s no point giving birth. There’s no point looking ahead at the future. We’ll all go’, she thought strolling along the riverside.
She was still young and was yet to bear a child. A few years ago, she buzzed with excitement and energy. But lately, she had lost all interest. She looked lean and weak.
Looking around,she saw all her favorite hide-outs and trees being cut down mercilessly. Each time she came back to an old place, something was gone.
‘All this will soon go! There’s no point’, she thought as she sat on a rock resting her chin in her paws.
Just then, a few meters away, she spotted a couple of Sambar deers budding with joy and romance. A few months ago, she would have quietly got down and stealthily walked to feed on them. But now, she lacked both energy and will.
The Sambars saw her. But they must have sensed her feebleness and pessimism for they weren’t scared at all. Instead, they jumped and giggled their way nearer to her.
‘What are you so happy about? Don’t you realize — all this will be gone soon?’ the tiger roared at the couple.
Surprised by the tiger’s humility, the Sambars walked closer to her.
‘What’s up with her?’ the male whispered to his partner.
‘No Idea! let’s ask her,’ the female replied.
They reached up to her and the female said:
‘I am pregnant. That’s why we’re celebrating’
‘You fools! Don’t you see, all this will be gone soon. Why are you bringing a newborn into this world? The humans will destroy it all. They will end it all. Don’t you think I want to give birth? But there’s no point! Our world will end,’ the tiger passionately spoke.
‘How old are you?’ the female deer asked.
‘That means you still got more than 10 years to live!,’ the male deer said.
‘Yes. So what?’
‘I think you are the one who is a fool here!,’ the female deer spoke. The male poked her in nervousness. The tiger stood up. The female didn’t seem to be intimidated as she continued:
‘It’s one thing to understand what’s happening in the world but it’s completely stupid to obsess over it. You are an individual. Your job is to survive and live. You are a tiger, for god’s sake! You are supposed to fight till your last breath. The world will end the moment you die! There’s no other end. You are a bloody individual animal in this forest full of billion other animals. Don’t act as if you are the forest. You’re not! You’re nothing. You are not the whole, you are just a part. You are only supposed to focus on your individuality and at best your children and family. Let your children come and let them survive for their individuality. You’re not the fking whole. You are not supposed to think for us. We are supposed to think for ourselves. The world is this way because of those who thought for everyone. Please do me a favor and don’t think for me. You go out there and fight against the world till your last breath. The forest ends for you the day you don’t find a single spot to hide or a single deer to feed on. Until then…it doesn’t end!
‘If something is beyond your ability — you can do nothing about it. This forest is too important for them anyway…to let it die. The most powerful among them will ensure this world will keep on existing — not for the world’s sake but because they have no other playground to show-off their scepters!’
The tiger encouraged and inspired by the speech, pounced on the deer and shredded her to pieces. The male ran away.
‘I will survive, I will live. The World ends the day I die’, she roared as the deer-blood dripped from her jaws.
1. Don’t inspire a tiger. Especially if you’re a deer.
2. You are not the whole. You are just a part. Go out there and live till the end of your world!
Arthur C. Clarke’s famous short-story The Sentinel (the seed from which 2001: A Space Odyssey sprang) is about a monolith discovered ‘high on the ridge of a great promontory…’ of Moon by an individual in a team of Lunar explorers. The object is too smooth to be natural and had been leveled to support a glittering, roughly pyramidal structure set in the rock like a gigantic many-faceted jewel.
The discoverer is not able to make sense of that object. Looking at it, he is convinced there had once been a lunar-civilization. His first guess after that is that it might be a building or shrine. After that, he wonders if it might be a temple. A closer examination makes him realize that a lot of hard work has been done by the builders to place it there. He guesses Egyptians. His pride doesn’t allow him to admit that the work might have been created by a civilization more advanced than humans!
After throwing a small pebble at the object, he knows he was looking at something that could not have been matched in the antiquity of his own race. He guesses it might be a machine, protecting itself with forces that challenged Eternity.
Later, he realizes that the object is as alien to the moon as himself. The age of the monolith is then measured and it is revealed that the object was set there before life existed on earth. But, by whom?
Long long ago there must have been very advanced races that must have scaled and passed the heights of present-humans. But they must have been lonely in a young universe. This may have eventually prompted them to search star clusters for intelligence. But all they must have found was emptiness or mindless things. The Earth must also have been the same. The wanderers, looking at the Earth, must have guessed that a the distant future, there would be intelligence there. They must have left the monolith as a beacon that signalled the presence of other civilizations. But they placed it on the moon and not on the Earth, because-
Its builders were not concerned with races still struggling up from savagery. They would be interested in our civilization only if we proved our fitness to survive- by crossing space and so escaping from the Earth, our cradle. That is the challenge that all intelligent races must meet, sooner or later…it depends in turn upon the conquest of atomic energy and the last choice between life and death.
Clarke wrote this story in 1948. WW2 was just over and humanity was still amazed, shocked and terrified at its new-found-tool, The Atomic Bomb.
Clarke simply tries to send a message – Such weapons have the capacity to exterminate humanity. A massive world exists outside of us. We are nothing yet. We have seen nothing yet. So, we better behave!
73 years have passed since this story. Humans have survived the threat. Humans have reached further, deeper and seen clearer.
But what did humans do after reaching space conveniently?
We waged a cold-war where the outer space was merely a playground of strategic purposes! The same story continues today…
A monolith hasn’t yet been discovered. Nor has there been any concrete sign of other civilizations. There has been a constant though- Threats still exist.
Therefore, a question remains relevant:
Are we humans safe from ourselves?
Let us define Civilization as the stage of a creature where it can satisfy both the conditions:
a. build great things and
b. doesn’t have a threat from itself.
Similarly, let us define Savagery as:
The stage where a creature has internal conflicts of such magnitude that it has a threat from itself (irrespective of what it builds).
With these definitions, a weird thing appears:
Animals and creature which we call ‘lower’ and ‘unintelligent’ seem to be in the same stage of civilization as us!
Yes, they do not build rockets and computers, but they do not destroy themselves and their environment either.
So, what is stopping us?
What is responsible for our savagery? For our non-civilization?
In 1950, only the US and the USSR had nuclear weapons. Today, 9 nations possess them. While no one would be stupid enough to use them, they have become a crucial strategic tool. But that doesn’t mean, the dangers have been swept aside:
This goes to show that Clarke’s designation of savagery yet persists. In other words, we are still savages and are not yet civilized as we still have threats from ourselves, no matter what we have built.
The present Climate Crisis and the complications it has brought also proves the same.
Yes, for Clarke back then, the parameter of non-savagery was the ability to reach the vast expanse above. And man has reached there. But man hasn’t been able to disengage from the catastrophic threats imposed on itself, by itself. Outer Space is yet another battlefield!
As to the answer to the questions of what is stopping us; what is responsible for our savagery;for ournon-civilization,
This kind of threat exists today for: International-Politics.
The same organizational-structural-system that almost ended it all!
What amazes me when I hear about the past is that we haven’t been able to find an alternative political system or be harmonious with the present one- although we have managed to peek into our cells, brains and wherenot!
Nor have we been able to be brave enough to modify this obsolete system even when we have located alternatives.
What I mean by ‘obsolete system’ is that which is at constant war with itself and has the following characteristics:
In simple terms- National Systems.
Isn’t it time we moved on from nations and nationalities? Or at least establish a mechanism that will not allow us to destroy us for petty things? They were created by kings and princes with swords. For themselves! There are none left now and swords are already obsoletely obsolete things for museums.
We may have left the Earth, but we are still stuck in our own heads.
This proves that humans are still immature. Perhaps Clarke should have placed the monolith at Alpha Centauri.
From this viewpoint, it seems we humans are not civilized as long as we have the prevalent National Systems…or at least until we modify them!
his present means to obtain some future apparent good.
He defines good as things that are of interest to any particular person for his appetite or desires.
For him, there are two types of power- natural and instrumental. Natural power is the ability of a person’s body or mind such as extraordinary strength, prudence, arts, eloquence, liberality and nobility while Instrumental power is the power derived from natural power or fortune through which one can acquire more riches, reputation, friends and luck.
A more contemporary definitions of such power of men are:
power is the capacity of an individual to influence the actions, beliefs, or conduct (behaviour) of others
power is the ability to make people do what they otherwise would not have done
power is man’s control over the minds and actions of other men.
Placing the control definition of power in Hobbes’ definition, we get:
every form of natural and instrumental power is used to exert control over other people which then is used to obtain the good for the self.
Adding these descriptions, we get:
Power is the control over others as means to obtain the good for the self.
Where, the means (two types of power) in the Hobbesian sense is used to control the mind and the actions of others.
Control over others is the ultimate end. The most effective tool for this apparently is money. The use of money ultimately then is to manipulate others into doing things for the manipulator, because, everyone needs or wants money. Like a magnet manipulating iron pieces.
It is clear that control over the ones with most control will be the most effective.
I am interested to know what else derives power apart from money.
Having servants and friends is power because they make us stronger.
Having the reputation of power is power because it attracts those who need protection
Having popularity (reputation of patriotism) is power because it too attracts those who need protection
Having the quality to loved or feared by many or merely the reputation of such is power because through it one can have assistance and service of many
Good success is power because it creates a reputation of wisdom or fortune which makes men fear or rely
Relationship with men in power is power because it gains love
Reputation of prudence during peace or war is power because to a prudent man we all surrender ourselves easily than to others
Eloquence is power because it is ‘seeming prudence’ in other words, it looks like prudence
Form is power because it recommends men to the favor of women and strangers
Sciences are small power because it is present in few- in few. It is not understood by many.
Military Technology is power because they are used in defense and victory
Now, looking at all these points from the control perspective,
Having servants and friends surely implies having control. Control over servants is apparent. Control over friends exists in the form of mutual-wants, love, trust, bonding, whatever for which a friend can be manipulated into doing things for the manipulator
Having the reputation of power makes other people with less power, fearful or hopeful towards you. You can surely control those easily who are afraid or in-need.
Having popularity (fame) makes people with less popularity in awe, fearful and hopeful towards you. The reason there is control through popularity is that people tend to be more attentive towards those who are well-known which makes it easier to manipulate. Popularity can be of two types: a. positive b. negative. But I see one more factor. Popularity seems proportional to money. As it is easier to make money for a popular person than it is for an unpopular one.
Having the quality to be loved or feared by many or merely the reputation of such- is the same as above.
Good success brings control over those who yearn for success or more success. One way is through lessons of success, the other through the availability of fortune.
Relationship with men in power brings automatic control over others by the virtue of the relationship itself which makes other believe one is capable of influencing the powerful.
Reputation of prudence brings control through intellectual means. Other people will hear more and follow easily the people who are deemed to be prudent.
Eloquence, as described by Hobbes as ‘seeming prudent’ brings control for the same reason as above.
Form, by which Hobbes means appearance, brings control over those who get impressed by it.
In regards to Sciences, I believe they bring power if they can influence the powerful.
Control through Military Technology is self-explanatory.
Now, if we are to see how modern power-players have acquired their powers, we can make some interesting observations.
I see two large power entities today:
States acquire their power, that is, their control over others as means to obtain the good for the self, by firstly, controlling (or owning) the elements like food, water, electricity, etc. that are of necessity for every citizen. In other words, they control the means needed for survival itself. Secondly, they control citizens through the citizens allegiance to the general-will. This sensitivity and vulnerability allows the State to use Force. Every other control that the state exerts is based on these controls. Everything else is a business from the state side. Hobbes considered this power of the state (commonwealth) to be the greatest of human powers as it is the
compounded power of most men, united by consent
Corporates meanwhile, acquire their power, that is, their control over others as means to obtain the good for the self, by controlling (or owning) the elements that are of necessity and want to its customers. Of course, the corporations that business on elementary things have the most power. Not all fundamentals are state controlled in all the places.
Due to the meteoric rise of technologies, another tool has quickly become one of the most effective means of control: Surveillance.
Surveillance is used by both states and corporations. While this tool can be said to have been always used by both the entities, before the advent of our modern technologies, it was vague, impractical and very difficult to implement. Today, we can see both entities investing and vying for more and more surveillance data.
Surveillance brings control because it provides the surveillant with valuable knowledge as to who, how, when and where to control.
Surveillance then is the shortcut to the Morgenthau definition of power.
Who are powerful today?
Let’s talk about 3 major powers
The ones who control our fundamental necessities like security, food, water and electricity are surely the most powerful. This includes states and corporations which business on such elements.
After them are the ones who control our livelihoods and means of living.
Those two are followed by ones who control our information, hence, our mind, habits and behavior.
What is Power?
Power is the magnitude of control over others as means to obtain the good for the self.
This magnitude of control is dependent on peoples fundamental requirements as well as wants. It is like a control knob which every single person in this world has. It’s all about whether we are conscious of being controlled and willing enough to not be controlled—– or not!
A city can be defined as a geographical area which is compact, immensely interconnected and is urbanized. That is, it is modernly administered, uses and consumes advanced laws, systems, technology and infrastructure.
Our current crisis of Climate Change has some thinkers and even the United Nations proposing the idea that cities are the ideal construction that can help us overcome this crisis.
This makes it a perfect occasion to look at few of the great developments in cities in human history.
The process of knowing the history of cities involves scientific processes that are ongoing in nature. Archaeology is the most vital tool available for us to understand and know things of the ancient world. Especially of the time-period which has no written work to tell. It looks to unearth materials which are interpreted and placed in the most suitable time-period of its belonging. As new things get discovered, new light is thrown into the once unknown period and area.
With all this definition in mind. Let us see how cities have evolved.
The region of Levant is very important for archaeology. It was in Jericho of this region where the oldest known protective wall, the wall of Jericho, has been found. Along with this a stone tower has also been unearthed.
Archaeological evidence reveals that by 8000 BCE, the site grew to 40,000 square meters (430,000 square feet) and was surrounded by a stone wall 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) high and 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) wide at the base. Inside the wall was a stone tower 8.5 meters (28 feet) high and 9 meters (30 feet) wide at the base. The tower had an internal staircase with 22 steps
The hypothesis behind the wall is that it may have been built to protect its settlement from flood waters. The tower may have served some kind of ceremonial purpose. Some are also of the idea that the tower served the function of motivating people into the communal lifestyle as there have been suggestions that a population of some 2,000–3,000 persons were living there. But this varies as some estimate the population to be as low as 300. But nonetheless, Jericho is a concrete evidence on the movement of the human race from a hunting way of life to a one of full settlement.
Jericho has also provided evidence of agriculture. It has to be noted that, although modern cities tend to detach from agricultural pursuits, during the time leading up to Jericho, humans were still in a nomadic state. Hence, Jericho signifies not only the most distant evidence of a city but also of an organized settled living system.
Wheat and barley is thought to have been cultivated. It is highly probable that irrigation had also been invented.
Jericho’s settlement occurred in two phases. The one mentioned above was followed by a second settlement at around 7000 BCE. It too was a Pre-Pottery Neolithic in its nature. It expanded the range of domesticated plants and animals. Its buildings were rectilinear in structure and were made of mudbricks. Each building had several rooms and a central courtyard. Terrazzo floors made of lime decorated the rooms while the courtyards had clay flooring. Dishes and bowls were used. This phase of settlement lasted until about 6000 BCE. Towards the end of 5000 BCE, another urban settlement appeared in Jericho. It was walled yet again.
While Jericho ebbed-and-flowed, a massive city flourished in Mesopotamia where one of the earliest precursors to modern human life was found. It was where writing originated, and all kinds of technological, legal and moral basis of a collective urban life initiated. The city was Uruk.
Uruk was inhabited from its inception until c. 300 CE. after which it was abandoned and buried. It was excavated in 1853 CE. It used cylinder seals for attesting personal property and documents. It had monumental mud-brick buildings. Large sculptures and metal casting was done. Pictographs on clay tablets were used to record the management of goods and workers.
5000 BP (before present), Uruk had ~50,000 people. At its peak, it may have had around 80,000 inhabitants.The Ubaid Period (c. 5000-4100 BCE) saw Ubaid people first inhabit the region. This period is followed by the Uruk Period (4100-2900 BCE) during which cities started developing in various regions of Mesopotamia. Among which, Uruk became the most important.
The Uruk Period is divided into 8 phases but it was most influential between 4100-c.3000 BCE. It was during this time that
The city was divided into Eanna District and Anu District.
The Eanna District was walled off from the rest of the city. Anu district had a single massive terrace, called the Anu Ziggurat which was dedicated to the Sumerian sky god Anu. In the Uruk III period, a white temple was built on top of the ziggurat. From the Uruk VI period, a Stone Temple has been discovered.
Uruk continued to be relevant through the Ur III Period (2047-1750 BCE),
In 1922 CE, during an excavation of the ruins in that region, ‘The Great Death’ was discovered, which was a grave complex. Further studies revealed that in its heyday, Ur was a city enormous in size.
It used Cuneiform tablets which has allowed us to know that Ur was a highly centralized, wealthy and bureaucratic state during the third millenium BCE. The Royal Tombs, from about the 25th century BCE, contained,
Ur may have been the largest city in the world from 2030-1980 BCE, with a population of about 65,000.
Probably founded by farmer settlers from northern Mesopotamia, from the very beginning, it became a location of importance as a trade center as it was located at a point where the Tigris and Euphrates run into the Persian Gulf.
The city began to grow from a small village ruled by a priest or priest-king. There were two major dynasties: of Mesanneppada, the first king who was followed by three others: Mes-kiagnuna, Elulu, and Balulu. The Second Dynasty is not recorded and the history of which is not known.
When the Semitic leader Sargon (2334-2279 BCE) conquered the entire Sumerian land with his people the Akkadians, the Akkadian Empire ruled over the regions of Mesopotamia until it was inundated by Amorites who made their capital in a small town called Babylon. Which began the first Babylonian Empire.
The ziggurat of Ur, the temple, was built in the 21st century BCE. The ruins were uncovered in the 1930s which covered an area of 3,900 feet by 2,600 feet. It was a part of a complex that was an administrative center for the city.
End of Part 1
In this first part of our series of Short History of Cities, we talked about Jericho, Uruk and Ur. Although there have been evidence of multiple cities in the course of time in Jericho and other smaller ones around Uruk and Ur; these three stand tall on the basis of evidence gathered and the impact made.
Each should have inspired the city that followed and they collectively must have been very influential in not just the developments of cities as greatest technological achievements, but also in the development and progress of human species as a whole.
I am going to propose a theory to begin this writing about the importance of knowledge:
The extent of knowledge (need-to-know) any given human society requires for a successful survival is of:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its
the past, present, and future of itself
Likewise, the extent of knowledge (need-to-know) any given human society requires for progress is of:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its own and of the world
the past, present and future of itself and of its world
In primitive nomadic days, any tribe that may have pursued and acquired geographical-temporal knowledge of itself may have survived but failed as soon as it could no longer keep up with and acquire geographical, temporal and likewise knowledge of other tribes it came across.
The tribes and states which could gather and analyze the most knowledge succeeded the most. A good example of this is the success of Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Empire:
Is it merely a coincidence that such large an empire existed alongside one of the most intellectual and knowledgeable periods of human history?
While we are at it, the importance of such knowledge can also be justified by the fact that Kautilya who emphasized a great lot in socio-economic-political knowledge and pursued it rigorously managed to initiate and assist what was to become one of the biggest Empires in the Indian Subcontinent — The Maurya Empire.
Similar examples can be gathered from the Roman and later from the success of the British Empire. In the second half of the 20th Century, it became visible in the form of the US and its successful hunt of all forms of knowledge.
What kind of knowledge?
The correct modern term for knowledge is — Research and Development.
I talked about Geographical and Temporal knowledge of itself and the world that a successful society acquires. NASA, NSF and DoD seem to be responsible for such information. They take up 27.6 % of the total R & D budget.
Similar is the case of acquiring — knowledge of itself. Health and human service department takes up 47.3 %.
Here’s a list of ten nations that spend the most on R & D:
Israel: 4.9 % of GDP
South Korea: 4.6
In terms of total expenditure amount, it’s in the following order (descending):
US, China, Japan, Germany, S Korea, France, India, UK, Taiwan, Russia
Of course, the type and method of their knowledge-acquisition is different but at the end of the day it’s about getting the information of:
the past, present and future of itself and of its world
for the political entities that support them by either investing in them or paying them.
From an individual point of view, it is apparent that pursuing knowledge is beneficial for financial, mental and physical health.
From a financial point of view, generating knowledge for sectors that receive maximum financial attention is sure to increase the chance of earning higher. For example, for the department of health and human services in the chart above.
From mental and physical health point of view, and their progress, just replace geography by physical and society by individual in the following:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its own and of the world
the past, present and future of itself and of its world
Here I am, in the 21st century (A.D.) living in Nepal. One of the poorest nations in the world. Yet, writing in one of the most advanced writing platforms about the importance of knowledge in the context of the past and future of humanity and the world; using one of the most sophisticated technologies in the world.
Why am I doing this?
Is it because I identify as a global citizen in this world or is it because I am trying to progress the nation I identify with: Nepal?
Knowledge has always been important and will continue to be so as long as humans will exist.
It is cliché to say that we live in an interconnected world where an impact in a certain part of the globe is felt throughout. But it is true.
COVID has proved it and so has Climate Change. So will upcoming crises.
We humans of today have come close to becoming one unit when it comes to suffering. We all are heading into domains, we are unfamiliar with:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its
the past, present, and future of itself
But now we are talking about:
computers that have their own personal identities (others)
our bodies that have been invaded by technologies (itself and others)
unknown zones with possibilities of unknown beings (it and other)
Hence, we do need to upgrade to:
the geographical periphery that society can identify as its own and of the world
the past, present and future of itself and of its world
With the ‘world’ now including:
Our own mixed-bodies
This leaves us with two major considerations:
Just as in primitive nomadic days, any tribe that may have pursued and acquired geographical-temporal knowledge of itself may have survived but failed as soon as it could no longer keep up with and acquire geographical and likewise knowledge of other tribe it came across:
We humans of today, have to acquire more and more geographical, temporal knowledge of the Universe and of Artificial Systems and ourselves for our own security. We have to understand the importance of knowledge!
As we head into the unknown, we never know what will attack us next.
Similarly, ethical considerations also have to be made as to what we would want to be and become. And also how we would like to treat other beings.
We have never been in this place before. But we also have power like never before, therefore, responsibilities like never before.
We all need to know now like never before. That’s the importance of knowledge!
I have spent my entire life in Kathmandu. I more or less know how the seasons work here. But, this October has been unlike any other. It has been very hot and mosquitos are still buzzing.
Yes, I do consume a lot of Climate Change information and that may have influenced my outlook towards this year. But still, it’s mid-October and I am sweating and slapping myself! Didn’t I wear a sweater this time around last year? Weren’t the mosquitos gone along with the monsoon?
I want to know whether it’s always been this way and I have been exaggerating or is there something else to it!
A quick search on Google has revealed the current temperature (the time of this writing) of Kathmandu to be 29 °C.
At 9 AM this morning it was 31 °C.
I checked on a historical dataset tool and it showed that the temperature at 9:35 AM in October 13, 2010 was 23 °C and the weather was foggy. It showed the temperature at the same date and time to be 22 °C and 20 °C and foggy in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Further, at 9:35 in the morning in the 13th of October it showed:
19 °C and foggy in 2013
19 °C and foggy in 2014
21 °C and foggy in 2015
~ 21 °C with broken clouds in 2016
25 °C with scattered clouds in 2017
20 °C with broken cloud in 2018
21 °C with scattered clouds in 2019
25 °C with broken clouds in 2020
25 °C with passing clouds in 2021
It has been more or less around the same temperature at around 9 in the morning as per this tool.
I clearly was stupid to be wearing a sweater this time last year.
I then cross-checked with this tool. It showed weather from the TIA radar. It showed:
At 9:35 in the morning in the 13th of October:
79 °F or 26.1111 °C and partly cloudy in 2010
77°F or 25 °C and partly cloudy in 2011
73 °F or 22.7778 °C and fair in 2012
66°F or 18.8889 °C and cloudy in 2013
64°F or 17.7778 °C and light rain in 2014
72°F or 22.2222 °C and mostly cloudy in 2015
77 °F or 25 °C with mostly cloudy in 2016
79 °F or 26.1111 °C with partly cloudy in 2017
75 °F or 23.8889 °C and fair in 2018
75 ° F or 23.8889 °C and partly cloudy in 2019
79 ° F or 26.1111 °C with light rain in 2020
84 ° F or 28.8889°C and fair in 2021
This tool clearly shows that the temperature has been the highest in 2021 within the last 11 years.
Both tools show that 2010, 2011, 2016, 2017 and 2020 have been the warmest.
9:35 AM temperature in Kathmandu:
in 2000 was 79 ° F / 26.1111 ° C and partly cloudy
77 ° F/ 25 ° C in 2002 and partly cloudy
79 ° F / 26.1111 ° C and partly cloudy at around 8:35-10:15 AM in 2004
81 ° F / 27.2222 ° C and fair at 9:35 AM in 2005
81 ° F / 27.2222 ° C and partly cloudy in 2008
This looks something like this:
I am unsure of the reliability of the data available. But the rise in temperature I felt subjectively seems to be justified.
We saw data of two different sources and the curve more or less looks the same.
Biodiversity is a way of looking at biological varieties of any given space-time.
If I have 20 species of flowers in my garden then it means I have a biodiverse garden. On the other hand, if in the same location I have a concrete floor on which I stand alone with my cell-phone, then it means it’s not a very biodiverse situation.
Since Earth is the only known planet to have any kind of Biology let alone diversity, Biodiversity is used in Earth’s context.
The term “biodiversity” is a contraction of “biological diversity” or “biotic diversity”. These terms all refer to the idea of living variation, from genes and traits, to species, and to ecosystems. The popular contraction “biodiversity” came about in the mid-1980s, heralded by a symposium in 1986 and an influential follow-up book, Biodiversity (Wilson 1988). These events often are interpreted as the beginning of the biodiversity story, but this mid-1980s activity actually was both a nod to important past work, and a launching of something quite new, in ways not fully anticipated.
The diversity of biology on Earth is quite amazing if we think about it.
Roughly 8.7 million species of plants and animals are thought to be existing as of now. Now, that’s a lot of species!
What’s more, there are a lot more species to be discovered. Some are even of the opinion that we have not even properly begun sea-species exploration yet.
If we think about it, a species of any animal or plant signifies something very distinct to that particular species which is not found in any other and which makes it unnatural for it to blend with any other.
In other words, every species has a uniqueness to it.
We humans tend to get very haughty when it comes to our self-image, respect and all that. We are all unique in our own ways and have distinct individual traits. But we’re just one specie: ONE!
There are roughly 8.7 million other species just like us with each individual component distinct from other components of the same species. Just like in us. Now that is diversity. Variation!
What they do is, they take over 14,000 of the population time-series gathered from a variety of sources such as journals, online databases and government reports. After which, a modelling framework is used to determine the trend in population time-series. Rates of change are calculated and aggregated,
…Each species trend is aggregated to produce an index for the terrestrial, marine and freshwater systems. This process uses a weighted average method which places most weight on the largest (most species-rich) groups within a biogeographic realm. This is done to counteract the uneven spatial and taxonomic distribution of data in the LPD. The three system indices are then averaged to produce the global LPI.
There is another tool released by Natural History Museum in London:
I checked Nepal’s 2020-2050 BII with SSP 1 and this is what it showed:
Nepal seems somewhat resilient and functioning in SSP1. But the curve is slightly declining. Similar is the case with other SSPs.
Leading up to the UN Biodiversity Conference COP 15, there was a warning given by Prof. Andy Purvis of the Natural History Museum in London. He said that biodiversity,
…is the foundation of our society. We’ve seen recently how disruptive it can be when supply chains break down – nature is at the base of our supply chains.
Causes of all this
HUMANS, once again Humans!
Plant and animal species around the world are currently threatened by nothing more so than by humans. Our requirements and subsequent activities such as:
Exploitation of natural resources
Depletion of natural resources
is responsible for this crisis.
Impact of biodiversity loss
Biodiversity is not just crucial because variations should exist for ethical, aesthetic reasons. Although those reasons are sufficient enough.
Depletion in biodiversity has a huge adverse impact in the overall ecosystem. Life on Earth is balanced by the interdependence of species on each other. Loss of any species can lead to negative effects on the whole system.
It is a very delicate balance. Predatory creatures losing their prey will also be in danger of extinction as they won’t be able to feed on any other.
All this can lead to serious collapse of the Earth’s ecosystem.
Along with this, there are obvious disadvantages to the human species. One is that diseases will spread. Nature has balanced everything in such a way that even her housekeeping is done by her organisms. A slight deviation in this can result in serious catastrophe to humankind.
Humans will also see dramatic change in their agriculture if this balance is disturbed, resulting in social and economic disadvantages.
There have been international initiatives to solve this crisis. These are the prominent ones:
World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), Conservation International, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), International Crane Foundation (ICF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Oceana.
But these international entities cannot function without cooperation from National and Public entities.
Biodiversity preservation also depends on two sets of actors:
At the National Level, the governments have to cooperate with Scientific and International agenda. Protection of species, habitats, anti-deforestation, overhunting and pollution, etc. has to be strictly followed.
At the public level, it’s all about making people aware of the crisis at hand and making biodiversity loss a normal subject of conversation among people such that people can understand what has to be done from their side. Almost everyone is responsible for over consumption, pollution, exploitation of resources, etc. so everyone has to wake up.
Awareness programs have to be greatly initiated. Public actors have to be active for this. General people are ignorant of these things. They have to be explained as to what is really going on.
My belief is that human beings will survive no matter what. Unless some cosmic catastrophe strikes. My sincere belief is that certain privileged human beings will survive no matter what. Man wants to survive. As Nietzsche said, human beings will do whatever it takes for the survival of its species.
Humans will move on from biodiversity loss as well. Perhaps towards techno-diversity. But, humans will survive.
The question is How? and with Whom? Alone or with other creatures?
How should humans survive?
This question is still out in the open for all of us to answer.
In terms of time, we humans are wired to dwell in two dimensions — the past and the future.
While ideally we wish we could live in the present, realistically we are drifting along time – where the wave of the past keeps stretching. Where the quantity of information from which we are supposed to constantly learn, build and identify is ever increasing. Where the distance to the end of our lives is ever shortening. We are supposed to fulfill or nullify whatever desires have dwelled in us since our birth in that duration.
This leaves us with only one thing to do — absorb ourselves in the past in order to carry over the thoughts, emotions and desires from there to the impending future.
Hence, present is the moment in which our minds dwell in either past or present. In this way, what is now called ‘flow’ is merely the moments where we engage in some activity during which our minds are unknowingly pacified because it knows it is involved in either rectifying some misdemeanors of the past or in acting for the fulfillment of some desire on the future.
As part of this project though, we tend to want to predict the occurences of the coming future. Which seems a natural thing to do. Our minds naturally identify the patterns of past haps and projects the outcomes of the future as per our environment, necessity and all. This process is called prognostication.
This holds true for all individual humans. Hence, as an example of whole-being-an-extension-of-the-parts, this holds true for humans as a species. The reason to study history, we are told, is to learn lessons from the past and apply them to understanding the future, which isn’t at all a false reason to study. But we have no formal study of prognostication or futurology yet. And it is understandable as the future is merely a vague nothingness into which we drift, filling that void as we go along in comparison to the past which is full of realistic information in the form of memories (cognitive or written or such). Future study is impossible as we are complex beings with complex sets of desires and complex technologies in a complex planet of a complex universe, all combining to create a whole and existence that is very very complex.
I just tend to imagine the faces of people in the hospitality sector in Nepal when they heard that COVID was about to shut everything up, who had meticulously planned for their hotels as the Tourism year 2020 was coming about.
Yet we are also beings that try and endeavor and through the lessons of history and the knowledge of the wills of governments, corporates and society we tend to fill pages of Science Fiction and devise mathematical formulas to make some educated guesses. Some of these projections do manage to get hold of us and shape our perceptions to such a degree that any thought of a mutual future and we cannot help but imagine the pictures presented by them. Two cliched futurological works — 1984 and Brave New World are the example of such projections. Both written in the 20th century, the paranoia created by them are real and the amazing thing is that we can find enough clues and symptoms to convince ourselves that the picture presented by Orwell and Huxley is becoming a reality and some of us even tend to make decisions of our lives based on those pictures. Their success hasn’t given birth to less futuristic perspectives through fiction, but I believe all of them have one thing in common:
Those pictures are flawed! What those pictures have done is present to us a futuristic projection of the world based on characteristics of people of that generation presuming the characters to be static. Yes, human characters rarely do change and rarely have the will-to-power and the extent to which certain ambitious people go to achieve and increase it varied since the advent of recorded history, something is different this time around. It is different to such an extent that residual images of the future have to be abandoned and something actual has to be done.
We are at a pivotal point in human history. This is a pivot because we are at a point where we probably have mutual decisions to make in the quantity that has existed never before. All thanks to exponential technologies (thanks Ray Kurzweil) almost all of which have epoch-altering potential (AI, 3D Print, BioTech, Energy, Outer Space vehicles, etc.) we have arrived at a juncture today where not only the decisions that impact all of us forever is to be made, for the first time in history, it is to be made by all of us. This leads to the statement that motivated me to write all this in the first place:
We are at a pivotal turn, where it is not the time to make predictions, it is a time to make decisions!
No, this isn’t some optimistic-pro-democratic BS which terminates with a cheesy line such as — Together we can, etc. etc., this is objective and this is real. How?
Because we have the internet. We are at a point where more than half of the people in the world are connected to a network in which they can exchange any kind of information at a crazy speed. This gives us an ability strange — so strange that the like of which has never existed in such a large scale before.
Humanity has always been ruled by itself but only by a certain part of itself in any given space-time. Those parts have come in the form of Religious leaders, Generals, Monarchs, Merchants, Corporates, Representative Politicians, depending on the time and place. But, what all these varieties of parts have had in common is their insatiable will-to-power and their audacity to do whatever it takes to attain it. We can safely say that humans have always been ruled by those who have had the most desire to rule and who had luck and talent too.
We can also safely say that those parts exist today too. Fundamentally, in the form of rising corporations and in the form of sputtering state-politicians do we have the power hungries today. The former with the likes of Musk, Bezos, Gates, Branson, Zuckerberg, Googlers and their fanboys/fangirls are proud enough already to think they own the show and they are justified in thinking so as they have the most advanced know-how of technologies and business at their disposal. On the other hand the latter comprises struggling political leaders of an ailing system who with their uncanny rhetorics and decaying power-model are likely to go to any extent to keep the throne relevant and themselves in the process because they lack the know-how’s of the real deal.
The former openly controls the exponential technologies mentioned above while the latter will surely devise ingenious methods to control the controllers of the technologies. This narrative is not new as demonstrated by one Buckminster Fuller with the Edison-Morgan narrative, this eternal narrative is also the reason Orwell-Huxley are so influential. But, a slight difference this time around is that the non-power hungry majority are equally capable of huge influence.
As mentioned above, this power of majority isn’t due to some abstract concept of republic/democracy that drove the previous generations — the concepts and their application being that which has proved to be the biggest ‘what were we thinking’ in history of humans.
Once again, due to the internet and the massive interconnection we have going around today, we can be hopeful that the collective mass with no gargantuan power ambitions can make decisions for themselves. What this tool called the Internet allows us to do, if willing, is take in enough knowledge independently and use it to generate ideas helpful for problem solving and decision making and share them ruthlessly to such an extent that the sheer force of quantity will help decisions bend to overall advantage. Climate groups have started to do this.
What we have in one of our hands today is — extremely ambitious corporations with their leaders who know what to play with and how to present themselves as supermen who are here to save the universe, all to increase their power base. They have got their greedy gullible fans by the scruff of the neck whom they will use to shape thoughts and perceptions.
On the other hand, we have desperate political entities who are willing to go to any extent to keep this rusted and failed system called State in operation as it is the only way their limited abilities will take them to power, and they too with their rhetorical skills know where to touch to trigger the patriotic sensationalism.
But as a whole, both of those are unhealthy for a normal person as they together will be disseminating more and more propaganda, lies and manipulations to have their ends meet. The game once again is about the part of humanity ruling the rest.
As Musk and his co. dream of kingship seen never before and Politicians plan to cash in on their rise, we, who don’t quite care of being Kings have to conjoin smartly and efficiently if we wish to not be a modern techno-slave.
All of the exponential technologies are already under the control of the corporates and the corporates are already at war with each other and the rusted diplomats. Everytime there has been a power struggle in history, people have suffered. This time it will be no different IF we do not realize what has to be done and get going.
The Internet and such decentralized technologies have provided us with the option of making our decisions while the kings are controlling each and every sophisticated technology posing as heroes.
The potentiality of the technologies we have is huge. One can just wonder in awe regarding what they will allow us to do and where they will allow us to go. But, one may also equally wonder and regret tomorrow in regards to whom we have allowed these technologies to go to.
If the large mass can come together, this could mean this pivot will lead to a place decided by normal human beings, if not, prognostications, residual images of Orwell-Huxley will become real.
Today, climate change is having a serious impact on the Earth. The actions we take today will determine our fate as a species on this planet.
Although climate change on Earth is a natural phenomenon, human induced Carbon emissions have been responsible for heating of the Earth’s atmosphere to a critical point. The scientific community world-wide seems to have now agreed upon this fact.
It was the Swedish Scientist Svante Arrhenius who gave the first warning on Climate and its impact in 1896. He talked about Greenhouse Gases creating problems for the atmosphere and Carbon Dioxide warming the surface temperature of Earth.
Earlier, in the 1820s Joseph Fourier had developed a theory that said –
the amount of energy entering Earth through Sun’s radiation should be equal to the amount of energy exiting the Earth.
John Tyndall in the 1860s had demonstrated that coal gases (containing CO2, methane and volatile hydrocarbons) absorb energy. He showed how CO2 absorbs multiple wavelengths of sunlight like a sponge.
After this, research on the relationship between Greenhouse Gases and Climate increased and also did the process of measuring Earth’s surface temperature. Mechanisms to monitor climate change through human activities began developing.
British engineer Guy Stewart Callendar noted that the United States and North Atlantic region had warmed significantly on the heels of the Industrial Revolution.
Callendar’s calculations suggested that a doubling of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere could warm Earth by 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). He would continue to argue into the 1960s that a greenhouse-effect warming of the planet was underway.
It was the American scientist Charles Keeling who developed a mechanism to measure the atmospheric concentration of CO2. It became known as the Keeling Curve. It is a graph that shows the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.
In 1963, the first conference on Climate Change was held and the subsequent developments showed that:
Humans have added a great amount of CO2 to the Earth’s atmosphere. Along with it, other Greenhouse gases have also been added:
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Nitrous oxide (N2O)
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)
Water vapor (H2O)
It was then noticed that these gases were heating the Earth. These gases were stopping the Solar radiations that were supposed to reflect back into Space. It was named the greenhouse effect and was confirmed that the absorbed heat was what was increasing the temperature.
Here are a few facts:
The increasing temperature impacts all activities on Earth that are dependent on Heat. And that is everything!
Humans have been adding around 3o billion metric tons of CO2 annually.
In the last 150 odd years, the Temperature of the Earth has been increasing by 0.6 degree celsius. But it is estimated to increase by 0.4-2.6 between 2046-2065 and by 0.3-4.8 between 2081-2100
There is a concept called Tipping point which is a point beyond which Earth’s system will get damaged beyond repair. It is 2 degrees.
If nothing is done, the temperature is expected to increase by 5 degree by 2100
Evidences of Climate Change:
Measured Surface Temperature
Inconsistent season patterns
Appearance of Plants and Animals in environments previously not favorable to them
The Impacts of Climate Change:
Sea Level Rise and its impact
Flood, Landslides and their impact
Biodiversity loss and its impact
Glacial melts and its impact
In 2000, 1,50,000 people lost their lives due to the impact of Climate Change
In 2009, this number raised to 3,00,000
The people residing near coastal areas and mountainous regions are the most vulnerable.
Although adequate warning has been given and nations have started to take precautionary actions, poorer countries such as Nepal have a long way to go. The 2020 CRI index showed Nepal to be the 12th most vulnerable nation from Climate Change. Due to the presence of Himalayas and dependency on Summer Monsoon; Nepal, which is an agriculture dependent nation can have catastrophic consequences if proper actions are not taken immediately.
Glacial Lake Outburst Flood and other natural disasters such as Flood, Landslide, Soil-Erosion have already increased by a considerable margin. The problem though is that enough research has not been done and that which has been done has not been contextualized and distributed among the public and the responsible agencies.
Internationally there have been ‘landmark’ initiatives in regards to Climate Change.
In 1989 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established under the United Nations whose task was to provide scientific basis of Climate Change and impact Political, Economic decisions.
Nepal has also initiated Clean Development Mechanism. It has also agreed towards promoting Alternative Energy carbon neutralization. In 2011, the Local Adaptation Plans of Action – LAPA) was prepared. Nepal is also a part of the Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement and Sendai Framework.
Nepal’s Issue and Crisis
Precipitation, Increasing Water stress. Droughts, storms, floods, inundation, landslides, debris flow, soil erosion and avalanches- are the apparent issues Nepal has to deal with.
Climate Migration resulting from the above will occur and the lack of capable/credible power-structure will only bring more crises thereon.
Nepal’s major crisis will stem from the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood. It occurs when water dammed by a glacier is flooded which results in flash floods of water and other debris destroying the infrastructures of lower regions. This impacts agriculture, settlements, industries and tourism.
Prakash Mani Sharma writes in Climate Change and its Impact in Nepal:
In Nepal’s Himalaya, total estimated ice reserves between 1977 and 2010 decreased by 29% (129 km3). The number of glacier lakes increased by 11% and glaciers receded on an average by 38 km2 per year during the same period. The substantial impacts on snows and glaciers that are likely to increase the possibilities of Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs).
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issued a report in 2007 that claimed Himalayan glaciers could completely melt away by 2035. • The other scientists believe that by the time global temperatures increase by just 2 degrees Celsius, more than half of the Himalayan glaciers will have vanished
even under the present climate at least 44 glacial lakes have been identified with serious potential of GLOFs.
Of these, 20 glacial lakes are identified as potentially dangerous for GLOF events. Among the potentially dangerous lakes, only few mitigation measures are taken.
Several GLOF events have occurred over the past few decades incurring extensive damage to roads, bridges, trekking trials, villages as well as incurring loss of human life and other property and infrastructure. At least 12 GLOF events have been reported to date. These have caused extensive damage and with continued regional warming GLOFs are likely become more common.
Monsoon is another area that will get disturbed due to Climate Change. Since Nepal is heavily dependent on the Summer Monsoon, there is a huge risk for agriculture and other industries.
There is an even bigger risk for areas directly heavily dependent on Summer Monsoon.
Snow, glacier melt precipitation will also bring risk to agriculture and industries. Furthermore, it will increase the chances of floods, landslides and soil erosion. With this too, there is a huge risk for areas heavily dependent on Summer Monsoon.
Here are some facts related to Nepal and Climate Change:
Out of the 75 districts, 29 districts are highly vulnerable to landslides, 22 districts to drought, 12 districts to GLOFs, and 9 districts to flooding.
95% Greenhouse gases generated from Nepal are from agriculture and forests. 77 % of this is from forests.
By 2030 the surface temperature can reach up to 2 degree Celsius.
By 2060 the surface temperature can reach up to 3.8 degree Celsius.
By 2090 the surface temperature can reach up to 5.8 degree Celsius.
70 % of the people in Nepal are dependent on agriculture.
There are 6000 rivers in Nepal with an annual mean runoff – 224 billion cubic meter
Per capita water availability – 9000 cubic meters
~96% water is used in agriculture but only 24 % is used in agriculture
Nepal is dependent on Monsoon. Now there is a risk of greater rainfall.
Monsoon will get even more unpredictable
All this can result in food crisis
Weakened Agriculture sector will be impacted more by Climate Change. There is a risk of Food Insecurity and Food deficiency
There hasn’t been much research on Climate Change in Nepal. Because:
GCM model is difficult to implement
Lack of Climate Change Records
Natural Variations in Water Resources
Poor resource Management
Impacts which can help understand Climate Change scenario in Nepal:
Changes in Precipitation Pattern
Increasing Water Stress
We earlier mentioned Stewart Brand and his three strategies. In Nepal’s case, Amelioration seems implausible which leaves us with Mitigation and Adaptation.
Mitigation – Avoiding the unmanagable.
Adaptation – Managing the unavoidable.
The challenges of Nepal can be summarized as follows:
Too much dependency on Agriculture makes Nepal very vulnerable.
The same dependency results in difficulty in implementing strong policies.
Lack of dependable financial sector.
Lack of Research
With this, there are basically two approaches towards solving the climate crisis in Nepal:
From the National Level
From the Local to Individual Level
From the National level, the best that has been done so far is the theoretical राष्ट्रिय जलवायू परिवर्तन निति
It’s goal is to contribute to the socio-economic prosperity of Nepal by developing a sustainable system. It aims to assist people, families, groups and communities, vulnerable from Climate Change. Not only that but it also wants to develop a sustainable system, promote green-economy and mobilize grants from various sources towards reducing climate change catastrophe.
The policy has identified the following areas:
Agriculture and Food Security
Forest, Biodiversity and Watershed preservation
Water Resource and Energy
Rural and Urban Settlements
Industry, Transportation and Physical Infrastructure
Tourism and Natural/Cultural Heritages
Public Awareness and Capacity Building
Research and Technical development
Climate Change Finance Management
But since these policies are paperworks that will merely feed their makers and the makers’ masters, these are the minimum actions that have to taken from National Level to avoid catastrophe in Nepal:
Focus on Water Management: Sustainable agricultural techniques have to be developed that are less water intensive and refocused efforts have to be put on the rehabilitation of water infrastructure.
Focus on Infrastructure development and crisis mitigation: Roads, Electricity and such infrastructures are going to suffer. Appropriate preparations have to start NOW.
Support Local and Independent Actors: If you can’t and don’t want to do it yourself, at least don’t make it difficult for others.
From the local to individual level:
Awareness programs have to be greatly initiated. Usage of less water, diverse agriculture, micro irrigation, small scale storage, etc. have to be taught and adapted. Public actors have to be active for this.