by Pratap Antony
We humans have been in existence for less than 1% of life on Earth.
In the short time of our
existence, we have impacted everything; every part of our small blue
planet. Our home!
We have been around for only 200,000 years - Archaeologists have
calculated that humans originated about 200,000 years ago in the
Middle Paleolithic period in southern Africa, and migrated out of
Africa around 70,000 years ago and began colonizing the entire
We spread to Eurasia
around 40,000 years ago (there is no geologic boundary between
Europe and Asia - so they are combined as Eurasia.) and Oceania
(roughly Australia to Fiji), and
reached the Americas just 14,500
Humans are a member of a species of bipedal primates. We walk
upright. We also have opposable thumbs so we can grip 'things'. We
have, what we think of as a highly developed brain. And so, we have
called ourselves 'homo sapiens'.
In Latin, "Homo" means
"man" and "Sapiens" means "wise". Wise Men...
Dinosaurs existed for 135 million years. It is estimated that
dinosaurs were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for 135 million
years, from 231.4 million years ago till around 65 million years
Dinosaurs lived for a greater time on the planet than man.
Scientists explain the extinction of dinosaurs with one or two
was due to an extraterrestrial impact, such as an asteroid
a massive bout of
We humans though, have
been around for a comparatively short while, yet we are making
ourselves extinct due to our own activities.
In our short existence, we have impacted every corner of the world
with smog, with acid rain; by breaking-up habitats and causing
We have taken the route to deforestation to make more room for
ourselves. And, through sheer cruelty and indiscriminate killing, we
have disturbed the ecological balance of nature.
Birds and animals are dying and
gradually getting extinct.
Seasons and the soil have
been changed harmfully. We are waging ecocide to garner greater
power to ourselves.
We are cruel without
remorse and we hold nature, environmental issues, truth and justice
in contempt. We will soon be wiping ourselves out due to man-made
climate changes and devastation of food and water supply.
And, we also
wage war with each other. We are
Our excuse - Cleansing, development and progress.
The irony of it all is we
justify our destructive tendencies as intervention and manipulation,
for cleansing, development and progress. And we do this because we
suffer from a delusion that sees us as being separate; we think that
we live in a higher plane than everything else.
But trees, birds, animals
and men are all inseparable parts of nature.
"Any intelligent fool
can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes
a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the
We humans are part of the
same ecosystem. Each creature on this planet has a reason for its
existence and is as important to life on earth as we (humans) think
We are dependent on nature. Nature is not dependent on us. When we
destroy an ecosystem, we are destroying life that depends on that
ecosystem. Humans and nature are powerfully linked and co-evolving.
All living things in an
ecosystem depend on all the other things - living and non-living -
i.e. organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings for
continued survival, to form a self-regulating, complex system that
contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.
All the actions and
reactions that take place and affect one part of an ecosystem,
affect the whole ecosystem in some way or the other.
We are only one small part of the web of life, yet we, in this short
time of our existence, have treated our planet so shoddily and with
such a callous contempt that we have irreversibly damaged our planet
and shortened our own existence on the planet.
When nature cannot defend itself there will be a backlash.
Nature cannot resist our
wiles and will eventually succumb to our destructive tendencies.
When forests are mined for minerals and other resources and laid
bare of all their biodiversity, desertification will take place.
Lakes, rivers and water
resources will dry up.
There is no wisdom in man killing what sustains man... and with it,
humankind! The backlash will not be nature fighting back! But, of
nature as we know it, dying out!
Homo Sapiens… Wise Men? Not at all...!
Our wisdom is highly
disputable. Dinosaurs were considered unintelligent, due to the
small size of their brain compared to their body size. They existed
for 135 million years. They didn't kill themselves. But, man is
Our planet is not in danger. Humans are in danger. From ourselves...
Humankind is on the road
to extinguish ourselves. Sooner rather than later. The future for
all of us is bleak.
The planet will continue
as it has for the 99% of the time before man, it will adjust and
continue. Perhaps with other life forms, other vegetation, other
The earlier we learn to curb our innate inclination to be brutal, to
pollute and to annihilate, and the earlier we will learn to live
with compassion and in peaceful co-existence with ourselves and with
nature, the better it is for us and our continued existence.
"When we respect the
environment, then nature will be good to us. When our hearts are
good, then the sky will be good to us.
The trees are like
our mother and father, they feed us, nourish us, and provide us
with everything; the fruit, leaves, the branches, the trunk.
They give us food and
satisfy many of our needs. So we spread the Dharma (truth) of
protecting ourselves and protecting our environment, which is
the Dharma of the Buddha.
When we accept that
we are part of a great human family - that every being has the
nature of Buddha - then we will sit, talk, make peace.
I pray that this
realization will spread throughout our troubled world and bring
humankind and the earth to its fullest flowering. I pray that
all of us will realize peace in this lifetime and save all
beings from suffering".
Ghosananda (1929 - 2007)
revered Cambodian Buddhist monk,
known as the Gandhi of Cambodia