The roots of happiness

Does happiness lie in affluence only?

WORDS WITHIN

FIRDOUS SYED

It was but natural for the Karl Marx the father of socialist ideology and author of magnum opus Das Kapital to predict that “capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction”.  Stretching this proverbial statement of the great thinker a further, it will not be an overstatement in case it’s claimed that the modernity contains the seeds of destruction of entire human civilization.  What that is new is modern. For a caveman the discovery of fire was modern. Or for that matter the invention of wheel, the most far-reaching innovation some may claim till date, was modern. The process of evolution is as old as beginning of life itself on the planet earth, modernity in that sense certainly is a continued process of evolution. In case process of evolution is a natural phenomenon signifying progression then how come progress contains the seeds of destruction?
Let us not confuse natural process of evolution with that of modernity induced by the industrial revolution.  The era after industrial revolution has hardly left any aspect of the life untouched. The period after post industrial revolution underlines a successful story of an unprecedented development. Yet it is a chronicle of wanton destruction also. In this backdrop it can be safely assumed that the modernity contains within itself the seeds of human destruction also. The gratuitous desire for progress has brought to fore a deep conflict between development and conservation. No doubt the development has radically advanced the comforts of life; still at the same time an ecological disaster too is looming large.  
Even few decades ago entire J&K was reeling under utter poverty. The people of this area slowly but steadily have succeeded in breaking the fetters of historic backwardness. Ongoing process of progress and prosperity has radically altered the entire outlook of Kashmir; overall conditions are not as harsh as it uses to be even five decades before. Indeed we have progressed and progressed in leaps and bounds; explaining the obvious is of no use. But, at what price? The ecological costs are quite high; the development process has caused irrespirable loss to the Mother Nature.  The greens have been turned into a jungle of concrete, fresh streams of water stands fully polluted. The conflict between nature and the deployment is not unique to Kashmir alone, it’s a universal phenomenon. Man has caused an irreparable loss to the environment; the erratic weather patterns need no further scientific evaluation that nature is angry with the man.             
The furry of ‘hybrid’ Sandy storm has stunned the ‘climate scientists’ in America. It will take scientists years of rigorous research to offer a conclusive explanation. Still experts consider the global warming to be one of the contributory factors behind the nature’s fury. Climate change is an established fact; “human-induced global warming has been raising the overall temperature of the surface ocean, by about one degree Fahrenheit since the 1970s”.  Ever since the Industrial Revolution ‘humans have warmed the planet about 0.8°C” and as a result the “ocean rose about eight inches in the last century”.
In the pre industrial revolution period, man and nature lived in complete harmony; existence of life on earth fully protected the fragile ecosystems. However post industrial revolution in less than few centuries what we describe as modern period the material greed of man has deeply imperiled the future of life on the earth.      
The massive energy craving is the reason behind the global warming. The more the ‘Ecological Footprint’, the more the chances of global warming.  The higher energy consumption insures high-end comfort for the citizens of rich nations. Yet do these societies live as happily as the material-comforts they possess?  On an average an American citizen uses “8.35 TOE (tonnes of oil equivalent) per person” per annum; next three countries are Canada 8.16; Finland 6.4 and Belgium 5.78 TOE per person. Likewise in America for the year 2011the electricity consumption was 1363 watts per person. In the list of ‘so-called Happy Planet Index 2012’ none of the G8 countries figure in the first forty, superpower America is placed at a humiliating no 105, just four notches above the war ravaged Afghanistan.  Ironically Afghanistan consumes just 1watt as compared to 1363 of America but both they are placed well below the hundred happiest countries on the Happy Planet Index, separated by only four countries in between them. Anybody still believing in the notion that material comforts can bring happiness is in need of quick psychiatric examination. While as countries like Colombia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan consuming 95, 360, 17, 61 and 47 watts per person per annum respectively are amongst the first twenty happiest countries in Happy Planet Index 2012.  It can be said that with the kind of knowledge that man has acquired presently, he has been broadly able to overcome the curse of hunger and disease. Still despite tremendous scientific outreach, man has fully failed to find a fine balance between development and nature. However that’s not the only predicament, in spite of the indiscriminate exploitation of the nature, man still lives unhappily. 

(Feedback at firdoussyed@yahoo.com)

Lastupdate on : Fri, 9 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 9 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 10 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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