Humanity – A Burden?
Did you know that science has found a quick way to solve all ecological problems? Annihilate humanity! Biologist E O Wilson, among many other scientists, has studied the complex interdependence among various species in the biosphere. He found that every species makes some constructive contribution– small or great – to the ecology of the planet. For example, if the vegetation – grasses and shrubs – decrease, the herbivores suffer. And if the herbivores decrease, the carnivores are affected. But he found that there is one species that does not contribute to the ecology. Yes, it’s the human species. If the human species
became extinct, there would hardly be any problems for any other species or for the ecology. In fact, most ecological problems would be solved if humans became or were made extinct. Arguably humans constitute the most intelligent species on the planet. Yet science indicates that “intelligent” humans are nothing but a burden for the planet. Normally in a classroom, the more intelligent a student, the more potential he has to make a positive contribution. Then why is it that the most intelligent species is making, not a positive, but a negative contribution to the planet?
The timeless Vedic scriptures – and in essence all the sacred scriptures of the world —answer: human potential is fully realized when they contribute to the planet at the spiritual stratum. When they function only at the material level, their potential is at best underused and at worst misused. The ShrimadBhagavatam (1.2.10) gives the mission statement for human life, “Humans should function in the material realm only for maintaining existence, not for seeking enjoyment. For they will find real happiness only in spiritual realization and in nothing else.”
And just as the children can live happily when they follow their parents, we too can flourish if we live in harmony with nature and God, the sustainer of nature. When the children run away from the protective embrace of the parents, they risk accident, kidnap and other dangers. The scriptural recommendations to practice physical restraint and seek spiritual fulfillment constitute God’s embrace. When humans reject God’s protective embrace and embrace materialism and consumerism instead, they experience stress, anxiety, violence— and ecological disaster.
Materialism and consumerism lead to greed, selfishness and exploitative mentality, which comprise pollution of the heart. These ideologies pervert the pure human desire to find immortal joy in loving and serving God into the polluted desire to seek flickering pleasure by exploiting nature. This pollution of the heart impels people to knowingly persist with activities that pollute the environment. For example, due to greed, industrialists avoid treating toxic effluents before releasing them into rivers. Therefore only when people learn to find happiness within, and not without can we hope to avoid ecological apocalypse. The easiest and the most effective way of finding inner joy is chanting the Holy Names of God. When people chant, find inner happiness and become free from pollution of the heart—greed, selfishness and consumerism, they will desist from activities that pollute the planet.
Therefore to save the ecology, there is an alternative to annihilating humanity: annihilate instead the ignorance that misleads humans into materialistic living.