Collective Identity

Lets think of our human body, something that we are most familiar with. Yet, we somehow miss learning from our very own bodies.

A thorn prick in the leg immediately results in our mouth shouting ouch, our hand rushing to the leg to remove the thorn, a tear or two dropping from our eye, our hearts and mind urging us to throw it away from the path so that no one else is likely to be hurt the same way. So much happens.

What if the hand, eye, heart, mind, mouth were to say, “Its not my problem”. In the short term, the leg would suffer, but in the long term, there is going to be more trouble for the entire body.

Such is the interconnectedness that exists all around us. Everything is connected to everything else.

I often notice autos and buses whose exhaust is smoking black fumes but the drivers themselves are tying handkerchiefs to their mouths put up from the smoke of nearby vehicles. Strange isnt it !

In my trips to rural sites, I notice the success (although partial) of the LPG gas connection scheme for the households in rural areas. This seems to have made life more comfortable for the women. But then, there is a particular fast growing plant that was often felled for its branches to be used as fire wood. Today that is growing in abundance. This plant, lets its roots go very deep and sucks up large amounts of ground water, making the communities local tanks and lakes get dry faster. Strange isnt it !

Last month, during our organisations off site, we had a professor from Azim Premji University, Ms Harini Nagendra talk to us about sustainable solutions. She cited a few examples to help us understand the challenges in addressing damages caused to nature. The fire in Australia has resulted so much smoke that has now settled on the snow cap mountains in New Zealand, accelerating its melting. Black absorbs light and heat. Strange isnt it !

We know that oral hygiene is very important. Mouth is the door way to our body. We are encouraged to brush twice everyday. And we are also encouraged to change our tooth brush often. We get healthier. But today, plastic tooth brushes are the second largest plastic pollutant in the oceans. Strange isnt it.

In each of the above, there are both gains and losses ! Mostly short term gains and long term losses !

Somehow, in the idea of individual freedom, choice to do anything, live anyway, we forget that we are shoring up the losses that will come back and bite us or our loved ones or our very own next generations.

What then should be our approach? I personally beleive that solutions are difficult. Because, mankind is yet to figure out the complex interconnectedness nature of the creation. We dont know many things.

The rush to renewable energy is already creating newer problems. Increased mining for extracting rare earth minerals for making solar panels. Indestructible non-biodegradable wind panes from windmills piling up. We are creating huge underground storage tanks to store radio active water used in Nuclear power plants ! Incomprehensible isnt it !

I did ask the speaker, Ms Harini Nagendra as to what could be the reason for our inability to comprehend the inherent interconnectedness that is so prevalant all around us, including our very own bodies. I asked if this is the natural limitation of the human mind.

I liked her answer. She said that this is something to do with modern education ! She went on to say that many indegenous communities displayed far greater and deeper understanding of the nature of things.

In my recent visit to a tribal village – Sariya in Vishakapatnam district. I got a chance to see some of the below:

The first two pictures are self explanatory. Let me elaborate the third. Its a night shelter for the goats. Its at a height, protecting them from snakes. But also their poop gets collected on the floor and this is a rich source of manure for their farms ! So much wisdom isnt it !

I recently read a book titled One Straw Revolution written by a Japanese scientist, who later became a natural farmer – Masanobu Fukuoka. He says, “People think they understand things because they become familiar with them. This is only superficial knowledge. It is the knowledge of the astronomer who knows the names of the stars, the botanist who knows the classification of the leaves and flowers, the artist who knows the aesthetics of green and red. This is not to know nature itself- the earth and sky, green and red. Astronomer, botanist, and artist have done no more than grasp impressions and interpret them, each within the vault of his own mind. The more involved they become with the activity of the intellect, the more they set themselves apart and the more difficult it becomes to live naturally.”

I think its hard to know what the specific changes we have to bring about in our lives. Rather, we should start altering the sense of identity and how we relate ourselves to the world. Once we recognise that our identity is collective and not individualistic, over time, this enlightened value system will drive the choices we make in everyday living.


  1. SaiRam 🙏 Gadimanoj,
    Went through your write-up. Very interesting facts and a lot of unknown informations were revealed to me which I think people would have just brushed aside as insignificant otherwise. Yes it is indeed a sorry state of affairs that humans don’t adapt and try to be one with nature respecting it and being a part and parcel of it. It is this selfish , greedy nature that has brought about so much of imbalances in nature and widening the gap between us and nature.
    High time we start respecting Mother Nature and bow our heads with humbleness and accept Her as our protector, nurturer and live in harmony with all the rest of the species created by Her.
    Pranams to SaiRam 🙏
    Vatsala Shanker

    Liked by 1 person

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