Friday, March 6, 2009

Don’t just waste yourself. Rather, manage your waste!

As lent and fasting gather steam and surge ahead as part of the Christian calendar, some people already look tired and even sport beards as part of their piety. The thought during lent and fasting is also one of wasting ourselves, by not eating and sometimes following a strict diet. It also brings about a belief that by doing this we are purifying ourselves inside. Well and good I would say.

But in our quest to find new meaning in an old custom we should also look at different ways of seeing the same thing. In the series of thoughts that we have already been introduced to, we then have to understand one more thought. This is the thought that we have to manage our waste and purify the environment rather than only concentrating on wasting ourselves and thereby purifying ourselves.

The place I come from in Kerala is called Thiruvalla. It is a semi village, semi town which comes under the control of the municipality. In the past twenty years or so, with the changing scenario in the state, as in other parts of the country, and also due to liberalisation and globalisation, numerous changes have come about to the landscape. One of the greatest changes is the huge piles of waste that adorn different parts of the town. The stench coming from this along with the flies pose a health risk to the inhabitants of the town. Add to this the pollution of the water table and what we have is a time bomb right underneath the town. This could be due to several factors.

1. Less space for more people- Due to migration of people from villages and other places, people find themselves staring at a reality of less space in which they are cramped into a certain way of life.
2. A culture of spending- The easy instalments lure and the loans for A-Z have led to a culture of spending on things which are supposed to make our life easy. These are then thrown after use to make space for new models.
3. The proliferation of plastic- Plastic has done what we thought nuclear bombs would do. Silently though powerfully, it has invaded every inch of space and thereby led to adulteration of the soil.
4. Lack of public interest- The struggle to keep up the 9-5 job and the ‘I am not bothered igloo life’ has led to commerce taking over humankind. People don’t have the time or the energy to protest what is happening.
5. Corruption in public office- Maybe we expect too much from politicians and leaders. They are after all only humans like us. Corruption just gets bigger and uglier and money decides and not the people.

When this is what we are facing, our task has to be redefined and reconstituted. Instead of wasting ourselves we have to look at how we can manage the waste we are producing. Can we decrease this, can we say no to plastic, can we take care of most of the waste we produce? Today a few concerned citizens of the town, both men and women are getting together to protest the apathy of the municipality in the management of waste. It is a meaningful protest at a meaningful time. Truly, they are the ones who are making this lent meaningful and worthwhile. Hope the church can also finally free itself from self purification and help in the purification of all.

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