Ever since the dawn of human life, philosophers as well as common people have often pondered on the meaning and role , the goal and aims of human life. Many ideas have emerged, some interesting and valuable, others clumsy and risky.
When humanity is examined not just in isolation but in integration with nature and environment, and all the millions of species of various forms of life which inhabit this planet, then an overwhelming fact emerges of a certain uniqueness of human species. Hence a unique and crucial role belonging to just the human species needs to be defined and specified in the context of and in relation to the uniqueness of the human species.
The uniqueness of the human species is defined by the fact that this species alone, among the millions other that share the planet, has the capacity and the capability to change the course of events of earth in significant ways for itself, for other species, for nature and environment, in deliberate and planned ways, for better and for worse. The elephant and the whale may be huge, the lion may have an overpowering physical presence and a peacock may have enchanting beauty, particularly when dancing, but despite these no doubt impressive characteristics, by and large they merely live out their predictable roles on earth before departing from it, without changing life and life patterns in any significant way, or having any pretension, inclination or capacity to do so.
On the other hand human beings have the pretension, inclination as well as the actual capacity to do so, in good as well as bad ways. While Gautam Budha has left an enduring and very widespread message of peace, Hitler has left a legacy of destruction. The wider reality is that human beings alone, among the millions of species on earth, have the capacity to change life of all on earth in significant ways. Human beings alone have the capacity to plan for very protective as well as very destructive changes and then also execute and implement these plans.
In addition even without any planning, as a result of the huge technology they can command, they have the capacity to inflict colossal , even irreversible damage, just by random, unplanned actions, even routine actions executed without any thought or caution regarding their implications.
This damage can be very distressing, very costly for nature, environment and various other forms of life, as well as for human beings themselves and their future generations.
Human beings are a peculiar species who apparently shower the greatest affection on their children and grandchildren, yet pay hardly any heed to checking those of their actions, and the systems created by them, which deny a safe future to their children and grandchildren.
Another peculiar feature of human beings is that often when they sharpen further their tools of inflicting more destruction, or develop new and more powerful tools for this purpose, they describe this as their progress. Their leaders get photos clicked alongside these tools, which are then published in newspapers and shown on TV, followed by much glee and celebration.
Traversing this path humanity finally comes to a juncture when the destruction inflicted by it on all is so heavy that the basic life-nurturing conditions of planet earth are badly threatened and there is a very real chance that in the near future, sooner rather than later, this disruption may become irreversible.
At this stage, more than at any other time, it becomes of critical importance for humanity to be reminded about its crucial and unique role on earth.
As humanity alone has the unique capacity, among all the species of earth, of protecting as well as destroying life on a huge scale in planned as well as random ways, this unique capacity has to be matched by widespread and durable acceptance of its unique and most essential protective role, of being protective towards its own members, towards other life-forms, towards nature, environment and habitats.
This is the most essential as well as unique role of humanity whose understanding and acceptance is today needed more than ever before as the basic life-nurturing of earth are badly threatened by human-made factors.
However at precisely the time when this role is most needed, it is being neglected and violated the most. This is the most critical problem of our deeply troubling times, which has to be sorted out as early as possible on the basis of the highest priority and urgency, and all the other important work in all other areas has to be linked to this.
Bharat Dogra is Convener of Save the Earth Now Campaign with its SED Demand ( Demand for declaring the next decade as the decade for protecting earth from weapons of mass destruction and ecological ruin). His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children, Earth Without Borders, Planet in Peril and, in Hindi, Dharti Ki Raksha Ke Liye Nirnayak Hoga Agla Dashak. Web-site bharatdogra.in Contact email@example.com