For Real Progress Learning to Avoid is As Important as Learning to Acquire

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Human beings were bequeathed a bountiful and beautiful planet as their home and there is enough for all of us to lead a satisfying life, while also providing enough for other forms of life. But there is overwhelming scientific evidence now that this has been messed up badly, mainly by the more selfish and powerful members of humanity, with the terrible result that not just the beauty and the bounty but even the basic life nurturing capacity of earth are badly threatened, with the poorest people and other forms of life really having to suffer a lot for absolutely no fault of their own at all.

As we try to make amends, our efforts must not merely be technological but must, above all, extend to the way most human beings are encouraged to think right from early days, leading to widely prevalent trends of greed, endless craving for more consumption  and acquisition , in turn leading to the urge for dominance, snatching and violence. If instead human beings are encouraged from early days to think more along lines of limited needs, sharing and peace, a firm foundation for peace, justice and environment protection would be created in the form of conducive behavior patterns of most human beings.

A basic aspect of learning is that for real progress it is as important to learn to avoid ( certain things) as it is to acquire ( certain things). To give a most obvious example, for health and nutrition we learn from early days that it is important to eat various diverse nutritious foods so that balanced nutrition is ensured . Access to these nutritious foods should therefore be acquired and we will of course like to eat these in forms that we find tasty. This is fine. But at the same time as we should learn to acquire these, we should also to learn to avoid liquor, tobacco, the more harmful forms of junk and processed foods, excess eating of any kind of food but more particularly of meat and high fat food. Hence both learning to avoid certain things is as important as learning to acquire certain things   for the objective of good health. If the perspective is not just to ensure  good health but in addition to avoid all waste and to protect environment and to ensure enough nutritious food for all, then of course this emphasis on knowing what to avoid becomes even more important.

At a wider level, just as all human beings have to learn to acquire the means of meeting all their needs in a satisfactory way, similarly they have to learn what to avoid. If this simple concept can be incorporated into our educational systems and in our value systems to a significant extent, this can help a lot in creating those behavior patterns which are in keeping with  curbing  wasteful and harmful consumptions as well as the endless cravings for more acquisitions. This will help greatly to bring much needed improvements on the pathways towards environment protection, peace, justice, better health and caring for other forms of life.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children and Planet in Peril.



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