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Only after the last tree has been cut down;
Only after the last fish has been caught;
Only after the last river has been poisoned;
Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten.
- Cree Indian Prophecy

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Pantun?

(c) Thinking Aloud

......destroying nature is akin to destroying a part of us and ultimately the whole of us.....

Alam hanya sementara
Buana biru belantara
Salah orang nampak ketara
Kalah kita tak bersuara

The lyrics from Zainal Abidin’s “Pantun?” felt appropriate as I drove on a pleasant Sunday morning to Pantai Acheh to participate in the USM/MNS Pantai Acheh Scientific Expedition. It felt good, very good to be participating in a project to lobby for the protection of a part of the Earth from the ravages of humanity. Just like the above lyrics, the wrongs of humanity are obvious, more so if nobody speaks up. Every day nature is losing ground to humanity’s expansion, every hour plants and animals are disappearing. Unless a stand is taken, unless a voice is heard, nature’s destruction is assured.

Laut biru betukar warna
Rumpai karang tidak bernyawa
Udang berarak tidak bermaya
Imbangan alam dah tiada

Earth’s ecological balance is seriously threatened. Even in Pantai Acheh, the sea water is by no means clean. The presence of hordes of jellyfish suggest that their natural predators, the sea turtles have dwindled in numbers. On a national scale, we are losing huge tracts of forest daily to agriculture, plantations, new highways and ever increasing human habitations. When will the carnage stop? Will it stop?

Tidak terkata rasa sayangnya
Bumi dipijak rasa bahangnya
Tidak terkata .. tidak terkata

It has to stop. We have to stop the destruction somehow. However, our motives have to be scrutinized. Nature has to be protected not just because it’s protection benefits humanity. In the midst of discussions on biodiversity, medicinal plants, recreation potential, tourism, etc. we must not forget that we must strive to protect nature not just for our own sake but also for nature’s sake. Nature must be protected because plants and animals have just as much right to exist on our dear planet as we do. However useful utilitarian reasons are for lobbying for the protection of Pantai Acheh, we must not forget the ethical ones which are ultimately more important.

Kalau boleh bersama kita pelihara
Dunia bahagia hidupan selesa
Lambat ia binasa hidup lebih lama
Hidup lebih lama

If I sound preachy, then perhaps I am preaching ... on behalf of all major world religions. The major mono-theistic religions of West Asia, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have postulated that not just all life on Earth but even Earth herself is a creation of God. It follows then that humanity does not have a right to destroy other life-forms that has been created by God lest we dare imply that other life-forms were created by God in error.

From South Asia, the major religions, namely, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism postulates that life does not end with the decay of the physical body. Life continues by being continuously reborn as different life-forms. It follows then that all life, regardless of species of even kingdom are linked and essentially one. We thus have as much right to take a life let alone an entire species as we have to take a human life. For all we know, the life that we are taking might be that of a deceased relative’s reborn.

Finally, the major religions of East Asia, namely, Taoism, Shintoism and Animisn all advocate a livelihood that is in harmony with the natural world. Humanity is a part of nature, not apart from nature. It follow then that destroying nature is akin to destroying a part of us and ultimately the whole of us.

Dulu ikan senang dijala
Penyu singgah berduyun duyun
Kini sudah jadi bencana
Usah dibawa turun temurun

If the utilitarian, ethical and religious reasons for preserving nature are still insufficiently convincing, then perhaps a final reason will ... cold hard logic! All life are inter-related in this world. Plants depend on insects for pollination, carnivores depend on prey for sustenance, we depend on oxygen for respiration and the list goes on. Like it or not, we depend on others in a web of inter-relatedness. Destroying other life-forms will adversely affect the survival of humanity. Perhaps the affects have yet to announce their presence but I would not place my bets on the future being spared ... unless ... only unless ... we do something to preserve nature NOW!

Apa ada harus dijaga
Hasil bumi berkurang oula
Senang kita senang sekarang
Esok lusa padah bermula

Thinking Aloud
26/4/2000

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