Bangalore-Deepwater Horizon, Connected?
Sitting here in Bangalore, watching the Deepwater Horizon disaster grow in scale in every dimension possible, I wonder at India’s almost total lack of interest in what is unfolding.
It’s too far away, some will say. Oceans between us, say others. It’s America’s problem. They did it, let them take care of it. Gulf? You mean Dubai has oil? Mexico? Nice beaches.
So it becomes clearer to me everyday that the earth is anything but flat, hot or crowded. Regardless of what all those armchair globalists will have us believe, with their Ivy league short-sight and dystopian visions cleverly disguised to look utopian.
For the most part, the world is held in tightly compartmentalized boxes of culture or geography. All the information fed into the specific culture or geography is to ensure that the vision within remains local, short-sighted, banal. Media, at least main-stream versions of it, are all now merely repeaters of news-bytes, fed to them by giant conglomerate news distributors.
So I sit here in this controlled information box, luckily with an eye to the outside world, having lived and travelled extensively, especially in the US.
The names, the states, the people, the outrage, the lack of action… all resonate with me, deeply. I was there when 9/11 happened. I was there when Katrina happened. I remember.
And the US, that beacon of the new, modern, industrial state, is such a fractal representation of the world. Each state is it’s own controlled information box. Relentless focus on banal local issues, while the big picture, the one that really matters, blows in the wind.
So why should Bangalore think about GOM, Deepwater Horizon, America, It’s current and coming suffering? Why should a Bangalorean or a Delhi-ite or a Mumbai-an even care? They are on their own treadmill lives, running to just keep up.
Maybe this is why:
a. GOM is a global disaster. Fractally speaking, maybe THE global disaster. It screams out at us, every day, about how broken our relationship and how dependent our lives have become on oil and all of it’s derivative industries. It marks the low-point of a long-trend of human over-reach. Of human hubris. And starkly, of our short-comings. It brings into starker relief what is hidden away from our eyes but happening every day, every day. Industrialization (of which Oil is the life-blood) is built on collateral damage, of a scale that is unprecedented in human history. Just Google “global Industrial Accidents and Injury Statistics” to get a picture. Efficient systems have brought efficient systems of oppression. Technology has enabled that terrible word, arbitrage, to be applied in every sphere of the economic world. And arbitrage is soul-less. It only understands profit. So we are all on the same boat. Sink or swim. Looks sink-y to me.
b. Most likely, your livelihood depends on what happens there. India’s new found wealth, exploding (ironic) middle class, disposable income and all the goodies (malls, goods, goods and more goods, more like bads bads and more bads, but that’s just me) are all bought and paid for in Dollars, masquerading as rupees. All smart people reading this can do their own math. We built this consumption edifice on a massive export of labour. We’ve been labour arbitraged. And labour, unlike goods or machinery is a fickle commodity. It is a commodity that is in tight compliance with the demand-supply curve. If the US suffers (as it will, anyone with eyes to see who denies that reality have mother culture’s blinders tightly on) all of us suffer, economically. And just as cheap credit based disposable had plentiful if deleterious trick-down effects, the trickle down stream will dry up just as fast. The vast “demand gap” that the west hopes to en-flame in conspicuous consumption is a mirage fueled by the fires of their own money spigots. A conservative old culture that we are at heart, we will and will have to shrink back into our shells. Use and throw, always alien, will make a roaring comeback. As you consider this, imagine our software/services export bandwagon’s dependency on the US as our number one client. IF your client cannot pay, you cannot pay. Banks will not lend. And it will happen with a swiftness that will leave most people shell-shocked. Don’t panic, but pay attention. Every earthquake gives many little temblors as fore-signs. Right now, the signs are everywhere.
c. Here, there. Us, them. Ours, theirs. All imaginary division. The famous adage of a butterfly flapping it’s wings in china and a hurricane happening in the Pacific is not just some old saying. Everything, everywhere is deeply connected. Indian Idol or the World cup of Football or this or that dis-traction might keep you un-aware, but we are all of a piece. The fabric of life is, in all it’s myriad differences of expression, is one.
Bangalore, are you listening? Chennai, are you listening? Mumbai, are you listening? Hey, even New York, are you listening?
Feel for the Gulf Of Mexico. Feel for the wild-life being sent back into the mix in the most ugly of circumstances. Feel for the clean-up workers, breathing toxic fumes to earn some money in a sinking economy. Feel for the people who are looking at a loss of property, at a generational loss of a way of being. Really, feel them so you can feel for them. This is not an invitation to despair, neither is it a paean to hope.
It is a call to action. Inward action. Even quantum physics has proven the fact of action at a distance in atoms. Us sentient beings, imagining ourselves to be the crowning glory of creation, evolution, should be able to do much better, yes?
Be well, be your “self”. Be.