Saturday, April 16, 2011

Incentives of Being Single #2

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Incentive 2: Save the Earth

             Now, more than ever people are environment conscious. With the current spate of unusual global weather, one cannot help but think about our role in the changes that are visibly occurring around us. Think of the sunny rainy days we have lately. You don't know if its summer with the heat of midday or it's the rainy season with the heavy rains in the afternoons. Watch the news and you'll see the floods of Pakistan, the heat waves of Russia and the US and you wonder about your place in it all.
            We've all passed a phase where we want to change things. As youthful kids once, we looked at the apparent idiocy of the adult world and told ourselves that we will show them a thing or two when we grow up. We once harbored big dreams of changing things for the better. However, with time and age we realize that these dreams gets out drowned by the same concerns we once considered trivial. The desire to become activists has to be set aside in the futile search for financial security. Our ambition to volunteer for worthy causes gets sidestepped when we realize that our jobs tend to drain us of our energy leaving us as empty as drained batteries wandering aimlessly in the haze of existence at the end of the day.
             We look at the new crop of youngsters following our wake and hope that they'd carry the torches we can't raise up. We know however, as those that came before us probably know also, that this is merely a passing thing. Their idealism that was once ours tends to get swallowed by the more mundane concerns that crop up in our lives. When we leave the sanctuary of innocence and are fed to the world, we are changed forever. This is inevitable.
             Routine slowly whittles away what's left of our passions until it leaves us wasted away like childrens rag dolls thoughtlessly discarded in the trash. We change to become the adults we once detested. A cruel irony of fate, perhaps. I fail to see the comedy in it.
             There are ways you can rekindle that hope, though even if to a mere flicker. They are simple but in the long run, they give us a portion of that desire we once hoped for. If one is passionate about the environment but have no time to join formal causes one can do the following. Get a tote bag (most supermarkets have it nowadays). The plastic bags you save may mean a big difference to someone else tomorrow. Eat inside establishments and don't opt for take-out. The Styrofoam you don't use would give the earth a few more years of breathing time. Segregate (though garbage men mix them again when they get to the dumpsite. Idiotic but it's the truth. City planners are bureaucrats who are more interested with balance sheets than greenhouse emissions. Until someone hammers some senses into them, we are left with trying to subtly influence them through action.) Walking instead of riding are also options among many others.
              But if you really want to make an impact; I mean really MAKE an impact.
              Do this.
              Stay single.
              Humans are social creatures. The more we interact with others, the more waste we generate. Our carbon footprints increase the more we interact with others. Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't socialize. That would be crazy advice.
              Let's look at it this way. Marriage exacts more energy from the earth compared to solitary living. Add children to the mix and you see a domino effect. The waste generated by marriage from its many complex processes is considerably larger than that generated by a life of solitude. Add to that the carbon footprint of future children and it is multiplied more so.
              I'm not saying that having children is bad. To many of us, they are the vindication of a life spent in abject monotony. When we realize that our dreams are slipping from us every passing day spent in the rut of life, we turn to the future for that continuation of hope. Our children carry that hope for us. Nothing can ever change that.
              But if we are willing to let go of that and focus primarily in the impact we make to our world, then there is a sacrifice that needs to be made.
              The population of the world in mid 2000 peaked at above six billion people. Thats 6,000,000,000 people, friends. This is projected to increase to 9.3 billion people by 2050. The National Statistics Office pegs the country's population in 2007 at 88.57 M and estimates it to grow to 94.1 M people by this year's end (
). And considering that most couples don't just settle for one kid but instead desire more, this trend shows no sign of abating. That puts massive strain on the country's resources. We are rather unfortunately a family oriented race and we show no signs of ever changing.              So it takes a certain bit of courage to make a stand. Kids beget kids and then it branches out ever more increasingly as the years go by, the carbon footprint we leave behind ever evolving. At least from the standpoint of the environment, it is a bane. And since we don't want war which usually acts as the population checker and we definitely don't want disease wreaking havoc. It leaves us with limited options, if we really care.
              It sucks not having kids. To see mothers and their children during our solitary strolls at the mall or fathers carrying little toddlers on their shoulders at the park would send us into a state of sad introspection. There is pain there. To see a couple sharing a private joke during dinners out or to see families sharing picnics by the lagoon would randomly ignite this sad switch. Even a dad waiting for a preschooler to get out of her school or a harried mother straining to contain two rambunctious kids while managing to shop could set off that sad emotionl inside us. It makes us long for something unreached, it makes us doubt what we know logically to be right.
              I probably could say that being single would free you for the time to make an impact. That being single would give you time to join worthy causes. But, let's face it. Loneliness drives us to these endeavors rather than passion. We may not want to accept it but it's the truth.
              No great cause can be reached without sacrifice. I could probably write that. It's a lame excuse for something and we know it. We cheer outwardly but inwardly we question our resolve. After all we go home to empty apartments at the end of the day, hollow edifices that are monuments to our fears.
              Deciding not to marry is not a sacrifice. People would tell us that we are sacrificing a lot of things we'd probably be happy with. PROBABLY. It's a lame excuse. Both for and against.
              So going back to the initial thought. Being single does help save the earth. You will leave a lesser carbon footprint. With the right choices you can write on your gravestone that you are a faithful child of the earth. But like all choices there are things we have to let go in order to be true to ourselves. There will be moments of melancholy that will haunt us probably during some reflective days in our lives.
              I do not write to convince anyone to remain single. That would be bad and callous of me if I did. For those who do make that choice, I merely present some things to ponder upon. After all it remains a matter of choice. We can choose to father a family and hope that the new generations would have the courage to do what we cannot or we can choose to make an immediate impact with our own lives and make something of it. Either way, in the process we find something of ourselves.

                 Next time, the third incentive: the stress is less.


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