This post began on 13th April 2020, was refined in June 2020 and then I refrained from publishing it. Finally now.
Operating on faulty first principles is the way of the human species. After making a wrong beginning everything else is managing consequences and adjusting.
A pandemic has seen humans scurrying. Death is in the air and everyone wants to ensure that its not their life or a near and dear ones which is on the line. Through the same so called pandemic and lockdown there has been an upsurge of sentiment for and about nature and a guilt tripping about the impact human species is having on the planet. Issues which were being highlighted for years but going undiscussed are now on table. Though I believe economic recovery will soon be the focus.
A keener understanding of nature would bring us to appreciate just how much death is an integral part of life. Pick your favourite natural haunt, a sanctuary or a tourism hotspot, mountain or beach, what makes the place tick and remain refreshing and bring joy is death. You don’t see or experience suffering and sickness. Death has cleaned up the landscape of clutter.
If anything, nature is quick and liberal in dispensing death than life. Death is what makes life worth celebrating in ecosystems which have been left relatively untouched by human presence. Without death those ecosystems would suffer from the same issues for which we need campaigners and heroes and champions and Nobel prizes and policy and support.
In nature there is no room for the weak, whether with weak immune systems or otherwise. There is no error margin for the unhealthy. There is no question of skipping your daily yoga and diet and keeping cardio-vascular and orthopaedic health. Everyone is self-actualised, a struggle with the human species, even with best-selling authors and philosophers over millennia.
Millions and maybe billions of humans suffer from experiencing a lack of meaning and direction in their lives, seek magic pills and potions and drugs and workshops and books and videos to transform their lives, to live happier, more content, control anger and depression. There is no such need in nature. Death is the cure for all of this. If that is where you begin with as the first principle then nothing of all this follows and there is no need for cures.
A ruthless and paranoid focus on efficiency (not the word of choice I would like to use here) ensures that any process or organism seen as inefficient – requiring more resources to support than the median norm – is eliminated at the earliest so that only those meeting the benchmark standards remain. There is no affinity for one or the other. Todays benchmark performer may be tomorrows laggard who would then be shown the door. The performer would not have built a crony support network to bail him out when he turns a laggard.
This ensures that only those who can hit the ground running are in the race and the others are all eliminated. There are no special provisions and subsidies and reservations. Of course, there is no exploitation and misappropriation either. When one is absent the other becomes irrelevant.
Those who survive live strong and proud lives, with self-respect and dignity. They do not have to grovel; they have not surrendered their liberties to any among them or out of them. They remain bound by a few universal laws and surrender only to them free of manipulating and exploitative political and social systems. Minding their own business and operating in the few rules that they jointly agree with fellow members of their and other species.
The human species is bloated with the weak, less talented and the outright burdens. And the species goes against natures first principles by protecting them rather than letting them be eliminated unsentimentally. The existence of these weak and less talented leads to much suffering, discord and conflict (when they merge with the strong and healthy) which produces a drag effect and considerable inefficiency. All this is then sought to be resolved in crafty ways, creative ways, spiritual and philosophical ways. All to no avail. When the first principles are so much in denial no craftiness later can provide relief.
And death in nature is not just about the weak and diseased, it can strike the strong equally. You may be a top of the chain tiger or any other predator, who saw siblings fall off after a few months of birth, learnt all the right hunting tricks from the mother, was able to fight off competing tigers and establish a comfortable territory for self and then suddenly a few hunts go wrong, you have a fall during one of the hunts, a competitor take advantage and suddenly its end of the road for you. No insurance or welfare state doling out a universal basic income or helpful neighbours. Nobody grieves, the landscape takes over, you may have been king of the jungle but then soon scavengers who once feared you take over and you become part of them and the rest becomes one with the soil.
In nature a virus eruption like the one confronting the world currently would have been allowed to run its course and cull out the unhealthy. No judgements, no morals, no bias or taking sides, no sentimentality. Whoever remains would have been healthy and been alert towards their own health.
Among the mistaken notions the humans species has about self is that it is compassionate and caring and feels heart and concerned. In Mumbai that compassion is missing when millions of people are made to subsume their existence into dingy and unhealthy living quarters. Or hang out of overcrowded trains. If corona virus is a life and death and health issue then so are those slums. The crisis is explained as a result of India’s population. A lie at best. Every single of those people can live in a nice house and enjoy a good commute. No doubt the population is runaway high and a problem but that becomes a convenient cover for the large-scale mismanagement and exploitation by the establishment, which is the root cause. In nature the establishment does not cause any such suffering. It is seen as ruthless when it dispenses death but it is compassionate to spare such a scale of suffering to its constituents. There are no real estate mafias there and political dynastic satraps.
The lockdown itself is a great example of the convoluted sense of compassion and logic in the species. Hundreds of millions of people have been economically debilitated and made into beggars almost overnight over a virus which has a 1 percent fatality rate. More people have suffered alive than in death as a result of this so called virulent and deadly virus. A minor percent of people with enough resources to survive them comfortably without income for few years have come to decided for a majority who need to earn everyday to feed themselves and are resisting the absurdity but to no avail since they do not have ‘power’. And the greater irony that a species whose evolution into the current stage was marked by the ability to cultivate and settle down now has large sections who cannot cultivate their own food and are dependent on ‘income’ for food.
Would those who have erupted in the current sentimentality about nature like to endorse and subscribe to nature as such? To see the death of one’s own kith and kin, even as a benevolent act of nature?
In denying death the human species denies life. In manners of thinking which are unique to themselves they see nothing wrong in such a denial and it noble to thwart death(life) and save life. The vaccine developers are more of a business response to an opportunity, not a love for life. They see only that part of the picture (life) which provides life to their balance sheet.
And this is where a distinction is important. In the human case a lot of those who are seen as strong might in reality be terribly evil and vicious. Their so-called strength arises out of manipulation and chicanery. There is cunning in nature and when push comes to shove every individual will exhibit behaviour inconsistent with what’s good/bad as per human definitions but nothing like the evil and chicanery that exists among the human species.
Death due to ageing or not as a result of predatorial aggression happens gracefully without attendant display. Think of when you saw or came to know of the death of your street dog or cat or crow or pigeon or sparrow. They just seem to go away when the time has come. What you get to see is always a fresh picture free of the pain and sorrow. That tree branch outside your window will over the years only present a joyful picture of various birds go about their daily chores and play.