One of the most defining moments of my life was when my 6-year-old came home from school. “Amma, we learnt about global warming”. Wow, I thought, turning to her with a big smile thinking this would be the beginning of her life as an ecowarrior, earth-crusader, green-brigadier or the countless other things we call each other and our children for simply doing the right and sensible thing.
To my dismay, however, she looked frightened and with her upper lip wobbling said… “if global warming comes and the earth explodes, I want to die before you.” Her fear sliced through me, and eight years later as I write this, I can still feel the pain just as keenly. All my life, like thousands of others, I have done the ‘’right thing” — whether it’s not buying fast food, takeaways, plastic toys, a car, segregating my garbage, refusing my daughter many times things she craves because “it’s not good for the planet”— still, there seems to be not even a glimpse of a better future.
Could it be because we’re doing it all wrong? Holding ourselves accountable when industries and government get away with zero accountability? TPP plants all over India have created dystopian landscapes — of white ash on land where nothing can grow anymore. Winds scatter the ash far and beyond. Soiling the water. Clogging the air. Still, alternate energy is a distant dream. The appetite for wider roads can never be satiated — our roads are still congested despite having sacrificed thousands of homes and farmlands to make them. A robust public transport system is still a pipe dream. Plastic is ever prevalent — in the form of flimsy bags in spite of so much awareness. And however much all of us continue to do the right thing, we cannot win unless industries and the people we vote into power are held accountable.
Why do we demand so much virtue and selflessness from our children when we don’t have the energy to push the people who are meant to serve us? While forests are still giving way to mines, trees still chopped for architectural updates, water bodies still drained for development projects. Let’s never call our children entitled or spoiled again. We’ve stood by and allowed their legacy to burn and now expect them to sacrifice their childhoods and stand on the frontlines. We always say that we’ll stand in front of a bus for our kids, right? Well, that bus is hurling along — at top speed — coming for them. Come, hold my hand. Let’s stand in its path.