(This article was posted in the "Meditations" column of the Hindustan Times on 25 September 2002.)
THE WORLD Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg just ended on September 4th (the South African government spent US$58 million). First, few can be proud of our world, because too many of us have been hoarding, dumping, and making deals such that the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the air, water and earth get increasingly toxic.
Second, in my book Divine Nature, I referred to a world based only on the things we can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. For many, such a world is the only reality, and they have no value or vision beyond this.
Third, greed has herded us into cities, leaving millions of hectares abandoned. Our planet is far from crowded. A simple calculation shows that every man, woman, and child (about six billion in all) could be placed within the 210,038 square miles of France, with each person having about 975 square feet of living space.
Fourth, when global economics come into play, activists like Maneka Gandhi, Vandana Shiva and Rajendra Singh are left swimming against the tide.
Fifth, if the WSSD lacks treaties, agreements, targets, timetables, and sanctions for non-compliance, it's because its delegates haven't realised that God awareness is the key to biospheric stability, and the mantra most environmentalists should be singing is that of the Isha Upanishad, which teaches us that everything and every living creature is owned and controlled by God. Vandana Shiva would agree. The Upanishadic text goes on to suggest that we only accept necessities, echoing Gandhi's maxim that the world 'has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed'.
Sixth, as rocker Sting once sang, "there is no material solution to our troubled evolution." The WSSD skipped an essential issue by not appreciating or crediting the inherent connections and harmony that exist amongst humans, animals and plants, due to God consciousness.
And last, but far from least, is this thought: without God as a starting point, any discussion on re-cycling, food security, and human rights yields no conclusion. When the root is missing, the trunk, limbs, and ultimately flowers and fruits cannot appear. Skipping environmentalism's basis is abortive.
God is in the picture, but who do we see? A space where life should be.
The writer is emeritus mernber of the ISKCON governing Body Commission