Sowing the Seeds of Transformation
We are presently in an environmental crisis and we are just now starting to wake up to it.
Realizing the seriousness of this crisis is not easy because we don’t want to believe that it’s true.
It’s difficult to accept that we will be faced with greater food and water shortages in the future, that the sea will continue to rise, and that, somehow, the way we live our lives will have to change.
That’s why when Chancellor Amma initiated the Amala Bharatam cleanup project, I felt like she was not only stirring us from our sleep of disbelief, but that she was actually changing the way we live our lives.
Recently, when she wrote to the Amala Bharatam participants, she emphasized that by cleaning up India, they are also changing the culture:
“Children, through this action you have begun a transformation. You have sown the seeds for a great culture.”
Inspired by Chancellor Amma’s letter, I took time out from my busy seva schedule to participate in the cleanup at the beach shoreline near Amritapuri on November 24th.
As I began collecting trash on the shore, I suddenly remembered that 14 billion pounds of trash ends up in the world’s oceans every year, killing as many as 1 million sea creatures.
Even more disturbing was the realization, that India, the second fastest growing economy in the world, with a population of 1.15 billion people, will have more and more money to spend as time goes on. More money means more trash.
If India as a society does not become educated about the negative impact their actions have on Mother Nature, and if their behaviors do not change, their financial wealth may destroy the cultural wealth of this rich nation.
As a westerner, I ran to India, a country where I saw spiritual values at the heart of the culture. Now, however, when I look back, I see western culture running after me; and what I am seeing is not the strengths of the west following me to India, but rather its demons.
With these thoughts on my mind, I began urging the Amala Bharatam participants to work quickly so that we could collect as much trash as possible. I imagined any trash we left behind floating in the sea; I even suggested to several people who were sorting trash as they collected it, that they should stop because it was slowing them down.
Eventually, one ashramite pulled me aside and explained, “It’s not just about picking up trash; we are also setting an example of what to do with it, and sorting is an important part of that process.”
Her message became clear to me later when two village children asked me where they could find the hard plastics bag. They wanted to deposit the plastic bottles they had collected.
These children are the seeds that have been sown by the Amala Bharatam project.
Chancellor Amma has said, “Only if we generate love and compassion in our hearts and come together as one can we hope to make a change.”
The participants of Amala Bharatam, through their united effort, are an example of what it’s going to take to solve the climate crisis.
Together, we are making a change.
–Malathy Sanborn, Web Services