I never realized how attached i felt to Earth – and nature, really – until recently. Attached may be too casual a term. It’s a strong sense of … belonging, love, emotional connection, to this place we inhabit.
Yes, it’s always been on my agenda to stay green as much as i can, within the realm of comfort. I’m a convenient environmentalist, you can say. Although i did once have a mental meltdown crying in my dorm because i accidentally printed a thick bunch of notes one-sided by accident. I felt like i’d manually chopped down 10 trees and robbed 10 ecosystems of their home. Anyway.
The first hints of this overwhelming emotional bond i hold for Earth would probably be when i first read Station Eleven. Without giving away too much, there was an apocalypse, and civilization was no longer as it was. Although not explicitly nature, i felt the utter loss of a world once ours. This line, particularly, cut too close to home:
Recently, i picked up The 100 on Netflix (and have since blazed through two seasons haha). It’s such a fantastic show in itself – the natural gender equality, the moral dilemmas, the fantastical settings, the character developments and the strategies. But that deserves a post on it’s own.
Earth has been irradiated for a hundred years, and generations of mankind were circulating up in space in an Ark. They learn about life on Earth through literature, films, word of mouth. When the Ark became unsustainable, they had to venture down onto Earth. This was late into the first season, when Abby (one of the older adults) who have lived her whole life up in a spaceship, found her way to Earth. She steps out into vast waters, the brilliant sunlight, the trees and mountains. She couldn’t stop drinking everything in, just standing there in absolute rapture.
On her headset, she communicated with the Chancellor who had no chance of heading down.
“Tell me what it’s like.”
“It’s so green, there are trees everywhere. It’s just like I imagined. And the air… it’s… Sweet.”
At this point i straight out ugly cried and couldn’t stop.
I could feel, so acutely, the pain and loss of being away from Earth, our natural home, where we were formed from dust — where we were dust for billions of years. I felt such an immense longing, an appreciation, and joy, all at once, for being here on my natural grounds. It was then i realized that Singapore wasn’t my home, Asia wasn’t my home, my true home was Earth.
Yesterday, i attended The Lesson by Drama Box.
The premise was simple: of seven sites, we had to collectively choose one to evict.
- The halfway home: A place for rehabilitation of drug addicts and offenders.
- Columbarium: Has a rich history and houses the remains of our ancestors.
- Wet market: A place of significance for the elderly who are friendly with the sellers. For sellers, their livelihood depends on the market.
- Marshland:It had rich biodiversity and houses many of plants and animals. Only 0.02% of Singapore remains as marshland.
- Cinema: An old cinema, seldom used, that runs Indian films on the weekends and is a place where migrant workers gather.
- Flea market: The only remaining market where it is rental free for sellers. Their livelihood depends on it.
- Rental homes: Houses underprivileged residents who have lived there for years.
The choice for me was simple:
If i had to protect one place – it would be the marshes. There were many pertinent points brought up by others at the event:
– Marshland cannot be transplanted or replicated, unlike man-made buildings. Once destroyed, its unique ecosystem is lost forever.
– If there are only 0.02% of marshland left in Singapore, why are we so hellbent on destroying something of great rarity?
– The effects of destroying nature might not be immediately felt, but it will show itself for our next generations.
– That nature had no voice of its own to stand up for itself. It has no sob story or sad old people we can relate to or sympathize. But just because it doesn’t have that angle of human interest it doesn’t make it any less significant.
Don’t get me wrong, i feel for the plight of the underprivileged, for rehabilitating offenders, for migrant workers. I really do. But to me it’s about whether there are alternatives, and considering these alternatives, which eviction would cause the least/most damage?
I chose to evict the cinema. I do believe in fighting for the well-being of migrant workers, which was the main argument against evicting their place of gathering. BUT, i don’t feel that this particular cinema has great bearings to their well-being. There are alternative locations to social gathering. Sad stories about migrant workers and their hard lives here is moving, but distracts from the fact that they are irrelevant to the objective importance of this site. In short, evicting the cinema has the least collateral damage done.
One realization struck me, hard, yesterday as i observed everyone making their choices and explaining why they protected certain sites. Many of them started with “I have personally encountered offenders / I’ve worked with migrant workers / I regularly talk to wet market hawkers.”
Right. Even though i personally have a soft spot for the columbarium holding my grandfather’s remains (i’ve never met him and always associated him with this location i’ve visited since infancy), but why should PERSONAL sentiment rule when making a decision that affects community as a whole?
Why is YOUR personal encounter with a rehab offender any more important than another’s personal encounter with an underprivileged rental resident??? Your singular experience doesn’t allow for a broader appreciation of cost and benefit. I’m not saying any of their suffering is irrelevant, but how do we minimize suffering WITH ALL POSSIBLE VICTIMS HELD EQUAL?
As a human race, we need to look beyond our immediate selves. What does our world need, what do our future generations need? How do we decide beyond what directly relates to or affects us? If stripping down a site of sentiment is robbing you of a fond memory, what have we done to the land? We have robbed 99.98% of nature from this land we stand on. We need to see beyond ourselves to appreciate the broader implications of tearing down nature.
I felt VERY AGITATED yesterday when we were asked to stand at the location we would evict, and i saw that some chose the marshland.
I know everyone is given freedom of choice and opinion.
But. I can’t help. Boiling.
To me, it’s the most self-centred who cannot see beyond what directly impacts their lives. And this is my theory on all the greenhouse-hoax declarers. Trump is a perfect example. He is a piping infant who cannot comprehend making a decision that doesn’t immediate gratify himself.
And that’s how i see anyone who doesn’t give a damn about harming mother earth just because it still seems fine and sunny right now. Look beyond your damn little bubble. Think about the future, think about broad implications.
Breathe. I need to breathe.
We have taken too much from this beautiful, generous land that borne us. It makes me sad.
That said, i chanced upon this song after my rampant raging for Momma Earth. It came at an opportune time and i’m v moved.
Earth is a beautiful young girl, dying but still smiling. This is for you Planet Earth.