In the year 2040, we will eat money.
And in the night, we will hear the clink of coins and the ruffle of notes in our bellies.
We will put up hoardings of elephants and tigers, bison and beasts, deer, and polar bears.
They will illuminate every intersection of the city,
and children will have their photographs clicked.
Occasionally, a loudspeaker will echo the trumpeting of elephants and the growl of tigers.
The kids heading to school will hop in hysteria.
A few will shudder at the unexpected noise.
At supper, all of us will gather to chew crisp paper notes from our gold-plated plates.
The poor will complain of the taste of lesser denominations.
“Nothing unusual in that”, the wealthy will guffaw.
Their teeth stained light brown, and their breath smelling of nickel and zinc.
Afterward, we will consume a soup of shredded currency to wash down the aftertaste of copper coins.
In the night, when a diseased sky stained with smoke and soot hangs above us,
we will dream of green pastures and summer mornings, the croak of frogs, the chirping of crickets, and the sound of rain.
In that dream, we would be children, with flowers in our hands and knees caked with mud.
We would bathe in delicate light and trace the course of homebound birds with our tiny fingers.
In the morning, we will wake to the steady hum of machines and electronic chirping of birds.
We will put on our golden boots and adorn our favorite suits—lined with gold.
At the breakfast table, the children will demand to hear the bray of zebras.
We will promise them a tour of the museum in the evening and go about our day.
Pictures by Markus Spiske
Greenwashing and other marketing gimmicks
In a world of conspiracies, political motives, corporate greed, hearsay, lack of morality and ethics in the media who serve them, it becomes your responsibility to research, verify facts, and discard any hogwash that twists narrative and denies the truth. The large corporations resort to “greenwashing” to push the sales of their products and make hefty profits. Greenwashing is when a company or organisation spends a part of its budget on marketing themselves as environmentally friendly to cater to the public who wants to be part of the ongoing fight against the climate crisis. What is surprising is those who will believe in such deceitful marketing gimmicks and convince themselves that their actions are bringing about a change. There is no limit to gullibility in the world in which we thrive. Social media ads, bright green posters, labels and stickers on appliances and products, tags on shirts claiming to be environmentally friendly (also overcharging), hoardings that scream green, pretentious minimalist hashtags, all of them pushing the agenda to make the most of the ongoing crisis and fill their pockets.
Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue and Marx’s concept of alienation.
According to Martin Buber, a renowned philosopher known for his philosophy of dialogue, there are two kinds of relations we share with our surroundings: I/thou and I/It. In an I/Thou relationship, we treat fellow humans and our surrounding nature with authenticity, love, and compassion, without objectifying them or seeking value from them. In an I/It relationship, we do the opposite. We relate to each other as objects and thus remain in a state of alienation. Buber predicted that with the rise of industrialization, the I/It relationship would be predominant and consume us. There is thus, no genuine interaction between people if each one is hell-bent on extracting value from the other.
According to Marx’s four types of alienation in a capitalist society, “alienation from nature” is one of them. We have seen nature, not as a part of ourselves, the complex eco-system that we thrive in, but as a resource to be exploited to make profits. Large industries, often driven by the motive to make quick bucks, destroy everything in their way, thus disrupting the eco-system and displacing many species that thrived there. They often force the indigenous people to evacuate with little to nothing given in the form of compensation. The same industries then employ thousands of workers, have them work under harsh conditions with meager pays, and sell the final products by branding them and then overpricing them, eventually alienating the workers from their creation, thus giving rise to the alienation of the final product from the worker. The workers/employees who create the product cannot be affectionate towards it. In a market where profit is primary, each worker regards fellow workers as a competition, alienating him from others. This process alienates each person from the self. Unable to cope with this, in a capitalist society, people often “consume” to keep themselves sane. Since production and consumption complete the cycle, there is no will for creation. These are the remaining forms of alienation. This cycle is never-ending.
While I say this with utmost sorrow, that there is not enough time left, I do not advocate “eco-fascism” which requires individuals to sacrifice their interests for the greater good. It becomes, inevitably, another form of authoritarianism. According to several trusted media outlets, the damages caused by eco-terrorists by arsons, sabotage to property, bombing, and vandalism amount up to $100 million. The anger against large corporations, organizations, and governments is understandable. Governments keep allocating protected lands, forests, and wildlife reserves to mining industries and large corporations in the name of “development”. This is not a case of black or white. Common people do not seem to be bothered by this. The problems of the present are not theirs to carry. Brush under the carpet like everything else. Right? Worshipping leaders and putting them on a pedestal is something that needs to stop. Wrong-doers must be held accountable. I read a quote somewhere that perfectly sums up this piece.
Half of the misery in this world is caused by people whose only talent is to worm their way into positions for which they have no competence.
Of course, we’re reaping the benefits of modernism, the comfort that it brings, and the safety that it ensures. To deny that would make us hypocrites. However, to view everything around us as “commodities” is something that we must ponder over.
I hope that this poem offers you a hand to hold on to, if you too, like me, feel lost and grieve over the destruction of trees, the poisoning of rivers and oceans, the endangering of animal species, damage to our surroundings, and the explicable loss that torments us. There’s a term coined for the grief that one feels over the changing climate and the widespread destruction to the environment – Solastalgia. Though this poem might not bring comfort to you, I hope it awakens a sense of responsibility and urgency.
There is another poem I’d written to bring to attention: “Utopian nightmare” and the “Hivemind” mentality. Find it here: My Mother Does not Awaken.
When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.Cree prophecy.