Gaya’s notes on Thear are widely known across the universe to be insightful. They document the Thearan civilization and the causes for its downfall. Here is an excerpt from her notes that came to my attention this week…
The idea of development of nations
On the planet of Thear, Thearans divided their world into territories called nations.
Each nation considered itself independent, autonomous, sovereign, and a unit of self-interest. All the activities within each nation were driven in self-interest.
Some nations had a Thearan who was the supreme ruler of the nation. In other nations they would have several Thearans who made up a ruling coalition through a process similar to what is known across the universe as democracy.
Whatever the form of governance, Thearans believed the purpose of governance was for the well-being of Thearans in their nation, or to further the interests of the nation. To that end, each nation on Thear measured its performance on well-being of Thearans in the nation.
Well-being meant that each Thearan had to have more things and consume more things and services. Some referred to the well-being of Thearans as development. Every year each nation also published an index of Thearan development and a gross national production of goods and services to declare their nations developed or under-developed.
Soon every nation was in competition with others at growing their gross national production and increasing the index of Thearan development. Researchers of planetary cultures have documented the competition of nations in exploiting the resources on Thear to have higher Thearan development index and higher gross national production. In just 50 Thearan years, the sum of the gross national production of all nations put together grew a whopping 84-fold!
Thearans occupied more and more space for themselves leaving less and less space for other species on Thear. Thearans never recognized the interactions of the different species with their planet and each other kept their planet liveable. Fewer and fewer Thearans recognized their aggression on other species. They showed no humility towards the other species, the other nations they shared their planet with, or even the other Thearans they shared their planet with.
Each nation on Thear, in their pursuit of higher and higher gross national production, increased the intensity of their activity – more and more activity happened in every hectare of their nation’s land. More the intensity of activity, less and less of their environment was resilient. Fewer and fewer nations exercised restraint on the intensity of their activity to allow the environment to support the natural evolution of the different species of that land who contributed to keep Thear liveable. Thearans even forgot that other species helped keep Thear livable.
It is no surprise, then, that while each nation was busy asserting its supremacy over the others, and its success at growing its gross national production, Thear became more and more unliveable. Thear’s landscape increasingly looked like a war-zone as the nations exploited mountains, rivers, forests for resources.
More and more of each nation on Thear was covered with discarded goods and even discarded food. Thearans called these as waste.
Some of the things Thearans discarded were even toxic – they poisoned the food and waters in their nations. As long as the gross national production increased, it did not matter that the not only were other species dying from the poisoning, but so were Thearans.
Even Thear’s atmospheric composition changed – and consequently Thear’s climate began to alter. The planet got warmer, the weather patterns changed, and they had more and more of extreme events. More and more of the crops in their nations failed to produce its normal yields. More and more species on Thear started to vanish, faster and faster.
Increasingly Thearans were invaded by microbes that they had never seen before, causing pandemics for longer and longer periods of time. Few on Thear thought that this had anything to do with the eroding well-being of their planet.
Thearans were busy with Thearan well-being in their nations to notice that their planet itself was less and less well. In fact, many even believed that the health of the planet did not matter for Thearan well-being. Some even believed if each nation could accomplish well-being, they would be accomplishing planetary well-being.
It may be that Thearans did not care for planetary well-being because they had no measure of planetary well-being.
It may be that Thearans did not care for planetary well-being because they were too focused on the gross natnal production in their nations to notice they shared a common planet, or that their common home was unwell. It may also be that Thearans liked to believe that the planet’s health had nothing to do with their activities. Perhaps that is why they continued to promote gross national production or Thearan development index in their nations.
The idea of nations and not linking their well-being from the well-being of the planet was perhaps the final straw for the planet Thear. It was the missing feedback to let Thearans know how their actions affected planetary well-being.
Gaya’s notes about the failure of Thearans to concern themselves with planetary well-being document dystopia and the resulting tragedy on Thear.
The belief that best nations build the best planet remind me of the story of the farmer who wanted the best mango tree. The farmer hired the best geneticists to splice the genes from the best mango trees they could find to put together a mango tree. They looked for the genes for the best size, shape, flavour of mangos. They looked for the genes for the best growth, strength, and yield. They put them together and to their surprise they did not have the best mango tree, nor did they even have a mango tree. What they had failed to consider that the mango tree is not about best genes, but about the working together of different genes. What they failed to understand was that the best mango tree happened by taking care of the tree, not its parts.
Planetary well-being happens by taking care of the planet, not by attempting to put together different nations that one believes are the best. Without planetary well-being there is no nation.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or individuals or institutions that may be quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
He can be reached @AnupamSaraph