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Command And Control

Command And Control

December 2005: The vision disturbs me every day of my life.


Like exquisitely crafted sand castles collapsing under the weight of soggy impermanence, the tapestry of human happiness wilts – forest by thinning forest, river by lifeless river.


Credit:Shodhan Bhatia 


For the thousandth time I ask myself why I, of all people, was chosen to clamber on the shoulders of stalwarts to enter the control tower in which I now stand. Why me? Why did the Kailash Sankhalas, Sálim Alis, Dharmakumarsinhjis and Deb Roys of the world gift me their love and respect for things natural? And who elected me to peer into the crystal ball of tomorrow?


Above and beyond the bustle of daily life, in the little-known control tower, no answers come my way.


What I do see are flickering images in the crystal ball – children mourning the death of turtles pushed aside to make way for ports and dolphin-less channels cut crudely through a marine paradise for Trojan horse ships to carry away green-fringed iron-earth that belongs to tigers.


Back on terra firma, unable to discard the sticky green baton thrust into my unsuspecting hand, I study the social psychology of men and women guided less by reason than rapacity. Like Romans of bygone days, they bring to mind robots moving from feast to carnal feast, eating and vomiting, eating and vomiting, leaving the toxic table only when other, stronger, self-replicating androids from Von Neumann’s murkiest nightmare overwhelm them.


These angelic Slender-billed Gulls photographed off India’s Jamnagar coast are unaware of the dark destiny awaiting them at the hands of the automatons. They and all the wild creatures that collectively craft the complex mesh of life that supports us, are genetically programmed to trust that tomorrow will come. Valiantly, they continue to clean the Aegean stables.


Celebrating them and working at their side are Earth’s poets, writers, thinkers and visionaries, who believe that Francis Bacon’s 400-year-old wisdom, so sharply on display in his Novum Oraganum, will again one day assert itself as the dominant paradigm for human development: “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”


Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXV No. 6, December 2005


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