December 12, 2011
44 million and counting. During the first six months of 2011,* that’s how many people were affected by the 108 natural disasters that occurred world-wide.
Beginning with the Australian floods and the New Zealand earthquake, the year also saw the devastating Japanese triple disaster: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.
Catastrophes continued during the second half of the year also. Millions more were impacted by widespread drought, massive forest fires, rainfall and flooding.
In early November, floods in Thailand submerged one-third of the nation, disrupting lives of nearly 10 million people. 113,000 were left homeless and 720,000 were in need of urgent medical attention.
Deforestation, overpopulation, land mass sinking due to over-pumping of ground water, urban development and poor river management exacerbated the impact of the floods.
Thailand was the world’s largest exporter of rice. The flood waters spelt doom not only for its rice fields but also for countries far away that depended on Thailand for this essential commodity.
Disasters aren’t isolated events: they have widespread consequences affecting food and water security and economies around the world.
The millions affected by disasters this year were forced to change. However, we don’t have to wait until disaster strikes; we can change now.
Why do we need to change? Amma says that we are taking three times more than what we need from Mother Nature. We cut trees, dig bore wells, build dams against free-flowing water, cut stones from mountains – the list of exploitative practices goes on.
Amma warns us that if we continue in this manner, Mother Nature will withdraw Her blessings and turn against man. Mother Nature’s reaction then will be unimaginable.
Making an effort to reduce our consumption of water, electricity and petrol may ultimately save lives and repair some of the harm caused by our indiscriminate actions.
If we are the cause of nature’s disharmony, then doesn’t it follow that we are also the solution? Mother Nature can begin to restore Herself as we replace our bad habits with good actions.
This year, countless people experienced untold sorrow and suffering because of numerous disasters. We need to cultivate the awareness that what we do or don’t do really does make a difference.
When we live a life of worship, kindness and selfless service, everyone benefits. Every time we reduce our consumption of natural resources, like when we walk and don’t drive, it’s as if we are offering a prayer to all of creation.
This understanding can help us turn a few positive actions into satisfying good habits that last. Amma has said that even the smallest thing we do for others can bring about a great transformation in society. We may not be aware of it right away, but every good deed certainly bears fruit.
As 2011 nears its end, let us resolve to begin 2012 with a determination to follow Amma’s words. “When harrowing situations arise, we should try to use them to gather mental strength, so that we can grow, rise up and rise to action.”
• Be kind to others and smile
• Give thanks to Mother Nature for all She provides
• Reduce, reuse, recycle
• Turn off unnecessary lights and fans
• Use less water
• Walk, bicycle or carpool
• Avoid using non-recyclable plastic
* According to EM-DAT’s international disaster figures
A Sustainable Way of Life