On Sunday, Jan 11, 2009, students at the Amritapuri Campus attended a talk by Dr. Diana Wais at the ashram’s Kali temple. Diana spoke about global warming; she had had a chance to participate in the making of the award-winning film, Al Gore’s The Inconvenient Truth. The Kali temple is usually the venue for scriptural classes given by monks for the ashram residents; nevertheless, on this Sunday it also became the location for this talk organized by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham students. The choice of location made it possible for interested ashram residents and visitors to participate as well.
“Let me tell you about a twelve year old child from Canada,” Diana began to narrate one of the many inspiring true-life accounts that she shared with the audience. “He raised money and went to Pakistan on the other side of the globe to free child laborers there. He took up the issue with the Prime Minister of Canada and due to his efforts, the Canadian Government was forced to review trade ties with that country.” Diana narrated more stories of people world-wide who have fought against wrong policies. “Even one single person can make a great difference, if they really try,” she added.
“We are in the same boat, which is sinking fast — this is the main message that I received from the talk,” shared Roshni later. Roshni is a student of the Masters of Social Work program at Amritapuri. “I learned that if each one of us were to consume as much as most people in the West, then we would need five planets to support our needs. I understood that we need to act now or else it would be too late. I liked the way Diana Ma’am said that we could use our ingenuity, with which we went to the moon, to solve this monumental problem that endangers our own survival.”
Dr. Diana, a clinical psychologist, with a PhD from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA spoke about the psychological aspects of global warming also. The idea that we were all in the same boat, and if any one drilled a hole in the boat, all sank together, was discussed. Use of biodegradable materials, organic farming, reducing our dependence on plastics, better utilization of public transport, these were some of the solutions offered. Ashram residents make bags and other useful items from waste plastic; Diana held these up as an example of another way to contribute.
“Our basic attitude of blaming others or blaming the circumstances needs to change, if we are to survive the tough times ahead,” remarked Diana finally. “We have already done enough damage, and if we do not act now, it could be too late. No country or community can do this by themselves; the solution has to be holistic, incorporating the wisdom of our age-old traditions as well as the latest findings in science.” Amma says that when people live in accordance with nature, the song of life becomes sweet. We hope that inspired by the talk, many will change, thereby making the songs of their lives sweeter!
January 13, 2009