Considering a homo-sapien intellect, I assume we all have a sense of judgement of what’s right and what’s wrong. But still sometimes, we do wrong. Mostly because we just had to, (doesn’t makes sense right ? Exactly my point. Read on).
Let me support it by stating an example.
So we have Harsh. He is 5 years old. He loves his parents and they love him.
He respects them as they have raised him properly by all their means.
Today is Diwali. Harsh watches his parents firing up crackers.
Its his growing age and in his subconscious its been saved that whatever his parents are doing, its ethical.
Thus after Harsh grows as an adult, he still believes that whatever he is doing referencing his parents, its correct since somewhere the judgement is overshadowed by its subconsciousness. Hence its our responsibility to break the chain here itself such that this ignorance do not proceeds down the line.
Instead of being a happy occasion, people get injured on this day, roads are blocked and emergency services have a hard time reaching people who need them, roads look like gigantic trash cans the next day, small kids and old people have a hard time due to the smoke and the noise. Where’s happiness in all that?
If yes, what are some innovative alternatives?
Celebrate Diwali the way it is meant to be. Illuminate your home and society. Meet people. Avoid social media for sometime. Talk. Have a feast. Call up your parents, your friends, your relatives. Go to a temple if you feel like. Stay back at home and have a good time.
Firecrackers are not essential to the spirit of Diwali. It’s high time that such a utterly harmful practice is put to rest.
While browsing a QA site, I found an interesting questionnaire between (lets say) Shikha who supports a cracker-free Diwali and Harsh which we have already talked about.
TL;DR (Too long Do read):
Q. Harsh: Why should we give up our tradition/religious practice/culture?
A. Shikha: Fireworks are not a part of the Hindu religion and never have been. Fireworks were first made in China sometime in the 8th or 9th century, following the invention of gunpowder. Gunpowder came to India via the Mongols sometime in 15th century and spread to Europe and the Western world via the Silk Route at the same time. Diwali has been celebrated by Hindus for at least a 1000 years before that. The first record of Diwali is found in the Vishnu Purana. So no, fireworks is not a part of Hindu tradition or culture. Lamps and lights are.
Q. Harsh: Diwali causes pollution only one day a year. What is the big deal?
A. Shikha: We might enjoy fireworks only one day a year (technically, it goes on for at least 3 days), but the smoke doesn’t disappear the same night. It doesn’t disappear for over a month, actually.
The Earth has gravity and that is what holds the Earth’s atmosphere with Oxygen in place. Smoke particles are a hundred times heavier than air molecules. So the smoke tends to stay just above the ground, for a long time. This affects animals and birds, as well as humans, who don’t even realize it.
We notice drastic changes, not gradual ones. The day there are a lot of fireworks, we can see the smoke hanging in the air. If all the smoke disappeared the very next day, we would notice it. But the smoke goes away very slowly, imperceptibly. People with wheezing, whooping cough, and asthma can tell much better how long the impact of one day of excessive smoke stays.
Animal carcasses are found for weeks after Diwali, dead due to asphyxiation or accidents due to lack of visibility caused by the smoke. It’s not a small deal at all. Even one flowerpot causes a tremendous amount of smoke to be released. Had fireworks been just light and noise and no smoke, this argument would hold water (despite the occasional blindness and deafness cases).
Q. Harsh: But I want to be happy. Fireworks are a great source of enjoyment to myself and my family/kids/friends/relatives.
A. Shikha: Of course they are a source of enjoyment to people. They are visually stimulating. Naturally they will make your one year old smile with joy. But guess what else will make her happy? A pinwheel. A cartoon on TV. Being thrown in the air.
Fireworks are such a hit because they are so attractive to see. As humans, we have this amazing ability called rationalizing.
We cannot go about doing everything that gives us pleasure. That’s what separates us from animals — we don’t fornicate in public, we don’t drink out of the toilet, we don’t destroy our 26″ television set with a cricket bat, we don’t snatch a delicious piece of candy out of a child’s hands — because we can think and judge.
I was less than 10 when I decided to not buy any more fireworks. My mom always used to say that it is as good as just setting money on fire, but I had a little sister who enjoyed them tremendously. I battled with my decision for a year. I held a couple of sparklers and lit a couple of flower pots.
But to stick to a principle, you have to sacrifice this harmful form of instant, momentary gratification. So I did. My sister gave it up a couple of years later because she’s been environment conscious much before I ever was. There is no dearth of sources of pleasure. If we can’t let go of one thing that we know harms our neighborhood, our city, our country, and the life of our own progeny, because it gives us momentary happiness, we have some serious introspection to do.
Q. Harsh: It’s my money, I can blow it on whatever I want to.
A. Shikha: Read point 3. And please enjoy your fireworks without having the smoke, noise, or light come near people standing right next to you. Can you? Why not make better use of the money? Buy other people something or buy yourself yet another iPad? Duh!
Q. Harsh: So many people are doing it anyway. How much am I adding as one person?
A. Shikha: You know what, it’s high time we took a little responsibility. This line of thinking is precisely why our country suffers from all the problems it does.
So many people are taking bribes, why not me? So many people are spitting on the roads, I might as well. So many people litter, what difference is one more wrapper going to make?
Change begins with individual, and is a long process. If one person can change one other person, they’re going in the right direction. If there’s acid rain tomorrow, it’s going to fall on both me and my neighbor, even if only he has been using fireworks and I haven’t. One person’s consumption would be a minimum of Rs. 100, which is three square meals for kids working in factories making the very fireworks.
And guess what? In all probability, they’re not getting those meals! Every person thinks the same way and adds to the mass consumption of fireworks, that increases pollution and encourages forced child labor in unsafe conditions. Imagine, if every person thought of having a firework-free Diwali? One person can make a change.
Q. Harsh: There are so many other harmful sources of pollution like industrial waste and cigarettes and exhaust from cars.
A. Shikha: Yes, there are! And you know what? If you realize they are sources of pollution that could cause harm, you should try to stop them. Once again, what I said in the previous point comes to picture. Because someone else is doing something wrong, my doing the same thing doesn’t make it right.
Get your car serviced often and tell your neighbors and relatives to. Ask your spouse to stop smoking. If you recognize that these industries and cars are expelling so many toxins into the air already, why should you contribute more and make it worse? How does that make any sense?
Q. Harsh: Why aren’t Muslims attacked for harming the environment by slaughtering animals during Eid?
A. Shikha: No one needs to be attacked, and yes, slaughtering animals is awful for the environment. It causes air pollution, land pollution, water pollution, not to mention animal cruelty and spread of diseases. I am a vegetarian and I love animals. I am not too religious, but I am a Hindu.
Slaughtering animals is equally bad in the long run, although it has effects different from Diwali fireworks. Cows’ farts are a major source of greenhouse gases and grazing sheep can clear a pasture of all greenery in a very short time. Humans are hunter-gatherers, and vegetarianism/non-vegetarianism goes with nature, in aid of the environment, up to a certain extent which we’ve long crossed.
Slaughtering rare animals like tigers (wasn’t there a tiger incident somewhere one year during Eid?) is most definitely harmful to the environment and should be very strongly acted against.
However, comparing this with fireworks is just impractical as the acts, effects, and duration of effects are so vastly different. Yes, there are pseudo liberal people who pay lip service to Muslims and Christians and go all out to attack Hindus. The entire previous government is an example. But this has absolutely nothing to do with religion, at all. We aren’t attacked for fireworks and shouldn’t be.
I also saw someone asking why Christians aren’t attacked for celebrating Christmas. I don’t know what to make of that. Rearing animals for meat and butchering them, sure. That’s everyday and independent of religion. Tell choirboys off for singing carols?
It essentially boils down to the same thing, doesn’t it? So a Muslim person is harming the environment can’t therefore it’s okay for a Hindu person to? That makes no sense.
Q. Harsh: Other countries have fireworks too, like 4th of July.
A. Shikha: Yes, they do. However, what we do not know is that US and European countries have very strict laws for pyrotechnic displays that include the amount of certain chemicals that can go in them and the minimum distance they should have from human contact.
I’ve been to Macy’s 4th of July fireworks a couple of years, and it’s very, remarkably different from Diwali fireworks. For starters, there are fireworks only in one part of the entire city. The third biggest city in the world, NYC, has firework displays in one region alone, and that’s over a river. We go up to the banks and sit there, watching the fireworks go up from four barges over the East river. The fireworks are only rockets and not sparklers or flowerpots or string crackers or catherine wheels. They are not noisy and they last precisely 45 minutes. That’s all.
The fireworks are manufactured by Macy’s, a private company, that does not indulge in illegal child labor and provides nominal working conditions for the employees. The pollution caused by the 4th of July fireworks is quite negligible, but still kicks a fuss every year.
Another factor we don’t take into consideration is the size of the US is 3 times bigger than our entire country and the greenery is over 300 times higher. Whatever smoke goes up is quickly diluted and disappears from the atmosphere in two days.
The fireworks in other countries do not affect kids and senior citizens, stray animals, plant life, birds, or anything at all, actually, because supreme care is taken not to. India, sadly, lags way behind in valuing human and animal life.
Q. Harsh: It’s not just Diwali. We have fireworks during New Year and Christmas and Dusshera and other festivals.
A. Shikha: I know! We have to put a stop to it. (How is this even an argument?)
Q. Harsh: But what else can I do during Diwali?
A. Shikha: LOTS of things! We celebrate festivals as a sign of unity and gratefulness. Give.
Give to the society, give to charity. Host lunches and dinners. Get together and watch movies. Light up your house with cheap rice lights, they’re ridiculously pretty. Use the traditional mud lamps; you would also be helping our cottage industry.
Make all kinds of food and eat. Heck if you’re that unwilling to let go, even pool in some money and buy those beautiful and expensive rockets.
They go off pretty high in clear air and give off less smoke than handheld sparklers. Or check out things people are talking about here: What are some creative and eco-friendly ways to celebrate Diwali without fireworks?
All in all, we have to remember that keeping the earth safe is our responsibility. Keeping our country safe for our very next generation is a higher priority. This world sustains us and its our responsibility to sustain it.
Q. Harsh: Thanks for clearing my doubts Shikha. I was not much aware of that.
But can’t we ban the crackers completely ? or how far is banning a right way? ?
A. Shikha: According to behavioral economics and nudge theory by Richard Thaler,
people tend to take decisions based on behavior and instincts rather taking a rational one.
For instance, by explicitly advertising condoms rather than banning avoidable sex wholly, HIV is being curbed. The time for the change may take longer but this will take care of loss of livelihoods and other monetary issues by itself. Thus, banning crackers as an order will force the State to compensate for the losses incurred by poor employees.
Hope you got my point and pleasure is all mine Harsh that you could comprehend.
Lots of people will still argue since its hard to fill a cup which is already full.
Thanks for reading !