AN EYE FOR AN EYE
By Dr. Michael W. Fox
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” is the famous and timely statement of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, India (1869- 1948). The human death and injury toll we are witnessing in Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Sudan, and Yemen is the spreading of this blindness and its tragic consequences to all sides, including all the millions of animals in their communities.
While reflecting on Gandhi’s words, I came across a relevant article by Indian physicians Dr. Harish Gupta and Dr. Satish Kumar, in their article in the British Medical Journal on the ethics of gaining medical information from Nazi atrocities entitled “Acknowledge, in the curriculum, those who suffered for the advancement of medical science.” ( BMJ 2020;368:m714). They conclude that: “To aspire for an everlasting peace in our world, we need to realise that the human race is one and all the perpetrators of violence need to be equated - regardless of their religion, nationality, allegiance or ideology. On the other side, we believe that all the sufferers deserve our equal sympathy, care, moral support, and a feeling of belonging; regardless of their demographic characteristics.”
With both eyes open we can surely, make peace with each other, evolve, even see the future, and make it better. We and other social animals have mirror neurons in our brains that enable feeling for others and interpretation of their behavior in self-referential terms. (Acharya S, Shukla S. Mirror neurons: Enigma of the metaphysical modular brain. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2012 Jul;3(2):118-24. doi: 10.4103⁄0976-9668.101878.). Philosopher Martin Buber called this the “I-Thou” experience and state.
Some emotions in social animals are highly contagious and generally have survival value except in humans when manipulated and ignited for harmful ideological and political ends.
If we do not control our emotional reactions and utilize our mirror neurons and let wars continue instead of collectively addressing the rapidly deteriorating condition of the environment-Nature- this Anthropocene era will become a global dystopia. More frequent and extensive forest fires have brought on what some scientists call the Pyrocene age. Earth could see the breaching of the 1.5 degree Celsius of the Paris Climate Agreement’s aspirational limit by 2029 rather than the mid-2030s. (Lamboll, R.D., and associates, Assessing the size and uncertainty of remaining carbon budgets. Nat. Clim. Chang. (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-023-01848-5).
We are already witnessing more extreme climatic events, pandemic diseases also decimating wildlife populations as with H5N1 avian influenza virus; internecine strife over dwindling natural resources, community violence, child and animal abuse, deaths from drug-overdose; and suicides now increasing in younger age groups along with cancer. Most cancers have an “environmental” origin, meaning, caused by us. It is self-evident from a One Health perspective that harming the environment, Nature/biodiversity, is a crime against humanity and should be prosecuted since we and all life are connected. Opponents of the Extinction Rebellion need to be brought to trial.
All nations must now make peace and cooperate in restoring the environment, natural biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and agricultural sustainability for the health and security of generations to come. And all of us need to see each other with eyes wide open and put an end to sexism, racism, and speciesism.
TOWARD A NEW WORLD ORDER
It seems self-evident that modern “civilization” has become increasingly disconnected from Nature, from respect, concern and protection of the lives in the oceans, the forests, mountains and grasslands of planet Earth. Otherwise we would not be facing today the Climate and Extinction Crises.
Poor nations are receiving only a fraction of what they need to adapt to climate change — despite being promised the money by rich countries, which are most responsible for causing the problem. “Studies show that for every US$1 billion invested in coastal flood protection, you avoid $14 billion in damages,” says climate researcher Henry Neufeldt, the chief scientific editor of a new report from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). “We have floods, droughts and heatwaves all over the world and it’s just getting worse and worse. This newest data is a wake-up call.” Low-income countries need 10–18 times more global funding than they are receiving to help them adapt to climate change.
“There is already clear evidence that climate change is harming the health of people across the globe,” says Elizabeth Robinson, director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London. “Without much greater investment in adaptation, health impacts of climate change will only get worse.” Nature | 5 min read Reference: UNEP report
With insufficient action on this issue there will be more immigrants seeking refuge in more secure and affluent countries; food, fuel and water riots, extensive suffering of livestock lacking feed, water and veterinary care, and an escalating extinction-rate of indigenous wildlife species, many already at grave risk, if unprotected along with the indigenous peoples.
What is now called for is a new world order, not of human domination but of responsible, empathic planetary CPR-conservation, protection and restoration. Fr. Thomas Berry called this the ecozoic era where humans live in a mutually enhancing relationship with Earth and the earth community. Equal consideration is given to the protection and rights of all species, plant and animal, under the global vision, science and ethics of One Health and the extinction of mammonism.