TODAY -

What would mother earth say on Mothers' Day

Fr Paul Lelen Haokip *

 Rajya Sabha MP Rishang Keishing conferring Mother of the Year title to Rawonla Muivah of Dewlahlane in May 08 2011
Rajya Sabha MP Rishang Keishing conferring Mother of the Year in May 08 2011 :: Pix - TSE



Introduction

Each year, the International Mothers' Day celebration, falling during the spring season reminds us of the caring, nurturing, procreating qualities of mothers humans, animals, insects, the earth. At this horrific COVID-19 second wave, let us have an ecological reflection as we commemorate and thank our human mothers on this special day.

A critique of ecologically destructive developmental models (Baviskar, 1999) harmful to mothers is a much-needed reflection for Mothers' Day without which mothers will cease to survive. Motherhood is sacred but fragile. It is a blessing to the wise but a disaster to the selfish. Let us wish all mothers, to be mothers and mother earth a very happy Mother's Day.

Motherhood in a patriarchal society

The Northeast tribes in India are vastly patriarchal as if it is a quintessential social model. Verbally, mothers are depicted as being respected and cared for but in reality, they are seldom included as elected representatives or involved in community decisions, excluded in property heritage except for the Khasis, Garos, Pnar/Jaintiawho follow matrilineal tradition(Beth, 2018).

Largely, it is the menfolk who decide. Women and children just obey. The only option left for mothers is the procreative power that men lack. The agrarian work of sowing, planting, nurturing, flowering, fruiting, harvest are the ultimate expressions of motherhood (womanhood).

This is their power, existential reality and significant sign of their presence in society. This is the social space, the femineity they occupy powerful indeed but almost deliberately ignored by the patriarchal societal arrangement.

Mother earth speaks

Mother earth has spoken in varied styles and continues to voice its concern. It has spoken to humans through wind, rain, drought, flood, heat, epidemic, etc. Mother earth says, "I am providing about 550 litres of pure oxygen to a normal adult human being but you are deliberately destroying trees and bamboos which produce oxygen. I am sustaining you with rivers, animals, insects, plants for your existence. Humans have been plagued by myopic vision of life gathering and exploiting me for your selfish short visit on this earth. You have been thoughtless about the future of your generations. You have forgotten that you cannot carry anything from this earth at death. Give me a space that you may live longer with cleaner air quality. Anthropogenic climate change is a real phenomenon (Chundattu, 2020) affecting all ecosystems. Act or I will react."

Mother earth's right

Mother earth sustains the existence of all beings as far as possible. Tecumseh, a Native American warrior of dignity and domineering personality is attributed to have said when his father (General Harrison) invited him to sit beside him, "My father invites me to a seat? The sun is my father, and the Earth is my mother, and I will repose upon her bosom" (Gerard DeGroot, 2021).

At the ultimate time (death), mother earth owns the right of Tecumseh and not Harrison. Human beings ascribe themselves "Human Rights". It is high time that all animate and inanimate beings are also accorded "Rights" for survival.

Bolivia has established eleven rights for nature among which includes the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. (Vidal, 2011). This would entail respect for all things on the earth.

What humans can do

Increase reverence for mothers and decrease hegemonic patriarchal rule;
increase respect for trees and decrease carbon footprint;
resurrect the indigenous ecological spirituality of respect for mothers (and mother earth) as partners and not as mere entities for exploitation;
remember that "one of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken" (Leo Tolstoy);
consider every ecosystem as sacred and realize that the earth can survive without humans but not vice versa;
begin a local level of conscious anthropomorphization which is the tendency to ascribe humanlike features and mental states,
such as free will and consciousness to nonhuman beings or inanimate agents (Sacch et al, 2013);
remember that spending just 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress hormone levels (Frontiers in Psychology, 2019):
those who have access to libraries and universities should extend their knowledge to grassroots level for a bottom-up model society.


* Fr Paul Lelen Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a PhD Research Scholar, Department of Sociology & Social Work, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore
and can be contacted at paulhowkeep20(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 09 2021 .



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