Almost twenty years ago, I bought part of my friend and Kumpare Jerry Gracio’s library. 175 books sold for a song to a friend who he thought would take care of the books and keep them forever. Jerry is now an award-winning writer/poet and currently Commissioner at the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and I don’t have a single book from that collection anymore. I was proud of that collection and allowed everyone who wanted to borrow the books to get them, trusting they would be returned. None did.
Apologies to William Blake for borrowing the first line of his poem The Tyger which first appeared in print in 1794, for the title of this post. The poem, Blake’s most famous, must have done much to create fear in the minds of people of the tiger’s ‘fearful symmetry’.
For several weeks, tigers have been burning bright for me. Thanks to the Tiger Reintroduction Meeting organized by WWF Cambodia for members of the Mondulkiri NGO Network (MNN), one of the networks I’m advising. It was attended by members of the Tiger Working Group composed of Dr. Thomas Gray, WWF Tiger Consultant, Dr. Jimmy Borah, WWF Greater Mekong Regional Initiative Lead for Wildlife and Wildlife Crime, as well as representatives of the relevant Ministries of the Royal Government of Cambodia. The Natural Resource Management Committee members of MNN came in full force during the meeting.
If you have been reading my blog, you know that I’m incredibly in love with India. I have been to India only twice (2015 and 2017) and have set foot only in four states (Karnataka, Jaipur, Delhi, Calcutta). But my love affair with India started long before 2015.
Let me pay homage to this beautiful country which I love as my own. How do I love India? Let me state the ways.
While I don’t want my blog to be reduced to a blog of lists, I’m doing this as I posted on social media a few days ago that I would. I promise my next post would not contain a list.
So for those who are not yet aware, last week, I set up a Bataris Petition on the right to vegan food. While to date less than a hundred have signed, I’ve seen that it has stirred conversations as it should. I’m sure there are also mental arguments among some who have read the petition, and I think that it’s good. That is exactly one my intentions in putting it out. Each person who sees a new perspective in favor of veganism is positive sign for me.
Although it’s sad that we live in a world where there is no assured access to the most compassionate, earth-friendly, and healthy diet, I think it is an idea whose time has come. I’m actually looking forward to the day that petitions like this are no longer needed. But we live in an auspicious time, where palpable transformations are happening all over, and I’m taking part in the shift by pushing for an idea that could no longer be denied.
Ok, ok. I know what you are thinking. I’m a relentless petition signer, and i’m a serial petition writer. I’m overly optimistic, delusional, crazy even, to believe that online signatures could help change the world (in fact they do, too!) I decry the fact that I’m practically a nomad, a rootless environmentalist who couldn’t last more than five years in a place since I had the right to choose where to live. I would love to do grassroots action, and I envy a lot of my fellow greenies who get to build work in their communities. I have also done a lot of initiatives wherever I was in my home country. But I get disappointed when I had to uproot myself again and move. It is disconcerting to say the least when you have to uproot yourself every so often. I am more aware of it now that I am a development worker abroad.
But then I also feel that as an environmentalist, I am a citizen of the world, and that I could work for change wherever I am. I also feel that communication is my gift. As a former teacher, as a writer, campaigner, and development professional, I see myself as a communicator. As a communicator who considers Mother Earth as my home country, the internet is one of my strongest tools. So I really don’t mind even people call me a slacktivist, I consider it a prestigious accolade because I do what I can when I can. I care. And believe me when I say that I am ‘truly engaged or devoted to making a change‘. I believe in whatever I do, I am only planting seeds, and that it doesn’t matter how big or small an act is, as long as the good intention is there.