Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, July 15, 2010

Endangered Essentials

By M. Fayaad Islam

GOING through the tech page of your favourite newspaper makes you realise that we live in an age of wonders. Human innovation and prowess have brought us to the point where we can almost feel the horizon of a life in utopia created by our own innovations, although we are far from reaching such a point, if it is even possible to do so.

Even though all generations feel that progress at their age represents the pinnacle of human achievement, we of the current generation are quite obliged to accept the fact that we are close to, or possibly at the apex of the rate of technical progress of our race. Only two decades ago were personal computers introduced as huge, awkward, lumbering machines with the ability to calculate and co-ordinate at the speed of a tortoise, seeming to be further parallel to the animal with its monochrome screens. Computers nowadays can not only be found in the shape and size of a soap bar, but look and work like cheetahs pumped with Red-Bull, and computers represent only a fraction of our progress within the years. But the contentment of a future utopia in our mind and the microwave oven heated apple pie in our bellies should not stop us from realising that just beyond the veil of our awesome future might lie a scene that may be comparable to one seen in the Terminator or the Matrix or Resident Evil.

Since all civilisations in the past have crumbled to oblivion after reaching their pinnacle, the statistics alone might be enough to make one realise that the chaos theory could possibly be right. At our current rate of advancement, who knows how close our peak is? Everyone knows that the robot uprising is inevitable. And with such morbid thoughts one must come back to the roots. Human beings at the end of the day are animals born into Nature. Only by co-existing with Her and learning some of the knowledge of the wild that had been handed down through the generations can the existence of the human race be ensured! Even if the thought of the post-apocalypse world seems too far-fetched or utterly stupid and insane to some of us, most if not all must recognise the fact that as we speed forward, our generations are detaching themselves from the important lessons of the wild.

Bear Grylls and the 'Ultimate Survival' guy seem to be the only ones who care. It is quite normal for a young person to question why she/he should learn how to build a fire, to tie a sailors knot, or slice up trees with a samurai katana. What we don't realise is even though we don't need to learn some of the skills shown in the TV shows, or the ones that are taught to us, most of it will help us in one way or the other. First of all, if one does find oneself in those worst-case-scenario survival problems, Grylls' words turn from being a weekly source of entertainment to the preaching of a messiah. If lost in some weird hiking trip in the Bandarbans, it'll be quite pathetic to be looking at death in the eyes just because one was unable to find which way north is. Learning how to build a fire or how to react when encountering a wild animal is something crucial all should take the time to learn. Even if one is lucky enough not to be at nature's mercy, one can find such skills invaluable. Attaining the ability to tie those unbreakable knots can help pull the car out of a ditch, or learning how to make ropes out of vines can help save some time and money on synthetic non-bio-degradable ropes. Even learning how to trap and cook a musk rat can help one save up a load in terms of food bills not to mention that the meal would be quite healthy.

Lastly, even if we are too comfortable to be fiddling around with nature, we should still make the effort of learning the skills that are being lost just so that we can appreciate nature more. Only by learning and practicing such skills can we learn how to live with our environment, and by truly coexisting with nature can we begin to respect and abide by her ways. It is our duty as human beings to pass down these useful skills so that the generations who will survive the post-robot uprising era can utilise them and ensure the continuity of humanity. Besides, knowing surviving skills is just plain awesome in terms of the sheer girls a guy can impress by chopping off firewood with a samurai sword as well as learning all the other cool commando stuff employed in the movie Rambo.



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