What is bigger: Eco or Ego?

In the face of the COVID19 pandemic, the terms ecocentrism and egocentrism is what keeps finding its way to our minds, and I believe this current situation is a consequence of egocentrism, here is why?

To understand this concept better, we will first need a quick definition of these two terms.

Ego-centrism : An egocentric mindset allows us, as individuals, to prosper without considering the cost to others. In its most rudimentary form, this is a survival tactic, but it has evolved to foster greed, personal collection and monetary gain.

For example: Your boss is concerned with the outcome and results to be met in given deadline. You will be mistreated if that condition is not met, it is not his/her concern if you have some pressing matters in your life.Your boss is only concerned with his/her matter being prioritized. Many of us have been through this to be able to relate.This is what is meant by the Ego centric mindset, where one exerts its superiority without considering anyone or any surrounding.

Ecocentrism :This mindset looks for mutual benefits. It considers humans to be of equal value to plants, animals and land. This term defines the holistic engagement of earth and man.

For example: Your boss, if the work is not done doesn’t mistreat you but questions as to why it could not be completed and tries to resolve the matter. He considers the employee’s physical and mental wellness in order for him/ her to deliver their 100% in work. And we are fortunate to have such bosses. This is what is meant by the Eco centric mindset, seeing each other as equals and having a holistic approach at work.

In order to be more civilized and live a better & longer lifestyle, humans entered the age of path breaking discoveries. These discoveries catered to the necessities of mankind, late 90s these developments were no longer need based but luxury based, Ego-centric mindset crept into action. Since then this mindset has been promoted and is expanding. This is To achieve a better lifestyle, people move to cities creating urban sprawl, the hidden cost of this overcrowding that leads to encroachment of the surrounding natural landscape, fragmenting the habitats of native species and increasing our individual carbon footprint. In this way, decisions made for your convenience affects the Earth, exploiting it in the process.

We are growing as a powerful country, developing new products, infrastructure, facilities, but at what cost? The higher rates of air pollution- not so long ago, Diwali 2019, Delhi was a sight where we couldn’t see! Oxygen cans were being sold in the market, fashionable masks which can be accessorized with your clothes boomed in at large. Air pollution was at its peak and not just in Delhi but several other cities in India, Mumbai competing for the top position on the most air polluted cities in India.

A place where breathing is compromised in the name of development. Hence, this pandemic is a consequence of our mindset.

An easy way to identify if you are eco or egocentric is to position yourself among other organisms and determine whether you consider human beings to be at the top of an organism pyramid (ego) or equally distributed among other species (eco). Once, you have established that, look around your surroundings and observe. These days in the middle of the lockdown, the social media is buzzing with ‘biodiversity is back, air is cleaner .’ This should be a learning that every interaction between humans and its surroundings and their individual choices creates a ripple in the face of Earth.

The consequence of an Ego-centric mindset is in front of us, let's take the road of Eco-centric mindset and check the outcome. Let us be more considerate and holistic in our approach not only to humans and animals but to our environment as a whole. Take into ourselves to look after the birds and animals in our neighbourhood by keeping them food and water, be attentive and segregate our wastes and lessen the burden on our garbage collectors, educate everyone around you to lead a greener and healthier life and into practicing a eco-centric mindset.

We are the only one’s for each other, hand in hand to make or mar our lives. It’s time we use this opportunity to see life from a holistic view point. Let us be ‘WE’ not ‘ME or YOU’ and shape the world into a better place, a greener place!

Monalisa Mukherjee

Programme Assistant