made by nature

It’s rainy season in Rwanda”

When the rain falls in Rwanda, all outdoor activities come to a halt.

Even the road – usually crowded and always busy with many bicycle boys, taxi-motos, and street vendors of all sorts – gets a break. Once I was caught unexpectedly in the middle of the torrential rain, and I had to run into a nearby shop to find shelter quickly. There, I found many others like me. We stood close together, and we all looked outside quietly. And there is something profoundly ‘natural’ about rain (especially the torrential ones) that makes you stop, watch, listen and just be absorbed by the water falling from the sky. I get a similar feeling when I find myself sometimes staring at an open fire or traditional cookstoves (or a fireplace for those of us living in a cold winter climate like Canada). The way these natural elements draw our attention is an indication, I believe, that even in a world where we are always distracted and fueled by all-things-made by men (by men I mean anthropocentric and not gender), that we are natural elements ourselves. Over 70 percent of our body consists of water, for example.

Today, most of us live in cities. While we enjoy the convenience of urban living, unfortunately, however, our natural senses are degrading and desensitised. Constant noises, 24/7 businesses, and streams of instant messages and information – leave us with little room for quiet space in our mind and heart to feel the connection with the environment (and the people) where we live in (and share with). Of course, I am not trying to romanticise the idea of “back-to-the-nature” or good-old rural life. I just wish we had a better balance between urban and rural development. We will be better off, in the long run, if we can integrate both technological efficiency (and convenience) and natural principles so that our advancement and (human) development are not undermining the greater ecosystem where we live and take part. However, it will be challenging to realise and feel this need (for more balanced social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development) if we are narrowly pursuing human (economic) development alone.

Pictures –
In line with the balance (and contrast) theme of this blog, last night we had a blackout, and I decided to take advantage of the difference between dark streets and moonshine. The contrast was spectacular. (Excuse the photography terms for those who are not familiar!) I delayed the shutter speed, increased the lens exposure to maximum and raised the ISO sensitivity to over 1000 to 3000 to get these images. Amazingly, even though the night-scape was dark, the moonlight was strong enough to brighten all the building structures, trees, and stars in their full colours.

Nature is awesome!

Published by Sung Kyu Kim

Sung Kyu is a research fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex

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