The “Tragedy of the Commons” is a term applied to the problem of shared resources in societies. All over the world, resources that are shared by all its members (the commons, e.g. public grazing lands, ponds, lakes) are in danger of over-exploitation and long-term degradation. This is what is happening to the world’s air, the oceans, the world’s fresh water, and all the other public resources that we used to take for granted as a basic human right. The world’s common resources are under siege from mighty forces; industrial, economic, demographic. It does not seem right, it is not right, for us to say that all citizens of the world (and those as yet unborn) should not enjoy the same freedoms that we do. And yet we continue to consume more, in the name of increased prosperity and well-being. The Tamil word for commonly owned public land or wastelands is “poramboke.”
How much is enough? Short question. No easy answers. I have met many interesting people recently, who are searching and finding answers, each in their unique way. The video attached above is of south Indian Carnatic singer TM Krishna, along with other eminent musicians, singing the tragedy of the commons in a song with powerful, compelling lyrics.
Poromboke ennaku illai, poromboke unnaku illai, Poromboke ooruike, poromboke bhoomikku he sings
Poromboke is not for me, it is not for you. Poromboke is for the city, it is for the Earth.
These past 3 months, as I travelled in different parts of the Tamil country, I see a powerful re-awakening of traditional values, and I will try to document some of my observations in the coming weeks.