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Kosmopolis Institute Publications Day 5: We need wisdom, not just education

Day 5: We need wisdom, not just education

Rain came pooring out of the sky at day 5 of the Monsoon School, something you might expect considering the monsoon, but usually it only rains in the evening or at night. The weather is really pleasant for all the participants, not too cold, not too hot, not too humid.


We had the day off to work amongst ourselves in our project groups. As Hasnain mentioned yesterday, we´ve formed 3 groups around the themes: Sustainable Development, Identity and Pluralism Effect. I'm in the Sustainable Development group and we discussed the various reasons for choosing this as our subject. One of them was the Professor leading this group, Henk Manschot, being cute, I won't tell you who said that, this will remain stricktly confidential! But of course there are also more pressing and earnest reasons for all the groupmembers.


One of our Indian groupmembers told us about the river Brahmaputra (meaning son of Brahma in Sanskrit) it's one of the major rivers of Asia and also known as the lifeline of the North East of India. It can be a great source of electricity and therefor mega dams are being put up. This will harm the people around the river and the ecosystem, but the government says it is needed for the development of the country and it will help eredicate the problems of the poor. It's a complicated issue and some people are protesting against it, but a lot of people don't seem to realise what is going on.


That seemed to be a common theme, a lack of awareness. Someone mentioned that people need to be educated to be able to take their responsibilities when it comes to the environment. Because when people don't know about these issues, they don't know about the harm they are causing. Our Indonesian teammember spoke about some different problems stemming from a lack of awareness. In Indonesia landpermits are being bought from people who have no clue about the real worth of ´their´ land after which the people, the land and the sea are being exploited by big cooperations from all over the world.


To become more aware, education is key. But in my opinion, the solution does not only lie in edcuation, as the level of education is quite good in the Netherlands, and we are high up there in the Human Development Index, but still most people don't treat the environment like they should. One of our groupmembers put it very nicely: 'We need wisdom, not just education'.


It's also a lifestyle or prosperity problem, I grew up with an enivironmentalist father, being very aware of the environment, and still I use more recourses than I really should.When you look at the ecological footprint, we would need 2.14 earths if everyone lived like me. You can calculate your own ecological footprint on: And of course, flying from the Netherlands to India to talk about these issues doens't help with the size of my footprint, it increases it! Still I am very happy to be here, and I wouldn´t miss this monsoon school for the world. So I contiously make the choice to do something that is bad for the environment and at the same time I would like to decrease the size of my ecological footprint and I am even discussing this subject here in India. That makes me feel like a bit of a hypocrit. But I also feel I can not cary the weight of the whole world  on my sholders (let alone 2.14 earths) and also I can not solve these problems on my own. I am greatful for this opportunity to learn and discuss this topic with wise people from various countries, all sharing the same earth.


Jette van Ravesteyn is a Masters student studying at the University for Humanistics specializing in Critical Organization and Intervention Studies. During her masters she also spend time in Leipzig doing African Studies. After this Monsoon School she will finish her studies by writing a thesis on the body perception of victims of human trafficking with a West African background in the Netherlands.