NY Resolution – Revisiting the Statue of Liberty (by Karan Kumar)

blogpost-2017-karanThe plaque at the base of The Statue of Liberty reads as follows:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit New York City. It was quite an eye-opener for someone visiting it for the first time. The tall skyscrapers, diversity of culture, and the sheer pace of NY city life amazes you. Be it the freedom tower or Wall Street, the city indeed has a distinct flavor.  The urban jungle represents the pinnacle of the “economic miracle”. As it goes in the song “Empire State of Mind” …There’s nothing you can’t do (in NYC!). Apart from the madness NYC represents, it indeed has a unique energy. A battle between two opposing forms: a rigid inertia to adhere to the status quo and a restless energy to change. During my visit, I could feel the latter stronger than the former!

A must visit for a first timer to NYC is The Statue of Liberty. The statue was gifted by the French to America in 1886 after the abolition of slavery (in America) representing the ideals of freedom and democracy. It symbolized a free society and a land of opportunities for the incoming immigrants. The statue molded in the shape of a lady has three elements which uniquely define it. Fire, the book of knowledge and broken chains. Seeing it for the first time made me immediately reflect on the relevance of these elements in the 21st century. I consider these elements as they relate to the ideals of E4A.

Fire can be seen as a symbol of rebellion, fear and death. Rebellion against the established vision of thinking. Fear of the consequences of continuing on the old path. Death of the established vision luring us onto the old path. In order to deal with the various challenges in the Anthropocene, we need to invoke the above symbols through a war time narrative… if only to tread this path we can think of achieving light over darkness!

I would like to see The Book of Knowledge as being the training we receive from E4A. The above narrative should be based on certain core fundamentals and tools of Ecological Economics. Our research laboratory is the whole world where we learn from our daily experiences and interactions. This book of knowledge can instill in us a “way of thinking” in understanding the urgency of the situation.

Broken chains symbolize breaking the conventional vision of an economy. The realization that nature is not a separate entity but an embodied version of ourselves. Only then we can pave way for a new paradigm.

Its 2017!  My New Year’s Resolution:  A promise to abide by certain principles and values that are reflected in the above three elements. The statue can be seen as a ray of hope for present and future generations just like it was for immigrants in the past. I feel we all need to re-visualize and re-interpret these words for the 21st century.


Karan Kumar is an E4A PhD student at McGill University and recently from India. Karan feels we need to consider Mother Earth as our house and we as residents need to manage it better, for present and future generations.

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