So maybe you’re not into “just being.” Is that tough to do? Yes, but I will admit that some people find it harder than others. Some are natural do-ers, who love to be busy and active and changing the world. Want to talk change? I’ve got a radical idea — and I mean radical.
If you’re a do-er with a concern for the future, you are probably most concerned about pollution, climate change, poverty (yours), Earth-threatening asteroids, or maybe even war. What we don’t tend to worry about much lately is population increase. It was a topic in the 80’s, but like so many politically-charged topics, it was swept under the rug. When we hear of women in Africa or other poor parts of the world having multiple children they can’t support or feed, it’s tempting to tell them “stop having babies!” Yet, they see their own future survival in having children to provide for them in their old age (or maybe they just don’t have birth control). It’s complicated, no question, and I realize I am simplifying it at the moment. But it’s a charged issue… do you want to be the one to tell people to have less children? Especially in a North American culture that says, “spend more, do more, be more!” and, between the lines, “have more kids!” No politician will go near that issue. But the culture might be changing a little, with the “recession” and all.
I’ve been thinking lately that it’s a bit irresponsible to have more kids than it takes to replace you on the Earth. Two — isn’t that enough? But even that leads to an overpopulated planet, as we live longer and longer. This strains the global ecosystem — I’m thinking of the concept of “footprint” here as well as food supply issues — although I suppose that animals die as the human population increases. There’s a sad thought: animals suffer and even go extinct because we push the limits, not to merely survive, but to live in extravagance. And I mentioned food supply… do you suppose that people who have lost jobs recently could end up working in food supply — farming? Wouldn’t it be great if farmers got the respect they deserve as the growers of our food?! And if we actually ate more grown food and less processed food? But I digress.
This is the radical idea: to really reproduce in a manner that doesn’t overpopulate, we’d have to come up with a system where we only replace the people who have died. Maybe when old aunt Betty passes on, the family gets together and decides who gets to have a baby. Can you imagine? At best, people would start to see a death also as an opportunity for life, and start really planning the birth of children. At worst, well… you can imagine, and I don’t want to talk about it. I’m not saying this is the only way to keep our population from getting out of control. It’s just a radical idea I had. Actually, it was partly inspired by Robert J. Sawyer’s trilogy Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids (I haven’t finished the third one yet). In these novels, Sawyer creates an Earth where the neanderthals survived and evolved instead of the homo sapiens. The neanderthals’ society is more organized than ours, and in it, couples only have a child every 10 years, so generations are very well-defined. There are newborns, 10-year-olds, 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds, etc, and no people at ages in between. Very interesting idea, as are so many of his. But I digress again!
Like the rabbits, is there a disease lurking, to reduce our over-population? Could be, I’m no disease-predictor. But if nature prevails, then there probably is. There certainly are some candidates. Do you believe in “survival of the fittest?” If so, then we are all in competition to survive! I don’t think that’s the point of living. If we make reproducing in sheer numbers our reason for living, and competing with each other, rather than raising one or two children really well, giving them all the attention and love they deserve, and making every moment count, then we aren’t living consciously. We’re reproducing the problems of the world. Why not choose to make a difference instead, and live consciously, in every moment, thinking about what you are doing, and why. Some people are very anxious about this economic downturn… but I believe it’s not going to make us compete to survive; it’s helping us learn to live more cooperatively.