Friday, November 4, 2011

The Overpopulation Myth in the Context of Love

This morning, over coffee, I was checking e-mails and stumbled on this blog post by Matthew Archbold on the 7th billion baby.  I understand the consternation of people in positions of influence and power, and from their vantage point, to be sure, there is a problem that looms large indeed: OVERPOPULATION.
I come from that worldview. I studied Malthus in biology, even in high school back in the '70's. Paul Ehrlich's books were seemingly on every person's tongue. However, the deadlines for doom kept passing, like a night train zipping by sign posts if one cared to look out the window and notice.
I grew up, became a biologist and then got a master's in education. The drumbeat never slackened in all this time. The little imp in my brain (who I have lately discovered is the Holy Spirit) told me not to worry, for every child is a person, and as so is loved. Even a baby born in Calcutta has a mom and a dad. That person is not a number as the worried elites believe, the numbers toting up with the regularity of the clackety-clack of train schedules in a French station. It is a person. I just needed to learn where to go for affirmation for my imp, who sounded so positive and so different from what the world was telling me. I found it in the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, made accessible by Blessed John Paul II.
Last weekend we filmed what we hope will become the first of a series exploring the Theology of the Body. Check our website for details. Blessed John Paul II allowed God to work through him, to explain in today's terms what it means to be human. We people have fabricated the densest blinders possible, using the tools of scientific reasoning and an existentialist mentality where nothing is real, held together with threads of disdain and cynicism, to obscure the Truth that is in front of us. But when we stop, even for a minute, to ponder what our heart is silently telling us, that is the moment the Holy Spirit, hanging in the air awaiting the opening, sighs in and begins to do his work, transforming hearts of stone to ones that beat, as they did when we were little children.
Though I am no expert, let me present my ideas on population. I have heard many people wonder, when returning from a "third world country", at how happy the people are. Of course they are happy! They have a reality just as we do, and tend to be more focused on community, as they need each other in order to survive. A person is a member of a community. A community, the first one of which is the family, can be described as a series of relational communions. When we are in communion with another, the Spirit flows just as it does in the Trinitarian relationship of love. Love exists in relationships. As God is love, God is existing around us in our words and deeds as we go about everyday life. In fact, the happiness of "third worlders" can be easier to come by than those of us in the materialist societies as their relationships are closer due to the exigencies of daily life. 
So often we confound material gain with happiness. Without material goods the necessity of relationship is obvious, and it is this relationship that produces happiness and not the resultant goods we produce. It is like going on vacation. The weeks spent organizing the trip often seems more enjoyable than the actual event. Or think of a bicycle, shining in the window at the bike shop. Dreaming of obtaining it and the work that goes into that often produces more happiness than the actual object. I recently spoke with a man who had bought a home in a 55+ community. He said ruefully that it was comfortable and safe, but it was not what God had intended for families.
Accepting God into our lives will always result in positive, life enhancing actions, even if our efforts are clumsy, even in age 55+ communities! It is our will that makes the difference. We don't need gadgets to experience this, not even a well constructed house - though of course, these items make the go at life easier. Life has meaning in the interactions of the day which are giving, in which there is positive, human interaction going on - whether it be word or in material exchanges. The eye catches an other, a laugh erupts mysteriously over some trifle. The building of the houses or the work that went in to figuring out how to lay the sewer system. All is a marvel of interconnectedness and relationship. Anything done for a positive reason is God-like, and therefore God IS, in that moment. God shows His hand through us. God is love.
And so, the last paragraph of Mr. Archbold's blog rings so beautifully:
Your birth is a celebration. You are a completely unique individual loved by God. You are a new way to spread love in this world. Because that's what is needed most. Love. Because the world doesn't have too many people. It just has too little love.
So let us focus on the love that is each human being. Work in a positive frame of mind to build things of use for each other. Accept the tragedies and joys that go hand in hand with living on earth. Learn the structure that allows us to be in closer communion with God - the one he provided for us through the Church. Relish the knowledge that one day, too soon, we will be invited to enter the heavenly mansion, where there is a room created for each of us.

Michele Coldiron
California Catholic Women's Forum

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