A Friend of the Earth

Population Growth

We now stand on a narrow ledge overlooking a drop of a thousand feet.

We must be very careful in negotiating the next few feet; one misstep could be fatal. I personally feel I am in the position of a starving man, unable to find help in feeding my family. I have tried and been turned away everywhere. Should I steal, break the law? If it actually came down to that, the answer would be yes.

We are at the point of national, racial, and planet-wide death. Only a miracle can save us. That is my opinion and that of many others, but it is ignored or denied by most people. It is left undiscussed. We must have an open dialogue. It is time for me to demand such a dialogue, even if I have to risk all my future plans and the money I have put aside so that others might implement them. Otherwise, there is no hope for those plans since they will die in the catastrophes that must follow if we do not and cannot change course.

It is the third world that is reproducing so rapidly, not the U.S. or Western Europe or Japan where population growth is almost negligible. We blame it on their failure to make the transition from high birth and high death rates to low birth and low death rates, the latter having been achieved to a large extent in the developed world. But is it due to the anxiety about the future, the prospect of utter dissolution in a third world in which they have no voice in the future, no hope for a quality life, merely an expectation of more of the same misery, the same helplessness? Here in America we see many of the under-educated and underprivileged who have many children. If we really want to remain human we must discuss this and do something about it, something humane.

Electric lights, as an antidote for sexual activity, are not the answer. It involves establishing trust and hope, education, availability of contraceptives, etc.

We are not helping establish trust and hope as we demand that others support our interference in the lives of others, as we do it unilaterally or even with cooperation. And we in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, cowardly stand by afraid to speak out as many of us are led around with rings in our noses, accepting the dictates of those in power as they throw scraps worth nothing to those less fortunate. We simply cater to our need for certainty, salve for our distress over the necessary anxiety about uncertainty, and ambiguity on this mysterious planet in this more than mysterious universe. We are not gods. We must accept the mysterious, the uncertainty, the fact that we do not know how to operate the planet and that we have botched the job in trying to do that.
We have got to use our heads as something more than a “button to keep our spine from unraveling,” as B.D. Mayo, one of my teachers at VMI, used to say.

With that in mind let us consider some of the problem mistakes we have made and continue to make. One of our mistakes is the use of dehumanization as a defense. It can be used for good or bad: good when it enables us to perform surgery which might otherwise be too upsetting for the surgeon to do good work; bad when we dehumanize others who make us uncomfortable because they are foreign, different, black, deformed, sick, or old.


© Robert B. Ragland Foundation, Inc.