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General Interest

SURE ARE A HELL OF A LOT OF PEOPLE AROUND, EH?

Have you looked around, lately? Not that all that much looks dramatically different, only that everything seems, well… more so. Most noticeable is that there’s a whole lot more people around these days. Seems we’re closing in on 7 billion of us sharing this spinning top we call the Earth. Not that that’s any sort of species record, since in any given acre of ground there’s more insects than there are people in the world, but who notices all those bugs but entomologists, farmers and little boys? But as of yesterday, there’s 6.79 billion humans dancing their part in the World Ballet, and that’s not even counting the illegals (Okay, it is counting the illegals, but I figured I’d throw that in to see who’s paying attention).

That’s a hell of a lot of people, and forget about remembering everyone’s first name, those days are gone. When in doubt, however, you can always call some guy you never met Mohammed or Jack, since they’re the world’s two most popular male names, and have the best chance of getting it right. For ladies, the #1 name these days is (!) Emma, having shoved aside Mary some time in the past decade. Since most of us don’t know any Emmas, you have to wonder who’s naming all those kids, and if there’s a whole country somewhere where every little girl is named Emma.

Well, Emma, Jack, Mary, Mohammed or Lorenzo, we’re filling up this world quick. Already one in five of us is Chinese, and one in six is Indian, with both those nations topping a billion people. America has almost 310 million, probably closer to 330 million with the illegal immigrants (officially counted or not, they’re here to stay, so deal with it, Mr. Dobbs). So we’ve got plenty of company in this world and in this life. It’s like the old blues song says: “It’s the same all over, there’s people everywhere you go.” Might as well make the best of it, get to know the neighbors and try to get along a little better than we have been, for like, forever.

When you live in New York City, it feels like there are no foreign countries. Other countries, sure, but foreign? No way, since in this town you’re bound to run across people from everywhere you can think of, either directly or by ancestry. And ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you find out they’re okay, just regular people doing their best, trying like anyone else to get by in this world, keeping their families safe and warm and doing what’s right. Then you read the newspapers and find out that we’re still at each other’s throats all over the world, one war after the next, and you wonder what the hell for.

Then you find out that 36,000 people die of starvation every single day on a bountiful planet and you grieve, and wonder how we can abandon 13 million of our brothers and sisters to an early grave every year, most of them small children. We don’t have that many people that so many of us are spares to be discarded. What can we do about this? And the crazy wars too? With almost 7 billion people around we’re getting a little too close to keep up this nonsense; the wars, the genocide and the silent slaughter of starvation. Do we chalk this up as human nature? That’s a pretty depressing thought, and one that should be dismissed.

There is a better way. That better way is already within each of us and it is called love. There is no more powerful force on the planet, no more universal experience. The problem is that we apply our love selectively, as if it was a limited resource, when in fact it is limitless, renewable and easily multiplied to meet any situation. When a family who loves their children has another child, does not the entire family’s love expand to include the newborn baby, to love and cherish that child every bit as much as the others? Of course they do, and when their children marry and bring their spouses into the family, the love expands yet again to include them and the precious grandchildren they bring.

We can do the same with our love regarding all of humanity, each and every precious and unique human being on Earth. We would never dream of attacking and killing our loved ones, nor would we let them live lives of disease, starvation, illiteracy and severe hardship. Some nations have the means and the personnel to help solve the World Starvation Emergency, not only the immediate task of feeding the hungry and saving lives, but providing long-term solutions through agricultural education, building lasting food infrastructures and purifying precious water supplies. There is no new technology that needs to be invented, only a new awakening of love for our own brothers and sisters, all 6.79 billion of them.

Call this a hopelessly naive notion if you like. Is the way we have been treating one another preferable to love, peace and brotherhood? Point out our grand traditions of slaughter and repression if you disagree. We’ve pretty much exhausted all the combinations of international cruelty, barbarity and disregard for human life. How has that worked out for everybody? Can we reach the point where we stop using the words “military” and “genius” in the same sentence? That’s nuts, as loony a notion as nicknaming those mass slaughterers “The Great.” Do we keep batting our heads against the wall forever, expecting different results? That’s one of the textbook definitions of insanity, and we are not an insane race of beings. We are, however, a blind race of beings in many respects, blind to our oneness and our responsibilities to humanity as a living whole.

We have evolved from contentious tribes of scavenging nomads squabbling and killing over the more bountiful tracts of primordial real estate into modern human beings living in complex, sophisticated societies capable of doing wondrous things and providing comfort and safety to individuals superior to any time in our history. And yet (there’s that And Yet again!) we retain far too many of our old destructive habits and ingrained animosities. It is long past time to evolve further, to abandon the aggression towards our fellow human beings that has brought nothing but pain into our already difficult lives. Can evolution be consciously effected? Can we make it happen?

The answer to that is YES. Love is the answer, and love can help us evolve. Not love of money, or love of power or love of your idea of God. God’s not weighing in on this question one way or another, and any time somebody claims to have spoken to God, the result is almost always death and destruction for hapless innocents. No God would have anything to do with killing in his name, so religion is not the solution, at least not the way it has been applied since beyond memory. More often than not it is religion that has been the cause of our killing problems, with human beings trying to prove that their invisible God is real and the other guy’s invisible God is not real, prove it by killing, torturing and brutalizing one another. Is it any wonder that God chooses to remain invisible while we behave in this manner?

But love is very real, and there is not a human being alive who has not felt its power, has not been transformed by love or who has not loved another deeply and unconditionally. Very few humans have actually taken the life of another, but too few of us have objected strongly enough to make it stop. When a soldier from your society kills, or a government from your society executes an offender, they do it in your name, and by extension, at your behest. The blood and the indifference to human suffering is on all our hands, it is our fault as a race of beings. Only love can stop the slaughter, only love will feed the hungry and only love will bring us peace. We’ve  tried again and again and again to kill our way out of our problems, only to see them deepen, leading to more gruesome death. Time to stop batting our heads against that wall.

There’s a hell of a lot of people around, more and more every day. Let them be born into a world that welcomes them, a joyous world that celebrates them, that cares about their well being and loves them deeply. Let us be the ones to fill the world with love. The next step for humanity is within our grasp.

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