“… lend me ten thousand eyes,
And I will fill them with prophetic tears”
Troilus and Cressida, act 2, sc. 2
The migration of unaccompanied children from Guatemala, Honduras and San Salvador to the United States has caught for an instant the eye of the regime media. For reference, there are 1600 miles from Guatemala City to El Paso, Texas, 1730 from Tegucigalpa and 1650 from El Salvador.
Given the length of the journey and the semi-anarchical conditions of the traversed territory, inhabited by drug-traffickers, people smugglers and sundry merchants of death, we can imagine the horror attending the travellers – triggering the more-or-less sincere indignation of the media.
Media that, according to the shade of its political color, repeats well-known sanctimonious propositions, varying between two points of view – whether the homeless or parent-less children should be admitted as immigrants or returned to their country of origin. Propositions that fail to enlighten the public with clear views or invigorate it with stronger comprehension. It’s news serving as a useful diversion from the celebration of celebrities, the birth of heirs and the marriage of beauties.
And yet, glaring in front of all but those who refuse to see, is the untouched and seemingly untouchable subject affecting the three countries in question and – for that matter – much of the world at large, namely unbridled human growth.
In Guatemala, the country’s population has grown from 7 million in the 80s to the current 15 million, with projected extension to 30 million in the proximate future, thanks to the compounded effect of exponential growth. And every four days humankind has a net increase of one million inhabitants.
Any pretense, by a humble blog-article, to even hint at solutions is a recipe for ridicule. But it may not be uninteresting to review the range of reasons for the silence of the media-lambs, seemingly afraid of what we don’t know as yet. Suffice to say that the yarn of the subject is entangled with an abundance of confusing filaments, making it exceedingly difficult to extract the main thread.
Therefore it is easy to explain away the problem by falling back on the unerring and literal interpretation of the Bible in Genesis 1.28, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Proposition that, when read as a metaphor, sounds like the mission statement for the PNAC (Project for the New American Century).
But I digress. Genesis 1.28 is Old Testament stuff, the credo of unrestrained imperialism over every living (and non-living) thing. Travelling forward four thousand years on the inaudible foot of time, Genesis 1.28 sends the environment down the toilet with a divine blessing. While exponential human growth is but exemplary adherence to the will of God – who, seemingly, is of the same opinion among the three main religions, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist.
The New Testament dropped the imperialistic intents but, in turn, it was quickly dropped by its ecclesiastical implementers. Anyone who compares the New Testament’s tenets with the current church organization, power-structure and policies, will disbelieve his reading and attribute his disbelief to lacking the intelligence required to understand the paradoxical and comprehend the absurd.
Bottom line. The Old has prevailed on the New (Testament) and, just looking at the numbers, Genesis 1.28 “rocks”, in the New Age lexicon.
Yet, the observation still does not explain the media silence, made even worse by the speechlessness of the very organizations that should at least address it – the Sierra Club for example.
Let’s review the reasons – helped in part by research on the subject conducted among journalists and reporters who were interviewed on the topic.
One reason, common to professional pessimists, self-described realists, and self-justifying criminals (especially those in high places), is that human nature cannot be changed. With the help of Freud and/or of the Old Testament (again) we should accept that our genes are flawed and/or that our nature turned malignant after Eve ate the apple. This, by the way, is one indirect reason why whistleblowers in corporations are usually punished. Why expose crime when human nature is inherently criminal?
From this view, it follows that influencing or modifying human behavior smells of eugenics. Which means essentially Hitler, even though the experiment was also tried in the US. But referring to the US experiments is, of course, not politically correct.
Next comes race. Overpopulation is mostly associated with countries inhabited by non-Caucasian people. Suggesting remedies to the problem equates to racism, hence end of story.
Interested blindness is a powerful motive for silence. Read, watch or listen to any business news program or article. One of the recurrent keywords is growth. Growth means more of everything, including people. According to this positively demented reasoning curbing growth is an economic sin.
The allure of growth (including population) also works in more insidious ways – though never mentioned or, if mentioned, strenuously denied. The more the people, the lower the cost of labor, the greater the profits.
But there is an even more appealing prospect for profit than the lower cost of labor. It is associated with the concept of disaster capitalism. It is the same principle behind the privatization of prisons and the consequent bloom and boom of the “custodial industry”, so beautifully and Orwellianly defined.
The more the disenfranchised, the greater the need for mechanisms of control with concurrent juicy opportunities for contractors, subcontractors and “non profits.” Where the double commas refer to the fact that “non profit” is often a gross misnomer. The CEO of the very “non profit” Goodwill, one example among many, has a salary of 700 k$ per year – last time I heard of it.
Another reason for silence stems directly from Genesis 1.28 applied to the corporate world of the neo-conservatives wrapping themselves in neo-christianity. The recent decree of the Supreme Court denying contraception insurance coverage to employees of neo-christian corporations, demonstrates the point.
Which reporter would be so un-savvy to risk the sack or the wrath of his employer in bringing up a subject unpalatable to his boss, to the industry that the advertisements fund and to the politicians funded by the neo-christians?
Other motivations for the silence are but variations on the theme. One such is that reporters and journalists write on topics of local interest, whereas overpopulation is a generalized subject, lacking local color etc.
To be fair, the discourse, as they call it today, appears confused by academic language and by an associated perception of solutions embedded in the words. Solutions associated with such terms as reducing the “carbon foot-print”, “emission credits” and similar. As if the effect of unrestrained population growth could be countered by our collective determination to keep a compost heap in every house and a compost digester in every apartment.
While forests are relentlessly cut, species go extinct, the environment is destroyed, cities become increasingly unlivable and agricultural land is turned into subdivisions – without even mentioning climate change.
Still, the underlying overpopulation disaster is also disguised by attributing the causes of poverty in various countries to incidental reasons, sectarian or religious wars, lack of “democracy” etc. The average birth rate for women in the Horn of Africa, one of the least life-sustaining areas of the world is 7 children per woman, 8.5 per woman in the Nigerian North, home of the recently-come-on-stage Boko Haram.
Every day boats of desperate people cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Hordes of equally desperate individuals camp outside the two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Reinforced barbed wire and massive surveillance prevent access to these Spanish lands on the African coast of the Mediterranean. Harassed on both side of the fence, many still attempt the impossible passage at night, however improbable the success. And, almost daily, many drown falling off precarious rafts carrying hundreds and crossing the Mediterranean to Italy in a continuous river of misery.
Without resorting to the biblical wrath of a vindictive God, considering the vastness of the population problem and the unwillingness to talk about it – let alone address it – some may agree with Hamlet when he says, “What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.”
I was inclined to end the quote at “man delights not me”. But, as recent events have shown, corporate women behave like corporate men, hence I left it whole.
In the play Cassandra prophesies doom for her compatriots in Troy (by keeping Helen), but it is her fate not to be believed.
The image from the left is courtesy of Frosty Wooldridge, environmentalist and six-continent bicycle traveller. “I spent three hours in a massive I-70 traffic jam handing out www.NumbersUSA.org
First Image Location. http://www.sthopd.net/ImgX/HumanOverpopulation/Cartoons/cartoon_Overpopulation_on_a_full_plate.jpg
Wow, it’s about time we start talking about this and make the attempt to address it. I completely agree that overpopulation is beset by a deeply religious inclination to avoid looking at this problem, and yes, for the other reasons you state, fear of eugenical tyranny, the specter of racism, the misdirection of issues of poverty (not that poverty isn’t real and pervasive and also in need of address, just that it masks this SLightly more fundamental issue).
So I want to say that it is brave to address this issue, but perhaps it’s also too late. It’s so strange that we encounter the limits of human intelligence and will right in the moments when we most need that will and intellect to save us from a miserable future.
I suspect (or am simply anxious that) some day someone will look this up and use this as proof that I am in profound disagreement with most people on issues that mean most to them. Well, I suppose it’s time for me to step up and say it: There simply are too many of us, and not enough of us who are willing to say this. Our planet, and more to the point, our economic and farming systems can only sustain so much growth and I honestly don’t know how this will turn out, but I suspect not well.