Less is More

“The biggest obstacle was mixing abortion with overpopulation. These are two things that have nothing to do with each other.” 

– Jacques Yves Cousteau

A seemingly unstoppable force is raging its way towards an ominous future, if there is still a future that is. It is a force that built tribes long ago, a force that raised armies, a force that created societies and cities, force that built civilizations, and a force that built nations and filled the earth. But, that force might collapse in its own weight sooner or later. This force is called population; the fast and vast growing number of people all around the globe. It is unceasing and problematic because with limited resources in our midst, it has been entwined with need. With this rapid growing need, sustainability is going to be a major concern and predicament, and it is simply a matter of time and a matter of space of course.

On October 31, 2011, a date that marks one of the most historical landmarks in the history of humanity, the world population hits the 7 billion demarcation point. Seven billion, it is an innumerable quantity that baffled me. Just how many is 7 billion? It is a little hard to fathom and imagine a gargantuan amount without a point of comparison. It is a figure with an inverted L in front which is followed by 9 zeroes. According to the 2011 Population Reference Bureau in US, if we are to stack up 1 billion pennies, it would fill 5 school bus-sized blocks, and 7 billion pennies would fill 35. Such blocks would occupy around 90% of the space of standard American football field which measures 360 by 160 feet. How is that for an analogy? So basically, that is how 7 billion looks like in a microcosm, if we are to put that imagination in a macrocosm, the implications are of biblical proportions in the real world, which is actually already felt, especially among third world countries. They are beginning to feel the most immediate elementary effect; overcrowding. Like I have said, it’s not just a matter of time, but also a matter of space.

Again we hit another point of no return, the last before that was in 1999, when we hit the 6 billion mark. So that is 1 billion in 12 years time. In another few years we’ll be reaching 8 billion, 9 billion and so on and so forth. By that time, what could be the problems we could be experiencing? Will our resources still be sufficient for our survival? What kind of life will we be having? But then again, we are getting ahead of ourselves. We are only still just a little beyond 7 billion, piece of cake, nothing we can’t handle. So I guess we should focus more at the present figure; the not-so-lucky number 7.

At present, the Philippine Congress and Senate are on a debate whether to enact the RH bill that would generally address the rapid population growth in the Philippines. We are currently the 12th most populated country in the whole damn world. Yey! This calls further for the necessity for the said bill. However, not everyone concurs with the RH bill, especially members of the legislation, and officials and members of the Catholic Church, who is so hardcore in trying to oppose the enactment of the said bill, to the extent that some priests even threatened that those legislators who push for the RH bill will be excommunicated. So much for separation of church and state, I thought the dark ages ended a long time ago.

The Catholic Church abhors this RH bill saying that it promotes abortion, that using artificial contraceptives such as condom and pills is abortion. I did not know that the Church has redefined the meaning of abortion. With the differing definition this will never be settled not unless the Church does their review in biology and genetics. Another point that they try to emphasize is that life should not be look at as a burden, which is also shared by those legislators who are so contained to their religious belief. They believe that rapid population growth is not the problem that is why RH bill is unnecessary. They are probably right. Perhaps we just need to widen our land so that we can accommodate more Filipinos, or we can always send our people to other countries as OFWs, there is also a high chance that they they’ll die abroad, that way it will give us more space. With these bunch of pea brains, we must raise the qualifications for our lawmakers, because if we don’t, those kinds of narrow thinkers will lead to us killing ourselves… or perhaps killing them. Hmmm. The fact that they were not even concerned with the sudden pace of the world’s population reaching 7 billion as early before the year even closed is alarming, and to add salt to the wound, the 7th billion baby was born here in the Philippines. Oh well, that’s life, no pun intended though.

To some extent, perhaps they are right, this is not a problem, well not yet. So far we can still survive and make ends meet and we still don’t need to cannibalize each other just to survive because the resources have been exhausted already. But if we don’t do something now, this will be a very big problem in the nearest future. Those who do not see this as a problem are either dumb or plain stupid. They might ask, what is wrong with 7 billion? Did we feel more crowded when we hit the 7 billion mark? I’m pretty sure I didn’t feel it, but when I asked myself and imagine the implications of that very large figure I felt alarmed. So what’s wrong with 7 billion? Well, everything. That is another 7 billion people stuck in traffic, another 7 billion contesting for public transportation, another 7 billion people struggling for food and water, another 7 billion producing another 7 billion people. When the Earth is filled, maybe we’ll just transfer to Mars or perhaps Jupiter, it’s bigger.

It is just that other people cannot open up to other perspectives. Life is not a matter of quantity but a matter of quality. Perhaps it is true that the bible stated that we should be fruitful and multiply, but that was eons ago, and now we have reached that point, not only that we have multiplied, we have proliferated, so much that we are now overcrowding. Life is not a question of how many, but what kind of life do we have. What is 7 billion if they’re all dying from hunger? You look around and you see 10 hungry and malnourished children, they work in the streets, sometimes in Payatas instead of being in school, their parents working their ass 24/7 with paltry compensation enough to support a dog. That is not life; that is not living. That is dying very slowly. Their so called life is nothing but mere statistics, just a number in the 7 billion statistics.

In the end of the day, wherever these massive numbers take us, there is no one to blame but us. Not the church, not the government, us. We allowed this to happen. So from this point forward, the next time you watch that low resolution sex scandal, better think twice or more. Ladies, before you spread wide those long tempting legs better make sure your man is wearing something for his uh-hum. And gentlemen, before you insert your manly muscles into her, make sure you do it safe. Discipline is the key, and not that protruding muscle between your groins, yes I am referring to your penis. Sorry about that. Discipline; and this is what makes this really difficult.

It is very uncertain if we can surpass this challenge. The writer Isaac Asimov answers this by emphasizing that life cannot survive overpopulation. He said “democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.”

The more we are, the less we become.