A few years back I decided to study up on the Hindu faith (long story, there was a girl involved, enough said). I was fascinated by the Hindu concept of reincarnation. More specifically, I was intrigued by the scheme of meritorious reincarnation wherein the quality of your next life is largely dependent upon how you conduct yourself in your current one. So if you live a life of virtue and die, you move up the ladder toward Nirvana, the everlasting paradise. On the other hand, if you live a life of evil and die, you move down in the direction of mold spores and venereal diseases. You’ve got to be a pretty nice guy as a venereal disease to get your soul promoted from there. It’s hard for a syphilis cell to distinguish itself in some deserving way.
But here’s where the Hindu faith begins to vex me. In the 1950’s there were three billion people in the world. Today, there are six billion give or take a few in countries with substandard census bureaus. The question for me is this: where did three billion souls come from in the past fifty or so years? The answer can be found in the vast number of species that have become extinct in the same time frame. This means that it’s safe to assume that half of the people in the world today have souls that were previously only suitable for dodo birds. This really worries me when I consider the fact that many studies predict the human population on Earth will double again within the next ten years or so.
This notion alone bodes ill for the value and sanctity of human life. For example, I think of myself as a one-in-a-million kinda guy. That’s great until I realize that somewhere in the world there are six-thousand guys just like me. Suddenly I’m not so special. More frightening is the notion of inflicting twelve-thousand of me on the world at large in the next decade.
One thing that really brought this population problem to mind a while back was a brief armed clash in Beirut. In particular, I was amazed while watching the news (as provided by the Armed Forces Network) and seeing a report about the US Marines evacuating several thousand American citizens from Beirut. Several thousand! The one that sticks out in my mind was a woman being interviewed who said that she was in Beirut on vacation. Vacation! Who goes on vacation in Beirut? Dodo birds.
When I get a rare passing interest in current events, I only read the headlines and I don’t pay much attention to those. I consider myself irresponsibly oblivious to the goings-on in the world. A while back, I had to have someone explain to me that Darfur was in fact not and upcoming romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts. Still, even I know that Beirut is not the sort of place you should go for a honeymoon. In my opinion, people who vacation in long-standing international combat zones don’t need to be evacuated. Instead, they need to be sorted and categorized Darwin-style. Humanitarian notions like this evacuation only serve to dilute the gene pool.
If only there were some way to screen the breeders of the world. Statistics show that in the United States, high school dropouts have just a bit over four times as many children as college graduates. As an American I realize I’m supposed to believe that all men are created equal. As a dog owner, I know that you should never get a puppy without seeing the sire and the dam first. While I realize that breeding doesn’t account for the sum total of a person’s worth or lack thereof, I also maintain that the apple doesn’t tend to fall far from the tree. Whether by nature or nurture, children will always echo their parents in many ways.
Sadly, the best solution to the world’s population quality control problem is convincing people to stop breeding. It’s a reasonable solution. We’re increasingly capable of building machines to do all of the physical labor that the majority of the worlds workforce is devoted to. So far, robots can build our cars, vacuum our floors, perform our surgeries, and answer our phones. It’s only a matter of time before we really don’t need any laborers at all. So people can definitely slow down on the whole giving birth thing.
Since that’s not about to happen (and since the Social Security Administration continues to reject my “Early Death Incentive” proposal) , the best next thing we can manage to cut down on this excess of humanity is the occasional nuclear war or third world genocide or virulent epidemic or murderous despotic regime. It would be nice if people just chose to be less numerous, but usually they need a bit of a nudge.
Some folks watch the news and read the paper and think that the end of the world is coming. I disagree. The world was here a long time before people came along and it will be here for a long time after we’re gone. Worst case, we’re looking at the potential end of the world’s current infestation of Humanity. This doesn’t strike me as much of a problem. Since they won’t be around when it’s over, it shouldn’t bother anyone else either.
Like Semisonic said, “every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end,” and I think Shiva the destroyer would agree. I just hope that the Hindus have it figured out. That way, when people are finally gone and a new ecosystem is formed out of the post-apocalyptic, greenhouse-gassed, non-recyclable world we leave behind, I’ll at least get to come back as some sort of tree.
On the other hand, if the Hindus turn out to be wrong I’m going to Hell.