[From Connect Column Archives]
We have an attitude problem; an attitude problem toward the idea of growth. All of our lives, we have been handed the message that all growth is good. From the day we were born, our parents told us to eat our food so we would grow big and strong. As we grew, family and friends told us about how tall we were getting or that we were becoming a ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’ now. We have heard this all of our lives.
In our culture, we have been told that growth and development are good things, always. Growth and development bring more money into our community. They bring more jobs, goods, and services to the people here. We measure our progress by the number of people who live here. Heck, we even get state and federal money for schools, highways, and other projects based upon how many people are here. We get representation in the United States Congress that way as well. So, growth and development have to be good. Right?
Then a question came to mind. What is the end of this process? Is there ever a time when we have had enough growth and development? Even the human body at some point reaches maturity and grows physically no more. We transition to devoting our time and energy to personal and internal growth in the realms of the spiritual, psychological, and creative aspects of our lives and leave physical enlargement behind; at least most of us do. Could this same process be the healthy and maturing one for a community?
Is our ultimate goal to become the size of Indianapolis or Chicago or even New York? Is our goal to bring more and more people to our community without limit? Is our goal to bring more and more industry and business here, forever? Is there ever a time when enough is enough? Is there a time when it is time to concentrate our energy on the quality of life in our community rather than quantity?
Globally, we are in a real mess. Global gets global by adding up all of the small pieces like Greentown, Tipton, Logansport, Kokomo, Indianapolis, Chicago, New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Mexico City and so on and so on. When Jesus Christ walked the planet 2000 years ago, it has been estimated there were around 130 million people on the whole earth. That is about half what is in the United States alone right now. In 1999, we passed 6 billion worldwide or almost 50 times the number when Jesus lived. And we are growing in numbers at an astounding rate. We are adding 216,000 people a day to our planet. Population scientists tell us that we are on our way to 12 billion or more in the next few decades.
Such growth cannot continue because the planet cannot support it, period. Just as cancer cannot grow indefinitely in your body without eventually killing you, so humanity cannot continue to grow in numbers unchecked in the biological world without killing it.
What does this mean to us who live in central Indiana? Maybe it means thinking about what kind of community we want in the end. Maybe it means understanding more about a quality of life and less about more and more all the time. Maybe it means taking a look at how we are using water and land and air in our town and around our area; and understanding we have physical limits on resources. Maybe it means a thorough discussion about what our community goals are and then doing some tough planning.
From a state and national standpoint, maybe it means talk about population matters including immigration policies. The United States of America takes in more immigrants annually than all other nations in the world combined. And what about all of the illegal immigration? As the world becomes more and more populated, the pressure to bring more and more people to the USA will only increase. Are there limits?
Maybe it means, too, that a re-examination of the policies of our federal government toward supporting family planning is needed. This does not mean we have to come to agreement regarding the hottest of issues: abortion. It does mean, though, that some intelligent decision should be reached concerning the education of women world wide about other reproductive options and health. The current policies of our federal government are questionable at best. We have quit supporting several major family planning programs.
We can affect global results on growth of all kinds by doing our part in our own community to think and act in responsible ways. We are not now doing that. The resources of planet Earth are limited. It is essential for the survival and quality of life of our children and grandchildren for us to become acutely aware of this. It is time for the taking of concrete steps toward a sustainable society. It is time for an attitude adjustment.