overpopulation dan brown inferno
Image: Taro Istok / CC BY-SA 4.0

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a few days. I had it planned. I knew exactly what I was going to say. This was not my intention. I meant to write about the selfishness of mankind and the futility of religion, not overpopulation. I guess my hope for future generations is pretty bleak. It all started with Dan Brown’s “Inferno.”

On a recent trip to Southern California, my husband, Mike, and I listened to “Inferno, Brown’s latest book. Listening to the remarkable tale written as only Brown can helped ease the pain of a seven-hour drive across the desert. I found myself entrenched in the escapades of Robert Langdon and Sienna Brooks as they raced through historical cities trying desperately to stop the release of what they believe is a deadly plague. As they ran through parks, streets, and museums with the “bad” guys closing in, I kept wondering if they ever had to stop to use the restroom, drink, eat, buy more comfortable shoes.

What really resonated with me was the dire warning of the mad geneticist proclaiming that there are too many people in the world, our resources are diminishing rapidly, and that unless something is done quickly the prospects for mankind and those who inhabit the earth with us are unlikely to have a favorable result. This prophecy comes directly before he leaps off a ledge to his death, setting in motion a wild scavenger hunt for his creation designed to save mankind by “culling the herd.”

The reason the reference to overpopulation got my attention is because it’s true. It was not my intention to mention overpopulation as it seems to be something that many are unwilling to discuss. Many religions emphasize the importance of procreation, although sexual intercourse is also frowned upon. Go figure.

overpopulation dan brown inferno
Photo: James Cridland / CC BY 2.0

A quick internet check indicates the current world population approaching 7,500,000,000. If you visit worldometers.info, you will see a rather startling real-time depiction of the global growth rate. When Mike and I arrived in Santa Barbara and walked along the impassible streets and hopelessly crowded beaches, my concerns were validated. Santa Barbara is one of the less populated areas California, and yet I felt claustrophobic.

Another passage from “Inferno” admonishes that “the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” Although I don’t profess to know if Hell even exists (sorry, Dante), experience tells me that we will reap what we sow, and that if we don’t like weeds, we had better plant something more palatable.

I am hoping for a new awakening of social conscience, greater awareness, and more compassion toward all living things. I want to rant and say that people are selfish and just don’t care, which is what I intended to write. But when my car refused to start, my amazing friend Jennifer loaned me hers, and when my computer was possessed, my friends helped me cast out the devil saving me from the technology demons. Maybe there is still hope.

Another analogy in “Inferno” was the reference to the Black Plague that wiped out one-third of the population f Europe in the 1300s. It was followed by The Renaissance, a kind of new awakening. Our society needs a Renaissance in the worst way. The trick is to avoid the plague.

Brown’s book is full of unexpected twists amid what appears to be chaos. There are endless illusions and unexpected fun. The bad guy is really the good guy, and technology may yet save the human race. Maybe there are some new technologies on the horizon that will rescue us too. I’m not expecting God to intervene anytime soon. After all, doesn’t God help those who help themselves? Just saying.

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