There Are No Extra People on Earth

“In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits.” (CCC 2402)

(photo: Register Files)

To those who want to argue that to save the world, we need fewer people, who demand that we recognize our imminent danger, and sacrifice to save the future, we should have fewer people on the planet, I have one thing to say: “You first.”

Given that you have the deeper understanding of how critical it is to not overcrowd the Earth, how much Gaia needs us to just die off already in order to breathe easier than the rest of us selfish carbon dioxide-exuding mammals taking up space, why aren't you volunteering, nay insisting, to be at the front of the line to cease to be so that Earth can go on?

I have to ask because every so often, some person of some note — celebrity or politician or both — decides that what the Earth needs most is fewer of us. The present can be saved from the past only by eliminating the future. It is a subject that hits close to home, enough that Bill Nye might say, I have extra. So it's personal.

To him, I say: There are no extra people, there are no unnecessary people, there are no unimportant people. There are no people who should not be. There are no people who should not be given the charity of prayer. The answer of the world to the world's problem is always death — be it war, euthanasia, abortion, slavery, neglect, abuse, hate. The answer of God to the world's problem is always love. Love is always sacrifice. Grace makes it possible. Perfect grace makes it a joy.

Catholic values are not at odds with caring for the Earth, or addressing the seemingly intractable problems of poverty, war and suffering. Catholic values simply present the problem thusly: to be a good steward of the planet, we must be good stewards of the people who populate it. We are not an invasive species of upright speaking kudzu who destroy everything else. We are part of this creation, this great created universe.

Our role in this plan is wondrous, important, and necessary. We are the stewards of all. To be caretakers of the whole universe is a big job. We are not yet fully stewards even of our neighborhoods; we are not yet fully stewards of our families. To become good servants who live out this plan, we will need to stop seeing everyone we don't like, disagree with, envy, or scorn as an obstacles or opportunities. They are neither the problems, nor to be exploited. They are as us, God's beloved. They are as us, fallen. They are us. We're to eat with them, serve them, and love them until there is no they.

It's not a perfect solution. It's a perfecting solution.

It won't bring about Utopia, but it will bring more of us to Heaven.