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Five billion of us (and more to come)

A RECENT news report on world population tells us to crowd a little closer together now to make room for the five billionth person on our planet. How is the earth supposed to support us all? (We're told that it's about at capacity now, yet with a million added to the population every few days, we'll soon be six billion.) Certainly everything that can be done humanly to alleviate the conflict and want that result from overcrowding needs to be done. Appealing to human means alone, however, is not proving adequate. New social, economic, and political theories may yet develop in the attempt to feed and house everyone, but the truly radical solution is to begin with an inspired concept of God and man totally outside the shortsighted mortal, material one that so often compounds the problem.

The Psalmist says: ``The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.''1 This should not suggest that we implore an imaginary, whimsical creator to do a better job of caring for us. It should call us to seek the infinite all-providing substance of God, of Spirit, who is the very source of man's being. Man's real identity as God's complete and perfect spiritual image lacks nothing of truly sustaining value. To understand this is to help make available what is needed to bring harmony, balance, and provision to the inequalities of human experience.

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How does this understanding work? It supplants the binding convictions that result from a limited, surface view of things (such as too many people in too small a world) with a realization of the unlimited capacities for good characteristic of spiritual reality. This more expansive insight into creation can move us to do what is lastingly effective to correct the world's population troubles.

For example, we may theorize that a larger giveaway program will solve hunger and indigence. Sharing out of a good heart is fine. But suppose in implementing the program a would-be benefactor were to view prejudicially some hungry people as less deserving than others because of assumed lack of intelligence or industriousness, because of their creed, color, or class? This might result in withholding or diverting the surplus gift package. Furthermore, to view any segment of mankind as no more than faltering, deprived children of the flesh invites ignorant mishandling and loss. Charity doesn't by itself brush aside entrenched prejudice, theologically base attitudes, or just plain carelessness.

On the other hand, perceiving ourselves and others from a higher stand point--from the understanding of each one's true identity as the wholly blessed offspring of a bountiful, all-giving Father-Mother Mind--opens the way for inspired innovation, wise consumption, balanced conservation and giving, prudent distribution, and control of sensual appetites. All of these contribute substantially to the equitable and harmonious fitting together of a growing population.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``When mortal man blends his thoughts of existence with the spiritual and works only as God works, he will no longer grope in the dark and cling to earth because he has not tasted heaven.''2 The extent to which it is possible to supply the human need by spiritual means is illustrated in Jesus' compassionate feeding of thousands with an amount of food usually expected to satisfy only a handful of people. His understanding of the power of infinite Spirit to supersede quantitative considerations points to the fact that a spiritual understanding of God is quite capable of supplying the human need, whether for thousands or for billions.

We can pray to bring that power to bear on our sensibilities, whereby solutions to having too much or too little are more quickly reached through practical demonstration of God's wise control of and constant provision for His creation.

1Psalms 145:18, 19. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 263. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE

Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Isaiah 12:5

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