There’s much to encourage anxiety – fears of continuing climate warming causing all sorts of future calamities, fears of distorted versions of Islam becoming more powerful, fears that the wrong groups or nations may possess nuclear weapons, fears of the emergence of China as a major world power.
Should we be anxious? The short answer is No. Don’t be taken in by these fearful thoughts which, in one form or another will always be trying to get your attention.
Not quite 50 years ago, Dr Paul Ehrlich, who was Professor of Population Studies at Stanford University wrote a best seller.
Called “The Population Bomb,” it resurrected fears created by Thomas Malthus in the 19th Century who had predicted wars and famines because populations would increase at a vastly greater rate than food production.
Ehrlich provided the example of Costa Rica. He predicted that its population would double in 17 years (it actually took 26!). He predicted that, as there was insufficient population control through war and pestilence, it is likely that there would be world wide famine.
He likened this “population explosion” to a cancer – not an uncontrolled multiplication of cells, but of people. He argued that the world population must be brought under control, then reduced to a supportable (lower) level.
“If we are not successful in reducing the population size to that lower level but can stabilise it at perhaps 4 to 5 billion we will still have a chance.” He wrote. Today the world population is at 7.3 billion and counting! And most are enjoying a far higher standard of living than they were 50 years ago.
Why was this highly qualified and respected leader of population studies so badly mistaken?
He based his future projections on past trends. He didn’t allow for our God-given ingenuity – medical advances in birth control and abortion and the reduced authority of Roman Catholic dogma and a reduced need to have large families to look after aged parents. He didn’t allow for advances in agricultural methods and the building of megacities to house these extra billions.
And so it is with most, perhaps all, predictions and forecasts which engender fear. That’s what we need to fight – not the fearful predictions, not the circumstances, but the fear. Fight the fear, know that it will disappear into nothingness.
Jesus taught, “…don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:31-33)