My mother groan'd, my father wept;
Into the dangerous world I leapt,
From Infant Sorrow by William Blake
Life is about survival of genetic material. Procreation is the act of propagation and perpetual continuation of genes. The body is just a construct of genes that the genes use to ensure genetic material is transferred. Once transferred the gene no longer needs the body. The body ages and withers while the gene has ensured its survival through the offspring of the deceased.
Childhood is supposed to be a wonderful carefree experience. I certainly had a wonderful childhood. Growing up in the bush has its risks but communities are smaller and everyone knows everybody. I loved fishing, canoeing, and collecting jungle fruit. Most afternoons were spent in rivers, creeks or swamps in the Western Province. Even sago, which I find unpalatable now used to taste so nice.
For many city kids this is not the case. I guess I am stating the obvious so I won't dwell so much on the issue.
My concern is that even with our high infant and maternal mortality rates the population is growing rather unsustainably. This is typical of Third World nations but that is no excuse for not addressing the issue. It is estimated that the population growth is between 2 to 3 percent annually.
This growth now manifests itself in various forms. In rural areas population pressure has triggered disputes over land and access to resources. Land disputes are now prevalent in almost every community. Questions over ownership linger and frustration boils over into violence. Indeed, much of the land dispute is centered within families, clans and tribes and not necessarily with the neighbours.
Many physically matured people still think like kids when it comes to sharing of resources. Individualist consumerism is taking over from our previous communalist existence. This is compounded b the lack of social cohesion especially in urban centers. Are people being selfish or is it self-preservation – the rat race for resources.
Our cities and towns now have gangs of very young street kids particularly boys who scavenge and beg on the streets.
I even link my current circumstance to this trend. I become more Darwinian in my outlook on life. The uncertainties I have of my future prospects has made me form the view of myself as perhaps being the weakest of the species. This also challenges me find an ecological niche for me to survive in. Each year higher education institutions pump out thousands of graduates with degrees, diplomas and certificates. The labour market is very competitive and some of us without tertiary qualifications don't stand a chance. Natural selection has a cruel way of filtering out the weak.
Humans are as altruistic as they are selfish. Population pressures are bringing out the animal in many people in this nation. Self preservation means serving one's own selfish interests. Ensuring the continuity of the genome manifests in providing favours for the offspring by using ones position of influence to serve the family interest viz securing jobs for the boys, spaces in academic institutions, etc… Thus the coach's child makes the team, the Lawyer's kid becomes are lawyer, etc… This is the current trend in Papua New Guinea.
There has to be deliberate intervention to arrest the potential consequences of an unsustainable population growth. The answers lie in the stories of the decline in population growth in developed countries.
Education is key, particularly educating adults and adolescents. By making people understand the consequences of their actions one can get across the message of family planning. This is easier said than done. Besides, why do we have to state the obvious to people? If you have a chocolate bar you could eat it whole yourself. But as you add more mouths you have to start dividing the bar amongst those mouths. The more mouths you have the lesser the amount of chocolate each mouth has.
I find the cognitive dissonance ridiculous. Every year we see letters in the paper moaning the high cost of living or the high cost of school fees. For goodness sake, why cannot people think about these factors before bringing new mouths into the world? Why procreating when you are incapable of providing for those added mouths?
I am not trying to absolve the state off its social responsibilities but I do believe that some of the burden needs to be carried by the people. People need to understand that their actions have consequences. And for every action, there's a reaction.