By H.L. Neri
Ever since the publication in 1798 of An Essay On the Principle Of Population As It Affects The Future Improvement Of Society by Thomas Robert Malthus, English clergyman and economist, the problem of overpopulation has nagged the minds of thinking men all over the world. For how long can the limited resources of the earth support a humanity that does not seem to require too much prodding to heed the divine command, Increase and multiply? Certainly, it is thought, the time will come when the world's expanding population will outrun the food supply, "leading mankind to outbreed itself into starvation and poverty."
But have we ever paused to consider that population explosion also means human brainpower explosion? Every time a child is born into this world, it brings with it within its delicate cranium a mechanism the intricacy of which human science has never been able to unravel and the potentiality of which human science has never been able to measure.
What are the modern marvels of transportation and communication, or of automation and cybernetics, compared to the marvel of the human brain? They are all interior in their worth an potential, for they are but products and creatures of the human brain, the same human brain that is contained in the head of every child that is born into this world.
Yet, it is said that, at most, only ten percent of the true potential of the human brain is utilized in even the most developed and educated human beings. And thee most developed and educated human beings comprise only an infinitesimal fraction of the human race - the handful of men who bear the burden of mankind's progress in science and technology; the handful of men who direct or misdirect the fate and destiny of this planet.
What about the brainpower of billions? It just withers away as unceremoniously as it comes. It comes as a liability, stays as a burden, and dies away as though it had never come to be at all. This, I think, is the essence of the problem of population explosion - the criminal and senseless wastage of the brainpower of billions.
The continued slavery of man to man which has persisted in varying forms throughout the ages has been basically due to inequality of brainpower development. Emerson said that "greatness thrives on the imbecility of the overwhelming majority." The only justification that can possibly be found for the subordination of one man to another lies in their unequal degree of human development, which means development not in muscle power but in brainpower.
It was the utilization of human brainpower that made man the king and master of the animal kingdom and enabled humanity to graduate from one stage of history and civilization to another. It is the utilization of human brainpower that has ushered humanity into this high stage of scientific and technological attainment and will enable it to continue its progress toward self-fulfillment as decreed by its Creator.
Take away this human brainpower, and the world will revert to the untamed wilderness it was before the advent of man. Develop and utilize it in the heads of the billions of men that inhabit this earth, and man will rise to his proper height in the universe, to the summit which his Creator had reserved for him from the beginning of time.
The hope of the world lies in the proper development of human brainpower; the prospect of disaster lies in the possible failure of this brainpower in the handful of men who happen to hold and direct the destiny of all humanity.
The overwhelming majority of mankind live in darkness, the darkness of ignorance and its resultant degradation and economic want. The productivity of the overwhelming majority of mankind remains at a primitive level, a productivity based on mechanical muscle power which, with the advent of automation, is fast becoming obsolete. The majority of men live in misery and degradation because their ability to contribute to the common good has been held at a minimal, primitive stage by illiteracy and ignorance.
The Most Valuable Resource
Human brainpower is the most important and valuable natural resource of the world; it is the most important and valuable natural resource of our country. There can be no real progress in the world if the teeming brainpower of billions remain untapped; there can be no real progress in our country unless we see our way to the need for a sound and effective program of universal education designed to wipe out the blight of illiteracy and ignorance and bring about the proper development of our entire human brainpower resource.
More and more, East and West are enlarging their areas of agreement and narrowing their areas of conflict. Forced coexistence brought about by a balance of power and terror is gradually giving way to the hopeful beginnings of a détente. If East and West should finally realize the folly and senselessness of the current armaments race and agree at last to lay down their arms, the real contest between them will shift to the economic field, and this field, education will prove the final determination of who will emerge the victor. Have we ever paused to ponder how we shall fare in such a contest?
The literacy rate of the Soviet Union is 100 percent. The literacy rate of Japan is 99 percent. Red China has free universal education. The designers and architects of the US Great Society under the visionary leadership of President Lyndon Johnson premise and found their plans and projections on education. From the great educational programs of these and other advanced nations of the world will emerge the human gains of the future. How shall we stand among such men?
The miracles of modern transportation and communication have made the world shrink to a size which the generations of men before us never imagined to be possible. The time is not far off when men all over the world will be able to think of themselves as next-door neighbors. This will lead to rater international intercourse and understanding. It is not difficult to foresee that such increased international intercourse and understanding will one day enable men to overcome the psychological barriers of race, nationality, or creed, and bring them to a greater and fuller realization of their common humanity and of the fact hat the earth is their common heritage. This realization can be expected to break down the walls and boundaries that separate men from one another will be their individual personal attainments. I would like to know what will be the stature of our people in such a world. The answer lies in the kind of educational program we have for them.
We should expend a great part of our national energy on a crash program of universal education designed to produce after us a generation equal to the finest and the greatest in the world. Then and only then shall we be able to catch up with the peoples of the more advanced countries of the world within a single generation.
Talent has been sprinkled by God with equal bounty and generosity on all the various races of men. The children that we bring into this world are endowed with the same quality of intelligence possessed by the children of any other race in the world. Given the same educational opportunities, our children can very well hold their own among equals.
But can we afford to give the young generation the same educational opportunities afforded that of other nations? Should not education wait until our country is already sufficiently developed to shoulder the cost?
It depends on how we look at education. If we look at it as a mere consumption item, perhaps it can wait. But if we look at it as an essential investment without which we can have no real economic progress, it cannot wait. Education cannot wait for economic progress because there can be no real progress without it.
Education enhances the productiveness of the individual. The reason why an educated man earns more is that he is able to contribute more to the common good. Education for all will enable all to contribute in greater measure to the good of society.
The productivity of a country depends on the productivity of the citizens that live in it; the productivity of the citizens depends on the degree of their brainpower development; that is, on the kind of education they get. That is why John Kenneth Galbraith, renowned economist and former US ambassador to India, said in his book, Economic Development In Perspective, that "a dollar invested in the intellectual improvement of human beings will often bring a greater increase in national income than a dollar devoted to railways, dams, machine tools or other tangible capital goods."
It is not difficult to see that education benefits both the individual and society; and it is not difficult to see that the lack of it impoverishes both the individual and the community in which he lives. It is important therefore that we enable every Filipino, regardless of his financial condition, to obtain for himself an education up to any level to which his natural talents, industry and aptitude can bring him. This we can do only if we make education one giant national undertaking the cost of which should be cooperatively borne by all according to our individual ability to contribute to it.
If human brainpower is the most important and valuable natural resource of a country, it follows that its development will be its most important and profitable investment. Neglect it and we shall forever remain a poor and backward people; develop it as it should be developed and it will be for all of us a rich and inexhaustible source of he strength and power we need to scale the heights of true progress and national greatness.
The Prize to Win
Socrates saw that all sin is rooted in error.
And, on the cross, Jesus cried
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
All sin, all crime, all sorrow
Stems from ignorance of the way to happiness.
Ignorance is, therefore, the enemy to conquer;
Truth, the price to win - the truth which, Christ said,
"shall set men free": the Light that illumines the Way to the Life.
We may think of the human body (in which inside of the head is a large mass of soft matter called the brain) as a powerful super computer with an ultra high-speed processor as brain. The computer without a software is just a piece of hardware of less significance. But with software running, it is a useful and a productive tool that can do efficiently what the program instructs it to do. In like manner, a human being without an "education" is "less significant" and is considered by most societies to be more of a "liability" than an "asset".
So therefore as software is required in the processor of a computer in order for the machine to function and be useful and productive, education is necessary to the brain of a human being in order for him to understand and respond and function more wisely in the world -- and in the interaction, benefiting him and the world.
But, like the software that can be infected by a computer virus, education can be corrupted. A computer running a clean software is a good instrument, but a computer run by a malicious software is a sinister tool. And so, a man with the "right education" is a force for good, but a person with a "wrong ideology" is a potential "challenge" to society.
The software is like the education the brain needs for a human being to perform useful and sensible things for mankind and for the world. But man's inherent higher level of intelligence (not found in any other physical creature) is what makes him capable of designing and creating a powerful complex computing machine -- including the extensively complicated logic of the software's program code that runs the machine (which other earthly creatures could not comprehend). Some creatures have larger brains than man, but why is man superior in intelligence? The answer is in the kind of spirit within the creatures.
A body without the spirit is a corpse. Man is a living soul that has a "special spirit". While other living things may have their own kind of spirits, it is only man that has the God-kind of spirit breathed into his nostrils by the Creator. While other living creatures were spoken of by God into existence thru mere fiat, it is only with man that God took the time to form with His hands out of the dust of the ground and made alive by blowing the breath of life into the clay formed.
Consider the following verse of the scripture:
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
This is the very reason why man has intelligence that is far above any other physical creature on earth. And this special superior intelligence cannot be attained by any other creature thru any natural means possible. No one can ever train or "educate" a chimpanzee or any other animal that it can be capable of designing or creating a powerful complex computing machine (which is so far man's greatest invention in the field of Information).
But what is the purpose of man's superior intelligence? Consider these verses:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28)
What an awesome task God has given to mankind! Do you think mankind could accomplish this great responsibility if God has not given them a superior intelligence?
If the development of the human brainpower is an important resource that promises great potentials to mankind and to the world, just imagine how much awesome it would be to develop with greater importance the spirit that gives life to the brain and which is the source of its superior intelligence. Man can achieve far greater things if his spirit power is developed, because more and more it unlocks the superior intelligence God has bestowed on him.
It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I [Jesus] speak to you are spirit, and are life. (John 6:63)
Education produces knowledge, but wisdom is of the intelligent spirit. God is a Spirit and His Intelligence is far more superior than any intelligence in the seen or the unseen worlds. Words are manifestations of intelligence and they produce tangible things by means of the body. No other earthly creatures can speak words besides man.
Have you ever wondered why there are more heavenly bodies in the universe (the seen world) than there are human bodies (all that ever existed including Adam and Eve)? It is because God's power is inexhaustible and nothing can ever diminish or deplete it.
So, what about the "insufficiency of resources brought about by overpopulation"? Is it preventable, is it manageable, or is it solvable? Is there any situation, condition, or circumstance that could make God caught by surprise? Certainly none; for in God's economy there are no surprises, He foreknew everything. Maybe we need to look at this "challenge" with some new set of ideas added to the old traditional paradigms.
Maybe few wild questions will stir up our thinking:
1. What if sex is a "painful" thing to do, rather than a pleasurable act to enjoy in marriage?
2. What if human birth is like that of the sea turtle, instead of having parents nurturing in the family?
3. What if humans reproduce asexually, instead of sexually?
4. What if normal life span is above a hundred or more?
5. What if man doesn't need to eat in order to live?
The questions above may sound strange but they may help us gain few insight into some of the basic elements involved in meeting the challenge of the so called "insufficiency of resources brought about by overpopulation".
Unless mankind's true intelligence is developed, we will continue to grope for some answers in the "darkness of ignorance" brought by the fall at Eden.