Recently, China lifted the cap on births from 2 to 3 in what it now defines as a “three-child policy.” According to a story by David Stanway and Tony Munroe published on Reuters, the reason for the policy shift is that “recent data showed a dramatic decline in births.” Although China canceled its one-child policy back in 2016 and raised the cap to two children, it “failed to result in a sustained surge in births,” state the writers. Now, Beijing has not only raised the cap once more, but added various incentives for married couples to have more children.
I don’t think the birthrate is a matter of policy. The Chinese, like most people all over the world, want fewer and fewer children. Humanity is growing increasingly selfish and people find no pleasure in raising children that they know will ignore them as soon as they can sustain themselves. Zhang Xinyu, a 30-year-old mother of one from Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, clearly articulated her characteristic attitude: “Thinking of the big picture, realistically, I don’t want to have a second child. And a third is even more impossible.”
In light of our growing self-absorption, we are going to see a decline in the world population. Personally, I see nothing wrong with it. Technology will make up for any shortage in working hands, and there will be fewer mouths to feed and fewer people populating the already overpopulated planet. A hundred years ago, humanity was about 2 billion people; now it is close to 8 billion. I see no harm in returning to more sustainable numbers.
However, the more important question is not how many people there are in the world, but what they do here. If people are as hateful of each other as they are today, the fewer of us the better for everyone. But if there is love and unity among people and nations, we can sustain as many people as we want, and we won’t feel any crowdedness or shortage. Therefore, what is important is that we begin to invest not in birthrates but in shifting the attitudes of those who are already here from animosity to amity.
Everything that is happening now—the tensions and pandemics, the crises and upheavals—should lead us to one conclusion: We must deal with the root cause of our problem—our relationships.
Nature’s laws dictate that we will operate in an integral and integrated manner, as does nature itself. Our relentless efforts to destroy one another economically, socially, and even physically, put us at odds with nature. We are opposite from the environment we live in, so how can we expect to feel good? Would you expect a fish out of water to feel good? Would you expect it to survive? This is what we are doing to ourselves: We’re living in an interconnected and interdependent environment, yet we are behaving as though we are independent and self-sustaining beings. In such a state, we cannot feel good here, and in the long run, we won’t be able to survive.
We have come to a point, not only in China but the world over, that we must build our connections as an interdependent and interconnected network, just like the world around us. We are too big and too influential for nature to tolerate us at our current level of disruption of its structure. Since we are inside of nature, and since nature created us and sustains us, if we insist on fighting it, it will eradicate us just as it eradicates any being that is incongruent with its laws. Therefore, instead of worrying about the quantity of people, we should worry about their quality, the level of our connectedness and mutual concern.