At the start of the 20th century, the world population was roughly two billion people. Today, it is roughly eight billion. Of those eight billion, most are poor, and over a billion people are hungry to the point of starvation. Providing for so many people at a decent level seems too formidable a task for Earth. Moreover, each day, more bots, robots, and automatic machines are replacing human jobs. Humanity is producing enough to provide for everyone, so the question is why we need so many people. Would Earth, and humanity, not be better off if we were only four billion, for example?
The truth is that we wouldn’t be better off; we would be much worse off. There is a good reason for the exponential growth in humanity’s population over the past century or so.
When we look at people, we see faces and bodies, human beings, and nothing more. But the truth is much more complicated and intricate than that. Try to imagine any animal without relating it to its environment, and you will realize that it is a lost cause. The shape, color, behavior, size, longevity, and every other aspect of its existence derives from the environment where it exists. Animals are not isolated from their environment; they rely on it, follow its laws, and at the same time make up the environment that sustains them and of which they are a part.
Humans, too, make up a system. We think of ourselves as isolated individuals, but we are actually parts of a global human society. We influence it, it influences us, and almost everything that is true for the animal kingdom is true for us.
There are only two differences between animals and people, though they are fundamental differences. The first is that people are inherently mean and selfish, while animals are not. The second is that our desires grow and intensify, while those of animals remain largely the same. While we want more money and power the more we have of them, animals settle for what they have once they have had their fill.
Worse yet, from generation to generation, we are becoming more greedy, domineering, and narcissistic. Conversely, animals’ “aspirations” do not change from generation to generation: Give them enough grass, or enough game, and they are happy campers.
The reason why our desires grow while those of animals remain the same is that an increased desire makes us accelerate our development. Eventually, humans are not intended to perceive only the physical existence, but to penetrate through it and perceive the connectedness and interdependence among all of us not only intellectually, as I am explaining it here, but in the senses, just as we perceive the physical world, if not more so.
Our constant desire to search, explore, discover, and learn stems from our aspiration to know the deepest levels of reality. That knowledge is the sole prerogative of humans since only people develop such profound desires.
As our desires grow, we must learn to direct them toward discovering the purpose and structure of life. New desires first appear on the crassest level, and we must cultivate them, raise them to the level where they enhance our perception of reality.
Because these desires are so intense, we need more people to “share the load.” As just said, although we feel isolated, we are in fact one system. Everything we think is ours is actually part of the system of humanity and all of humanity shares it. Therefore, our desires are also not personal, even though they feel as such.
Every time we elevate one desire from the corporeal level to the higher levels of perception, we influence all of humanity. And every time a person dies, the burden of elevating our common desire grows heavier on all of us.
This is why the life of every person is precious. It determines the pace of advancement of all of humanity. If we realized how deeply we are connected, and what harm we cause by mistreating other people, if we felt it as it really is—that we are torturing ourselves—we would not dare mistreat each other or leave one person uncared for.