Curtain Raiser

Help Women Disarm This Bomb, Colltalers

For those who haven’t lost their minds, there’s little doubt that climate change is the more urgent challenge of our age. For it’s aggravating all other global tragedies we’re already facing, apart from adding others, serious enough to compromise our own species’ ability to survive.
Besides wrecking the world economy, rising sea levels and extreme weather help widen the already staggering income divide, drive extreme poverty, hunger, and disease, and fuel wars, and racial and ethnic intolerance. There’s another, half-forgotten bomb about to go off, though.
Coming July 11, we may be reminded that we are now 7,500,000,000 people, a mark we’ve just broken last April. That means that, since the turn of the millennium, an extra billion and a half hungry bodies were born, with two and a half billion more expected to join us by 2060.
Those are truly scary figures, considering how hard it’s become to feed and raise most of those already around. Trapped in a cycle of scarcity of resources, violence, oppression, and political persecution, they’re incapable to fend for themselves even if they’d manage to dodge mortality.
It’s all part of the same picture, of course. Yes, with or without climate change, it’s unacceptable, for instance, that eight people own as much as the 3,6 billion poorest half of that seven billion. Or that there are 65 million people who don’t even have a home or country anymore.
Those we call ‘refugees,’ – with all the detachment, impersonality and indifference implied by the term – were productive members of the global economy just a few years ago. Now, though, they’re no more than charges for the 100 million or so global armed forces personnel.
It’s also easy to get lost in the dizzying array of numbers and stats that, for the most part, pack a numbing effect but reveal little about what it all means. The same way that there’s always

the risk of losing sight of what it’s important when we try to break apart interrelated problems.
But however we cut it, the combination of unpredictable weather with an unjust social order, on a planetary scale, can only be expressed by large strokes, so not to get derailed by the minutia of details that come along with those figures. We can’t lose sight of the humanity, though.
In order to properly address big issues, such as ocean pollution and social equanimity, within the realm of personal responsibility, we need to focus on our own approach to being alive, our emotional construct, our intimate habits. For they do add up to the whole, as our closest instruments to operate change. We may do little alone, but make no mistake: whatever we do, however small, does count to the end result.
Rallying against pollution in the seas and not taking steps on a personal level to minimize plastic consumption, for instance, is not just hypocritical: it’s also ineffective. While to be a model citizen is not a requirement to jump into the trenches of the resistance, it’s inexcusable to indulge in irresponsible consumption, or patronize questionable food industries, and preach others on the fine points of ‘organic’ living.
The issue of overpopulation affects us all, but only a privileged few has the ability to move down the needle. And it’s a fight worth fighting because it implies joining in the women’s struggle for gaining control over their reproductive rights, and resisting religious obscurantism.
The right to safe, effective, and free contraceptives is a women’s right that benefits the whole mankind. For if only a woman can determine whether it’s time to bring her child to this world, and should be supported on her choice, we all stand to benefit from her informed decision.
Billions of children starve and die in the streets and dirt of the world. The so-called ‘pro-life’ movement is good at raising an army to save an embryo, but about flesh and blood human beings, not so much. That ultimately disqualifies it for having a saying in the population issue.
Perhaps a century ago, when we were about 1,800,000,000, and fossil-fuel burning had not yet compromised the environment, those issues were not as linked to a woman’s choice as they are now. That there are still people working against her right to choose now is inconceivable.
We live in an explosive time, and the population bomb is arguably a tad easier and more relatable than all the others, which depend on mass awareness and mobilization. So it’s one we can work on at home, in our jobs and social networks. And it’s equally as vital as any of them.
It may come as a revelation to many, that such an overarching issue such as super population, can touch so many themes of our survival on this planet, from the environment, to the depletion of natural resources, to everyone’s social well being, to the very essence of democracy.
But it boils down to empathy and acknowledgment of women’s crucial role on human sustainability. In the U.S., it also brings home one of the concerns every decent American has these days: the fact that the White House’s current occupier has shown such disregard to women.
In the end, though, he’s irrelevant compared to what any woman can achieve. Or rather, with everyone’s unwavering support, women can make this world a better place. By the way, 90 years ago today, the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster opened to the public. Enjoy the rides. WC

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