I was saddened to read recently that one of your supporters, Kathleene Parker, dropped her subscription (HCN, 5/29/95). I share Ms. Parker's concern about the impact of a growing population on our bounded world, and I respect her desire to put her finite resources where she feels they will have the most impact. At the same time, I wonder if the population problem is, after all, both the cause of and caused by the issues that HCN does cover and that supporting HCN is therefore equally worthy.
In a very simplistic sense, the "population problem" in North America is related to over-consumption. It seems to me that we over-consume in an attempt to gain a sense of self-worth (I am what I own: houses, cars, sports equipment, etc.). I wonder if we couldn't gain a similar sense of self-worth by developing a better understanding of our place in the web of life, by understanding our connections with the people and plants and animals and land around us. Perhaps with this understanding we would recognize that we can and do play an important role in the various communities of which we are a part, regardless of our possessions. It seems to me that much of the good news HCN reports is related to people developing this understanding. And much of the bad news, unfortunately, is manifestation of a lack of understanding or feeling of connection.
Perhaps Ms. Parker is right that HCN could do a better job of highlighting the "population dynamics' behind its news stories. On the whole, though, it's hard for me to not see both the causes and the consequences of overpopulation in most of the stories. The problems of our world are inextricably (and sometimes exasperatingly) connected, and all are challenging to solve.
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