Let’s have humility in the face of world population

Dear Friends,
First a little context. I subscribe to a discussion group hosted by Quaker Earthcare Witness, which I would recommend. To join you would go to this page:
And you would click on the boldfaced text “

But this list is not for the faint of heart. There are often several posts a day. And the range of topics is wide and un-curated.

Today I responded to an ongoing discussion about population, saying things I’ve thought for years but have never put to text before.
I liked what I said, so I am reprinting it below.


I’m really glad to see this discussion.

My sense is that all of the differing points of view are correct.
And that we still haven’t seen this from enough sides.
Here’s another point of view, one I don’t like, but I can’t get it out of my head.
Maybe the size of the human population on this planet is above our pay grade to make choices about.
We Friends know about “acceptance,” “humility.”
I AM expecting an inevitable big die-off at some point in the years ahead –have been for a long time. So I have banged my head about “what can I/we do?”
As I said above, I think all of the points of view raised here are important and valid under some circumstances.
As I have lived into all of these points of view myself, and seen them fall short of a full answer…
As I have remembered that life-on-earth is self-correcting, even while species come and go…
And, therefore, have seen us humans as small actors in a much larger drama…
I have developed a change in attitude which I want to share.
I offer it as a part of the puzzle, not as THE answer.
But, maybe,
like the death of a parent I just experienced,
maybe we really are not in control.
Maybe essentially not in control.
Maybe world population is not ours to manage.
Not that we do not do EVERYTHING Friends have been advocating for,
but that we do them with an attitude of
“we are doing what we can to make the situation less painful, but the essential process is not ours to control. We sit in awe and humility in the face of something vast. Far larger than humans.”
In my mind, at least, this is not an attitude of “giving up.”
But it moves some of my energy out of the “we’ve got to solve this” part of my brain. And that energy has gone into deep breathing, to minding my Center.
My parent suffered in the dying process. I suffered, facing her suffering.
Likewise, the human status quo on earth is dying. We need to care for all of us, as best we can.
But it is better, I believe, if we can hold some of our energy back from “we’ve got to solve this,” remembering that life will go on.
Some of our children will survive to old age, and some of our grandchildren.
It is not ours to choose which ones.
Or how many of the world’s children live long lives.
Not that we shouldn’t make intelligent, centered efforts, but we should make them with humility.
And when our friends come to us all afire with the grief and the pain which are surely and profoundly there…
we can avoid being sucked into the wave of “we have not done enough.”
Because we know “enough” cannot be done.
I believe that many in Qewdiscussions share this point of view with me.
But we do not voice it because it seems callous, seems to give permission to “giving up.” To turning our backs.
I am trying here, for the first time, among Friends, to give voice…
not to a “position,” but to an attitude.
I am trying to look beyond the pain and suffering of the next decades, as the parent of young children probably cannot.
I am trying to envision the world our grandchildren will inhabit, with an eye to steering the current generation in the best possible direction…
steering us toward the best, centered, attitude
for pointing our current lives toward the good we can envision on the far side of our grief.
In humility,
Richard Fuller

About Richard O Fuller

Quaker, living in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.
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1 Response to Let’s have humility in the face of world population

  1. This is the site owner’s alter ego, currently confused; I thought I was the owner of this site. WordPress tells me “You don’t have any WordPress sites yet. Do you want to start one?”

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