Notes from Down Under
by Ernie Klassek
It was a catchcry of the twentieth century. In my childhood days it had a different name. I remember people talking about "the yellow peril", a theory that the peoples of that skin colour would eventually outnumber all other races and take over the whole world.
In my grandparents' time it was commonly held that only the poor had lots of children. In my parents' time-those sad years that followed the First World War-the popular sentiment was, "No more wars!" What that generation of Europeans didn't say out loud was, "No more children." Boys were often referred to as cannon fodder, and more so after the second World War. So people simply stopped having children.
You couldn't blame them. The two World Wars had killed generations of men and youths: husbands, uncles, nephews, grandfathers, fathers, sons and brothers. In Germany and Austria the census of 1946 showed a ratio of six females to one male.
In due course, the French invented the pill, and the Chinese came up with their one child per family policy.
I came to the Lucky Country as a migrant in 1954. After a few weeks on my first job, my workmates asked me what I thought of Australia. I had nothing but nice things to say about a country that seemed almost too good to be true. Then they wanted to know whether I had any criticism, and I said: "You fellows donít have enough children. Here you are on a continent as big as Europe, and all you have is 8 million people." One of them laughed and said: "You mean populate or perish." Others made comments like: "That's why they are bringing blokes like you out here" and "Australia is mainly desert." The Labor voters among them said: "We don't want all these migrants, only the Liberals do." (I found out later that Labor had approved Australia's immigration policy in 1948.)
In 1959, I began reading a Bible given to me at a naturalisation ceremony. In the first chapter I read that God had blessed the man and the woman He had created, and said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Gen 1:28, KJV). It took many months to read the rest of that remarkable book, and nowhere could I find either a command or a recommendation from God to counter what He had told the first man and woman.
"If you don't stop having too many children, you will overpopulate the world" is not what God said, but what people who don't believe Him say.
Their reasoning ranges all the way from: "If we don't stop populating, there will be nowhere for us to live" to "there is not enough arable land" and "there won't be enough food."
We often hear about a stockpile of food in many countries-I have heard it called a "butter mountain"-but we rarely hear about free shipments of surplus food to those who are starving elsewhere. Merchants seem to follow a policy of "hold in reserve and sell when the price is right."
Everybody knows what we could do with the astronomical sums of money plus the time and effort spent on armaments: We could easily house, feed, educate and make free health services available for all our fellow men in the third world. What everybody doesn't know-because it's not made popular nowadays-is that God doesn't want us to have armaments.
What He wants is for us to have is faith in Him. If at any time it may seem that there is not enough arable land, He can make more. Whether He flattens the Himalayas and other mountain ranges, whether He sends the right amount of rain into the desert regions whose soil is often rich in minerals and nutrients, whether He reduces the size of the oceans and increases our land mass that way--or by other means that we don't know of--He can do it.
As God poetically put it to the ancient Israelites who didn't believe Him: "Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you?" (Isa 50:2, NIV) "Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear" (Isa 59:1, NIV).
Like the ancient Israelites, modern mankind as a whole does not believe God. Yet, among all the millions on earth, there are some who do. God gave them their faith.
Look what Jesus said God would do for their sake in times of trouble to come: "For the trouble at that time will be far more terrible than any there has ever been, from the beginning of the world to this very day. Nor will there ever be anything like it again. But God has already reduced the number of days; had he not done so, nobody would survive. For the sake of his chosen people, however, God will reduce the days" (Matt 24:21-22, GNB).
God calls those who believe Him "His chosen people", and He repeats the promise to reduce the days of mankind's destruction.
Whether we are among the millions who don't believe God or whether we are among the few who do, God has already determined to save mankind.
But there is a difference between the two. Those who don't believe will live in fear-by that time not of population explosion but of annihilation-while those who do believe will have a hope and an assurance from God to proclaim to all unbelievers: He wants to save us all (I Tim 2:3-4).
And no one can stop God.
As a postscript, no one was able to stop God from making Australia's population grow from 8 million to 22 million in a little over 50 years.
Those fellows on my first job in 1954 were right when they said to me: "populate or perish" and "that's why they are bringing blokes like you out here."
As for my wife and me, we have not let them down. We did our share with five children, sixteen grandchildren and-so far-three great-grandsons.
Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind catching up with those old workmates of mine one day, if just to say to them: "What do you reckon, fellers, look at us now."
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On 16 Dec 2009, 14:02.