If you aren’t aware that over one billion people will go to bed hungry tonight, it’s time to become aware. With the world’s population recently passing seven billion people, many have wondered if the world can continue to support the burgeoning population of the world. Books such as The Population Bomb in the 1960s warned that worldwide agricultural production could not keep pace with global population growth. For Paul and Anne Ehrlich, the authors of this book, doom seemed imminent. They suggested radical tactics such as starving countries that refused to implement population control measures. Yet even today, with a global population double the size of the population at the time The Population Bomb was published, many organizations insist that there is still enough food to feed everyone. The Ehrlichs were certainly right about one thing, however: hundreds of millions of our brothers and sisters around the world are malnourished and each year, many of whom end up dying as a result. Even among the Latter-day Saints, it is estimated that 80,000 children are malnourished, and of those roughly 9,000 will die each year.
So what is to be done? Latter-day Saint revelation seems to indicate that population may not be the primary cause of such problems, but rather how things are distributed:
I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine. And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment (Doctrine and Covenants 104:14-18).
This passage of scripture captures the essence of the Law of Consecration: that people own nothing apart from the God-given gift to choose. Even our own bodies belong to the Lord; therefore, we should all strive to do what He would have us do with the things over which we have stewardship. Imagine if we truly sought to do what the Lord wanted us to do with our homes, our bodies, our minds. What difference could we make if exalting the poor were consistently on the top of our “to-do” lists? How much could we improve the environmental conditions of this planet if we used its resources only as needed, and “imparted our portion” to the rest of God’s children? The aforementioned verses seem to suggest that the Law of Consecration, if adhered to, sufficiently provides for the needs of the Latter-day Saints. But I believe in a God of miracles who loves all of His children and wants us to care for each other. In a statement which seemed to echo this revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith, President Brigham Young said:
The earth is here, and the fullness thereof is here. It was made for man; and one man was not made to trample his fellow man under his feet, and enjoy all his heart desires, while the thousands suffer. We will take a moral view, a political view, and see the inequality that exists in the human family. . . . The Latter-day Saints will never accomplish their mission until this inequality shall cease on the earth (Young, in Journal of Discourses, 19:46–47).
What a challenge! I for one want to do more. Who’s with me?!