John Steward of Jesus
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Life and death forces

November 21, 1980

History is the record of the interaction of the forces of life and the forces of death. People are born and people die every minute. Cells in our bodies are forming new cells and dying every minute. Every year oak trees fall and acorns germinate. Volcanoes form mountains and erosion wears them down.

Prudent and humane people do what they can to retard or reverse the process of death. Disease has been overcome. Conservation awareness should be promoted. Prosperity is impossible without some thrift.

But the foundation of progress is the promotion of life, rather than the war against death. Those who are preoccupied with reversing the process of decay, death, and consumption are eventually swallowed by their own consumption. We might say that they literally devour what they are seeking to preserve.

The greatest progress in human history in the promotion of life and wealth has resulted from an emphasis on production, on the promotion of life, on the positive, rather than on an avoidance of the negative. Seeking to avoid the negative leads to a paralyzing fixation on the negative. Seeking to achieve the positive leads to ever accelerating achievement of the positive. The limit factor seems to be the speed with which man can adjust to his newly created wealth and accept its goodness.

Recently the emphasis has been on the negative--on the problems of overpopulation, poisonous waste, exploitation of workers and of the environment, etc. This fixation on the negative has now brought the productive and life-promoting process to a low level,as seen in a low birth rate, abortion, unemployment, fewer inventions, less creativity, prejudice against investors, against those who have produced, against any evidence of prosperity, and the rapid erosion of the capital base of the entire productive system. We are rapidly approaching the collapse of the productive process, when we may literally begin to devour ourselves. Already we have for years been devouring more than we have been producing.

Though conservation is important, we must realize that we cannot save our way to prosperity unless, while saving and conserving, we are producing more than we are consuming. Until this fundamental fact of our existence is appreciated and becomes part of our social awareness, our standard of living will continue to decline.