To give, love. Paul Coelho & One Hungry Planet

more than food sponge EARTH - BASF has come up with a YouTube video titled “One Hungry Planet.” It’s about “how farmers are feeding a hungry planet,” Cindy says (13 June, AgWired). It’s more about how farmers are failing in feeding a hungry planet, I say - that’s why we have One Hungry Planet!

I beg your pardon; I’ve watched the 4-minute BASF video, and I see it’s complete with statistics but incomplete with analysis. After these centuries of farming, was Thomas Malthus right after all, that human population increases geometrically while food increases arithmetically, implying that human population will always outstrip food supply unless checked?

The question of food is not simply of production but more of distribution. The laws of democratic economics tell us farmers produce the food, but they do not distribute. The BASF video equates the shortage of food with the surplus of population. Granting without conceding, with global warming bearing on all of us, filthy rich or dirty poor, population is the least of our worries!

No, I’m not worried about the population of the Earth. If we don’t do what we must, ASAP, climate change will depopulate the Earth for us, ASAP. Mostly the poor in poor countries like mine, the Philippines. Problem solved!

I mean, the world is hungry for food, but most of all, the world is
hungry for love
hungry for pardon
hungry for faith
hungry for light
hungry for joy
hungry for consoling
hungry for understanding
hungry for giving.

What the world needs most today is not Higher Productivity but Higher Peace. No, Peace is not simply the absence of war, and as Christians we can all contribute to making the Peace, by praying and practicing the Peace Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love
where there is injury, pardon
where there is doubt, faith 
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood, as to understand
to be loved, as to love
for it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

In one word: Love. Love of course is the most interesting topic of all. Interestingly, the Brazilian international bestselling author Paul Coelho has managed to write a mostly boring book about love that was published by HarperCollins in 2004: Eleven Minutes. Everything about love interests me greatly. This is not an old story because Coelho claims that his book “sensitively explores the sacred nature of sex and love and invites us to confront our own prejudices and demons” (back blurb). I never heard or read of that claim before in any intellectual output, in any media. The original was written in Portuguese; it was translated into English by Margaret Jull Costa. Having read enough of it, I doubt if something was lost in the translation.

Did I say boring? Mostly. Here’s the very first paragraph:

Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria. Wait a minute. “Once upon a time” is how all the best children’s stories begin and “prostitute” is a word for adults. How can I start a book with this apparent contradiction? But since, at every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss, let’s keep that beginning.

“Once upon a time” is okay depending on how you use it; not in this case. Coelho could have written something like this:

ONCE UPON A TIME was the dream world that Maria lived in, even in her waking hours. She was 16, innocent, an only child, the daughter of a traveling salesman and a seamstress. She loved them both. They had a lovely house with a sea view. She had fallen in love when she was 12.

This is fiction; in my version, there is no dark secret revealed yet, only the surprising fact that Maria had fallen in love when she was yet 12. You will want to read more. In Coelho’s version, saying “prostitute” right in the first paragraph is spoiling the fun of his readers. You don’t want to read more. Actually, in that first paragraph Coelho is like saying, “I’m sorry I have to do this.” Why should you apologize for using “once upon a time” and writing about a prostitute in your story?

Minor points actually. Does the book really sensitively explore the sacred nature of sex and love? No. The Emperor has no clothes! Coelho’s Eleven Minutes is all about sexual love, period. I’m a Roman Catholic, so I know that sexual love is sacred to the Roman Catholic, and Coelho is one (Wikipedia). No Roman Catholic need write a pocketbook of 273 pages to say sexual love is sacred.

And if Coelho wanted to really explore the nature of sacred love, he would have had to write a book of fiction of 1,000 pages. Because no, sexual love is not all there is to love, just as food is not all there is to life.

If I understand St Francis right, the true nature of loving is sowing pardon, sowing faith, sowing hope, sowing light, sowing joy; too, loving is consoling, understanding, and giving.

Now, are we like Linus in Peanuts who says, earnestly, “I love mankind ... it’s people I can’t stand!” If we do love mankind, if we truly know the nature of love, the affirmative action to climate change is adaptation - mitigation is merely a reaction. If we don’t adapt, climate change will adapt us.

To save us from One Angry Planet, we have to love mankind and decrease radically our carbon footprints:

(1) cut greenhouse gas emissions drastically, like: shrink the use of chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides, gasoline, diesel, coal.

(2) escalate energy efficiency severely, like: walk, don’t drive; drive, don’t fly; plug off equipment when not in use; learn to carpool; cut down on air-conditioning; don’t print out - use email.

(3) increase the speed with which we tap environment-friendly sources of energy: sun, wind, water, grains, biomass - without competing with the food supply.

(4) intensify the use of good agricultural practices that conserve the soil, water, seeds; that build watersheds out of marginal, degraded, barren areas and become carbon sinks.

If you can’t do your part in climate change adaptation, then you truly love mankind - it’s just that you can’t stand people.

I would like to simplify and say that loving is giving: If you can’t give of yourself, you can’t truly love. When you forgive, you give to God your hurts so that He can take care of them Himself because you can’t handle them anymore. When you share your faith, you give your life as a model. When you encourage others, you give hope. When you enlighten others, you give light. When you share, you give joy. When you console, you give part of yourself to share the pain. When you try to understand, you give of yourself to empathize. Sacred Loving is All Giving.

Only Sacred Love can feed One Hungry Planet and save Man from One Angry Planet!

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