I woke up this morning to NPR and the first piece of information I heard was that the world had officially reached a population of 7 billion.
Wow. I have a hard time imagining what 7 billion looks like. I can't really think of anything I've seen or eaten or experienced 7 billion times. Really, I have no idea what that means, 7 billion. I have a hard enough time comprehending that I live in a city of 3 million.
So while I was running today, I started thinking about my 699,999,999 neighbors and what they were all up to at that moment. My friends in Rio were probably on the bus, or waiting for the bus. The people of India were sleeping, hopefully, or trying to sleep for all the noise outside. My mates in Europe and South Africa were maybe checking email, cleaning up dishes, getting ready for bed and another day in the world of 7 billion. All those folks going about their days, with next to no awareness of one another's existence. And we can't possibly know 7 billion people - too many names to remember.
But there's something quite compelling about all that collective energy. Just imagine how creative we'd be if we could put all of our heads together. I know it's unrealistic to hope that 7 billion people would get together to create something - some are old, some are young, some are rich, some are poor, and we all live kind of far from each other. But so far the only things we're "creating" together are waste, debt, and a larger population. There are plenty of strikes against a global movement of creativity. Enough to make you do, well, nothing, together.
But if you do nothing, nothing ever happens. What if you divide that 7,000,000,000 into groups of 1,000. That's not so bad. I bet you know 1,000 people. There were about that many in my high school graduating class. I'm more comfortable with something like 7 people, but hey. Wouldn't that be something? Imagine the innovation. Not only could we come up with something like the iPad and hybrid cars, but maybe we could put a stop to all the debt and the waste we're contributing to. Maybe we could all sign a virtual treaty to be better citizens of the earth, to work harder together for the sake of the next 7 billion, if only for the next 1. Imagine how differently we would live with a greater awareness of how our actions are influencing the lives of the next generation. Lately, many of my friends and family are having babies. That's what happens when you're 25, everyone you know begins multiplying. It's great, though, because it's made me think more about how what I say or do may or may not impact their beautiful lives (and mine). I want their lives to be full, radiant, and imaginative. I hope that's enough for my 699,999,999,999 mates to want to live better, more thoughtful lives too.