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Pop. Me/We

by Tim O'Hearn

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne

Matthew West sings of a little world, Population Me. That is certainly how many of us seem to think. Everything revolves around me. If there is a God, he must be interested solely in me. Everything in my world is meant to serve or enhance me. Gordon Gecko said, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” And greed is all about me.

There are a couple of problems with that view of the world. Population Me is a very lonely place. Some people claim to like lonely. Alone is good, sometimes; lonely, rarely. In fact, lonely can become a very scary place. Population Me sometimes becomes a place of “everything is out to get me.” Because our world (the real world, with many me’s) does not always work the way we want it to, lonely doesn’t afford any comfort, or any help. God knew this. “It is not good for that man should be alone.” (Gen 2:18) Solomon, for all his wives and concubines, seems to have been for a time a very lonely man. And yet he could write:

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Eccl 4:9-12)

We need other people to help us through tough times. Those times will come. In Population Me, those times can be deadly.

John Donne understood that there is no Population Me. We are so intertwined with each other that what affects one man affects all. If I think it is Population Me, I lose sight of what each loss means. Soon there is nothing less to lose. The clod and the promontory. Lose one, lose all.

But there is another problem with Population Me. We just were not made that way. It is not all about me. Greed, for lack of a better word, is unnatural. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10) Good works are natural. Looking outside oneself is natural. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Imagine a world where everything is all about me, for each me. The highest good is my own good. Where my good differs from your good, I must by nature ensure my own preservation. Mr. Justice Holmes was wrong, then, that "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." In Population Me, the right to swing my fist ends when I get my way. Anarchy reigns. Contrary to popular belief, it is not all about me. I am here not to be served but to serve. By so doing, we do not diminish the world, but restore it. In God’s own little world, it must be Population We.