Burdensome to the World

On December 26th, 210, Tertullian looked from his window out onto the crowded streets of Carthage. All that he saw was poverty, disease and vice. A servant knocked at his door and offered him a bowl of grapes. The rebel priest, recently excommunicated, dismissed him with a wave of his hand.

“Nature fails in affording us her usual sustenance,” he said. “I will continue my fast and so shall you. Give the fruit to the wretched knocking at the church’s doors.”

The servant nodded and departed to a side room where he promptly proceeded to stuff as many of the grapes into his tiny mouth as he could.

A small earthquake had just struck the North African city, not a catastrophic one, but combined with the famine, there was a panic. It had killed maybe thirty or forty. Numerous buildings collapsed, destroying the scant possessions of the throngs of poor. They had nowhere to go and were wandering around aimlessly calling for their missing loved ones.

“I’ve done as you asked, Father,” the servant said when he returned a few minutes later, his teeth and chin stained purple.

Tertullian stared mournfully at him for a few seconds and turned back to the window.

“When I look out onto the slum that was once Carthage, all my eyes see is our teeming population. Our numbers are burdensome to the world. In fact, pestilence, famine, wars, and earthquakes have to be regarded as a remedy, as the means of pruning the abundance of the human race.”

A few days later, life was back to normal. The world’s population was 190 million.

When the tsunami struck Southeast Asia on December 26th, 2004, it killed over 225, 000 people.

The surviving six and a half billion in the world continued on with their lives.

No comments: