There's a quiet energy about a city in the morning that fills me with excitement for the day ahead.
But what happens when cities grow out of control? When those carefully planned boulevards are cut up by shoddy constructions, when people and cars belching cheap exhaust and haphazard buses choke the streets?
Not many people in America have heard of Dhaka, but the capital of Bangladesh is the fastest growing city in the world. By 2025 it will house more than 20 million people, according to the UN. Dhaka is a vision of the future and not a very pleasant one.
"The future is here, and it smells like burning trash," CBS news reported. In the slums and shantytowns that disgorge filth into the foul rivers, residents will get hold of whatever garbage they can to fuel cooking fires. Dhaka is testimony to the fact that the world has turned a corner and more than 50 percent of its residents have flocked to cities.
And maybe if you have tried to make progress down a teeming sidewalk in Dhaka, you'll think fondly of those days being shoved up some one's arm pits on the Metro of New York or London.
The future is one of mega cities. " By 2025 the U.N. predicts that Delhi, Dhaka, Kolkata, Mumbai, Mexico City, New York, Sao Paulo and Shanghai will all have populations of more than 20 million. Tokyo is projected to become home to some 37 million," CBS reported.
Yet how many of us even know where all these cities are?
And ironically they may be the only hope of a salvation of sorts. In 1798 Thomas Malthus predicted overpopulation would lead to collapse. He wrote: "The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race."
But once in the slums, the birth rate tails off, giving the earth a chance to recover. At least that's how the argument goes, although it's little salvation for those who live in festering heat and filth. On a fairly regular basis I meet people in America who have no interest in third world poverty or its alleviation. And perhaps these stark statistics reveal they are correct not to care. There's a form of Darwinian natural selection going on that's beyond our control. Children rise out of the slums and go on to great things, but many others are mired in poverty for their whole lives.
But there's a difference between being correct and morally right. I'm not sure how you can spend an hour or two every Sunday listening to the New Testament mantra about compassion for your fellow man and woman, only to renounce all interest in the Third World. I'm not sure what Host of the Seraphim means exactly but I can never watch this video by Dead Can Dance without being deeply moved. It's not easy to watch. It's actually less painful to watch Benny Hill. Which is saying something.