I picked up Dan Brown's Inferno yesterday in the Akron/Canton airport and blazed through 440 pages of it between the airport waiting area and the plane ride home. Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code, wrote another puzzling action/mystery, its pages full of art history, crime, mysterious organizations, and an astounding amount of action that takes place in a sleepless 36-hour period. I can't imagine how the protagonist, Robert Langdon, can solve anything after being concussed, stitched, drugged and deprived of sleep for that amount of time, but apparently his brainpower far exceeds mine.
In this current 24-style epic, Langdon is fighting the work of a scientist who believes that population growth is at the root of all the planet's evils, and that to preserve the species he needs to eradicate half of the 8+ billion souls on earth. There is a great deal of scientific evidence and logic contained to support his theory, and it took me back to my year in the Environmental Studies program at San Jose State. At that time I seriously pondered a question that lies in the pages of this book, "why have children when the earth they inherit may be failing?" I discussed the question with my professor and mentor, Frank Schiavo, when Rob and I were trying to decide when (and whether or not) to get pregnant. His reply was this: children give us hope, they provide us with motivation to do better, to try for solutions, and to think outside of ourselves.
Frank's words echoed in my mind as I put the book down on my seat-tray and faded momentarily into half-sleep. In my own life, my children provided the motivation to get through the worst days of my illness, and they keep me moving and hopeful even now as my recovery continues in fits and starts. I believe that the answers to our dilemmas may lie in the open hearts and the intelligent minds of our children, and that as long as they exist, hope exists. To Dan Brown's mad scientist and to Brown himself I would say that our people are valuable resources, not just numbers and negatives on the balance sheet. The answers will come for our children or from our children, not in their absence.