Many people today still think that all the action — the good life — is to be found in our grossly overpopulated cities. The lure of bright lights, night life, improved goods and services, job opportunities, cultural benefits, money and entertainment combine to draw people like some magnetic force. What kind of impact is this having and what problems are being created?
FARM regions and small towns, especially in the South, were once the home of many of these people. But no more. A mass exodus has been occurring as people, white and black, are moving away from the land and into the cities and suburbs — especially in the North. The majority of these black people in transit are invariably squeezed into the overcrowded cores of our central cities. Intolerable living conditions and grinding deprivation prevail to produce a social powder keg! Crime and failure in life are the tares being reaped by many of the denizens of these asphalt jungles. The conditions in the ghetto areas are appalling! For example, back about 1962, Negro Harlem had perhaps the highest population density of Negroes anywhere in the world — 500,000 in a small, confined area. To illustrate the problem, if the then total population of the United States had been jam-packed into the five-borough area of New York City — Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island — a similar population density would have prevailed as existed then in Harlem, and no doubt still does today. No one should have to live like this! Overcrowded conditions create "people problems" and loss of personal identity. The city dwellers then become futile, frustrated and fatalistic toward their environment. It becomes a monumental job to assimilate large numbers of people — many without special skills and many not well educated — into the competitive job market and hectic life of banal, urban America. This formidable task is aggravated by the equally back-breaking burden of relief loads, housing demands and school needs. City fathers are probing for answers. But the only solution offered by politicians is "spend, spend, spend." Even the black mayors now in office in over 40 townships in the "deep North" as well as the deep South are hard pressed to provide solutions. This is because the problems of the cities are not a matter of the complexion of the skin but rather of the complexity of human nature. Stop to consider. People who inhabit metropolitan areas today — of whatever color — are denied many experiences and outlets that are important for right, balanced living, and mental health. The need for "creative endeavors" is certainly one of them. Life in our cities, for all peoples, is frenzied. Much of man's work is specialized and meaningless, depriving him of the opportunities for creative expression formerly associated with work. Today, apartment-style living, assembly-line work, TV, automobiles, loosely knit families, divorce, different ethical values, materialism, etc., have all changed the pattern and pace of living. Our instant-this-or-that, ready-made society dulls intellectual curiosity. People lack constructive diversion. People lack mental and spiritual challenges. They lack real goals and purposes. All of us have a need for these things. Even real physical and mental fitness seems missing today. The mechanical nature of life around us — TV, auto, noise, factories — has been largely responsible for much of the tension, boredom and restlessness affecting the health of the average city dweller. Automation and mechanization are creating a style of living that affects the functioning of the human body and the human psyche. We today have less contact with the land than ever before. We are thus deprived of appreciating firsthand the beauty and design of this creation and drawing closer to the God who made us. God intends for us to be happy through contact with Him. How many of you take time out of your hurried existence to contemplate the how and why of the universe, to identify with something greater than yourself? Living as we do amidst man-made structures and society, we have little knowledge or concern about the God-given sources of our food, shelter and clothing. David wrote, "The earth belongs to the Eternal, and all the earth holds..." (Psalm 24:1, Moffatt). The creation itself is a witness to the existence of a great and Almighty God. The Apostle Paul wrote: "For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and divinity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known..." (Romans 1:20, Phillips translation). Jesus said, "... I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance — to the full, till it overflows" (John 10:10, Amplified Bible). The personal profile of Christ Himself pictures Him on the go, working, traveling, living, worshipping, and ministering in a more rural, open and relatively unspoiled environment. Very soon now He will return to set up a world government and a society which will produce abundant, happy human lives. When that day comes, then the present day frustration, tension, maladjustment, crime, racial strife, boredom, restlessness and the other problems created by our man-made societies and festering in our man-made cities will be eradicated. And man's greatest need — the need for spiritual satisfaction — will be fulfilled at long last.