At The Heart Of Inferno

by Ernest Armah

So last night, I concluded reading Inferno with two phrases etched in my memory – the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. And in dangerous times, there is no sin greater than inaction.
Diving into the mind of Dan Brown, the author of this incredible futuristic novel, I was beyond clear of the situation he wanted to portray to his readers and literacy community. The earlier we stopped beating about the bush and head straight for it, we move inch further to making the world a better place. Brushing on the surface of a throng of issues which have dire implications for the lives of many, like poverty, diseases, unemployment, corruption, and yes overpopulation does nothing but makes worse of the problems we already have. Inaction, which in this case is being romantic with the plagues on this earth, is indeed a greater sin.
Talking about overpopulation, could we draw a hypothesis that the rat-race we are currently engrossed in working 103 hours in a week, staying on top of your profession, strained family ties; is the result of the fact that we are now too many on this planet? Currently, there are over 7 billion people on earth and every year, the world grows by over 80 million people. Would our stress levels been the same had we been fewer on earth?
“I have no doubt you understand that overpopulation is a health issue. But what I fear you don’t understand is that it will affect the very soul of man. Under the stress of overpopulation, those who have never considered stealing will become thieves to feed their families. Those who have never considered killing will kill to provide for their young. All of Dante’s deadly sins—greed, gluttony, treachery, murder, and the rest—will begin percolating … rising up to the surface of humanity, amplified by our evaporating comforts. We are facing a battle for the very soul of man.”
As a result of our overbearing presence on the nature’s resource, some limited and some unlimited, we have finally succeeded in stressing and straining what once used to be a glorious sight of the handiwork of God. Whilst big manufacturing industries contaminate the air with all manner of substances to increase production to meet demand, individuals pollute the very dwelling which God has made habitable for them. Is this irresponsibility? Or could it be that we have not fully grasped the extent to which our single efforts would eventually sum up to feedback us with the opposite of paradise – inferno.
And what happens to those who cannot stand the impending possibility of disaster haunting the earth and are bold enough to step forward to nip things in the bud?
In Brown’s Inferno was a character whose struggles and hopes I found close to many of us at heart, Sienna. Sienna was a prodigy who read the entire book of Gray’s Anatomy at a very tender age, was able to diagnose herself of depression which was the result of wanting to belong to where she was not neither wanted nor needed. She was lonely. Until she got an advice from a Psychotherapist which ultimately made her an instrument in the hands of a man of her kind, a Germ-line Engineer Zobrist who despite having a good cause, chose a wrong method.
Zobrist unleashed a vector virus into the world which made one-third of the world population infertile. He held, rather wild, the conviction that the way to prune the growing world population, is for man to step into the shoes of God.
He believed that over the years, nature have found ways of de-stressing itself from exponential human infestation. Viruses such as the Ebola virus, HIV virus and catastrophes such as earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes are all the ways and means of slashing the ever-growing human statistic.
To Zobrist, the end justifies the means.
Despite the efforts of a certain professor of Symbology called Langdon, who unwrapped the codes and Zobrist symbols and was able to lead the boss of World Health Organization, Dr Sinskey and a military apparatus headed by Agent Bruder to the site of the vector virus, he was not able to cave the venom in. The virus had already been dispersed.
It is acceptable for an author to play God by manipulating characters in his novel but Dan Brown does his manipulation excellently well. Placing his fictional characters in real environments and real contexts confronted with real challenges makes his novels solution-oriented and progressive.
At what point do our actions constitute interference in the divine order of things? How drastic should we be in addressing the root causes of a problem such as overpopulation? And how can we discern when to look up to the heavens or our intellect for help?