Dear baby number seven billion! I don’t know if you are a girl or a boy, whether you are Indian or Chinese, born in a great city or a tiny village. I don’t know if you were born in the fertile South American lowlands or under an igloo above the arctic circle.
I don’t know if you were born on a remote island, or in a refugee tent. I don’t know whether you are healthy or sick or handicapped. I don’t know whether both your parents were there to embrace you at your birth, or whether your mother alone was there to hold you. I don’t know whether people will say there are too many or too few of you and your contemporaries. Today, I don’t care about that.
This world you are coming into is a bit complicated and it’s not friendly for everyone. We haven’t done a very good job preparing it for you. The leaders of the richest and most powerful nations are sitting around a table, struggling to find a way forward. We too are asking ourselves about your future.
But today I want to tell you that you are unique and special, that you are a wonderful gift, that you are a miracle, that your spirit will live for ever, and so you are welcome. We hope that when you smile someone will respond to your smile, and when you cry someone will caress you. We hope you can go to school and that you won’t go hungry. We hope that someone will answer your questions wisely and encourage you as you find your place in the world. We hope you will be able to love others, that will be able to grow, and work, and live among your family, with many friends, in a nation and in a world that is free and at peace. We pray that you can understand that your life will find its fullest meaning not in this world but in the next.
Because this is what you were born for. Your Creator and Father made you for this. We will do our part to make this possible; but you will have to do your part, too, because your future will also depend on you and the choices you make—and it will be up to you to welcome baby eight billion.