7  B I L L I O N T H

Sound Artist Jacob Kirkegaard partners with Salman Rushdie and Juan Carlos Orozco Velasquez to create a piece in honor of the 7 billionth child to arrive on our planet

This piece was created for October 31, 2012 - the day the world population reached 7 billion

This video was featured in Red Flag Magazine "Issue No. 5: Stuff"


Essay by Salman Rushdie and Milan Rushdie

In 1997 I wrote an open letter to the six billionth world citizen, who was born that year, encouraging the poor little thing to imagine itself out of the straitjacket of religious belief. Astonishing that a mere fourteen years later we are expecting the arrival of the seven billionth member of the population. I’ve been asking myself what advice that six billionth child, now a teenager, might offer its newborn successor. 
As it happens I became a father myself in 1997, so I have a fairly good idea of what preoccupies at least one fourteen year old Londoner. My son is, if anything, less religious than I am (proof, perhaps, that the human race is evolving satisfactorily), so he would undoubtedly echo my proposal that it’s time to do without gods of all types.
But he has a lot of other things on his mind. Here’s what he has to say to his seven-billionth successor:
“Know what you like and do it. Don’t be a couch potato. Travel. Learn more than one language. Play tennis. Don’t support the Boston Red Sox. (He’s a Yankees fan.) 
“Value your parents. Love them back, as they love you. Make them feel being a parent is worth it. 
“Don’t feel better than other people. Don’t make friends with people because of their ‘status’ (which means you think they’re better than you). Choose friends for their character.
“Read books. Video games are fun, and a good video game makes you use your mind, but books give you room to think for yourself.
“At school, don’t fall into the trap of following the ‘cool’ people. They aren’t really cool. You will be offered cigarettes and drugs. Stay away from those, too.”
This advice comes from a young fellow born and raised in the “lucky” part of the world. If the seven-billionth is born in one of the unluckier parts, he or she may have to face much starker realities: hunger, thirst, poverty, disease, limited opportunity, unfreedom. 
I hope she, or he, is born lucky.