Saturday, August 3, 2013

What a Childless Nation Portends Revisited


A featured article in the August edition Time Magazine is "Having it all without having children" by Lauren Sandler, In it she states the following:

"The birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history. From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there's data, the fertility rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s."

Keep in mind that the link leads the reader to an excerpt of the article. For the full article, one has to subscribe. As such, it is unclear what conclusions Sandler comes to. In any case, it is one of the many objectives of Sky View to keep this issue on the radar. With that said, I am reposting "What a Childless Nation Portends."


Originally posted: September 22, 2011

In recent years, many Americans have made the personal decision not to have children. Today, however, even more people, sold on the myth that the earth is overpopulated, have made it clear that it is a civic duty for couples to have only a few children...if any. But what was once a personal decision to have a small family is now a social mandate to discourage couples from having any more than one or two children. For instance, in the twenty-first century it has been customary for families with five or more children to either get lectured or be given looks of disapproval by perfect strangers at the local grocery store.

It is a true marvel of human nature that many or even the majority of people can be so zealously opposed to that which is absolutely necessary for a nation’s survival and happiness. Materialism and secularism can so twist human thinking that people can hate what is positively good for them and love what is positively bad. Such is the mystery of sinful humanity and the effect it has on the soul.

I’ll leave it to Steve Mosher and Population Research Institute to provide all the statistical data why America and Western Civilization is headed for a demographic collapse. The point here is that once people cross a certain threshold of prosperity, materialistic lifestyles sets in, the appetite for sacrifice wanes and reproductive attitudes hardens. It is usually at the tail end of this development that the State sees that a childless nation is not in its best interests.

Although some European countries have come to this point, such as France, America has yet to realize that a family with many children is in her best interests. Historically, declining tax revenue and the disproportionate ratio between the young and the elderly are but natural results of a low birthrate. In response to this crisis, governments typically offered incentives to reverse the trend. But history demonstrates that when the harm of a nation gone childless was felt, it was often too late for political remedies.

In the last forty years, Catholics- both clergy and laity –have been bashful about what may prove to be the most prophetic and important doctrine of our times: the truth on contraception. As a result, very few teachings at the local and diocesan level (and even fewer sermons at Sunday Mass) have even mentioned what impact contraception has had on marriage, the family and culture. Our silence has left the door wide open for the propaganda that children are a burden to society.

Nevertheless, the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception will undoubtedly be vindicated when the demographic winter has peaked. And we are just beginning- only just beginning -to feel the effects of that winter. We have to pray for our bishops and priests, that they may lead the way in encouraging married couples to be generous with God in terms of having children. It is incumbent on all Catholics, but especially our leaders, to articulate what a childless nation portends.

One such effect of a low birthrate is this: What the family loses, the State gains. When families shrink and breakdown, the State only increases and becomes more powerful. History bears witness to this fact. The present day challenge of American citizens to retain their liberty and prosperity can be traced (although not exclusively) to the breakdown of the family and the unwillingness of couples to have children. On the other hand, if the American people were to value having more children, this would be a sign of recovery; a harbinger of better things to come.

Long before the birthrate of the West became an issue, Bishop Sheen issued the following warning in 1948 with the publication of his book, Communism and the Western Conscience, He said this:

"If our birthrate should again decrease as it did 15 years ago [1933], and that decrease should continue, would we not become the prey of other nations? History does not reveal the survival of a single nation with a declining birthrate in a moment of trial and crisis. On the occasion of the fall of France in 1940, a French general gave the failure of the family to perpetuate itself as the basic reason for the nation’s debacle.

In 150 B.C. Polybius, in writing about the decline of Greece, said: 'For the evil of depopulation grew upon us rapidly, and without attracting our attention, by our men becoming perverted to a passion of show and money, and pleasure of an evil life, and accordingly either not marrying at all, or if they did marry, refusing to rear children that were born, or at most, one or two out of the great numbers, for the sake of leaving their well-being assured, and bringing them up in extravagant luxury. The result, houses are left heirless, and like swarms of flies, little by little, the cities become sparsely inhabited and weak.'

The decline of the population always begins with the economic top; those who could most afford to have children do not. The group less economically blessed produces more. Soon the infection against the family spreads from those in high economic brackets to those below, and a civilization goes into decline.

There is no doubt the State will claim more power for itself as the family declines, but the state and society are not identical. As the vital energy of society goes into decline, the mechanized bureaucratic machinery grows by leaps and bounds…Invasion was a possibility from the time Roman morals began to decline.”

To repeat Sheen's words: "Invasion was a possibility from the time Roman morals began to morals began to decline." This, no doubt, confirms the famous quote from the historian Arnold Toynbee, "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder."  Indeed, the Barbarians successfully conquered the once powerful Roman Empire only because that empire was already dying from her own vices.

With a lowering of morals children begin to be seen as a liability rather than an asset; a mouth to feed rather than one more mind to invent new things and two more hands to help build-up. However, what we find in Scripture is precisely the opposite. Children are always...always!..referred to as a blessing from the Lord. Any nation that believes otherwise is hastens their own decline. This is what a childless nation portends.