Culture of Life: Aftershocks
Terra firma. If you’ve ever rocked at sea or bounced your way through those big billowy gray clouds, you instinctively know what the words mean. We were born to walk, not to swim or fly, so the solid earth gives us comfort. On it, we can move safely and freely.
But sometimes the terra isn’t so firma. The reason lies in the earth’s curve. Because the earth is not flat, its crust—the surface on which we live—is made of massive plates that very slowly but constantly shift. When the plates collide, they exert pressures on each other. At times, the pressures are enough to cause sudden shifts, sometimes very minor, but at other times very major. These shifts are earthquakes, our geological terrorists. In an instant, all we thought was safe no longer is. The ground literally moves and shakes, rises and sinks, under our feet. The devastation in loss of human life and property can be enormous.
And with an earthquake, it may not be over when it’s over. When the rock under us moves, it begins to create pressures at other places. Because the new contact points are not always able to resist these tensions, another quake—or quakes—can occur. These are the aftershocks from the original quake. Generally, they occur close to the quake’s center, making rescue operations difficult and dangerous. Often they are of lesser intensity than the original quake, but they can be almost as intense. Many times they are short lived, but some have occurred months, years, decades, and even centuries later.
When God created mankind, He gave us minds and free wills, and because we need the help, He gave us consciences and rules of morality that we might live in peace and harmony with God and each other. Then He sent us on our way, with instructions to be fertile and multiply. It sounds simple enough, but because of our fallen nature, those gifts put pressures on each other—like with those plates in the earth’s crust. In the 20th century the contraception mentality took hold; fertility and childbearing became our enemies. Fears of overpopulation magnified the calls to reduce family sizes for the common good. Then came the sexual revolution with its call to “make love, not war.” The “love” had nothing to do with sacrificing self for the good of others. At the same time, the new feminist movement was demanding strict equality with men. If men couldn’t be forced to bear babies, then neither should women.
The pressures were too much to bear, and in January 1973, the earth moved—violently. Roe v. Wade hit with the force of an earthquake way off the Richter scale. Developing human beings could be legally killed, at any time and for any reason, before ever seeing the light of day. It’s been like that now for over 45 years. A culture at odds with life, a culture of death and even of killing, has taken firm hold.
Decades later, the alarming aftershocks from our failure to live as God instructs are still reverberating. As for overpopulation, the opposite is more true. The fertility rate to sustain human life at replacement levels is about is 2.1 children for every woman. The U.S. fertility rate is now around 1.77. Although immigrant fertility rates have traditionally boosted the U.S. rate, that trend appears to be over. The U.S. Census Bureau is now estimating that by 2035—not that far from now—seniors will outnumber children. It should be the other way around.
Currently, about 60 million lives have been lost because of legal abortion. Many millions more were never even conceived because of contraception. Whatever the combined total is, it’s having a huge economic impact on the lives of all of us. A key principle is at work here: sustained economic growth requires population growth. People have needs and wants. Babies need food, clothing, and diapers, lots of diapers. Over time, they need toys and books and school supplies—lots of them, too. They’ll want computers and headphones and cellphones, and more clothes, later a car, then a house, and on and on until their senior years. Our needs and wants create jobs and businesses to satisfy them—and that’s a good thing. But recently, Toys R Us went out of business. One reason was the declining birth rate. Less kids, less toys. Microsoft and Apple, take note: it’s heading your way.
Our pro-death culture creates other problems. When people work, they pay taxes on their income. Imagine how many billions, perhaps trillions, of tax dollars that would have been generated over the last 45 years by an additional 60+ million more workers. Taxes that would run governments and fund desperately needed programs, like assistance for the poor and the disabled. Programs like Social Security, which absolutely depends on contributions from younger people. Why is it in bad shape? More people are taking, not enough are contributing.
Those missing workers create another problem. People are our greatest assets. Who will be the workers of the future, the people who will provide for our wants and needs? Who will be the inventors and entrepreneurs? Who will be our religious, the people who tend to our spiritual needs? Scientists? Teachers? Poets? Doctors and nurses? We need to realize that we may have flushed the best of them down the toilet, or not let them even be conceived.
And with fewer people behind them, who will tend to the elderly, our parents and grandparents who gave so much for so long? Families with too few kids will be out-manned. More and more people will be put away to die. Think about those Obamacare death panels. The people pushing for them saw the coming problem. So should you.
In the meantime, we’re giving Planned Parenthood over $500 million annually. Our politicians—the ones for whom we vote—are literally funding our death spiral. How shortsighted can we be! So maybe God had it right when He said, “Be fertile and multiply.”
It wouldn’t be the first time.
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.