A Noahs Ark

The Portuguese Pro-life Federation was present at the Paris launch of the One of Us Cultural Platform last February, 23rd. We publish and article labeled “The New Ark” which refers in part to the adventurous journey of these last decades of “cultural war” and the tireless custody of the precious values of life and family by a pro-life minority.

A Federação Portuguesa pela Vida esteve presente no lançamento da Plataforma Cultural de One of Us em Paris a 23 de fevereiro passado. Publicamos um artigo intitulado “A Nova Arca” que se refere em parte à viagem, repleta de aventuras, das últimas décadas de “guerra cultural” e da incansável custódia dos valores preciosos da vida e da família por parte de uma minoria pró-vida.  

A New Ark

For centuries, religions exerted its authority over the behaviour of society. In particular, sexuality was intended to be subordinated to the rule of God. That goes without saying there were deviations from the commandments all the time and there was sin and there was crime and there was disrespect for the rules, even by the religious rulers themselves. But there was a kind of a long term consensus. Since the end of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity, there were strict rules in place to regulate family, reproduction, sexuality, marriage, pregnancy. And those rules were aimed at promoting an healthy social environment for families and for the society at large, valuing reproduction over sexual acts,  promoting stability of marriage and family and condemning poligamy, adultery, homosexuality.

For centuries it worked and it ensured the continuity and the evolution of society. We can perhaps say that hunger and diseases to a certain point could be seen as a kind of natality regulation that most of the time stabilised family and population growth. Men and women fortunes would depend a lot on nature’s good mood or bad mood for food production, successful harvests and health. Infant mortality was high but it was mainly nature’s fault, it was maybe God’s will, not men and women getting involved, obviously, in the decision of life and death of a child. For some reason, for good reason, this model worked well, for centuries. Religion, and social morality derived from religion, succeeded in ensuring a good rate of population replacement and a solid population growth in the long run. And, contrary to Malthusianist doomsday profecies, in the long run, resources somehow grew at a rate consistent with population growth, instead of Malthus theory of a big gap widening gradually between an exponencial population growth and a linear, thereby insufficient, resources growth. To be sure, the religious moral framework of Europe, based on Christian teaching, was not unique in what concerns natality, fertility, sexuality, family, marriage. All the main religions were, and still are, supportive of natality and reproduction, and promoters of family harmony and cohesion. These were always extremely valuable values for all the religions. And abiding by the religious rules, and their moral translations for society at large, always helped people to find, and to found, good and stable families, and to be good parents, to be good wives and husbands, to be good citizens. And it translated, many times, in generating large families, with many children, frequently with 8, 10, 12 descendants. Was this idyllic, bucolic? Was this backwards and against progress? Was this non-sense? Certainly not.

Then came modern society, industrial economy, urban civilization. There came First World War and World War II. And antibiotics. Mr Fleming discovered penincilin in 1928 and won the Nobel Medicin Prize in 1945. The world started to have access to antibiotics in a widespread fashion. Child mortality rates fell, survival rates for children and average life expectancy for adults increased significantly. Simultaneously oral contraception methods were developed in a modern fashion, becoming available and increasingly popular during the 50’s and widespread in developed countries afterwards. In fact, in 1960 the pill was ready for “take-off”, approved in the US by the Food and Drugs Administration and legally authorized in 1965, by the US Supreme Court, who gave married couples lawful right to contraception. People had now the opportunity to choose between having more children or less children and, alternatively, spending more in a bigger house, a larger car, furniture, fashion, leisure, vacations, restaurants.

The adoption of contraception spread like wildfire in the US and Europe during the 60’s and 70’s. Was it safe? Was it healthy? Was it 100% effective? Certainly not. Contraception led gradually to a more radical decoupling between sex and procriation, transformed a society undergoing a baby boom into another society with a bursting sexuality outside marriage and a booming sexuality before marriage, in short sexual revolution was happening, with all its soft and hard forms, in all aspects of life, including cinema, showbiz, publicity, literature as well. Moral codes became increasingly lax, a divorce epidemics ensued, and abortion legalization started in earnest, with  New York first legalizing it in 1970.

During the decades long journey from the diffusion of the pill in the 60’s to the generalization of abortion nowadays in almost all developed countries, religion was also sacrificed in the process, religion was a casualty, a victim, too. Religion was sidelined, was silenced, as it conveyed an extremely “inconvenient truth”. Religion, both at a local level or at a global level, was increasingly marginalized. Although Vatican II and all the Popes, from John XXIII and Paul VI to John Paul II, from Benedict to Francis now, were still popular, the teachings of the Church were always very far apart from the way people lived and conducted their lives. Religion was  relegated to the backwaters of the intimate and personnal reflexion of individuals. It was mostly banished from the public scene, expelled from politics, accepted only in “folcloric” and quasi-touristic manifestations of tradition or in large gatherings on the occasion of Papal visits to the countries. Religion in every day life became residual and reserved for its die hard followers only.  However…

However… Even today, there is a hidden treasure. This treasure has been kept and protected, not only by the Church, and by other religions, the treasure has been looked after, as well, by many people of good will all over the world. Like it happened thousand of years ago with Noah’s Ark, it is happening again today. In Noah’s Ark all the couples of animals on earth took refuge from  Deluge, from the Big Flood. There is a New Ark now. This Ark has an hugely valuable treasure in it. It has been guarded, looked for, conserved for decades, protected from storms, fires, insults and provocations. This treasure is a kind of forgotten formulae, a forgone truth, a divine message, a precious gift to the world. It is this simple: Respect for Life and Respect for Family. This is the basis of a new deal for today’s society. This precious message traversed more than half a century, survived and will one day prevail when the world realizes how desperate it is for a new dawn.

The wold of today is full of imbalances and problems. Structurally, these imbalances are mainly demographic. And demography is the basis, the foundation of the economy too. At a micro level, children are growing in broken down families, one or two children per family as a maximum, old people are lonely people, no one will ever be available or able to take care of them all. Men and women are at war, divorce is the norm, not the exception. There is no stability whatsoever in the family. Drugs and other addictions are rife. Buta t a macro level, other problems are out of control already. The ageing of population in the developed world, the greying of Europe or the US, has reached unthinkable proportions. In the other side of the world, in China, India, the imbalance between the number of males and females is huge, it never reached such extreme levels in the past, not even after long wars. And in China, the number two world economic powerhouse, the ageing of the work force is alarmingly fast, as the exponencial effects of the decades old one child policy take their toll, even if this policy has been reversed now. Too late. The national economies and the wold economy will pay a heavy price for these serious desequilibriums. We are on the verge, in most of the countries, of a social security cul-de-sac. We face national health services’ collapses all over the place. Public debts are at all-time highs across Europe and beyond. Investment expenses are not coping up with huge needs for infrastructure renovation and modernization. The workforces, even allowing for immigration, are not responding any longer to the needs of the markets. The economy, in Europe, is heading fast to a dead end. The economic growth is unsustainable, politics are not responding to the challenge, the political system is clearly in crisis. Tax-squeezed tax payers are impatient, sometimes desperate, the middle class life standards are deteriorating all the time. The productivity growth and technological progress is not uplifting the economy anymore since the turn of the century despite all the innovations. Growth is lacklustre, crisis are more and more frequent. It can only get worst.

There is the need for a change of paradigm, for a new message, a new framework for Europe, for the world. Only one way out: to revive our centuries old values, to get back to faith and religion, respect the sanctity of life since conception, respect and promote traditional family values, choose fertility instead os sterility, choose the sound values of life and humanity instead of hedonism and death.

23 february 2019

João Geada

Federação Portuguesa pela Vida (Portuguese Pro-Life Federation)