Pope Francis scrambled the last remaining eggs of Twitter feminists last week when he condemned those picking pet ownership over parenthood as “selfish” and worsening the West’s “demographic winter.”
As domestic birth rates decline and the inheritance of upright values is disrupted, shouldn’t the moral case be made to modern men and women to put founding a family above everything?
So, how deep a demographic hole are we in?
A “baby boom” was projected to result from lockdown, given people were confined to their homes and do nothing except (as Dostoyevsky would say) busy themselves with the continuation of the species. But the economic uncertainty produced by pandemic policies produced a worldwide “baby bust,” with the U.S. facing a 4 percent reduction in births and some states registering double-digit declines. Sharp drops in birth rates coincided with financial crises between the 1980s and 2008. But calamitous economic circumstances caused by lockdowns merely exacerbate a six-year trend. Births are at their lowest since 1979, across all demographics. Similar issues ail Asia, with South Korea’s birth rate below America’s, and Japan’s population projected to halve. In Europe, mass immigration was made the Band-Aid for declining demographics — without accounting for unsustainable social welfare spending, and tragic cultural incompatibilities.
Obesity, low infant mortality, and traumas of promiscuity — aided and abetted by pornography, abortion, and contraception — all play parts in diminishing demographics. The U.S. also has the highest proportion of single-mother households: a primary indicator for entrapment in a cycle of poverty, crime, addiction, and mental illness.
So how do we fix this?
Appeals to collective responsibility to convince everyone to be fruitful and multiply won’t cut it. The kind of thinking that politicizes personal actions as in service of society-wide ideological aims is the same fanaticism infecting the pope’s other favorite religion: climate apocalypse prophecies. A strong strain of anti-natalism infests modern environmentalist movements. Media outlets propagandized women into sterilizing themselves by calculating the carbon footprint of each baby, and promoting barren wombs as a way to “save the planet.”
This ideology has infected our institutions. On his presidential campaign trail, Bernie Sanders endorsed expanding taxpayer-funded abortion availability to the developing world to decrease anthropogenic pollution. Stanley Johnson, the father of Britain’s prime minister, concluded a COP26 panel by arguing for reducing population growth as the answer to rising carbon emissions. Who decides which populations? Academics and Extinction Rebellion activists have urged organic and bottom-up methods of eradicating humanity: by collective abstinence, or zoonotic pandemics. Eco-socialists are indoctrinating women into mothering Mother Nature instead of their own children.
What these misanthropes fail to reconcile is the planet has no innate worth without humans to inhabit and contribute to its ecosystems. Implicit in climate cultist narratives is the transcendentalist idea that lives are enriched by encountering natural beauty. Their nihilism is suicided by the aesthetic appreciation for nature they share with conservationists. This value judgment validates the pope’s argument that childlessness is selfish — if the world is so beautiful that grand-scale sacrifices must be made to preserve it, why should a subsequent generation not live to enjoy it? Shouldn’t their passion for preserving nature charge them with a duty to produce and raise children who can steward it: as horticulturists, zoologists, and renewable energy innovators? Who else will impart an ethic of stewardship onto those living in the world you’re saving, if not you?
This contradiction may go unaddressed because activists’ investment in their planetary salvation narrative is a convenient coping strategy. It is easier to endure one’s aversion to self-actualizing as a responsible adult if it is revised as being a virtuous sacrifice for the world’s benefit. How noble of you to be utterly uncommitted to anything but your own gratification …
To fulfill the duty we have to pay forward the joys of existence to new lives, we require a cultural paradigm shift. Government can play a part. The average age of motherhood is 27. Raising the minimum earnings threshold for income tax could make housing more affordable, and parenthood more financially viable earlier in life. Sweden’s success with implementing financial incentives for childbirth and increasing support for career suspension for mothers may be a model for child-specific policies. However, these incentives should be made supply-side by cutting taxes for individuals and businesses to provide these incentives — rather than through redistributive schemes. Even Russia has had success with these “maternity capital” rebates.
But, just as the Constitution was intended for a moral and religious people, individuals must discontinue participating in the fleeting pleasures of Tinder hook-up culture. We must repeal decades of dishonesty by Cosmopolitan Magazine, who sold women the lie that “Hard work and sex will set you free (as long as you don’t have children).” This attitude adjustment has begun, if from necessity if nothing else. Even institutions like Cambridge University are enrolling career-focused female students in fertility classes to instruct them on planning a family around their professional ambitions.
But for parents to transfer values down generations, these virtues must become habits at a personal level. This change must be done from the bottom up. Women: don’t taste the forbidden fruit of trading your purity for a profitable but short-lived online prostitution career on OnlyFans. And men: don’t poison the well by sleeping with every woman you meet.
Climate alarmists are false prophets. The pope’s plea for more post-pandemic families should be taken as Gospel. Ignore the anti-natalist nonsense, ditch any commitment to hyper-materialism, and make founding a loving family your top priority. It’s a lonely 40 after 40 otherwise.
Connor Tomlinson is the Head of Research at the British Conservation Alliance and a political commentator for Young Voices UK. He features regularly in American Spectator, The Federalist, on GB News and talkRadio. Follow him on Twitter: @Con_Tomlinson
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