Joe Am doesn't like statistics, but he'll deal with the little rascals from time to time.
- “For simple replacement of the population to keep up with deaths, most people assume that the average family size should be 2 children, or perhaps 2.1 or 2.2 to make up for human error. But these figures are too low, as has been shown by Prof. Hubert Campbell of the Department of Medical Statistics, University of Wales. Campbell came to the conclusion that the figure should be over 2.4 children per family. His reasoning was based on the premise that every woman should leave behind her at least one fertile daughter. To achieve this, allowance must be made for the fact that at birth there is a 1-percent preponderance of boys; there is a high infant death rate in the first year or two; about 10 percent of the girls will not marry; and of those who do, some 10 percent will prove to be sterile. These figures add up to about 2.43 children per family. If this is the figure needed for replacement, that for healthy growth must be about 4.0.” Fr. Desmond Morrison, Missionary Society of St. Columban, as reported in the Inquirer
So the good Father is arguing that the current Philippine growth rate of 4.0 is healthy. Never mind that he got from his "sustainable" number of 2.43 to the "ideal" number of 4.00 on a huge wing and a prayer. His moral statement is based on "the sanctity of unborn life" and he shapes his statistics accordingly.
|World Population Growth - Historical|
Fr. Morrison brings the population argument into the RH debate even though politicians want it out. That is akin to bringing the abortion debate into the argument about contraceptives. Fight reason with fire and brimstone, an commonly Catholic way of arguing. Ask Tito Sotto about that.
The RH Bill has been sanitized to remove any kind of population planning goals in order to focus strictly on women's health. This is the result of political game-playing, the challenge of what a Congress must do to pass responsible legislation when a loud voice of moral outrage from the Catholic Church inserts itself into the legislative process. Bop and weave, duck and cover, sanitize and pray.
- An estimated 350 million women in the poorest countries of the world either did not want their last child, do not want another child or want to space their pregnancies, but they lack access to information, affordable means and services to determine the size and spacing of their families. wikipedia
That suggests a moral imperative based on "the sanctity of a woman's life". You either want to end this condition of suffering or you accept it. The Catholic Church has no suggestions as to how to end it other than natural birth control, which creates the condition. In other words, no workable suggestions.
We can get dizzy on statistics, eh? Link up to that wikipedia article and you will read the most elaborate review on overpopulation imaginable. You like facts, go there. Or go here.
I want to discuss the foundations of morality. What should we use to anchor our values?
- The bible, and what the Catholic Church says? Or a competing religion, Islam? Or Mormonism like U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The religion anchor.
- The suffering of the poor? The suffering of women, burdened with ignorance and babies they can't feed or teach? Or the suffering of the disadvantaged in Africa, in insane asylum, or in Topeka, Kansas? The Mother Teresa anchor.
- The macro-view of a planet being eaten alive and slopped full of pollution by its people-rodents? Ecology and sustaining our miserable little lives? The eco-anchor.
We get to choose, so what is the best anchor of our values?
Well, I choose the family as the foundation of my moral initiatives going forward. And emphatically, specifically, the kids alive today.
Not the sperm or the hatchling that endangers a mother's health or will be raised as an object of hatred and resentment destined to become terror on earth. I don't like abortions. I like even less presuming I know better than others what hard choices they need to make. And I detest when the State steps in to shove its morality into mine, thereby giving Friars or communists or idiots the right to make decisions that I have to live with.
I choose the family - the mother, the father and the children - as the foundation of my moral initiatives.
The two important facets of family life that need to be built and preserved and even held precious are. (1) health, which encompasses safety, security, sanitation, and means (money), and (2) enlightenment, which encompasses education and good living.
I believe that the health of Filipino families is connected directly to having readily available supplies of food, water and jobs. The planet and the nation are slow-moving ships, difficult to turn, and they are on a course where resource limits slam into the bow like an ice berg. That's dangerous.
We have a lot of people living in an increasingly risky climate with untold disasters awaiting the unprepared. Water shortages already abound with sometimes violent competition, farmers versus cities. We encounter more and more food shortages with whole crops placed at risk by violent and sustained swings in weather.
Other nations have adjusted direction, pulling population growth down to levels they can support. The Philippines has only now recognized that it has a steering wheel and ought to be using it. The RH Bill and the dialogue around it are already helping the Philippines. Passing the Bill would help it more.
I am confident that a great enlightenment is slowly spreading across the Philippines, and the population explosion will start to moderate. I'm taking this off of my carping agenda because I think responsible people will get the ship to turn.
|Projected population growth rates|
However, there is so much more to do to assure the health of Philippine families. To get kids off the trash dumps scrapping for food, to get them bathed, to give them clean water and soap, to get them to competent doctors when they are sick.
If you put the child's health at the center point of your morality, and look around the Philippines, you stand aghast, absolutely agape, at the enormous failings of Philippine values. Young girls sold for sex. Kids age nine sent to the cane fields. Homes on the mud banks, filled with kids. Kids packed 45 to a room in open air school buildings then released into the civilized world, still ignorant about the finer details of obeying laws, being courteous and living responsibly.
It does no good to complain, to accuse, to excuse.
It only does good to get to work to do a better job of fending for the kids.
The goal: health of the family.
This is difficult. The opposite of enlightenment, ignorance, occurs at two planes. One is among the wealthiest of Filipino citizens, the oligarchs and political families, the politicians, the movers and shakers. The other is among the poorest of Filipino citizens, the squatters and day workers who can barely make ends meet.
- Ignorance of the elite. I consider the oligarchs and their brothers of ego ignorant because they prize a harmful value, the value of self-interest over community. They fail to grasp that their kind of achievement, wealth and good living, is done on the backs of a lot of good people. It is a short-term achievement, the glory and satisfaction they personally get during their lifetime. It is a long term disaster for the nation's well-being, a well-being long suffering, long ignored. Favors and cheating and who-you-know become the blanket that suffocates good deeds. How do you infuse an oligarch with the compassion and generosity and patriotism that brings progress to a hidebound nation? It is, after all, a hidebound nation. ("hidebound" = stubborn, narrow minded; as in unable to change)
- Ignorance of the poor. How do you break the cycle? Poor uneducated parents setting poor examples for kids who have to compete in a world that gives few breaks. Poor education. No reading. Superstition ruling medicine and faith. Kids 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 getting precious little nurturing. What kind of self esteem, what kind of psychological composition, do we expect from this family? Achievement or anger? Giving or taking? Thinking or thoughtlessness?
One thing I know is that you cannot remain the same and change. You can't hang onto the ignorance and become enlightened.
There is a huge mandate for the Department of Education to do more, and do it better. Not just build buildings and hire teachers or bicker about English vs. Tagalog. To CHANGE what is taught and how it is taught.
And there needs to be a mandate for laws that separate oligarchs from governance, and the Church from governance. And to break up the goliath corporations that block wholesome competition. To break up the cozy self-serving patronage of the society of good old boys. There also needs to be a way to impose responsibility on legislators and judges.
These institutions are burdening Filipino families in ways we can't easily see. In time, and given a few blogs, I'll point out some of the connections.
The goal: enlightenment of the family.
The Family as the Center of Morality
You'll start to see some new themes in Joe Am's articles. I'll set aside over-birthing and population growth, and even my ragging on the Catholic Church, for a different set of priorities.
I've already done a lot of writing about education. And will do more.
But I really want to attack some of the roots of the failure of the Philippines to change. To progress.
To take care of its kids.