It strikes me that a lot of intelligent people in the Philippines understand that the Doctrine of the Catholic Church is one of the barriers to developing a more progressive Philippines. But they don't have the power to change what the Church preaches to the masses. And the masses NEED to belong to the Church . . . because they are disenfranchised in Philippine society.
It is also apparent that many faithful Catholics choose not to follow Church Doctrine to the letter, using contraception to keep their families small. The educated and rich can go around the Church rules with no penalty, but the poor are held in bondage. Much as abused wives are held in bondage to their husbands with no recourse under law. To an outsider, it seems that this is not a kind Doctrine, to bind good people to misery without mercy.
Here is the essence of the fundamental parenting problem faced in the Philippines, stated without attribution so you can decide for yourself if it makes sense:
- Children from large families develop more slowly psychologically, intellectually, and emotionally than children from small families. This is because children from large families usually have siblings teaching and guiding them whereas children from small families have parents guiding and teaching them. . . A sibling's teaching and guidance is inferior to that of a parent because the sibling is not as developmentally, intellectually, and educationally mature as a parent is. Because of little or no parental involvement in their upbringing, many children from large families gravitate toward gangs and other negative groups where they want to belong, receiving the attention that they do not receive from their parents.
And parents gravitate toward the Church, which is rigid of Doctrine, immovable even as society's wisdom progresses. Here's my latest thinking on that:
- If the Church won't budge, you declare her irrelevant and go around her.
- If legislators are motivated by things other than national well-being, then go around legislators, too.
I'd suggest Filipinos figure out how to establish two new Philippine values: (1) that large families are taboo, and (2) that kids watch what parents do. If all the energy spent on the RH Bill were directed to seating new values on family size and parental responsibility, then both the Church and Legislature would be declared irrelevant, a position they earn by being intransigent.
The idea is to keep the two essential messages simple. They are stated for their ease of transmittal to the audience, parents with little financial means:
- Large families are taboo.
- Kids watch what parents do.
Lets push some ideas around.
The debate on the RH Bill has been positive, no matter the outcome, for many loud voices are speaking out against the values of the Catholic Church. I hope the Church leaders wise up so the Church remains a vibrant, positive force for those needing the blessings and solace their faith provides during the difficult times. If not, then she deserves to find her natural place in the irrelevancies of failed institutions.
But how do you tell an entire nation to be more thoughtful, to take better care of themselves and others? To take better care of their CHILDREN. Especially when many parents have absolutely no idea what a positive family environment means.
Filipinos are largely self-contained and it is easy to guess why: centuries of occupation, a lot of clan or tribal animosities, and simply not being able to rely on anyone else. Everyone is taking care of himself, especially the 7th, 8th and 9th of 10 kids.
How do you teach parents the simple things, to start wearing a motorcycle helmet because it SHOWS KIDS that they should wear helmets when they are of age?
It is a massive problem.
- Schools can't do it well because kids go home and live the lawless, care-free, uncaring lifestyle taught them by parents.
- Churches obviously can't do it. The Catholic Church has been in charge for 500 year and look at what the priests have accomplished. Lawless disobedience, cheating, corrupt acts. Poverty. Very pious leaders with one hand on the Bible and one in the taxpayer's wallet.
- It appears that government can't do it because leaders have set aside public service to partake of the trade of favors, the bending to private interests that fund their campaigns, the buying of votes.
One small twinkle of light was shined by President Aquino in his 2012 SONA. He said two words: "responsible parenthood". He followed this up by asking legislators to vote for the HR Bill for the betterment of the Philippines, not to vote against it for political gain.
His words got a rousing cheer at the SONA. Filipinos want a more responsible nation.
Responsible parenthood DOES NOT mean abortions, as the Church would argue. It DOES NOT mean condoms in every wallet and bedroom. It means TAKING CARE OF THE FAMILY.
It means, in its largest sense, not beating your wife or skipping town on the kids you've created. It means living safe and setting a good example. Like putting on a helmet whether there is a checkpoint or not. It means thinking about how to provide the best lifestyle for kids who ought to be learning information and values. Having a book or two around the house, perhaps. Keeping the kids out of the rice fields on school days. So many ways to provide a healthy and thoughtful environment for the family.
The RH Bill takes very strong steps toward establishing governmental programs to help build responsible parenthood. It is a vital bill, but progress need not be defeated if it fails to pass.
The best way to reach poor families is through public service messages on radio and television, and in newspapers, that create the idea of responsible parenting. It is within the power of the Executive Branch to find a crackerjack marketing guy or shift Mr. Jimenez from Tourism to develop such a campaign. Like the seed of a tree, plant the idea. Support it with community-based programs.
If the Executive3 Branch fails to do that, it is within the power of private groups to fund and develop public service messages.
It is possible to take a large stride toward responsible parenthood by popularizing two separate messages: Large families are taboo. Kids watch what parents do.
The tree of responsibility will not sprout overnight, but it will begin to grow. Parents will start searching for ways to demonstrate that they are responsible, too. Water finds its own level, and birth control methods will find their way actively into the Philippines.
Schools will find their teachings reach receptive ears, more frequently reinforced in the home.
Go directly to parents. Skip the Church and Legislature if they take the decision to remain irrelevant to a healthy, vibrant, richer Philippines.
And Philippine children will blossom.