One of the scariest articles on the internet is Jonathan Last’s America’s One-Child Policy. He discusses the population implosion that is not only happening in the United States, but all over the world. He points out Japan’s economic decline is linked to demographics and makes this observation:
Culturally speaking, Japan’s fertility problem is a marriage problem: As Japanese women began attending college at greater rates in the 1970s, they began to delay marriage. By 2000, the average age of first marriage for college graduates was over 30. At first, these women simply postponed childbearing; then they abandoned it. Today, college-educated Japanese women have, on average, barely one child during their lifetimes.
These changes created some new cultural stereotypes in Japan. For instance, it is not uncommon to see dogs paraded around in strollers by childless, adult women.
I remembered that line when I saw a recent headline in the Guardian about Pope Francis: “Pope tells married couples: have children, not pets.”
Pope Francis has warned married couples who choose not to have children that they are heading for an old age blighted by “the bitterness of loneliness”.
In a homily on Monday in the Vatican guesthouse where he lives, the Argentinian pontiff railed against “a culture of wellbeing” which he said had convinced some people they were better off shunning procreation and getting a pet instead.
“This culture of wellbeing … convinced us it’s better not to have children. It’s better! That way you can see the world, go on holidays; you can have a house in the country and be carefree,” he said. “Maybe it is better, more convenient, to have a little dog, two cats; and the love goes to the two cats and the little dog,” he said.
But such couples [will regret] their ways, he said. “Eventually this marriage gets to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness. It is not fertile; it does not do what Jesus does with his church: he makes it fertile.”
As you know if you have read this blog, I sometimes disagree strongly with Pope Francis. Furthermore, I don’t see a basis for saying that contraceptives are inherently immoral. But the Pope is absolutely right about this. As we can see from the point about women pushing puppies in strollers, the problem is even more severe than he portrays.
And it is not just couples who will die lonely that are the problem. The problem is that the world economy will suffer a great deal if we experience the sharp population decline that it looks like we are heading into.
If anyone will think about it, he will realize how bizarre it is that couples need a religious leader to tell them that people are more valuable for the household than animals.
The Pope is quite sane but the world has gone crazy.