Alicja nació prematuramente y no se esperaba que sobreviviera.
Alicja: “Desde que yo tenía 6 o 7 años, Dios ha querido que yo fuera a evangelizar en Rusia”.
Staszek: “Desde los 7, 8 años, yo veía muy claramente que debía ir a Rusia a evangelizar”.
Hoy en día, Alicja y Staszek Dziemianowie, eso es lo que hacen como matrimonio. Entusiastamente comparten su fe cristiana con rusos y con todo el que se encuentran. Pero esto no es algo que siempre han podido hacer.
Alicja: “Cuando nos casamos decidimos que podíamos ser útiles y que nuestro trabajo podía ser fructífero como católicos, por que la evangelización es muy necesaria… a través de la vida de familia, cuidando familia, por que generaciones enteras fueron alejadas de Dios”.
Mientras los gobiernos empezaron a cambiar en los países de Europa oriental, Alicja y Staszek vieron como sus sueños se convertían en realidad. Aunque los obstáculos son grandes, hoy en día ambos son maestros en el Centro de Estudios Teológicos de Suwalki, Polonia y Grodnov, Bielorrusia. Ellos están entrenando lideres para la evangelización.
El 1986 era una época peligrosa para la gente que estaba envuelta en actividades de la iglesia en Polonia. El gobierno causo estragos en los itinerarios universitarios, obligando a la juventud que entrara al ejercito. Staszek Dziemianowie fue uno de los que fue reclutado, pero como se negó a cargar armas, fue puesto en prisión. Primero le dijeron que tendría que quedarse por cinco años en un pequeño calabozo entre criminales, donde solo había lugar para estar de pie. Mas tarde lo pusieron en una institución para dementes.
También vieron otro sueño hacerse realidad, cuando su hija, Olga, nació. Pero en poco tiempo ese sueño se volvió una prueba.
Alicja: “Cuando tenía 6 o 7 meses, ella empezó a tener ampollar y manchas rojas por todo su cuerpo. No había medicina que se las quitara. El doctor nos dijo que ella era alérgica. ¿Pero a que?”
Comenzaron a eliminar diferentes tipos de comida de su dieta, pero nada cambió. Cuando cumplió el año y medio estaba cubierta de llagas sangrientas y que daban picazón en todo su cuerpo.
Alicja: “Lo peor eran las noches. Se rascaba y lloraba. No podíamos dormir… siempre estábamos en alerta. Le dábamos de comer, pero no sabíamos como iba a reaccionar”.
Cuando tenía 3 años, Alicja y Stazek trajeron a Olga a Dallas, Texas, para ver si los doctores en los Estados Unidos podían ayudarla. Cuando llegaron a Dallas, algunos miembros de la Comunidad Cristiana del Gozo de Dios le impusieron las manos y rezaron por ella, para que se curara.
La familia Dziemianowie ha sido tocada por la gracia de Dios. El curó físicamente a Alicja y Olga, y liberó a Stazek de la opresión comunista.
Alicja: “Dios verdaderamente se encargo de nosotros. Nosotros también habíamos rezado por tres años. Mucha gente rezaba por ella. Recibimos muchas palabras de aliento, diciéndonos que se curaría. Ahora su condición es muy buena. Ella es una niña inteligente y saludable, que puede comer de todo. Ya no sufre las reacciones que sufría antes. No le salen llagas. No le salen erupciones. Ya no le pica la piel”.
The signs are everywhere. “Help wanted,” reads one at the local service station. “Up to $11.25 per hour. Vacation, Benefits, 401K.” … “Now hiring up to $16 an hour,” reads another, this one in a restaurant window across town. … “Seeking retail manager,” screams a billboard on the freeway. “$30,000 to 40,000 annually.”
Are these the signs, as many have suggested, of a strong economy? An aging population retiring from the workforce? Over-ambitious entrepreneurs fueling speculative ventures with shaky prospects for long-term survival?
Or does the current ubiquity of “help-wanted” pleas signal the arrival of a far broader trend one that encompasses, but is not limited to, the realm of economics? Could it be that we are facing the repercussions of 30 years of reproductive fruitlessness of contraception, abortion-on-demand, contraceptive- and venereal disease-induced infertility, and shrinking family sizes? Consider the following:
• The New York Times recently reported that, in a desperate attempt to cope with Japan’s demographic implosion, the Bandai Corporation is paying mothers up to $10,000 for each additional child they have after their second. Japan’s population of 126 million is expected to drop by nearly 25 million within 50 years.
• The city of Niscemi, Italy, is offering $6,000 in aid to every woman who refuses to have an abortion. According to the recent United Nations report “Replacement Migration: Is it a Solution to Declining and Aging Populations?” If current birthrate trends continue, Italy’s population will decrease from 58 million to 51 million by the year 2050.
• That same U.N. report stated that, to maintain its workforce, Germany will need 500,000 immigrants annually or 15 million foreigners before 2025. According to U.N. statistics, there are currently five workers for each retired person in Europe; however, by 2025, this ratio will decrease to two workers for each retired person. Europe’s share of the world population, 20% in 1960 and already down to 13%, will fall to around 7% in 2050. In his 1999 book Management Challenges for the 21st Century, business consultant Peter F. Drucker says, in a chapter titled “The Collapsing Birthrate,” that most European countries are “drifting toward collective suicide.” “Government instability,” he adds, “is going to be the norm.”
• Average fertility worldwide, according to U.N. Population Fund figures, has slumped from five children per woman in the 1960s to 2.7 today. Meanwhile, average life expectancy over the past half-century has risen from 46 to 66 years, worldwide. Sixty-one countries, representing 44% of the world’s inhabitants, have below-replacement fertility rates.
Where Have All the Workers Gone?
Nor has the United States been spared the effects of the birth dearth. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan reported last November that American productivity and market competitiveness were being threatened by an ever-tightening labor force. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the present U.S. rate of natural increase is only about one-half of one percent annually and it’s still dropping. America’s birthrate has been below replacement levels since 1970. By 2030, barring either a significant increase in the birthrate or a massive increase in immigration, the U.S. population will be in absolute decline.
The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University released a report in January citing falling birthrates and showing that foreign immigrants were responsible for 82% of the net growth in Massachusetts’ civilian labor force between the mid-1980s and 1997. Absent foreign immigration, the state’s population would be smaller today than it was in 1970.
Clearly, the birth dearth is not a figment of the imaginations of these nations. In spite of population controllers who for years have predicted the dire consequences of overpopulation, we find ourselves facing just the opposite. The question remains: Why? Is it ignorance, blindness or denial that prevents us from seeing the economic effects of contraception and abortion? Could it be that we are contracepting and aborting ourselves out of existence?
In his 1995 book The Cost of Abortion, author Lawrence F. Roberge warned of the social, economic and demographic effects of abortion on the United States. Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Roberge demonstrated that the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, for example, has been on a slow downward trend since abortion was first legalized. Could it be that we are beginning to see the first evidence of the accuracy of Roberge’s warning?
A declining birthrate, brought on by three decades of contraception and abortion, and philosophically underwritten by unrealistic fears of overpopulation, has had an unexpected and deleterious effect on our labor force. Are we surprised?
It should be rather obvious that the phenomenon of too few babies in one generation will manifest itself as too few workers in the future. As our population ages, we are faced with growing numbers of dependent elderly persons requiring support, and too few workers and care-givers to provide it.
Statistics from the Alan Guttmacher Institute and the Centers for Disease Control demonstrate that more than 40 million abortions have been performed in the United States since 1967. In addition, many in the medical profession believe that more than 450 million chemical abortions have occurred through abortifacient contraceptives during that same time period. Collectively, that is 490 million human beings conceived but never born. The first children aborted as a result of Roe v. Wade would be 27 years old today, and active members of our work force.
In response, Congress has already loosened restrictions on older Americans working and, in February, Alan Greenspan appealed to increase annual immigration quotas by recommending the issuing of some 130,000 visas. This figure falls short of estimates called for by the Computing Technology Industry Association, which claims that U.S. businesses are losing $4.5 billion annually in lost production due to nearly 269,000 vacancies in the high-tech job market.
Granted, part of the problem with vacancies in the present economy is the rapidity of technological expansion, with all its market implications, but one must also recognize that there are not enough potential workers to respond to the rapidly changing demand for high-tech jobs.
The problem of a declining birth rate seems to be rooted in the very notion of “birth control.” A society that cultivates a climate in which the controlling of birth is constantly promoted as a good thing will end up extinct because it has prevented birth altogether. G.K. Chesterton recognized this and warned of the problems society would bring upon itself with the use of birth control. “Birth-Control,” he wrote in 1935’s The Well and the Shallows, “is … an entirely meaningless word; and is used so as to curry favour even with those who would at first recoil from its real meaning. … It only makes sure that there shall never be any birth to control.
“Normal people can only act so as to produce birth; and these people can only act so as to prevent birth,” Chesterton continued. “But these people know perfectly well that they dare not write the plain word Birth-Prevention, in any one of the hundred places where they write the hypocritical word Birth-Control. They know as well as I do that the very word Birth-Prevention would strike a chill into the public, the instant it was blazoned on headlines, or proclaimed on platforms, or scattered in advertisements like any other quack medicine.”
Renew the Face of the Earth
Is it any wonder that Pope Pius XI, writing in his 1930 encyclical Casti Connubi (On Christian Marriage), described contraception as a “foul stain”?
More recently, Pope John Paul II noted in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) that, “In the rich and developed countries there is a disturbing decline or collapse of the birthrate. … Contraception, sterilization and abortion are certainly part of the reason why in some cases there is a sharp decline in the birthrate.”
In his Angelus message of Feb. 6, 2000, the Holy Father affirmed that “the worrisome demographic decline registered in recent years” must be for society “a motive for attentive reflection and a stimulus for renewal … both of its mentality and its cultural, political and legislative choices. It is the task, certainly, of public institutions, which are called to overcome difficulties that place obstacles before the family. But above all it is up to married couples to re-establish a culture of love and life, rediscovering the mission of parenthood assumed on their wedding day.”
Indeed, the economic effects of contraception and abortion we are now witnessing are most likely only the beginning of things to come. We cannot ignore the social and economic strains caused by an aging, declining population. The widespread acceptance and practice of contraception and abortion carry a cost. Future generations will pay the price in decreased fertility rates, large student-to-teacher ratios, a reduced Gross Domestic Product, lower personal-income growth, decreased military strength, lack of social security and rising health care costs.
Mother Teresa once asked, “How can people say there are too many children? That’s like saying there are too many flowers.”
In the new millennium we may still be singing the 1960s folk song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” but it will have an entirely different meaning.
After Labor Day, a day meant for rest and relaxation, we would do well to reflect on this disturbing trend. If it continues, few of us will have the luxury of taking future Labor Days off.
Reprinted with permission from the National Catholic Register.