ProLifeCorner.com- Oct 11 2013- By Larry Plachno- Moving Beyond Abortion and Contraception. Recent developments suggesting that faithful Catholics need to expand their areas of concern have caused some confusion. Pope Francis did not say that abortion, contraception and sex outside of marriage are no longer sinful. What His Holiness did say is that we need to expand our efforts and concerns into other areas. One of the most appropriate comments came from Mary Eberstadt writing in the October 7, 2013 issue of Time Magazine who said: “Far from selling the beleagured faithful down the Tiber, this Pope is simply asking them to find bigger nets.”
Our own Rockford Diocese is heading in that same direction. Bishop David Malloy is merging our diocese Family Life and Pro-Life offices into one office to be known as the Life and Family Evangelization (LiFE) Office. This will also include Natural Family Planning. His Excellency mentioned that we have made some progress on Pro-Life issues but suggested that we needed to put more work on marriage.
Some of this may be confusing to the Catholic faithful. Fortunately, substantial work has already been done in the area of interconnected social problems by researchers and demoga-phers. We have done research work in this area for more than 20 years with various online postings and newsletters as well as information on our Unselfish.org Web site. In general, instead of just looking at the effects of selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism, we need to work on the causes.
Following are some basic questions and answers on interconnected social problems in a Catholic context. Please feel free to use any of this information, or anything on the Unselfish.org Web site for your own research and writing. Crediting us would be nice but is not necessary
Q. Why should we move beyond abortion and contraception and work in additional areas?
A. Because years of research has shown that most or all of our social problems and many of our actions and decisions are interconnected. We really do not have hundreds of social problems. Instead, we have one huge social problem known variously as selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism. What we call social problems are simply selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism manifesting itself in our actions and decisions.
Q. How does selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism affect our actions and decisions?
A. When faced with a decision that could impact other people and society, we have two choices. We can judge our action or decision as good or evil based on its impact on other people and society. Or, we can accept selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism and do what we want to do regardless of who gets hurt.
To some extent this question has polarized our society with conservatives basing their decisions on good and evil while liberals believe that most everything is a personal choice.
Q. Is this interconnection of social problems some new discovery?
A. This interconnection of social problems has become increasingly obvious in recent decades with researchers and demographers working with decades of computer statistics. However, the concept itself goes back nearly 2,000 years to Jesus Christ with his admonishments to love God and love our neighbor.
Since God sent his Son to earth to atone for our sins, we know that good and evil exist. Hence, loving God means judging our actions as good or evil. Being a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ means doing what is best for others. Since the time of Jesus Christ the definition of a Christian is someone who is concerned for others.
Q. How do the teachings of Jesus Christ compare with the modern statistics?
A. The modern research and statistics echos and confirms the traditional love of God and love of neighbor teachings of Jesus Christ. Hence, basic Christianity appears to offer the best guidelines for society. This has been an eye-opening experience for many researchers.
Q. Is this all based on religion or is there a secular reason why love of God and love of neighbor are best for society?
A. What the researchers have discovered is that society is like a team. When we work together for common goals we all come out ahead. When we become selfish and self-centered, society suffers from social problems.
A good example is a wagon pulled by a team of four horses. If they all cooperate and pull together in the same direction, the wagon makes progress. However, it they decide to be pro-choice and one horse goes north, another goes south, the third goes west and the last one goes east, then the wagon makes no progress and could easily get damaged.
Q. How does selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism spread through our society?
A. By a process called desensitization. To explain desensitization it would be best to go back to the question of whether parents should allow children to watch violence on television. The parents said “no,” while liberals said that the kids should be allowed to be pro-choice in their viewing habits. The experts stepped in and said that the parents were correct. As children watched more and more violence on television, they became desensitized to it and accepted violence as normal behavior.
Actually, desensitization is just a fancy word for what we used to call “giving bad example.” When people see others being selfish, pro-choice or accepting moral relativism, they become desensitized to selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism. When people are told that it is OK to be selfish, pro-choice and accept moral relativism, then they are more likely to accept selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism.
Q. How are our social problems and decisions interconnected?
A. People who accept selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism in one area of their life are statistically more likely to accept them in other areas of their life. In addition to social problems, this includes such things as ideal family size, regular church attendance, and how we vote.
Q. Can this be measured?
A. Yes. It may be difficult to measure with individuals but easier to measure with cities and states. Some people equate it to pollution. You can also measure it against a line from right to left. Those on the far right will agonize over telling a white lie while those on the far left will murder without a conscience. The rest of us are somewhere in between.
Q. Can you give examples of this interconnection?
A. Philip Longman in the 2008 Presidential election and Demographer Ron Lesthaeghe in the 2012 Presidential election both showed that voters with several children overwhelmingly voted for the conservative candidate while those with fewer or no children overwhelmingly voted for the liberal candidate.
Philip Longman pointed out that in progressive Seattle there are nearly 45 percent more dogs than kids while in conservative Salt Lake City there are nearly 19 percent more kids than dogs. This obvious difference is not due to any shortage of canine breeders in Utah but it is based on local fertility levels which in turn is based on the area’s position on that line from right to left. Is it a coincidence that Utah has the highest fertility rate in the United States with 92 children born annually for every 1,000 women? It is not surprising that Utah also has one of the highest rates of church attendance among the states
Longman also pointed out that 47 percent of people who attend church want a family of three or more children. However, only 27 percent of people who seldom attend church want a family of this size.
Q. Are there any areas more important than others?
A. Anyone who has done the research will tell you that traditional marriage is the most important factor in eliminating social problems. The statistics shows that the old tradition of marriage being the basic building block of society is absolutely true. It is in marriage that moms, dads and kids learn to work together for the common good of the family.
As marriage increases, social problems decrease. Married people are statistically less likely to live in poverty and be homeless if only because there is strength in numbers and working together. Married people are also statistically less likely to commit crimes or be the victim of crimes.
Marriage also has a huge influence on children. Controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is being raised by a single mother. Statistics show that more than 70 percent of juvenile murderers, pregnant teenagers, high school dropouts, teen suicides, runaways and juvenile delinquents were raised by single mothers.
For those working in the Pro-Life area it is interesting that only 20 percent of women seeking an abortion are married. Hence, an increase in marriage will result in a decrease in abortions.
It might also be noted that one of our major mistakes was in moving away from the family wage.
The family wage helped support and encourage families and marriage. Without the support for the family wage we are faced with fewer families, less marriage and a resulting increase in poverty and crime.,
Q. Why is everything so black and white?
A. Like spreading germs and spreading pollution, there is no middle ground. You either spread germs or you do not. You either spread pollution or you do not. With spreading selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism though our society you either spread them or you do not. Of course, there is also the option of working to eliminate selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism from our society.
Q. How can we convince people to be unselfish and do what is best for others and society?
A. What becomes obvious with a little research is that Jesus Christ was right all along. Unselfishness is its own reward. When we do what is best for other people and society, we all come out ahead. When we get selfish we cause social problems including poverty and crime. We need to work against selfishness, the pro-choice attitude and moral relativism.
A PDF version of this document is available at www.unselfish.org/pdf/questions.pdf
To see more of Larry Plachno’s work www.Unselfish.org