Demographic Winter

by Andrea Elizabeth

I am not an idealogical conspiracy theorist. Neither utopian nor doomsday scenarios appeal to me very much. Solzhenitsyn spoke of the line of evil cutting through every person’s heart, so to me it has less to do with political orientation than personal purity. And personal purity can be found under any circumstance, though not all people seem up to it on an individual basis. And I don’t mean that as a strictly moral failing, but psychologically some situations can make some people worse, and I’m not sure it is solely a matter of choice for them. Especially children. But God is merciful, so even then I don’t despair. [Addendum: today’s Scripture readings in Romans 1 and Matthew 5 say they are without excuse.]

This is not to say that I am always peaceful. I react more to interpersonal situations than governmental ones. Political situations have in the past gotten my goat, but I think that’s more of a deflection of dealing with personal issues. People vent towards the powers that be instead of things closer at hand sometimes.

Still, we cannot escape public policy. I briefly commented on policies that affect personal morality on Energetic Procession, but am now wanting to think through it a little more. When people talk about the Demographic Winter, I am not convinced. It is too simplistic to me to say that more children are the answer. It depends. My leanings may have more to do with being sort of a loner, however. Hermit monks are my ideal. Isn’t the lack of children produced, as well as the lack of social productivity, one of the main arguments against monasticism? And if monasticism is a higher calling, why weren’t the Church Fathers concerned about the resultant demographic winter when there were many more monasteries? Because they knew that no matter how popular it became, there would always be enough procreators elsewhere to keep the world turning? Or was it because birth control wasn’t yet decimating the population?

Even if population trends are reversing for the first time in history, despite our advanced healthcare, which is just slowing the new trend down a bit, it seems to me that the earth needs to recover from the demands humans have placed on it. Pollution fogging up the Grand Canyon and killing the trees in the higher elevations seems more sinful to me than not having a lot of children. I may be wrong about this. I do have the tendency to love animals and beautiful scenery more than people at large, but not more than my own children, husband or the people I know at least. I see nature, animals, and children actually, as vulnerable to adults, so therefore they need to be considered first. And so when “more children” is the answer, I think, well what environment and whose hands are you putting them in? On a deeper level, it’s still better to be born than stopped from being born. I don’t know how that’s not an argument against monasticism, except that their children were never begun and that makes a difference. Either way, we have to give ourselves to someone or just to God.

This is not at all condoning gay marriage, which the EP article so aptly defends against.