The Powers That Blog

While we keep track of politics at a certain level, this is not a poliblog, nor a warblog. Maybe "eclectiblog" is a good description, as we note thoughts on topics from art to parenting to whatever comes to mind.

Friday, February 17, 2006

What's my philosophy?

The authors of this blog spent a very intense several months before Terri Schindler's execution in trying to save her life. We were involved in the Blogs For Terri effort. First, we wrote about Terri and about pro-life issues for all we were worth. We kept up to date on her case and spread any relevant news we could. Then we got involved politically. We called and emailed all those politicians in Florida and Washington, DC who at various times were deciding her fate, and we encouraged our friends and family to do the same. Some people involved in the effort even went down to Florida to protest what was going on at the hospice center where Terri was being "cared" for. We discovered through the process of trying to save one disabled woman's life that it really didn't matter what our elected officials thought about her situation. In the end, it was going to be courts and judges who decided Terri's fate and who pulled the proverbial trigger (and a real gun would have been much kinder than 14 days of dehydrating to death--no I'm not advocating we shoot people we no longer want around, just emphasizing once again how inhumane Terri's death was). Even President Bush wasn't going to cross that little probate court judge.

About that point we backed out of the action considerably. I think we were blogged out and incredibly discouraged. We needed a break and took one. During that time I had a chance to think deeply about where my interests lie and how I want to be involved in the battle for life in a more long term way, and this is what I want to expound on today.

My place in life undoubtedly has a lot to do with where my interests and beliefs lie. I am a mother of one toddler and a baby on the way. Though I work part time from home, my days revolve around creating a life for my growing family. My daughter is with me always--it is quite rare that anyone other than my husband or I care for her, though we have found a very nice family who will occasionally watch her while we go off on a date or something. Our choice of parenting style is the attachment parenting style, and I am against any form of deliberate punishment as a way to raise our children. I'm also keenly interested in taking a more earthy, natural approach to life. For example, we are planning a home birth for our second baby instead of the hospital birth we had for our first baby. I'm very much in favor of natural, noninvasive remedies for common physical problems either I or my daughter encounter. A few months ago, we treated the MunchK for a breathing problem by taking her to a chiropracter and it worked. While she has had a few colds and infections, she has never taken antibiotics. And we have chosen not to vaccinate based on the information that we learned when we began to research the topic. Last, but not least, I am Roman Catholic and adhere strongly to my Church's injunction against any form of artificial contraceptives. Even our use of Natural Family Planning has been more geared towards trying to conceive than trying to avoid it. We believe strongly that children are a blessing from God and we want as many of them as He will give us. We do not wish to limit God in his ability and desire to bless us in that way.

In my more than two years of being a mother I have come into contact with lots of people who live a more natural lifestyle and have learned much. And this has become key to my position on pro-life issues. Mainly, I do not believe the mess we're in now began with abortion. I believe the seeds were sown long before Roe vs. Wade, and it is only going to be in rethinking the way we as a society approach the way we live our lives that we will have any real chance of turning the tide. While I will be overjoyed if Roe vs. Wade gets reversed, I know that will not be enough to make any real difference.

Here are some of the seeds that were sown to open the floodgates to abortion, euthanasia and all manner of atrocities that currently surround us:

1. Contraception. Its use became widespread in our country in the 1960s sexual revolution. When the country was first contemplating making the stuff legal, many Christians and secular people protested on the grounds that it would open the doors to fornication, adultery, and all sorts of other unimaginable sexual perversions. All Christians were adamantly against contraceptives until 1930, when the Episcopal church in their Lambeth convention decided it was OK for married people to use contraceptives. In 1968, Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the Catholic Church's position with his Humanae Vitae encyclical. Once contraception became not only legal, but widely used and accepted, it was only a matter of time before abortion followed. In fact, every society that has legalized contraception has also legalized abortion. The two are inextricably linked and to deny that is the same as denying that ice and steam consist of the same molecule. It is my firm belief that until we pro-lifers are willing to abandon our own personal use of contraceptives, we can forget about ending abortion. So if you use contraceptives, stop reading this and immediately throw them all in the trash. Right now. Just do it. If you must postpone having another child, learn how to practice Natural Family Planning. You can find information by visiting the Couple to Couple League website. Trust me, you will not be effective in ending abortion until you give up your contraceptives.

2. The medicalization of birth. This may seem odd to some people that having babies in hospitals rather than at home could be more than just a personal choice. While I'm not as strong on this one as I am about contraception, I do believe our society's attitude towards birth does have a profound impact on the way society views the value of life as well. Giving birth is a normal, natural, and God-ordained process that women are priviledged to participate in. That view is not supported in today's medicalized method of childbirth. Instead, childbirth is viewed as a medical event, not unlike getting your appendix removed, that's frought with risk and where something could go wrong at any time. When a woman enters a hospital to give birth, the function that rightly belongs to her body is taken over by the medical staff and rather than the mother-to-be being the one doing the great work of bringing a child into the world, birth becomes something that's done to her as control over her body and the powerful forces at work within her body are taken over by the doctors, nurses and machines. Nearly one out of three mothers who give birth in a hospital will have a C-section--surgical birth, which is the ultimate in giving her the clear message that her body is not capable of a normal birth. Some women have actually been forced to undergo C-sections against their will.

The result of the medicalization of birth is a profound loss of self-respect and confidence of the woman in herself and in her ability to parent and raise the new life that she has brought forth. In addition, the many drugs and interventions used on her by the hospital can cause her baby to have profoundly different responses to her than normal, which can lead to sometimes insurmountable breastfeeding difficulties. I believe a loss of respect for oneself, when it happens to the majority of women, can over time translate into a loss of respect for life in general. But it also leads to more immediate issues as well, which also contribute to the deterioration of society's respect for life.

3. Abandonment of breastfeeding. This actually predates the widespread use of contraception and probably fueled its acceptance. When a woman breastfeeds, on average, her children will be spaced about two years apart, which is well within a woman's ability to manage. When she doesn't breastfeed, her fertility returns much sooner and she may be having a child every year, which is too much for most people to handle. In desperation, many women turned to contraception for relief. But even without the possible link between formula feeding and contraception, when babies are not breastfed, everyone loses. Again, a woman who does not breastfeed loses the opportunity to provide for the life she has brought into the world in the way God intended, and she won't bond as well with her baby. The baby suffers profoundly as formula is truly an inferior form of nourishment. There is also mounting evidence that breastfeeding plays a significant role in the way infants' brains are wired--that breastfeeding programs children to be empathetic and loving, whereas formula feeding can lead to more aggression and detachment, which can lead to less ethical decision making later.

4. Parenting style. As mentioned here, research has shown that parenting style has a profound impact on a child's ability to grow into an empathetic and ethical adult. A child who is raised with respect and allowed to question his parents' authority is more likely to also stand up against authority that is used for evil purposes, whereas a child who is raised in an authoritarian and punitive manner is more likely to go along with the evil as an adult. Perhaps, he will also be more likely to actively participate in said evil. Yet parenting manuals, many of which claim to be Christian, which promote everything from unreasonable limitations on breastfeeding to physically assaulting your child (spanking), abound. And due to parents' loss of confidence in their ability to parent (probably stemming from their birth experience), those manuals are sought after and followed to the detriment of the ethical development of their children. Parents need to realize that they must rear their children gently and respectfully, and that God has planted in their hearts the right instincts for at least getting started. They need to listen to their inner voice or find support from more experienced parents. A great blog promoting gentle parenting is TulipGirl.

OK, I think this is going to be one of those posts that is going to require a Part II. I haven't even touched on some of the factors that might be more obvious to more people--a strong faith in God, the way children are educated, and proper business practices (i.e., avoiding financial and other conflicts of interest--something we saw violated repeatedly in Terri's case). I know there are many more factors, but this is a good start. As you can see, all of the ones I have mentioned are long term and deeply personal choices. If you were to decide to implement these recommendations in your own life, it might be a full fifty years before you could recognize fruit, and it will take many families following course for society to see the good fruit. Yet I believe that without those changes, all the political action in the world is going to yield at best minimal results.

I've come to realize that the most revolutionary act I can do for my society is to live by these long-term principals in my own family--do the best I can to raise my children to become loving, thoughtful and ethical adults. The second most radical act I can do for the good of my society is to freely share my decisions with everyone who will listen. And this is what I intend do do through this blog and other means I am given.

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