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Archive for the ‘Birth Rate’ Category

It takes more than Pink Ribbons

In Abortion, Birth Rate, Breastfeeding, motherhood on October 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Ann Bailey

A mass of pink-wearing humanity wound its way through New York’s Central Park last weekend.  Young, old, male, female, babies in strollers and young adults on roller skates all joined in to express support to family members who have suffered from breast cancer and to give a push to advocacy and prevention efforts.   It was an impressive and heart-warming sight.   Yet I couldn’t help but wonder if all those sincere and dedicated individuals have all the information that could help their loved ones.

So as October, “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” winds to a close, it’s time to point out that one of the best ways to reduce the breast cancer rate is often entirely ignored.  Why?  Because it doesn’t fit the “progressive,” politically-correct narrative.

It can be summed up in one word:  motherhood.  There are numerous studies that show that both having children and breastfeeding reduce the risk of breast cancer.  Having no children or having children late in life (after you’ve built that successful career) might fit the feminist paradigm, but it also will put you at greater risk for breast cancer.  The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute lists “late childbirth” (over 30 years of age) as a risk factor for cancer.

A study that looked at 80 percent of the worldwide data on breast cancer and breastfeeding concluded that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer.  In addition, the longer that a woman breastfeeds her baby, the more the risk is reduced.  The study’s authors state:

“Our analyses here show that the relative risk of breast cancer is reduced by 4.3% (95% CI 2.9–5.8) for each year that a woman breastfeeds, in addition to a reduction of 7.0% (5.0–9.0) for each birth. These relations are significant and are seen consistently for women from developed and developing countries, of different ages and ethnic origins, and with various childbearing patterns and other personal characteristics.” *

Only about 50 percent of American mothers ever breastfeed and the average amount of time per child is only about three months.   Women in the developed world breastfeed for shorter periods of time than women in the developing world (8.7 months vs. 29.2 months) and as you might guess, the breast cancer in the developing world is lower.

It is estimated that the incidence of breast cancer in developed nations could be cut in half if women would bear more children and breastfeed for longer periods of time (the relative risk of breast cancer declined 4.3% for each 12 months of breastfeeding and 7.0% for every birth).

You add to that the research that implicates abortion as a breast cancer risk and you realize that too many women have bought into a lifestyle and an ideology that threatens their very lives.  In short, motherhood matters and if you don’t know it, ladies, your body does.

 

*Valerie Beral, et al, [Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer], “Breast cancer and breastfeeding: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50,302 women with breast cancer and 96,973 women without the disease,” The Lancet, Volume 360, Number 9328 [20 July 2002], p. 187-195.

 

 

My Thoughts on our Sexual State of Affairs

In Abortion, Abstinence, Birth Rate, Cohabitation, Divorce, Families, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Population Control, Sanctity of Life, stay-at-home mom, The Family, Values, working mothers on August 2, 2012 at 5:52 am

Allison Malnar

I read an article yesterday that cited Bill Clinton’s State of the Union Address from January 1994.  He stated,  ”In ten years, one-half of all children born in America will be illegitimate.” I was shocked!   I have been on the computer for over an hour trying to find out how many children are now born to unwed mothers in the United States. According to the National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 60, Number 1, November 3, 2011, the number of overall births is decreasing, while the number of illegitimate births is increasing.

Clinton’s State of the Union Address coupled with an observation I had last week at my children’s swimming lessons prompted the writing of this blog.  I watched a very cute little girl get dropped off by her father and met at the swim lesson by her mother. The man and the woman spoke very little. The woman had just come from work. I could tell that they both adored the little girl but not each other. I thought how different my life would be if I were on my own with my children. I would have to work and I would be entrusting my children’s wellbeing to strangers.

I have several friends who are single mothers. Some are single because husbands have left, and some because they chose to have sexual relations outside of marriage. One friend was dating a man and “they were in love” until she got pregnant. Then, he was gone. She is no longer pregnant but she never had the baby. This friend and her former lover no longer speak.

I waited until I was married to have sex. I did have a few serious relationships where my boyfriends really tried to pressure me to have sexual relations with them.  I am so grateful I did not give in to them or the moment. Years later, I can see what my parents were trying to tell me back then. When you only have sexual relations within marriage, it is difficult to imagine having sex casually. The big secret of marital sex is if the relationship is good—both partners committed and caring of the other, the sex gets better and better. No casual affair can compare with the committed wonderful marriage relationship. How can I say this while not having experienced the former? Observation and seeing the consequences of both types of relationships is telling.

Last week, my children crawled in bed with me and we laughed and talked and read books for over an hour. I thought, “This is heaven on earth.” Later that day, my kids ran to my husband yelling, “Daddy!” I followed them with a kiss for my husband. Why am I writing about my perfect life? (It is not always perfect but I have never wanted to trade with anyone.) Because I believe the big lie of today is perpetuated by adults that have never experienced the type of relationship I am describing. There are wonderful and honorable men and women in society that still believe in traditional values. And while you have to place more restrictions on yourself before marriage, it leads to greater freedom after marriage.

Pro-family Victory! vs. “the longest suicide note in history…”

In Birth Rate, Environmentalism, Population Control, UN on June 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm

The media will tell you that the Rio +20 Sustainable Environment Conference began on Wednesday, June 20, with world leaders converging on Rio de Rio de Janeiro, but for the pro-family world the drama ended in the days prior. It ended with the completion of the outcome document entitled “The Future We Want” – a document that the radical environmental group, Greenpeace, is calling the “longest suicide note in history.” This 49-page document has disappointed and even outraged our opposition while energizing the pro-family/pro-life effort.

A colleague at Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Tim Hermann, gives this overview:

In an astounding show of solidarity, a diverse group of countries rallied together with the Holy See to successfully remove any mention of reproductive rights or population control from the final outcome document produced during the last round of UN negotiations at the Rio +20 conference this week.

For the past six months, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) along with Norway and Iceland, and Catholics for Choice and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, have worked feverishly to take advantage of the Rio +20 conference on sustainable development in order to promote both an international right to abortion and population control.

We are happy to report that they were unsuccessful! Population control language with its new iteration of “population dynamics” was eliminated and the language of sexual and reproductive rights made no advances. Those who sought to reconfigure the way wealth is distributed were stymied and the green economy/global warming crowd saw an outcome document that was by their estimation so watered down and ineffectual that the Executive Director of Greenpeace tweeted: “This is Rio Minus 20 which Fails on equity, fails on ecology, fails on economy – text [is]longest suicide note in history…”

Robert Engelman, Worldwatch Institute, lamented:

 “At a time when scientists are calling attention to the real possibility that humanity is pushing the planet to a “state shift”—-a point in which conditions for human and non-human life could quickly and dramatically deteriorate—-there is no concrete action called for that is remotely commensurate to this real risk.”

Headlines like: “Rio+20 Agreement Fails Women, and the World and “Progress on Earth Issues too Slow,” speak to the frustration of those who had hoped this conference would give a much-needed boost to the stalled out environmental movement.


So what’s Rio +20 all about?

This highly-publicized event is the 20-year follow up to the Earth Summit (1992) when environmental activists gathered in Rio to create an agenda for the “greening” of the international community and to create a world of true environmental and social sustainability.

The Rio Declaration and Principles, along with Agenda 21 (the “21” being a reference to the 21st Century) has been praised as the “comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans directly affect the environment.” And, it has also been blasted as “a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control.”

Environmentalism & the Anti-Family Agenda

Although we at UFI are proponents of wise stewardship and care of the planet, we must point out that the environmental movement has provided a foundation, credibility, and impetus to an anti-family agenda. If you believed that there were too many people on the earth and the planet was being harmed, you would support population control. Population control would include the pushing of contraception, sterilization, and abortion would fit nicely in that package.

This mindset has spawned the belief that countries cannot develop unless they limit their population growth opening the door to large amounts of international development money being funneled into abortion advocate’s coffers where they use that money to promote “sexual and reproductive rights,” radical feminism, alternative forms of families, early sexualization of young people (as long as all forms of contraception and legalized abortion are readily available), and LGBT rights – even homosexual behavior is advantageous when a major goal is to limit the number of people being born.

Factors that led to a successful pro-family outcome

1. The environmental movement as a whole has been dealt a series of blows with the failure of international meetings like the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, global climate change research scandals, failure of “green” companies, a global recession, and a growing public skepticism to the message of impending environmental doom.

2. In the international community there are concerns on the part of the developing world that if they accept the developed world’s ideology and push for sustainable development that these so-called “sustainable practices” will not only be prohibitively expensive, but that their ability to grow their economies will be severely limited. During the negotiations, delegations from the developed world were more interested in pushing for investment from the north and in setting up the technology transfers that would aid their individual economies than in discussing a path towards a “green energy revolution.”

3. Countries are simply not as gullible as they were during the first Rio back in 1992. There is no longer a lock-step belief that the best way to keep the earth “green” and to grow healthy economies is to get rid of people. Stefano Gennarini, C-Fam, explains it this way:

“Twenty years ago many developing countries did not question the science and desirability behind population control policies. Today, developing countries are more weary of mentions of population dynamics, population reduction or stabilization and similar verbiage. Countries now know that population woes are grossly overstated, and are even fearful of being subjected to the same economic fate as European countries if they adopt population control as a policy. In addition, the racial motivation at the origins of population policies still alarm developing countries.”

4. An amazing and dedicated group of pro-life/pro-family leaders have been there to shore up and educate family-supportive delegations during the long negotiating sessions (scattered over the last six months) all leading up to the formal 3-day Rio+20 Conference. A special “thank you” to the Holy See Delegation for their dedication to life and to the family; for their courage in speaking out and taking the lead under very difficult circumstances.

We are grateful to be able to report to you that all these factors were able to combine this last week – protecting the future of the family and saving the lives of unborn children around the world. This is the goal and objective of all UFI’s involvement at the United Nations. It is our hope that a respect for the environment and the planet on which we all live, can combine with the over arching respect for human life. They are not mutually exclusive and both deserve our best efforts.

Sincerely,

Carol Soelberg
President, United Families International

 Don’t forget to check out:

www.WorldFamilyNews.com

 

Week-long Sex Strike? Really?

In Abortion, Abstinence, Birth Rate, Family Planning, Feminism, Health Care, motherhood, Population Control, Values, Women's Rights on March 13, 2012 at 9:03 am

woman alone

Rachel Allison

Townhall’s political editor, Guy Benson’s article caught my attention with the shocking title:  Liberal Women Plan “Sex Strike” to Protest Nonexistent Contraception Ban.

“Liberal Ladies Who Lunch” is the organization who is calling for the “Sex Strike.”

Quotes by “Liberal Ladies Who Lunch:”

“If our reproductive rights are denied, so are yours.”

“…if we lose our hard won rights to medical care, birth control and pregnancy choice, it won’t only affect women. Men will have to…go back to the days when they waited for or paid for sex.”

There are several things that bother me about the statements made by Liberal Ladies.

1.  A “Sex Strike” for a week?  Seven days without sex makes a statement?   It’s almost laughable.  Are these women afraid of losing their significant other if they hold out longer than a week?

2.  I would hope that there are women in the world who recognize the personal responsibility that accompanies adult decisions.  And unless a woman is raped, there is a decision involved when it comes to sex.

3.  “The health of the woman” is the statement we hear over and over and over again.  True Statement: “A healthy woman is able to conceive and bear children.”

Contraceptives and abortifacents prevent normal fertility of the woman and continued existence of newly conceived life in the womb.  Contraceptives and abortifacents are not designed to promote health.  They are designed to take consequences out of the decision to engage in sex.

4.  Sandra Fluke’s testimony doesn’t make sense to those of us who have used or are using contraceptives.  They just aren’t that expensive. And it’s all a matter of priority.  If there is very little money and if sex is a priority don’t stop at the neighborhood Starbucks. Pay for your own contraception. This entitlement mentality needs to change.  “I want ______ so you pay for it.  Where did that thinking come from?

5. With all the real heartbreak and need in the world why are we focusing our time and attention on sex? Has our society become so sex driven and self absorbed that we can’t seem to focus on loftier causes? I am a woman.  I enjoy sex with my husband. But sex is a balanced part of my life. I have books to read, projects to finish, travels to enjoy, service to give, beauty to experience, babies to hold, friends to help.  In other words, my life is rich and full and wonderful. I make it that way.

My advice to “Liberal Ladies Who Lunch:” Focus on loftier causes.  Your lives and those you love will become so much more rewarding.

7 Billion: What the Population Control Advocates Don’t Say

In Birth Rate, Demographic Decline, Environmentalism, Population Control on October 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

International population advocates and their allies in the media have decided that October 31, 2011 is the day that the world’s population will reach 7 billion.  How convenient for them; they get to play off the day dedicated to spooky tales with a spooky tale of their own.

Over the weekend, some version of the Associated Press (AP) article “World Population Nearing 7 Billion” ended up in most major newspapers.  Here’s the gist of the article:  Women and their families living in poverty, not enough food, water, or access to education – all because they have too many children.  The intended message?   The world is going to collapse under the weight of its burgeoning population unless something is done.

United Families International has been contacted by several individuals asking for a rebuttal to this claim.  So we decided to share some thoughts on the topic.

Is the world’s population spiraling out of control? 

No, global fertility rates are half of what they were in 1970 and are continuing downward.  The number of children the average woman has during her childbearing years fell from five in the mid-1960’s to 2.7 today.   With the exception of some sub-sarahan nations such as Niger, Yemen and Uganda, fertility rates have fallen rather dramatically around the world.  (UN, World Population Report, 2010)  By 2020, for the first time, the global fertility rate will dip below the global replacement rate of 2.1.

Currently 79 countries, representing close to 50 percent of the world’s population,  have below-replacement fertility rates.  No industrialized nation still produces enough children to sustain its population over time or to prevent rapid population aging.  It is counterintuitive, however, because even in areas where birthrates are dramatically below replacement level, the absolute number of people is often still growing–giving the appearance of rampant population growth.

If fertility rates have fallen, why have world population numbers continued to rise?

It’s because of a process called “population momentum.”  A simple definition is that there are enough women, already born, who will probably bear children that the world’s population will continue upward for a period of time.  But what the population control advocates don’t address is what happens when the population momentum stops and population growth rates become negative and eventually go into a steep free fall.

Population free fall is happening in some countries right now.   When a country reaches a total fertility rate of 1.4, that country will lose one-third of its population every generation.  There are approximately 34 countries that are in that predicament right now.  Our colleagues at Population Research Institute (PRI) have put together a short, clever cartoon video that explains such things as population momentum.  See it here.

Is the rise out of poverty predicated upon reducing family size?

Try though they might, the international agencies that support population control have not been able to support their assumption that reducing family size boosts development or provides a sure rise out of poverty.

You’ll note that even in the AP article Lester Brown, an environmentalist that always makes sure he’s in the news, is quoted as saying:  “Extreme poverty and large families tend to reinforce each other.” [emphasis added]  He offers this equivocating statement because there is no empirical support for the position that reducing fertility pulls a country and its people out of poverty.

It is said that modernization and development are “the best contraceptive.”  As modern technologies and economic development have gained traction in developing countries, birth rates have fallen – with or without inducements to reduce family size.  To say “you won’t pull yourself out of poverty until you curtail your children” is simply unsupportable.   Here’s an interesting chart; take a look and you decide:  Statistics on Population and Prosperity:  Is There an Effect? 

Secondly, you’ll want to see another of PRI’s cartoons.  It gives you “A New Way to Look at Population and Poverty.”

Why are there people in the world that are still hungry?

“There is enough food in the world today for everyone to have the nourishment necessary  for a healthy and productive life.” - World Food Program.  

“The world currently produces enough food for everybody, but many people do not have access to it.”  -Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN.

The  distrubtion and access to food is hampered by many things other than poverty, such as natural disasters, ineffective farming techniques and over-exploitation of land, poor infrastructure for delivery, and war.  One of the biggest reasons people go hungry is because of ineffective and/or corrupt government.  There is no reason to believe that reducing the number of children is going to have a major impact on the factors that are the primary drivers of world hunger.  To see a list of statistics regarding population and food production, go here.  You’ll also see another short, yet great PRI video:  “Food:  There’s lots of it.”

Conclusion

The problems in some countries are serious and deserve our full attention.  The millions upon millions of dollars spent on population control programs, however, are better spent on such things as providing clean water, sanitation, modern medical care, education, infrastructure, and economic development.

Seven billion is a very large number.  But throwing it into the population debate without any context, intentionally takes the personal nature out of the life equation.  Each of those seven billion is a life of significant value and influence.  American genious Walt Disney once said, “Our greatest natural resouce is our children.”  We trust that human ingenuity will enable mankind to meet the challenges ahead and we welcome each and every child into the world.

Happy Birthday, young seven billionth wonderful child!

Sincerely,

Carol Soelberg
President, United Families International

7 Billion People: Everybody Relax!

In Birth Rate, Demographic Decline, Family Planning, Population Control on October 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Sometime this month, demographers tell us that the world population will reach the seven billion mark.  Get ready for lots of hand-wringing and wails from environmentalists and the population control lobby.  Is that a number that should fill us all with dread?  Are humans “over-running” the planet?

Population Research Institute (PRI) has put together another of their clever cartoon videos to explain demographic concepts.  They’re simple and short and well worth your time.  So this month when the media tells you horror stories  about the world’s  out-of-control population, you can just add it to your list of other Halloween tales.

 

After you watch this one, you might want to take a look at  these other  short PRI cartoon videos:

2.1 Kids:  Stable Population

Food, there’s lots of it!

A new way to look at poverty and population

Russia: Demographic Crisis

In Abortion, Birth Rate, Demographic Decline on August 26, 2011 at 10:36 am

“Mother Russia” is experiencing an unprecedented decline in population.  In the last 20 years, it is estimated that an astounding 80 million unborn Russian children have been aborted.  On average, a Russian woman over the course of her reproductive life will have seven abortions.

Combing that high abortion rate with a fertility rate of 1.2 (a fertility rate of 2.1 is needed for replacement of population), Russia stands to lose over one-third of its population every generation.   “We’re losing almost three quarters of a million people every year,” said Alexey Komov, chairman of the Moscow Demographic Summit that was held this last June.

The video below, by Population Research Institute, gives an excellent overview of the demographic problem and some insight into Russian history and culture.  It notes the ways that Russia is attempting to reverse the decline – albeit not very successfully.

For example, in 2003 President Vladimir Putin put in place a $9,000 “baby bonus” to encourage couples to have children.  This video tells of a Russian bank that is currently offering a 0.5 discount in mortgage rates to families for each child born.  All valiant attempts, but history has shown that is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to reverse this type of demographic decline.

“Ultimately it’s a matter of faith and spirit that determines how many children people decide to have,” said Phillip Longman, lecturer and author of The Empty Cradle:  How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity.  “That’s not something the government can really do. That’s something society can do.”

We would add it is something that society must do.

 

UFI Reader Poll: Is it crucial that developing countries reduce their population?

In Birth Rate, Environmentalism, Family Planning, Polls, Population Control on April 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Here’s the question: 

Do you believe that it is crucial that developing countries reduce their population?

Here is the UFI reader response:

91 percent               No

6 percent               Yes

3 percent               Unsure

United Families International representatives are currently attending the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD).  The mantra of the UN is that “poverty reduction can best be accomplished by reducing population.”  Of course there’s the ever favorite:  “The world has a population explosion.”  Getting rid of the world’s population is always a priority – especially at CPD.

To see some statistics on fertility rates and population go here.

Also, just for fun, consider this:

The world population (6,793,593,686 as of the end of 2010) if miraculously moved to the state of Texas, would result in a population density of 25,292.5 souls per square mile, or somewhat greater than 1/3 as dense as the current situation in Manhattan, which amounts to 70,994.75 persons per square mile.

Myth Buster Monday: There’s a “population explosion!”

In Birth Rate, Demographic Decline, European Union, UN on April 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm

The notion that the world is being overrun by people has been around for a long time.  “We can’t produce enough food to feed the masses.”  “The world will become so crowded it will become a living hell.”  Perhaps its most famous proponent is Reverend Thomas Malthus who stated:  “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” The neo-Malthusians are alive and well today, but are they right?

“Never before in human history have global fertility levels dropped so much, so fast,” states a recent UN Secretary-General report.   World fertility has declined over 50 percent in 50 years.  Recently, the U.S. also dropped below the replacement fertility level – that rate being 2.1 children per couple.  Today, 30 developing countries, representing 40 percent of the population of the developing world, also have below-replacement fertility. (UN Secretary-General Report)

This has not stopped the population control folks from continuing their mantra of “too many people!”  They cite population momentum – population growth continues for a time after fertility drops – as a reason to continue “family planning” programs in the developing world.  The UN’s medium variant indicates that around 2045, world population will top out at 8.75 billion.  UN demographers acknowledge that the population will then stabilize for a time and then begin to decrease.

Here are some statistics on population and whether the world has too many people:

  • By about 2020, for the first time, the global fertility rate will dip below the global replacement rate of 2.1.
  • About 44% of the world population lives in nations with sub-replacement fertility.
  • At a fertility rate of 1.4, a country will lose one-third of its population in a generation (a generation = 26 years).
  • Approximately 17 European countries currently have fertility rates of 1.4 or below.
  • All European countries (except Turkey) have below replacement level fertility rates with an average European fertility rate of 1.5.
  • The number of people in the world is closing in on 7 billion.  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates the earth can easily support 8 to 12 billion using existing agricultural technology.  Joe Woodard, “Rome’s Other Ghosts:  Population Control at the Food Summit,”  PRI Review , (January/February 1997):  9.

“Rapid population growth originally commenced not because human beings suddenly started breeding like rabbits but rather because they finally stopped dying like flies.” – Nicholas Eberstadt

 

Statistics on Population and Prosperity:
Is There an Effect?

Country Population
per square km
Pop. per sq. km
arable land
Income per capita Life exp.
Bangladesh 1218 2,215 $1,700 70
China 140 931 $7,400 74
Denmark 128 247 $36,700 78
Germany 228 691 $35,900 80
India 362 754 $3,400 67
Israel 360 2,398 $29,500 81
Japan 335 2,789 $34,200 82
Mexico 58 445 $13,800 76
Switzerland 185 1,850 $42,900 81
Taiwan 641 2,672 $35,800 78
United Kingdom 257 1,120 $35,100 80
United States 32 178 $47,400 78

The CIA World Factbook (2010)   

Day Seven: Trees More Important than Babies

In Abortion, Birth Rate, Environmentalism, Feminism, Population Control, UN on March 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Another in our on-going series of UFI at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

Attending and participating in this presentation required my finest acting skills.  “Ecology and Feminism:  Sacred Feminine, Circles and Valuing Girls and Trees” was the title of this “parallel event” and I just couldn’t resist!  The attendees were a fine group of aging hardcore feminists, primarily middle-aged and older women who appeared to be from either from North America or Europe.  My guess is that women from the developing world had more important things to go to and learn about; like legitimate ideas for economic development, clean water, meeting sanitation needs, quality health care, and getting their children educated.

“I saw the tree before I saw the house,” began the first presenter, “it spoke to me.”  She expounded upon her efforts – which ultimately failed – to save the tree in her front yard.  The tree fell under the control of the homeowner’s association and they wanted it removed.  She spoke of her intense “battle” to save the tree including the hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars she spent in legal fees.  “How could a tree simply be voted out of existence!” she lamented.

She spoke with passion about the “sense of the sacred, the connectedness in our consciousness between trees and ourselves,” of the “goddess in every women,” of the “sacredness coming through Mother Earth and women; a sacred dimension that is matter (mater, mother, matter).”  Referring to trees she said, “we are all one; we are connected, what happens to one happens to all…”

Her time being up, she turned her comments to the critical nature of reproductive health rights and women’s rights and the need for true feminists to re-engage and make sure abortion remains legal, human population growth is slowed or better yet stopped completely, and that nature and trees takes their proper position in humanities’ priorities.  “Respect for Mother Earth and life must prevail over all else.”  My hand immediately went into the air.  But it wasn’t Q&A time yet; my question would have to wait.

So here was where my acting skills (which are basically non-existent) came into play.  We were divided into groups of five and tasked with responding to the question:  “Think back through your life, perhaps into your childhood, and tell the group about your relationship with trees.  How have trees impacted your life?   Did you sit in them?  Do they communicate with you?  Tell us about your connection to them.”  I survived this section of the presentation because I do enjoy trees; I have about 150 of them in my yard and I raised them all from seedlings.  So I played along just fine.

Next, we had to get up, stand in a big circle, hold hands and chant a simple verse while one woman rang this little chime thing.  BTW, the leader was called “the Circle Evangelist.”  We had to each then use five words (just five) to say how we felt connected to one another- the power of women – and to nature.  I REALLY struggled to not laugh at this point and then – you guessed it – we held hands, swaying back and forth as we sang some song about peace and love in the world through recognizing the “sacred feminine” in each one of us.  Everyone was hugging and basking in the glow.   All I could think was:  “When is it question time!”

But we’d taken too much time; we had to vacate the room for the next presentation.  So I never had the chance to ask them.  So here it goes:

“You say that nature, trees, and achieving peace are all important.  I agree; I love trees and nature.  But I would add that all life is sacred and important.  How can you advocate for the life and soul of a tree (which most would say is an inanimate object), and yet completely ignore the life of an unborn child and callously advocate for its brutal destruction?  That seems pretty inconsistent to me.”

I’ll never know their response to my question.  But I’ll bet “the circle evangelist” wouldn’t have invited me back.

–M. Barlow

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