It’s probably a providential coincidence that I’m writing this week’s column from a hotel room in Moscow. For the past two days I’ve been attending the Demographic Summit organized by the World Congress of Families, with the cooperation of the Russian Social University under the leadership of its founding president, Victor Zhukov. It was no coincidence that the Summit took place in Russia. It focused on the troubling specter of declining birthrates and consequent depopulation that threaten to overshadow the future of the Russian people as well as those elsewhere who are dealing with similar facts. I was invited to participate because of my involvement in the pro-life movement and my efforts to preserve and defend the integrity and rights of the natural family.
When I left the U.S. on Monday, fresh in the headlines was the New York legislature’s vote to legitimize so called ‘homosexual marriage.” That event recurred to my mind again and again as I listened to speakers who impressed upon pro-life and natural-family representatives from 65 countries the sombre facts that document the enervation of natural family life in Russia, its damaging impact on the economic and social future of the country and the threat it poses to the very survival of the Russian people as such.
Russian participation involved representatives from both the public and private sectors, including clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church who, since the early 1990s, have been active in efforts to reverse the trends that are undermining the function and integrity of natural family life in Russia. I was struck by the fact that none of them failed to note that abortion and the breakdown of sexual mores were among the key factors contributing to the trend toward depopulation in their country. As a result, they did not shrink from making the common-sense observation that a restoration of moral standards had to be part of any strategy aimed at reversing it.
Since Russia has moved beyond the Communist era, even Russians working in the pubic sector are free to acknowledge that ideologically motivated government policies, such as Lenin’s quick dismantling of the legal ban on abortions, were instrumental in producing the demographic crisis that threatens the Russian people. This stands in stark and refreshing contrast with the foreclosure of truthful discussion that presently prevails among America’s domineering elites.
From experiencing the quality of courage required to overthrow a regime of totalitarian control, some Russians have apparently learned how to distinguish between intellectual integrity and intellectual cowardice in the application of scientific methods. The first adheres to the discipline of empirical science to achieve a clear account of facts. The second foreswears common sense and moral sensibility to avoid the damaging impact of a regime of ideological intimidation.
As a matter of supposed law enforcement, the regime of ideological intimidation is just now in the process of construction in the United States. As the Catholic bishops in New York rightly anticipate, the passage of a law that purports to respect a specious “right” to homosexual marriage portends the implementation of legal efforts to enforce it. Those who in practice refuse to abide by the law may be prosecuted for their violation of right; and those who preach against the right established by the law may be prosecuted for conspiring to violate it.
I know from firsthand experience how much cowardice has been induced by the informal regime of censorship America’s domineering elites already have in place. It has much to do with the pathetic spectacle that has even supposedly conservative leaders and organizations colluding in the pathetic delusion that our current economic crisis can be addressed without confronting the corruption of moral understanding that made us susceptible to it. It also has much to do with the fact that so many people and organizations who profess to be dedicated to restoring the moral premises of America’s way of life refuse to reject the politics of godless materialism that is the sine qua non of participation in the present twin-party sham.
God knows what will become of even the semblance of moral fortitude once the opponents of the natural family, and indeed of all natural rights, have armed themselves with the means openly to pursue their opponents under the color of law enforcement. The damage they inflicted on pro-life individuals and institutions with their abuse of the RICO statute will seem paltry by comparison – and so will the apparatus of ideological censorship they have thus far been able to mobilize to paralyze and silence those who oppose them.
Haltingly, with many obstacles, detours and false starts, the Russian people continue to emerge from the darkness that was totalitarian communist domination. Tragically, with too little inkling of the fate that awaits them, the American people are maneuvered toward the darkness the Russians hope they have left behind. It turns out that the old theory of convergence was more than half true. America and Russian converge as ships passing in the night. Does one slip from dawn to darkness, as the other moves from darkness toward new dawn? Or will both end up wallowing in the dark on a world that does not turn? The answer, I think, depends on the kind of courage people find only when they remember God.