I know with what I’m about to write I will piss-off many religious people, some amongst my family, my close friends and colleagues, but to not write it, would be repressing myself, and I’ve had enough of that. When you censor yourself every day, you become another person and I despise that with vengeance.
Poverty in simple language is: Deprivation of essential chattels that others take for granted. The more I traveled, the more I became aware of these “others”. These “others” were the middle class and higher class. And out of these two classes, the upper class took the cake every time. On average, the world poorest 20 percent holds a share of only 1.5% of the total private consumption in the world where the richest 20 percent amounts to 77% of the consumption. The middle class sneaks in somewhere in the middle with not much of an impact.
But somehow the poor and rich argument didn’t satisfy my curiosity. The more I looked around, the more I shuddered at the frightening population increase in the world. From the start of the human civilization the world’s population increased steadily, but something happened in the last 100 years. The population figures jumped off the chart. In biology overpopulation is a condition where an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. It doesn’t necessarily depend on the size or density of the population, but on the ratio of population to available sustainable resources. For example, Antarctica is a giant piece of land – almost twice the size of Europe, but only has a few thousands human inhabitant. So besides the fact that it’s one hell of a cold climate, would it be possible to populate this landmass with millions of people? Perhaps. But that comes with adverse effects on the continent’s eco system as it cannot sustain that size of life.
Our planet is not big at all despite what many think. You can circumnavigate the entire globe in less than three days in an airplane. And almost everywhere you look you’ll see a sign of human intervention, whether farms, cities or ships on the ocean. So we are many. And we are here to stay. At the start of the 20th century, the world’s population was roughly 1.6 billion. By 1940 this figure had increased to 2.3 billion, and at some point in the year 2011 it finally reached the staggering figure of almost 7 billion.
Poverty doesn’t come out of nowhere just because rich people eat the share of the poor. It’s a big factor but not the only factor. The main factor is that there are too many mouths to feed with vanishing resources. Sure the world produces twice the amount of food needed to feed everyone, but at what cost? A very dear one: deforestation of the earth, poisoning the environment, melting the polar cap, genocides, slavery, wars, and turning the planet earth into a giant human feedlot to name a few. So what causes overpopulation? A simple answer would be too much sex. But to outlaw sex is sure to bring out every opposition from every group in the world. And since I’m guilty of enjoying this pastime myself, I will leave it alone because of self interest. But what can we really do to control the population?
Overpopulation in human accrued because of a very few simple factors: increase in births, a decline in mortality rates due to medical advances, increase in immigration, and industrialization of agriculture. There are hundreds if not thousands of organizations working on the environmental aspects of overpopulation except one: increase in birth rate. No one with a head on his shoulder has seriously tackled the biggest factor in overpopulation. And if they tried, it has always been vetoed by the media, the society and different interest groups to keep this taboo at bay. And those who work diligently to cover up the issue are our trusted friends in governments and various religious sects. All to make another buck, and control the people.
For start, one simple condemning of having more than two children from the Catholic Church alone could result in cutting the population growth in half and the poverty rate by landslide, but we never hear that from the Vatican. As a matter of fact, the official policy of the Catholic Church is very clear on this issue: a firm NO to contraception, contragestion, and abortion. And if we thought that disapproving the control methods was the only thing that the Vatican was concerned about, we’re in for a surprise. The Vatican doesn’t only condemn the population control; it promotes having as many children as “God wants you to have.” In simple words: as many children as you can possibly conceive with total disregard for their well being and their effects on the society.
Before you start bashing me I need to clarify one thing: to make it very clear I’m not attacking Christians, Jews, Muslims or any other religious groups. To me people are just people. Believing in God or not doesn’t constitute goodness or evilness. It’s what we do that makes us good or bad. The same way that millions of Christians are wonderful people so are the Jews and Muslims. But we often sadly relate the wrong doing of a few bad apples to the whole, and it does nothing but to generate hate. My goal is not to generate hate, my goal is to explore the truth and if the truth comes out to be what you didn’t want to hear, don’t shoot the messenger.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI uttered this shameful nonsense in his message on fighting poverty:
“The extermination of millions of unborn children, in the name of the fight against poverty, actually constitutes the destruction of the poorest of all human beings. And yet it remains the case that in 1981, around 40% of the world’s population was below the threshold of absolute poverty, while today that percentage has been reduced by as much as a half, and whole peoples have escaped from poverty despite experiencing substantial demographic growth. This goes to show that resources to solve the problem of poverty do exist, even in the face of an increasing population. Nor must it be forgotten that, since the end of the Second World War, the world’s population has grown by four billion, largely because of certain countries that have recently emerged on the international scene as new economic powers, and have experienced rapid development specifically because of the large number of their inhabitants. Moreover, among the most developed nations, those with higher birthrates enjoy better opportunities for development. In other words, population is proving to be an asset, not a factor that contributes to poverty.”
I’m sorry that I left the whole paragraph intact, but I didn’t want to be accused of taking a sentence out of context. So let me repeat that again: “…among the most developed nations, those with higher birthrates enjoy better opportunities for development. In other words, population is proving to be an asset, not a factor that contributes to poverty.”
Well the United States is one hell of a developed nation. Where are those opportunities for development? In Michigan? Or maybe they are in New Orleans? And who are they for? And why is the Vatican so concerned with children being born or not? I’m sure there is no shortage of altar boys in a foreseeable future to endanger the child molestation festivity of the Catholic priests. And to claim that “overpopulation is an asset to humanity” is just staggering. Assets to whom? Asset to Vatican I suppose. The pope apparently paid attention in the math class. He figures more people equals to more donations to the church. And who gives a damn about the condition of these kids! His Holiness certainly doesn’t.
The Vatican’s treasure of solid gold has been estimated by the United Nations World Magazine to amount to several billion dollars. A large bulk of this is stored in gold ingots with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, while banks in England and Switzerland hold the rest. But this is just a small portion of the wealth of the Vatican, which in the U.S. alone, is greater than that of the five wealthiest corporations of the country. When to that is added all the real estate, properties, stocks and shares abroad, then the staggering accumulation of the wealth of the Catholic Church becomes so formidable as to defy any rational assessment. And do you care to know how much it really cost to feed and educate the poor of the world, not one soul excluded? A mere 40 billion dollars. A pocket change for the Vatican. But again if the cat killed the mouse instantly it would face boredom. That’s not even a solution.
Another example would be the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church. It’s interesting to know that the State of Utah has been a forerunner in “pumping out babies business” for decades and it’s not slowing down. Utah, Idaho, and Arizona are amongst the highest baby producing states which happen to have the highest population of Mormons as well. Is it a coincident? Not at all. Having a giant family is a pride of the LDS Church. Fortunately or unfortunately, Utah has one of the least mortality rates thanks to the strict diet of the church that prohibits alcohol, tobacco, coffee and pretty much anything good in life.
If the breeding business of the LDS church seems outrageous, you should consider its radical arm, the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) that puts the Catholics and regular Mormons to shame. At its headquarter in Colorado City, Arizona on the border of Utah, FLDS members freely engage in polygamy against the laws of the United States, and actively produce more “fatherless” babies just to further their cult. Girls from age of 12 and some even younger are being forced into plural marriages (more of a euphemism for rape than anything else) right in the heart of America and they are stronger than ever. 33 percent of Colorado City residents receive food stamps compared to Arizona average of 4.7 percent. These people, almost all fundamentalist Mormons receive about 9 dollars in government services for every tax-dollar paid compared to the national average of $1.15. As their leader puts it, they are bleeding the beast; the beast being the United States and its infidel population. And if the United States wasn’t enough, the Mormons hold a gold medal with over fifty thousand full-time missionaries worldwide. Their mission is to spread the love one baby at a time.
And the world is not getting any smarter either. There is a strong tendency for countries with lower national IQ scores to have higher fertility rates and for countries with higher national IQ scores to have lower fertility rates. And as the religious leaders like you to believe, it’s not the out of wedlock pregnancies that are the problem. In fact most children are born in legally or religiously bonded families. Worldwide, nearly 40% of pregnancies are unintended, some 80 million unintended pregnancies each year. An estimated 350 million women in the poorest countries of the world either did not want their last child, do not want another child or want to space out their pregnancies, but they lack access to information, affordable means, and services to determine the size and spacing of their families. In the United States alone, in 2001, almost half of pregnancies were unintended.
In the developing world, some 514,000 women die annually of complications from pregnancy and unsafe abortion. Of those who survive, they give birth to 8 million infants who die needlessly every year because of malnutrition or preventable diseases. And these are the figures that Pope Benedict counts as victory for Christianity rather than disaster. And what happens when the United States tries to help? Everything gets mixed up with the politics and thousands die because one senator who wants to get re-elected needs a catchy slogan: “Pro-Life”. Then millions of American can’t wait to jump on the voting booths to support what they “think” is moral without knowing the consequences.
I am personally Pro-Choice. And it’s not my choice to be for, or against abortion. It’s the women who have to make that choice. But unlike many Pro-Choice advocates, I don’t regard abortion as a population control method. The same as that I don’t regard wars as such. Killing live people is not going to solve overpopulation. What does help eradicate overpopulation is not having that kid at all. And that comes with education not with abortion. Our best option is to focus on education about overpopulation, family planning, and birth control methods, and to make birth-control devices like condoms, pills and intrauterine devices easily available. But again the church (and not just the Catholic Church) steps in furiously to sanction any and every act.
Knowing where I stand on abortion, I will say that the real matter here is not the abortion, whether you are in favor of it or not. The fact is that most women who are willing to have an abortion will go through with it even risking their lives, whether it is legal or not. In 1984 Ronald Reagan implemented a profane policy dubbed the Mexico City Policy or better known as the Global Gag Rule. Its main objective was to direct the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to withhold funds from NGOs that used non-USAID funds to engage in providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion and family control, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available. If you didn’t get it the first time, I repeat it again. This policy was NOT to prevent the foreign non-governmental organizations from spending the USAID contributions on family planning; it was to prevent them from even using their OWN funds that didn’t come from USAID for that matter. In a sense bullying these organizations with threats of sanctions and punishments to achieve a religious and political agenda.
And the Reagan administration knew too well that these foreign organizations were often the only health-care providers in remote rural areas, but elected to greatly contribute to extermination of 78,000 poor women who died because of unsafe abortion every year with its policy.
This policy prohibited aids even for:
- Providing legal abortions even where a woman’s physical or mental health was endangered;
- Providing advice and information regarding the availability and benefits of abortion and from providing referrals to another health clinic;
- Lobbying their own governments to legalize abortion, to maintain current law and oppose restrictions, or to decriminalize abortion; and conducting public education campaigns regarding abortion.
In 1993 Clinton administration stopped this policy which brought up the outcry of millions of Christians in favor of extermination of women. And history repeated itself when George W. Bush wanted to run for presidency and needed the “Moral Majority” vote. On his first day in office, Mr. Bush reinstated the Mexico City Policy as a thank you present to all his Pro-Life voters, but somehow he went on to exterminate millions of innocent people in the next eight years in the name of the good Lord. So the term Pro-Life is a selective term. It means that we get to choose who lives or die. Brown people should die and babies should be saved to be turned into dead soldiers when they grow up.
And of course a calculated political move; when Barak Obama took office, one of his first acts was to end this policy yet again to satisfy his Pro-Choice supporters, and this time the whole Christian world collapsed on him. The Vatican issued an amusing statement so colorful in language that baffled the media. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life (Supposedly there was a need for an academy of this nature, like the Vatican stance wasn’t clear enough!), responded that the repeal of Mexico City Policy was done with “the arrogance of those who, having power, think they can decide between life and death.” I believe they wanted to sue for copyright infringement more than anything. This “man of power” forgot to mention that the Catholic Church has been deciding on the life and death of billions of people for way over 1000 years. Maybe his Holiness has forgotten that not very long ago the Catholic Church “conveniently forgot” to say a goddamn word while six million Jews got the Nazi treatment.
In fact, besides the utter silence of the church during the genocide of six million Jews, the Catholic Church advocated forcible conversions, helped to erect concentration camps, and was responsible for the sufferings, torturing and execution of hundreds of thousands of non-Catholics. During the Second World War in Yugoslavia, Catholic priests were zealous accomplices in the genocide of the nations Serbs, Jews and Roma (gypsies) population. From 1941 until 1945, the Nazi-installed regime of Ante Pavelic in Croatia carried out some of the most horrific crimes of the Holocaust, killing over 800,000 Yugoslav citizens (proportionally equal to one third of the population of United States) – 750,000 Serbs, 60,000 Jews and 26,000 Roma. Many of the victims in Croatia were killed in the war’s third largest death camp – Jasenovac, where over 200,000 people – mainly Orthodox Serbs met their deaths. Just because they weren’t Catholics.
Some 240,000 were “re-baptized” into the Catholic faith by fundamentalist Clerics in “the Catholic Kingdom of Croatia” as part of the policy to “kill a third, deport a third, convert a third.” They were led to churches by catholic priests with promise of baptism just to be executed in hundreds. And this is not a speculation or accusation; this is a historical fact. Many were executed, tortured, died of starvation, buried alive, or were burned to death. Hundreds were forced to become Catholic. Catholic Padres ran concentration camps; Catholic priests were officers of the military corps which committed such atrocities. And the Pope Pius XII oversaw the whole operation in his lofty palace. And after the war, he was announced a Christian hero! Where do we get our values from?
And years later when the truth came out, the good Pope, the rock-star Pope, Jon Paul II brushed off the matter with such half-ass apology that included many maybe’s and perhaps’. Ante Pavelic, Croatian archbishop known as the “Butcher of the Balkans” and leader of Nazi Croatia was given refuge by the Vatican and later escaped to Argentina. And it came with a very lucrative present for the Vatican: mounds of looted gold. Following a lawsuit against the Vatican slaughter of the Serbs, in 1998 the US State Department demanded the Vatican account for the loot. Despite numerous requests from government and Holocaust victims, the Vatican Bank and Holy See refused to open their wartime archives. After a long fight, the court of appeal effectively ended the case on the basis of Sovereign Immunity in 2009. Vatican miraculously walked again.
To show how the Catholic Church views the life and death, it’s worth mentioning that when Pope Benedict visited Brazil recently he actually said: “The Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous people of the Americas… The Roman Catholic Church has purified them.” This statement outraged the Indians in South America. This was enough to make Hugo Chavez drop his joint and publicly announce: “With all due respect your Holiness, apologize because there was a real genocide here, and if we were to deny it we would be denying our very selves.” And this heckling came from the president of Venezuela, a country with 97% catholic population.
Whatever the Catholics, Mormons, Adventists, Baptists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus or whatever religion sect in the world is doing to cover up their wrongdoings is one thing, and denying overpopulation is another. Some have more sense than others but some is not enough. It’s truly a sad thing that Iran is the only country in the world that contraceptive courses are required for both males and females before a marriage license can be issued. The Iranian government emphasizes the benefits of smaller families and the use of contraception. And it’s important to know that abortion is illegal in Iran. In the Iranian society these days, having more than two children is considered backward thinking. And yes, we are talking about the very same Iran that George Bush included in the Axis of Evil.
Paul Ehrlich, the American biologist and environmentalist says in his book, The Population Bomb: “A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. Treating only the symptoms of cancer may make the victim more comfortable at first, but eventually he dies – often horribly. A similar fate awaits a world with a population explosion if only the symptoms are treated. We must shift our efforts from treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer.”
Enacted in 1970, Title X of the Public Health Service Act of the United States provides access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to those in need with priority given to persons of low-income. Title X as a percentage of total public funding to family planning client services has steadily declined from 44% of total expenditures in 1980 to 12% in 2006. Title X does NOT fund abortion and never has since its establishment. However, abortion opponents often take issue with Title X since 25% of all Title X money goes to Planned Parenthood affiliates. Although Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using federal funds to perform abortions, Pro-Lifers argue that any money given to Planned Parenthood from Title X frees up more non-federal money that can be used to perform abortions. Title X clinics and funding may represent the sole source of health care services for many of their clients. Of the 5.2 million patients served in 2009, 70% were below the federal poverty line and around 66% had no health insurance. In 2006, over 60% of women who received health care services at a Title X clinic identified that as their usual source of health care. Speak up people. Your silence is playing with lives of millions.
The truth is: reducing population from today’s level of over 6.8 billion to 4 billion would take slightly longer than 50 years if every couple, worldwide, agreed to produce an average of only two children. But it will not happen if the church continues to hamper all the efforts. We need to stand up and say enough is enough. Believe in whatever you like, that’s your freedom. But speak out when an arcane law is being shoved down your throat as a biblical fact. A law that doesn’t just affect the church followers, it affects the whole humanity.
So am I saying that not to have kids anymore? No. Not at all. I love kids and I would never say that. All I’m saying here is to be mindful of your actions. If you truly love kids, you should think about their children too. How is their life going to be affected when they live in a world that has 15 billion inhabitants and not a tree in it? Would you want to live in that world? How do you rationalize your large family when you know many more kids will die somewhere else in agony because your kids will take priority on the resources? How are you doing the gods work when over populating the earth will effectively set worldwide famines and horrible wars on its population? Is this truly what the lord wants? To self destruct because a man in a funny hat tells you to? What would Jesus do? It’s a principal Catholic teaching that Jesus was an only child – so why not follow Mary’s step in life? I’m just tickling your conscience here, that’s all I can do. The rest is up to you.
The German monk and theologian Martin Luther once said: “God makes children. He is also going to feed them.” But I’m here to report from the heart of the disaster that God seems to have left this place a long, long time ago. Don’t leave destiny to God. If there is a god, he gave you brains also. Think for yourself. Teach these facts to your kids. Adopt a kid. There are millions of them out there. Have a family plan. Don’t have as many kids just because you can afford it; the world can’t. Take part. Sponsor a family and help them to change the world one less dead or poor kid at a time. I promise you, you’ll see the difference in your lifetime. Way before the kingdom comes.
As for me, when most people blamed me for staying in one place for too long, I was working on two things. I started a comprehensive micro-finance program in Paraguay which includes over 30 children. These families were selected out of many qualifying families based on their willingness to better their life, their immediate needs and NOT their religious views. In fact they happened to be all Christian families extremely loyal to the Catholic Church. My conditions are simple: First rule is honesty. If they return the loan, they can take double of that amount the next time. They are obligated to cultivate their lands by growing what they can, raise chickens and small farm animals for their own consumption. Plant a tree, burry their trash and most importantly send their kids to school not one excluded. No stupid thank-you letters, no phone calls or picture drawings. They are supervised by locals and best of all they are not given a free charity. That’s what most organizations overlook. Charity makes people lazy and ashamed – putting them to work makes them proud, useful and productive. They are hard-working and they are determined to make a difference in their life. I actually come to like this so much that I’m going to set this up in every qualifying country I will travel to. Somehow the Pope just never has a time to visit these small villages in his Popemobile. Maybe that’s just something that Christ would do.
And I’m getting as poor as any down here. I own no house, no car, no real-state holding, no nothing really. I have two cameras, a cooking pan and two sets of cloths. I eat once a day, take a shower once a week, and the last time I drank a beer was three weeks ago. The motorcycle, the laptop and everything else on it is not even mine; I donated them to the corporation along with thousands of dollars of my savings. To be honest, I have $1300 in one bank account and $600 in another. And I don’t get paid for what I do, nothing, nada, zero. But it’s a satisfying job, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I have invested the remainder of my meager funds to film as much as I can for the upcoming documentary. When it runs out, I’ll push a broom to roll another tape. It’s a film from the heart of these people, regardless of their religious views or political party. It’s a first-handed struggle of the masses mixed with my story; uncensored and unbiased. I won’t ask you to buy me a beer, but I’ll ask you to help them to help us. We are more dependent on these people than we think.
“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”— Pope John Paul II