Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Modern-day Parable

There is a new cover-up being "uncovered" about a test of a new drug.  A medication was developed by a scientist to shut off the biological pathways that cause us to age. Even if you haven’t heard of it yet, you will. It promises to add between 25 and 50 years to the human lifespan.  This is truly remarkable, no?  Oh, sure, there are a few serious problems with it.  Three people died when it was being tested but the dosage was lowered so it should be OK. It is said that the new formula of the drug does not work as effectively as the old one, and it can have negative effects similar to cancer.  But think of the benefits, right?

The company that plans to market the drug has this to say: “This medical breakthrough opens up new horizons for living a life free of the effects of the body’s natural aging process.  No longer will people be concerned about limits on their active lifestyle. A longer, healthier life means more money and more time to do the things you want to do.  Now you really can have your cake and eat it, too!”

Now, there are some downsides to all of this.  First of all, some people, even with the reduced dosage, do have problems, and it can even cause death.  There is an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. The risk is small but it happens.  There are a few other side effects, as well.  The drug tends to make some people put on weight. It also causes irritability.  So, I guess, you can get fatter and gripe more for a longer time now.  But you live longer.

In the largest test group of people ever put together for testing a drug, certain other factors were found.  The researchers found that it tended to cause difficulties in relationships.  Originally, everyone involved claimed that this would make marriages and home life better because people would have fewer worries over tending to sick spouses. Not surprisingly, however, people who used the drug had trouble staying committed to their spouses.  So there was a much higher incidence of marital infidelity among those who used the drug compared to pre-drug data.  It seems that with a longer life-span, people did not feel as though they had as much to lose if their marriages broke up.  In a very short time the divorce rate in these test populations went from a small percentage to over fifty percent. But

Another effect was similar.  The researchers found that as regular use of the drug took hold, many people became less concerned about others and there was an increase in viewing other persons as objects to fulfill one’s own interests.  People lost respect for one another across the board.  What they found out in the surveys was that respect for others diminished because the users felt like there were fewer consequences to bad social behavior.  This dramatically affected family life.  There was an increase in child neglect, abuse and the effects of poverty because of this care-free attitude.  As the study came to a close, over 50% of the children born to women under 30 were born out of wedlock. Moreover, in the populations where the drug has taken hold “only half of the adults are married, a record low, compared with 78 percent…” before the drug was introduced. “While the divorce rate has leveled off, the marriage rate continues to drop:  [after 40 years, 6.8 people per 1,000 entered …marriages, …, compared with 16.4 per 1,000”… before the drug’s spread.[1]

Since the research was done on a wide scale in a number of 3rd world countries, it led to another very serious consequence: Governments took advantage of their people.  As one comment put it the pill has become a “dangerous weapon…in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies.”[2] In some places, the governments actually administer the anti-aging drug without people knowing about it in order to avoid the consequences of aging.  Unfortunately, however, the sad result is quite different than what was expected.  While they expected that many would live longer and happier lives, they found that the population was much less happy and some respondents say that life seems to have lost meaning for them.

These problems were complicated further by economic downturn caused by the change in the numbers and age of the populations.  Some governments felt that the growing older population was a threat and restricted the size of families, increasing exponentially the number of abortions.  At the same time, with fewer young people, the demand upon social services in the populations was overwhelming.  Even though people could work longer, they lived in retirement for much longer times and demanded greater benefits. Without a large workforce in the population, there was no one to support the programs the older parties relied upon. Euthanasia for the “agers,” as they call them, is being demanded and practiced by the government authorities in struggling countries. Requests for physician-assisted suicide among the agers increased as did actual suicide among the young.

Another problem was raised by religiously-minded people. It is something I am sure that you were thinking of when you were hearing all of this:  What about God’s dominion over life? Isn't it up to God when people are born and die? Religious leaders who learned of the experiments warned against it. They reasoned that even though the intentions might seem sound, the fear is that people will think that they have such control over human life that people will tend toward forgetting God’s sovereignty over their lives. They will be tempted to act as though there are no limits to what they can do as long as they can develop the means to do it, even when it is harmful to others or even to themselves. Eventually, most of the clergy gave up their objections.

I hope what I have said to you today about this cover-up is shocking.  All of this is true and has already happened.  The place is not some third world country but right here in the US.  The drug is not an anti-aging pill but the birth control pill.  Indeed, one can include here every form of immoral birth control.  Every negative thing I have told you about was predicted by Pope Paul VI in 1968 and every one of these things has come to pass just as I have told you.  So I ask you, if you were dismayed over the effects of this fictional anti-aging pill, how do you feel about the birth control pill?  If you think it is OK to use that, what is it about birth control that is so much more important than an anti-aging pill?  Why should anyone be willing to put up with these disastrous consequences for birth control? 

[2] Pope Paul VI words.

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