A Very Silent Spring

In Rachel Carson’s seminal work Silent Spring, she warns that unless the use of toxic pesticides is curbed, someday there will be a spring when the songs of birds can no longer be heard, because there will be no more birds. Carson rightly recognized that we as human beings have a duty to be responsible stewards of the gifts that are given to us, and that this includes wildlife. The joy of listening to the songs of birds as you stroll around your neighborhood is a great gift that many of us take for granted, but, if we are not responsible stewards of this gift, it may not be there for future generations to enjoy.

That is why it is important to recycle, be as conservative as possible in our use of natural resources, only use toxic pesticides and herbicides when there are no other reasonable nontoxic alternatives available, and pass laws and regulations to protect our natural resources and our wildlife. This same principle of conservation can be applied to protecting perhaps the greatest gifts we as human beings have been entrusted with: our children, and the nuclear families that raise them to be good and virtuous people.
Yet, sadly, children and families are often only an afterthought in a culture that prizes personal autonomy above all else. This is the result of cultural pollution in the form of an individualistic philosophy known as the “contraceptive mentality,” the basic premise of which is: ‘I can use other people to get what I want.’ This philosophy of viewing human beings as means rather than as ends has borne toxic fruit.  

Contraception transforms the sexual act from selfless act into an act of self-gratification. Abortion, borne of that same contraceptive mentality, destroys the life of a child because it inconveniences the mother in some way. Divorce and redefining marriage transform the best possible environment to raise a child into an environment centered on the self-gratification of two adults. Children, more than anyone else, have suffered as a result of these cultural phenomena.

Responsible stewardship of human society requires that our laws and our culture reflect what is best, not just for those of us who happen to be alive, but for future generations as well. The cultural phenomena I’ve described poison the culture and human society much in the same way as toxic chemicals pollute the environment, and the effects are just as harmful, if not more so. Pope Benedict XVI hinted at this in his 2008 Christmas message to the Roman Curia when he stated that the Church “has a responsibility towards creation, and must also publicly assert this responsibility. In so doing, she must not only defend earth, water and air as gifts of creation belonging to all. She must also protect man from self-destruction. What is needed is something like a human ecology, correctly understood.” [1]

We’ve made protecting our natural resources and wildlife a priority. Shouldn’t protecting our children, our most precious gift, and our human society as a whole, be an even higher priority? If we fail to heed Pope Benedict’s warning, someday we could wake up to a Silent Spring devoid of the laughter of children at play, because children and families are no longer seen as a necessary part of human civilization. That’s a nightmarish scenario I hope I never live to see.

Michael Blissenbach

Michael is a National Committee member of the American Solidarity Party

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