|programs and enable every American,
without regard to his religious convictions, to have the means to voluntarily
limit his family through birth control -- will have my support.
I've talked about some limited things government
can do. But no government will, or should, ever undertake to tell people
when to have, or not to have children. The solution, if there is one, must
come from individuals. If you believe, as I do, that this problem is our
chief concern, that it underlies most of the world's major problems, begin
to talk about it. You can help change some basic attitudes, for this is
where the ultimate answer lies.
We are faced with a formidable set of hostile
attitudes. First, we deal with an extremely personal and sensitive area
of human relationships, traditionally outside public concern. There are
religious attitudes, also, and this is an area I decline to enter. Each
American is entitled to be respected for his individual beliefs. Until
and unless Catholic doctrine on this subject changes, we can only encourage
Catholics to use church-approved methods of birth control and direct some
of our research to improving and making more reliable those methods that
Other people, particularly black militants, see
the population movement as "genocide", directed at minorities. The fact
is that uncontrolled population growth will eventually wipe us all out,
black, white, yellow and brown. Besides, most of the U.S. population explosion
is the result of 180 million whites having two or three children
too many rather than 20 million blacks having three or four too
many. Indeed, one of the myths recently exposed is that of the "unwanted
child." Planned parenthood movements worked for years on the premise that
a solution would occur if we could just insure that every child born was
a wanted child. We now know that even if that goal were achieved,
the population explosion would not be checked. It is the wanted, sometimes
badly wanted, fourth, fifth or eighth child that makes up the bulk of our
annual population increase. In fact, an organization called Large Families
of America, Inc., actually boasts that 23% of America's families raise
over 65% of America's children.
For reasons that are simple and understandable,
the large family has a firm place in our history and folklore. As one of
six children -- and the father of six more -- I know the special delights
and satisfactions of multiple brothers and sisters, especially in a rural
environment. Until this century, the nation was underpopulated.
Empty lands awaited exploration and exploitation. When my grandfather first
came to Arizona, a family desperately needed a home full of growing boys
and girls; a small community grew stronger and better with more people.
New settlers and large families were welcomed, encouraged and honored.
Our scripture, our literature, our culture -- and our tax laws -- urged
But, recognizing all of this history, we must
also face the fact that the time is rapidly approaching when a large family,
whatever its comforts to the home or the ego, may be a disaster to the
community, the nation and the world. As James Reston said some years ago,
history of mankind is strewn with habits
|and creeds and dogmas that were
essential in one age and disastrous in another."
We face another fundamental American attitude
also: the myth that growth is good business. For 150 years more people
truly meant more prosperity, more markets, more opportunities for everyone.
Businessmen and their communities were built on the doctrine that bigger
better. If Arizona with two million people is good, the
reasoning goes, Arizona with 20 million people will be ten times as good.
In terms of quality of life, this kind of thinking is dangerous nonsense.
The kind of informal, outdoor, neighborly, spacious kind of life which
brings so many people to our state would be an inevitable casualty of unlimited
growth. There would be in Arizona more signboards than saguaro, more cars
than cottontails, and neon will long have replaced starshine in the desert.
IN A 'CLOSED SYSTEM'
In the last 10 years, the great conservation movement
has really come alive. A national wilderness system has been established.
We've added millions of acres to our national parks. Seashores and lakeshores
have been set aside for recreation and wildlife. A huge Federal fund now
helps cities and states buy park and recreation lands before they are bulldozed.
We have saved a few wild rivers. Despite all this, future generations may
never find the outdoor areas every man needs for solitude and recreation
and self-awareness -- unless we somehow bring this population growth to
a halt. Perhaps the world can find space for some kind of existence for
10 or even 20 billion people instead of the 3.5 billion we have today.
But what of the quality of that life? And the relationship of those people
to the Earth that supports them?
Which brings me back to Colonel Borman and Captain
Lovell and their spaceship to the moon. Scientists call such a craft a
"closed system," meaning that everything needed for a long voyage must
be carried on board. Nothing can be thrown away. On long voyages everything
-- even human wastes -- must be recycled and reused. The Earth is a closed
system too. It is our spaceship, and it has everything on board that we
will ever have -- all the air, water, metal, soil and fuel. Unlike Apollo
8, however, our spaceship Earth takes on more passengers all the time.
At some point, it's got to stop taking on passengers, or the trip is going
to be a lot shorter than any of us believed.
Somehow, I can't help but believe that if all
mankind could see the Earth as Lovell saw it from the far side of the moon
last Christmas Eve, we'd change our attitudes and our policies.
We would again realize that here, on our "grand
oasis in the blackness of space," it is man's relationship to his environment
and to all other living things that will determine our survival and our
|This newsletter concludes the series,
"Preparing for Peace." Copies of the complete series are available on request.