Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, has joined 18-year-old Canadian Emma Lim and thousands of others in pledging not to have children until the government will ensure a safe future for them. This is, of course, a glorious example of self-righteous virtue-signalling. But much worse than that, it is the desperate plea of children who are themselves, undoubtedly, victims of broad systemic psychological child abuse.
Greta and Emma—and countless others like them—are the dutiful children of a culture entranced by the abyss. Most members of their generation have been raised in the midst of a relentless existentialist attack on beauty, orderliness, goodness, love and meaning. Consider the following observations:
1) Children born in the West since the legalization of abortion are alive today, not because they have universally recognized intrinsic value, but because their mothers decided not to have them aborted.
2) Because of this, children born since the legalization of abortion do not view motherhood as a natural constant, like gravity, but rather as an unreliable variable. The core insecurity of living in a culture where you might have been killed is made all the worse by the knowledge that it’s your mother who could have had you killed.
3) The vast majority of children born since the legalization of abortion and the introduction of the Pill have grown up in small families, with three or fewer children. Their parents have made no secret of having deliberately spaced childbirth. Each child is planned, and therefore not so much a gift from God as a commodity.
4) Most mothers work outside the home, and receive limited maternity leave. By the time of their first birthday, most children are being cared for others, many of them by minimum-wage daycare workers.
5) When both parents are working full-time, both parents must invest much of their attention and energy in the workplace.
6) Parents often feel guilty and insecure in their roles as father and mother. Fathers especially, try to cultivate a buddy relationship, rather than being the stable force of nature that helps create a sense of security in the child.
7) Children spend vast amounts of time passively absorbing coarse, unbeautiful, and often corrupt electronic entertainments. Detached from the natural world, they are adrift in the boundless plasticity of the virtual, and are largely disembodied. Even their maleness or femaleness becomes subject to existentialist plasticity.
8) Important social skills go undeveloped at critical stages. Children engage less with their parents, less with brothers and sisters, and less with peers than was common in the past. They become passive and vacant, but capable of bursts of indignation and violence. They lack subtlety, nuance, and complexity.
9) From an early age, children become more adept than their parents at using electronic technologies, and in a dramatic and consequential role-reversal, become the mentors of their parents.
10) Parents encourage the endless forestalling of their children assuming responsibilities. They often helicopter and smother adolescents and teens, at least in part to compensate for their inattention in early childhood.
11) Parents often psychologically and spiritually deflower their children by cynically assuming they are sexually active before marriage. They promote contraception and make no secret of their support for abortion, co-opting children into an unholy alliance against future generations.
12) Finally, and most tragically, children have been raised without God, and even worse, in deep opposition to God. God is fruitful love and the very nature of the triune God is enacted in human procreation. Christian theology of the Holy Trinity sees the Holy Spirit as the personification of the love between the Father and the Son. In the wonder of human procreation, which is both natural and supernatural, the child is the personification of the love between the father and the mother. The war against procreation is really a war against God.
Greta and Emma and so many others of their generation are deeply damaged. They deserve our pity, our prayers—and our penance.