A commercial funded by US and UK funded AIDS prevention programs, notably USAID, was recently pulled from television. The commercial depicts two Kenyan mothers in the market place. One excitedly tells the other that she is having an extra-martial affair. Her friend replies not with concern for her friend’s family and marriage, but rather reminds her to “make a condom part of the plan.” In response to the commercial, a public outcry arose. Christian and Muslim leaders called on the Communications Commission of Kenya to remove the commercial from the airways, noting that the commercial aired during primetime airings.
The commercial called, “Weka Condom Mpangoni”, which translates to, “use a condom when having an affair”, was extremely offensive to a highly religious population. Bishop Julius Kalu of the Anglican Church of Kenya stated that the commercial promoted extra-marital affairs and casual sex. One woman interviewed by BBC commented that the fact that a mother figure was used in the commercial makes the situation worse because the mother is the one who stand for families and teach children the good morals they should have within the community.
A representative from the agencies who produced the commercial, Dr. Peter Cherutich of National AIDS and STI Control, claimed that extra-materical affairs are just a part of “reality” and that condom use should be promoted in these situations. It is extremely unfortunate that we have come to accept the sadness of disabled families simply as “reality”. Although one can not deny that these relations happen, should we not be promoting programs that help couples to strengthen and heal their marriage, instead of promoting spouses to have affairs outside of marriage without any seemingly obvious consequences? What USAID does not take into consideration is the emotional, psychological and social effects of extra-marital affairs on the children of broken marriages and the larger community as a whole.
Although USAID professes to be promoting AID/HIV protection, what the organization needs to take into account is a person’s emotional and mental state, not just physical well-being. This leads to an over-sexualized culture as well as the loss of human dignity. The commerical is embedded below:
A panel of speakers organized by IPPF at this years AIDS Conference represented different issues related to HIV prevention. The panel hinged on the idea that “condoms are seen as the cornerstone of effective and holistic approaches to the management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV prevention.”
However, it quickly moved beyond the issues of HIV prevention to tie the fight against this disease with a greater liberalization and acceptance of pornography, contraceptives and sexual promiscuity: the same social dysfunctions which fuel a broken society where HIV/AIDs continues to spread. The discussion included Anne Philpott from the UK’s Department of International Development and The Pleasure Project, as well as Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice. This presentation, entitled “The Politics of Condoms: Cock-ups, Controversies and Cucumbers,” lived up to the unprofessional and provocative nature of its title.
Philpott’s program is an initiative which seeks to take a “sexy approach to safer sex,” presenting male and female condoms as tools for promoting pleasure and intimacy. The Pleasure Project networks with NGOs and the public health sector in the UK along with “erotic media producers” (including one of the UK’s largest pornography developers) to promote the use of contraceptives.
Catholics for Choice’s Jon O’Brien spoke as well on the controversy of contraception. His ideas were presented a few days earlier in an editorial for Religion Dispatches posted on July 19th . There O’Brien continued his ongoing misrepresentation of the Pope’s comment in 2010 about the use of condoms. As we know, what the Pope said was, “there may be a basis. . . as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of moralization . . . But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection.” Of course, the Catholic Church’s stance on prostitution and homosexual intercourse was in no way undermined by the Pope’s comment on a the hypothetical and internal moral decision making of homosexual sex workers, but it is again being abused as a way to promote the false idea that contraception saves lives.
Again, the core issue at hand with this conference is the lie that condom usage is a moral and effective method of preventing the spread of HIV. An organization in support of contraception and abortion, Catholics for Choice’s remained as silent as any other group at the AIDS conference about the fact that a single generation of monogamy, or even one where avoidance of risky behavior was prevalent, could more effectively halt the spread of HIV. The celebration of “when you want, whoever you want, however you want it” permeated the conference as a whole. In the midst of so much good will and sincere effort to stop this terrible disease, it was more than a little tragic to see the celebration and even encouragement of risky behavior take center stage.
For O’Brien’s article: The Truth About Catholics and Condoms
If you have been following the news in the U.S., a series of incredibly severe thunderstorms rampaged the northern Virginia area my parents and I inhabit yesterday leaving over 3 million people without power and a few people dead. In fact, just minutes after finishing my article yesterday on the National Right to Life Convention – Day 2, I heard a great snap, saw the lights flicker, and then watched as all the power in my house went down in a matter of seconds. Outside, the winds raged and the thunder flashed as we called the electric company and realized that the whole area was out of power. Despite the rampant destruction of precious utilities, I was still able to make it out to the convention for a third day of fascinating and informative talks.
This time, when I entered the convention hall, the flags were gone, and the tone of the entire congregation was one of an academic setting to educate and prepare for the fight for Congress. Burke Valch, a leading expert on ObamaCare, gave an incredibly clear and objective academic lecture on the details of Obama’s anti-life campaign: to ensure the “rationing of health care” and specific “quality standards” for all American health care in the future. In other words, the government will now take over the way the everyday American spends his money on saving his life; the government will now determine which lives to save, and the limits of such life-saving measures.
Please take some time to educate yourself with the tools available here. I highly encourage it, especially since these new measures will, within the next few years, highly impact every American, irrespective of his or her opinion on the matter, age, culture, gender, political party, or even level of wealth. The measures will decrease spending on health care, while also decreasing the level of health care everyone receives, and finally, increasing the amount of government involvement in peoples’ lives. Sometimes quoted as being the largest tax ever imposed on American citizens by any President, we as the youth inheriting these laws need to get the facts of what exactly is involved so we can make proper judgment about our involvement or opposition to such acts.
The second talk I attended was an incredible outlook on “Religious Liberty and Pro-Life Conversion: The HHS Mandate, Solidarity, and Christian Witness,” by another family friend, Dr. David Franks. A talk centered on truth and rooted in love, Franks formulated the ground work for the pro-life, pro-family, pro-religious liberty movement, and explained how a simple perversion of the truth of God’s love for us led to the opposition, a pro-death movement. The “French” Libertarian movement centers on the materialistic, elite cultivation of self-gratification without God, and can lead to complete totalitarianism. The correct form of libertarianism, according to Dr. Franks, however, is that of the “American” revolution, liberty within the liberty of God, a theocentric liberalism founded on the Gospel of life as Blessed John Paul II so gracefully puts it. The “French” Libertarian movement, on the other hand, reduces not to realism, but to mere ideology. For example, as with the case of the HHS Mandate, Catholics are forced against their conscious to support contraceptive laws, something that goes against our ideology. If we as Catholics do not accept this ideology, we are simply shut down from operating businesses, as the Catholic hospitals will have to do if the HHS Mandate stands.
Dr. Franks went on to mention more detailed information regarding the liberal Christian movement, advocating such “French” Libertarian notions, and then he ended with a beautiful discussion on the “heroism of love,” solidarity, which requires a pro-life conversion of never forgetting the weakest. Love demands greatness, and there is “something in us, [which] wants greatness”. I call that little “thing” inside us, “creation”, the fact that we were created in the image and likeness of God, that we were Made for More. We are called to share in the communion of the Trinity, in the personification of love, in the personhood of Jesus Christ, as Bob Dylan so aptly puts it, “Love minus zero / No limit”.
The third talk I attended was about the “Continuing the Escalating Struggle to Stop Abortion in the World”, by the famous Jeanne Head, Raimund Rojas, and MCCL Go!’s Scott Pischbach. Raimund began by describing some of the history of the movement in the world, from the genesis of the UN at a church service in 1941 to the modern day pro-death movement leaders, Margaret Polack, Dr. Susan Rice, Peggy Kerry, and Melanne Verveer, the “Abortion Ambassador” to the world. Jeanne Head brought to life the primary mission of anti-life movement to enact language in UN bills (not present yet), which would make the right to abortion a fundamental human right worldwide. As the UN becomes “an ideological tool used to promote bad policies”, Head and her colleagues have led a fairly successive defense to keep such language out of the UN documents; however, UN agencies have frequently falsely claimed such language to be evident, sometimes successively changing the minds of ignorant public leaders through simple creative mentioning of false facts over and over again until people finally just accept them as truth. Call it UN filibustering, such practice is raging to the anti-life movement to forward their pro-death policies. Scott Pischbach ended with an overview of the latest “abortion cancer developments” in the world: in Kenya as the US spent $10 million to help legalize abortion “for health reasons”, or in Rwanda, or in Morocco, or Zambia, where the story is just the same time and again – “Many women are dying from illegal abortions [this number is usually made up] let’s change the law to help prevent them from dying”. In Turkey, when the Prime Minister Recep, Jayyip Erdogan stood up and denounced abortion, countless fabricated protests of radically charged feminists across the nation convinced him to renounce his denouncement. There are many examples, of the underhanded fight to make the killing of millions of poor babies legal in countries where moral values once ruled, raging our world, and we as the youth need to stand up and say, NO! to these obvious undermining of the very laws which govern our world. We need to say, NO! we won’t allow rich elitists to kill off the poor just because they are poor. We need to say, NO! we won’t let the future youth of this world, our future friends and colleagues, our future students and apprentices, innovators and entrepreneurs to be killed off by such modern day eugenicists. We the youth of this world to need to stop being so gullible to the falsities they feed us, sometimes led by money, sometimes by power, or any number of pleasurable leaches our fleshes attract. We need to ask questions, seek the facts, find the truth, listen to our elders, give merit to the wise, and respect the very values, which founded the greatest nations on Earth, and the greatest nation ever created, whose founder was none other than the Son of God.
Dutiful to responsibilities at home relating to the loss of power, I had to leave the convention early, but I was able to attend one final session, cohosted by family friend Wayne Cockfield and familiar face Jeanne Head. While fairly repetitious to the last talk, they made a few good points. Jeanne noted that in the West, the movement is towards population control (“eugenics with a passport”), exported to poor countries under the guise of “development” needed desperately by third world countries. Secondly, Wayne related a long story of his audacious adventure at the UN, how the EU officials kicked him out for being too outspoken and for stirring up trouble with the other disabled delegates (sounds familiar to a particular Biblical Son, doesn’t it?). Finally, Jeanne noted some San Jose documents which claim that the UN cannot claim any fundamental right to abortion.
“The reason why God is so great a lover of Humility is because he is the great Lover of Truth. Now Humility is nothing but Truth, whilst Pride is nothing but lying.”
-St. Vincent de Paul
Sometimes I ask myself why Americans like superheroes so much. We thirst for superheroes. Batman, Superman, Luke Skywalker, Captain America, Iron Man, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Wolverine, Professor X. . . the list goes on and on. We re-write, re-film, and re-tell their stories in different ways in order to get a new take on their superhuman lives. And when we exhaust that, we simply create new heroes.
I normally try to avoid the superhero media, but today my roommate was watching episodes of the TV show Heroes, and I stepped over to watch for a few minutes. I stayed for probably an hour, and was reminded of how powerful the imagery can be.
The premise of every superhero story ever created is that there is a massive problem. The problem is so massive, in fact, that no normal human can possibly remedy it. Thus, the need for the superhero is created–A person who, by their nature or by some properties they possess, has transcended the powers of the human race and can meet the monstrous problem and defeat it. Their actions satisfy this deep need that we have, to know that when the world gets so out of control that we can’t handle it anymore, Luke Skywalker will be there to whip out his lightsaber and save us.
But it’s at this point where a lot of people (And most Americans) make a fatal mental transition. We think that we’re Luke Skywalker.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We are not superheroes. None of us are.
We’re told at a young age that we can change the world. While it sounds nice, encouraging, and inspirational, it is simply not true. And this is the problem that the U.S. and the United Nations seem to have gotten themselves into. They are under this illusion that they have the power to save the world, eradicate evil, and create a perfect society, when they can do nothing of the sort.
The only way the world will ever become any better is if the hearts of people change. And the only way that can ever happen is if God gets a hold of their hearts and transforms them into the likeness of his Son. And no amount of legislating, promulgating, or howling on the part of Congress or the U.N. Bureaucrats will make that happen. Peace, Justice, and Good-will can only come through God leading people, day after day, to follow his will instead of their own. And when we recognize that, we come to the conclusion we should have reached after watching all those superhero movies:
We are not Luke Skywalker. God is Luke Skywaker. He is the hero whose powers transcend ours. He is the one who can and will save the world. We need to stop waving our plastic lightsaber around and instead, follow Him. As the writer of the book Blue Like Jazz said:
“At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know the chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay. And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don’t think there is any better worship than wonder.”
The attitude that we can somehow “save” or “change” the whole world is not just wishful thinking or a positive attitude: It is the height of Pride itself. It is believing the great Lie that we can somehow take God’s job upon our shoulders and fix our broken world without making it worse. We can’t. We can only obey the simple, daily commands of God to love those who cross our paths and do Justice to them. For us to be Humble, the first thing that is required is for us to embrace the truth that God, not us, will save the world, and that all we ever have to do is obey him–here, now, in this moment. This Humility will save us from the disobedient excuse that we must go outside our country to do God’s work of Justice. Do Justice to your neighbors here, and if God calls you to leave, then Go.
But only if God calls you.
If you have time, take a look at this video. It illustrates this point very well.