On Friday afternoon, I took two of my granddaughters to the fair. The St. Johns Mint Festival, to be exact. St. Johns is a small town north of Lansing, Michigan.
Their father (my son) came along, too.
We got there a little early and the only thing running was the pony rides. At previous fairs, the girls were given a very short, once round the circle, ride for $5. This time, they went round at least ten times for the same price.
It was hot and humid so I sat down on one of two plastic chairs. The owner came and sat down next to me.
He told me that when he started taking his ponies to county fairs, there were hundreds of children enthusiastically wanting a ride. Now, the numbers are down to a mere handful. He said kids would rather spend time on electronic gadgets, but then made a comment on how many millions of children have been aborted, depriving us all of the joy of seeing happy children enjoying themselves at fairs and in the streets.
The man told me he was 81. From what he said he clearly felt I was about the same age, asking me how many GREAT grandchildren I have. I responded by saying that all my grandchildren are great. I added that I am “only” 64!
Later, while the girls went on other rides, I sat down at a table with a rather uncomfortable bench. Another man, looking a bit like he might be 81, sat down next to me and ate a meal he had just bought. I asked him if he was with his grandchildren. His sad response was: “No, I’m all alone. My family is dying out!”
Diane and I are privileged to have eight grandchildren whom we love dearly, but the Rhodes name is still dying out. Only two of the eight have the name “Rhodes” and, when they marry, they won’t have it, so the name will go with them. Fortunately, I have five nephews in England who will ensure the family continues, at least on that side of the Atlantic.
In a restaurant a few months ago, we met an elderly couple in their eighties, who told us they had 40 grandchildren and were awaiting the birth of their 25th great grandchild. Can you believe that? Yet, their familial situation would not have been unusual in previous generations. It has become unusual in this generation; I should add “in the western world.” It’s not unusual in many other parts of the world. For four centuries the Bible believing Protestants, who dominated the West, took seriously God’s command to “go forth and multiply” (Gen 1:28). That era has gone and birth control has made it possible.
It helps explain why the dynamics are changing in the United States and elsewhere. Nations are changing hands, as they pass from one dominant ethnic group to others. You can see this very clearly in Western Europe. Because America is a much bigger country with a lower population density, we don’t see it as much, but demographic trends show it is still happening.
President Theodore Roosevelt warned, when the first Planned Parenthood clinic opened in 1916, that it would lead to the death of the race. And that was before abortion. It’s not just abortion that has led to this dramatic change. All forms of birth control have contributed to it.
But we can’t blame birth control, either. Birth control was simply the means. But we, the people, made it happen by choosing a higher standard of living over the responsibility of more children.
Let’s face it, we didn’t give it much thought. It was a no-brainer.
But the result is exactly what TR said a century ago – we are now facing the death of the race. In every country where Europeans and their descendants have dominated for centuries, significant changes are taking place. Not one of those countries will still have a dominant western culture by the end of this century.
It’s a sobering reality and perhaps the most significant one happening right now.
A few months ago, NPR reported that Ann Arbor, one of the most affluent areas in Michigan, had seen a 40% drop in school enrollments in ten years. Just pause for a moment and think of the effect this is going to have on the local economy. The figure will be roughly the same across the US, except in areas with a high population of Hispanics, Muslims and others, who all have a much higher birthrate. They may fill the gap in terms of numbers, but how much will that change the country? Additionally, will they volunteer to defend us against our enemies, to whom many of them will feel a closer cultural connection?
Interestingly, when we visited Ann Arbor last month for medical appointments, we stopped at Costco, which now has an halal meat section occupying a significant part of the freezer area. Headless sheep hung there, covered in burlap so that sensitive Anglo eyes would not freak out! This is illustrative of how things are changing.
The St. Johns Mint Festival is highly unlikely to make the national news, but the declining numbers of children wanting pony rides illustrates the most significant trend in America, the fact that many couples no longer want children.
A nation that does not make the raising of children a priority is doomed to failure. Worse . . . to extinction.