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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Somber lessons from "Battlestar Galactica"

Alex Alexiev discusses the hard questions that TV sci fi "Battlestar Galactica" asks. It's quite insightful and heartily recommended. Here are some gems:

  When President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), who has always supported abortion rights, expresses her support for the young woman’s decision, Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) urges her to reconsider. President Roslin is sitting under the whiteboard where she keeps a running count of the usually declining human population which now numbers 49,584.
      Adama: I hate to say this. Because I know that this is a political issue. The fact is that that number doesn't go up very often.
      Roslin: I fought for a woman's right to control her body my entire career. No. No.
      Adama: I'm just remembering what you said. Right after the Cylon attack. That if we really want to save the human race, we'd better start having babies.
  Mark Steyn .. points out at length that the West .. face their disappearance this century not because we will be outfought on the battlefield, but because of the crisis of childlessness.
This particular thought really rang a bell:
  Glenn Harlan Reynolds makes in an article about declining birthrates. He also discusses how parenting has simply become more difficult as overprotectiveness and the need to cart kids to endless activities drains the joy out of raising children. And this increases the pressure to have fewer or no children.
I've always noted differences between my family and what we've heard about the typical Australian family. Apart from the latter having fewer children, and having them later in life, they do seem to have more on their plate in terms of family vacations, overseas trips, school holiday programs, and various extra-curricular activities for their children. We're not well-off enough to get into such a lifestyle, and frankly, I'd rather not work myself to death to provide that. I'd rather raise a few more children -- assuming that all parties agree to that (that leaves my wife and God). Popular rhetoric often cites more love and blessings to go around as a reason to have fewer kids, but my wife and I have noticed something entirely different. Those occasional people who look at us incredulously when we're out with our three kids (the average here is 2.1 kids per family) have expressions that we can only describe as distaste.
A survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago asked respondents in 33 countries to react to this statement: "I would rather be a citizen of [my country] than of any other." Among Americans, 75% "strongly" agreed; among Germans, French and Spanish, comparable responses were 21%, 34% and 21%, respectively.
Something else I've noticed is that patriotism or nationalism is not very visible. Not that we're that much better back in the Philippines -- we were outwardly patriotic but I'm not so sure about the substance of that, given how easily we fragment back home. But here in Australia, people have started wondering out loud if the entire "multiculturalism" drive has gone completely wrong. Some neighborhoods have been completely obliterated. There was one featured on TV where the ethnic composition completely changed in one generation. Immigrants were not becoming assimilated into society: it was the other way around. I suspect that the critics are right: pluralism went too far and made the prevailing culture entirely optional. People were told that they needn't become Australians, and that's exactly how things went.

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