From Concern over population to Ministry
Concern over population
I feel, with Nathan Wrench (25 June), that the speakers on the panel he attended had failed to reach out properly to the query from someone who had asked, obviously with some distress, whether she should have a baby, in view of the state of the world.
Chris Packham, in his recent TV programme on the problems of population growth, interviewed a couple who had been desperately trying to have a child for some time. His whole attitude was sympathetic, and he ended by wishing them every success. He was right to do this, even in a programme seeking to encourage a reduction of fertility. He was addressing their humanity.
There is no doubt that the fertility of the human race must be reduced. But that does not mean a fertility rate of zero. There is clear evidence that very many of the births in the world are unwanted: the very high number of women with no access to modern contraception and the continuing high number of abortions, both safe and unsafe, are evidence of that. There is a huge amount that can be done without adding to the angst of a couple who are obviously loving by nature, and are yearning for a child.
We in Quaker Concern Over Population have recently distributed a book, Difficult Questions About Population, to all local meetings in the UK. I hope Friends will read it and learn about some of the issues involved.
Whether or not God invented Covid-19 (Gerald Drewitt’s ‘Thought for the week’, 25 June), may I – in face of UK governmental changes – urge all Friends to continue vigilance against the ongoing pandemic while expressing their own versions of unconditional love. The virus continues to evolve unexpectedly; new variants with increased infectivity and vaccine resistance will arise.
This is typified by the ‘delta-plus’ variant, first noted in April 2021, which is only the latest described in the popular press. Further variants are lurking, and some which are even more challenging are bound to emerge, especially in communities experiencing rapid spread of infection wherever they are and anywhere in the world, including among Britain Yearly Meeting.
Whatever happens when conditions in the United Kingdom are relaxed – whether or not from 19 July – Friends should remain aware of our responsibilities within whatever sector of public life we lead, for example by maintaining appropriate social distancing, mask-wearing, hygiene, self-testing and isolation if indicated.
Those who have received two doses of vaccine remain vulnerable to re-infection by whatever variant predominates in their locality. Although the chances of hospitalisation and death are much reduced among newly-infected doubly-vaccinated people, those chances are not nil and the potential for significant clinical complications still exists. I am not advocating monastic-style living, but urging Friends to maintain a responsible vigilance compatible with whatever lifestyles are chosen.
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