Children, war, and family planning


Do leaders of the various rebel forces fighting each other and the Philippine government take time off to think about what war and conflict do to children?  I’m imagining they do, but perhaps they decided that the “cause” or “principle” has heavier weight than, say, loss of young limbs here and there.  Perhaps they decided that war is war and the sooner everyone, including children, accepts this hard and bitter truth, living amidst conflict becomes easier.  Win some lose some. Well, maybe, to adults the perspective is acceptable.

But, how does one explain war and its consequences to children?  Does one actually explain these to them, in the same manner as when explaining what the planetary system is?  How does a participating adult explain why he or she, in the name of “cause”, fires at “enemies” over unprotected heads of terror-filled civilians scampering to get away from the exchange?  How does one explain away deaths of fathers and mothers to orphans they leave behind? The adult has a ready reply: that’s the way it is.

Children, at least those who have not yet been numbed from their experience, would be quick to ask, but why?  Why must it be that way? The war-hardened adult at this point is irritated and replies:  you’ll know when you grow up!  Now, just shut up and follow my lead.

Follow my lead.

In other words, we adults, after two world wars and no lack of conflicts after, haven’t yet figured out the answer to why in order to establish peace we must kill, injure and displace flesh and blood by the hundreds and thousands.  Flashing the peace sign also means I’m prepared to go to war against you if I must in order to secure whatever assets are in need of securing.  (Does it mean, the more assets one has the greater is the necessity to go to war? The poor having none or little assets and subscribing to no one particular ideology is unencumbered by security issues and the imperative of going to war but then his problem is that he finds himself caught in the midst of a crossfire and having no protection, in danger of becoming that war’s first victim. And have we noticed that this world’s doomed to such a pattern and script!) When Catholics, Christians, Muslims, and people of other faiths greet the persons near them with Peace Be With You! it also in effect means So Help Me God That I Won’t Have To Kill You When It’s Necessary!  Bizarre equation, yes?  Perhaps it’s just that true peace is simply beyond us, recalling the Psalm: I Give You Peace, Peace The World Cannot Understand, Peace The World Cannot Give.  But, again, the children persist, why must true peace be beyond us?  To which, if I even try to work up my mind for the answer, I just might lose all my hair.  So I don’t.

However, there are other ways to address this.  One of these has to do with the RH Bill that has been TRO-ed (is it a year already?) by the Philippine Supreme Court because of a case filed by certain Catholic groups, arguing nonconstitutionality of the Bill.  I can’t believe the good SC judges latched on to this one argument.  If you ask me, the decision for the case should’ve been lack of merit because obviously these groups’ argument did not represent that of the majority of XXmillion Filipinos of childbearing age.

The Bill is said to be immoral, but:  Isn’t it gross irresponsibility and immorality that a couple bring 10 children into the world but are unable to protect them from being dragged into, maimed, or lost to the war?

Isn’t it a violation of individuals’ constitutional rights to wholly restrict or ban access to medical advice and treatment to persons in need of or desirous of family planning services?  Isn’t the continuing TRO a case of the majority being tyrannized by the minority on grounds of their religious beliefs?

Their belief on the matter is claimed to be the supreme good but:  Isn’t a belief actually a death knell when it’s actual effect is to reinforce misery, hijack, and restrict children’s futures?  And whose belief is it anyway?  What about the say of people who, despite their religion, believe in family planning?

Planning for the number of children with the aim to raise and bequeath them with only the best shouldn’t be boxed into a religious issue.  Couples planning their family shouldn’t be guilt-trapped hence fearful of deciding what’s best in view of their resources and circumstances. They should be free (i.e. from fear of reprisal, being singled out) to decide these things.  Women, especially, should be free to decide what’s best for their bodies.  And government is the institution duty bound to protect and uphold this right and freedom.  Besides, what does a maimed, decimated, used, scarred, and embittered population of children tell of a country’s future?


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