So Saint Stephen Lewis, heralded as a statesman and adored like a rock star, is coming to a town near me. His famous devotion to Africa, his heart rendering tales of grandmothers burying daughters and raising their babies only to leave them as orphans—his cause célèbre—will no doubt fill the papers as they always do.
But Lewis is wrong. The AIDS epidemic is not the worst disaster to have hit Africa. The worst disaster, as documented by the Canadian Senate report of 2007, was over four decades of development aid that did nothing but encourage a population boom that bred poverty, misery, starvation, resource exhaustion and war. In 55 years Africa’s population has increased 107% and in the next 40 years it is projected to increase by 233% in Burundi, 274% in Niger, 310% in Uganda, 198% in the Congo, 173% in Chad, and the list goes on. No, the theory that economic development is a contraceptive is a proven falsehood and a tired cliché. Only aid that is conditional on determined family planning is effective.
The problem here is not stopping people from dying, it is preventing people from being born---born into an environment that cannot sustain them. If people like Lewis, Bill Gates and Bob Geldoff had spent their prodigious energies promoting birth control rather than death control, the people of that unhappy continent would have been much, much better off today.
The road to hell is paved with sanctimonious intentions and applauded by politically correct myopia. True compassion comes with a hard edge.