(LifeSiteNews) – The title of a new cell phone commercial is “Single for the Win,” and that tells us what we need to know even before the dialog begins. The commercial opens showing two exhausted and harried-looking parents surrounded by nine children of various ages engaged in all sorts of activities — from playing the trombone to play fighting to one painting her face blue with cake frosting.
The husband speaks first, saying: “After talking and texting for years, we got married. For the family plan.” The wife adds that they expanded their family for the savings, but then she laments that her unmarried sister just informed her that she has gotten those savings too. The commercial cuts to the sister—relaxing in a pristine family room—who holds up her phone and says happily “no family needed.”
The voice-over then adds, “Family plan savings without the family.”
The commercial ends with a child pouring juice on the dad and the parents looking regretful.
It’s a sad portrayal of families. And the disdain for families—especially large ones—is profound. It seems obvious that the viewer is supposed to side with the single woman and unite with her sentiment that no family is needed. But that line could not be more wrong. Our society needs families—and children—to survive.
Some may say that I’m being a bit too sensitive about what’s supposed to be a “funny” commercial, but I see nothing funny about it. In fact, I think the message is not only insidious but indicative of a larger problem.
This not-so-subtle denigration of families says a lot about today’s society and its feelings toward children. According to this commercial, they are messy, annoying, exhausting, and apparently only a tool to use—in this case to save money. Clearly the way to go, it says, is to remain single and childless.
While there is nothing wrong with remaining single, there is something wrong with disparaging families. We are all called to a vocation in life, and whether that is single or married or a clergy or layperson, each vocation has value.
However, we must hold families in high regard because, as the Church teaches, families are the foundation of society. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2207) says:
The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society.
Families are vital to society. Whether in word or action, we must treat all families with reverence, respect, and love. Commercials like this one go too far in trying to prove a marketing point, and in this case, they also do something nefarious: They encourage the aversion to children and plant seeds of disdain for them.
We all know that, in general, seeds can produce beautiful flowers or trees, or they can produce weeds that take over and block out the sunlight, thus choking to death everything around it.
When seeds like those in this Verizon commercial are repeatedly sown into people’s minds—especially young people’s minds—they begin to choke out a respect for the beauty of family and for the knowledge that all babies are a gift from God.
Every commercial like this serves as a reminder that we can discard babies at will if we deem them “inconvenient” or “unwanted.” And when children are looked upon as burdens rather than as gifts, we naturally see a rise in the contraceptive mentality. This mentality then teaches that, if and when contraception fails, it’s okay to kill the baby outright in abortion—an act we justify by chalking it up to a “choice” or a “right.”
But it is never right—or a right—to kill a preborn baby. How do we teach society this fact? We educate. We talk. We tell the truth about the importance of families and the beauty of every single baby who is created. We teach that families are built upon love and self-giving. We take time to support young parents, single parents, large families, small families, and everything in between. We speak out against attacks on families—like this commercial. In short, we teach and live love. If we don’t, who will?
“No family needed” is the lesson Verizon wants us to walk away with, but Verizon does not have the last word.
As Psalm 127 says, children are a gift from the Lord. “Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.”
Let us replace the seeds of the culture of death with seeds that plant respect for the beauty and splendor of families.