Animals fascinate me, have I mentioned that ? Kids, much less so. Its not that I hate kids or can’t be around them, in fact I have a bunch nieces and nephews (some of which I have never met, which is a whole other story) who actually think I’m a nice bloke. I’ve earned the moniker “Crazy Uncle Dave” thanks to a brother in law, I wear it with pride along side uncles “Awesome” and “Bubbers”.
Though I cannot help but glance at these happy faces of children and cast a thought towards their future. Most reading I do is on the subject of the huge challenges facing human kind and the biosphere as a whole. I’ve covered those enough with respect to my own life, my fears and hopes with direct impact on me. Me. What about those that come after me ? especially those in my care which isn’t limited to my child alone.
Have you ever confronted your parent(s) and discussed apology for bringing you into the world ? I went through a dark period last year and this is something I touched on briefly with my mother. It was the epitome of utter self pity and I am not proud of it. Sorry Mum.
The wars, empire, the energy crisis, the climate crisis, collapsing society and recalcitrant political class, the loss of biodiversity and rape of tropical and boreal forest. The list goes on.
I was struck down with a good bout of serious self pity thinking about living through all the crap, and not even in any direct way! Child-rearing was far from my mind. Now however that is a different story, I am going to have to make the most important choice in my entire adult life soon. Within the next 5 years ?
The factors effecting the outcome of this binary choice have a distinctly dark hue because of the research and data I concentrate on. I almost don’t want to be around when people finally realize our collective destructive stupidity will leave us in hard scrabble mode for generations. Bring a child into this ? … pseudo-sadism ? your pleasure occurs perhaps long before their suffering is realized.
Is having a child selfish, or is not having a child selfish ? this depends on your perspective, in my case it wholly depends on how pessimistic a potential parent’s mindset is and how much they choose to personalize the suffering of humanity and the biosphere. I do this quite acutely and it sucks. First step is knowing you have a problem right ? nobody ever discusses the second step in this case.
We live in fear, whether we acknowledge it or not. I posit that there is an obvious correlation between how much I read into collapse theories, bacteria analogies and how much day to day fear I experience. Jump up on the roof and lift heavy things ? no problem! Slow down and contemplate your child’s future and the responsibility you have. HOLY SHIT. Enough to put me in the padded room for an extended stay.
This is probably a common trait among 90% of males, physical danger is able to be dealt with in a matter of fact way. Existentially distant problems and changes throw up the “flight” part of the fight or flight reflex.
My biggest fear traces back to what I did when I broke down: Turned to my parent and asked why. I am so scared of that happening to me it is unreal. My parents are solid folk, a nurse and flight engineer. They are not however that interested, or were not that interested at my age, in the plight of the planet and the systems we rely on.
Can I fault them for it ? I can’t. Their fears and concerns were different to mine, probably much more immediate.
I am sure there are exceptions to this rule and “mille nuances de gris”, but I see a choice from my point of view; with limited time and resources you choose to represent the struggle for environmental survival as a childless activist or you choose rearing a child. Can the two, should the two be combined ? The contrary point of view is that the only way your mindset will persist is through your offspring.
At this point the choice is between personal challenges. Both are a challenge and one is always viewed as more of a challenge: having a child and raising it to be an environmentally conservative adult and ensuring its upbringing has the least detrimental effect on the environment around it is a herculean challenge. Ergo, most fail it miserably. I am sure I will fail too. (Defeatist!)
So the world population graph is impersonating a hockey stick, and the US population is not slowing down its growth either (Although slow at an estimated rate of .963% giving a doubling time of about 60 years?)
The numbers can infer that all the problems we currently experience will get worse; the population problem is the amplifier of all others. That is what makes population predictions so tricky. If an associated problem becomes intractable or unavoidable then change could be negative, effecting a correlating decline in growth which alleviates a problem to some degree over long time periods.
I don’t want to add suffering, emissions, plastic crap and waste to the world. I want to eliminate these things. Going childless is a fairly extremist, but direct route for this effect. It’s also a pretty fast track to odd looks, conversations and isolation.
The internal conflict continues
I have no idea if childlessness is where I want to go. It does seem pretty selfish as it means I don’t have to change anything, in the classical sense I can keep my freedom (but would probably end up divorced) but I also would have to change very little with respect to my planet killing habits as there would be one less set of little eyes looking at me. Would my lack of child drive me to simply fill that void with useless activities which end up hurting the environment in the long run ?
You’ve got to be committed to the overarching reason for your childlessness in the first place, and I am most certainly on the fence because I don’t know if I am. I need something to test my mettle.
Good read here, I don’t want my kid to write something like this: “Generational Warfare: The Case Against Parasitic Baby Boomers” http://mobile.nationaljournal.com/features/restoration-calls/my-father-the-parasite-20121004
Don’t let the title put you off, a brilliant, intricate and heartfelt piece with a great conclusion.