Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Necessity of Children and Optimism

Children are an interesting topic, because they are divisive often for completely unrelated reasons. Within families or social groups there might be the pressure to have more children regardless of taking into account the wishes of said people who could make a child; on the contrary, there are a litany of reasons why one might not want to have children.  These range from general annoyance to a question about the future of the planet.

We live in very interesting times, with threats of global warming and war. With injustice running rampant in our communities and a question of what world might follow us on. A world which I worry is made worse by a fatalism that we might be unable to prevent the destruction and end of life as we know it. It's why some focus on the afterlife and others the possibility of colonising other planets.

We also face the question of economic justice: is the middle class being erased because of a lack of childcare funding? Will we end up with only those who qualify for benefits and the uber rich being able to procreate? Is the Musk family view that we should spread the genes of the 'intelligent' a new form of eugenics? Is having children in the first place just fundamentally selfish?

I would argue that we must balance several factors here. Firstly, humanity has been in a constant fear that we live in the worst times--a state of coming doom or apocalypse for a variety of reasons. This gives me faith, not that the end is near or inevitable--though they may be; but that our very existence today on this planet is a sign that we are sufficiently resourceful to find new ways of living that will make it possible to go on. 

There are some people who feel as though the world is overpopulated and that we cannot sustain a larger population due to overcrowding or a lack of food or perhaps resource utilisation. I even had a friend who suggested that Hitler and Stalin were trying to save the world by killing as many people as they did during WWII, a theory that I find completely implausible as well as shockingly repugnant.

What I believe is that through technology we will find better farming techniques, we will find sustainable ways of living and travel. These will enable our children and their children to continue to travel and meet other cultures whilst also adapting to a world where we must consciously share resources and use them judiciously.

My greatest fear now, is not overpopulation, but rather than we fall for a fatalism that the multinational corporations that feed on greed and pollute our planet are unstoppable and that profit is the only master. It's as if we've missed the devil's own hand in our undoing.

It may be that the seas rise or the climate changes, but even then, I believe we will adapt. We will learn to build dikes like the dutch, we will build higher, we will find ways to remove carbon from the air, we will do whatever it takes. But this will only happen if we care. And it only makes sense to care if there are humans who will be here after us to take care of this gift we've been given.

Life in my view is not merely our immediate enjoyment. Although we live in the present, my goal is to live in community and build for the future, a future that our children will build after us as well. If our children do not exist, it may be that the solutions, technologies, and causes that will address challenges in our world will never be addressed.

This is why the view that children are annoying and should be kept out of sight or that we should force them into outward compliance to avoid bother is abusive and actually ruining our future. We should teach our children every day to be well-mannered and brilliant, but it requires them to be involved, not distant. It requires us to give up our resources, our time, our comfort. It's a selflessness to give of ourselves to the next generation rather than to decry their existence that will save our planet.

This is not to say that everyone should have children. If you don't believe you are the right person, I would ask that you help those around you who have embarked on the journey--when a child stops in the street and blurts out an inane question, that you inspire them and give them wisdom. All the world really needs is for us to care. 

For those who do want their own children, I ask that you don't fall to the fatalism that would keep you from this journey, this journey that will cost you your freedom to party and do as you will with your life every moment, this journey that asks you to lay down your immediate wants and to invest in your longer dreams, the dreams only your children can realise. 

For those who want children but cannot have their own for whatever reason, I ask that you see if you can be the light in the life of a child who has already been born into this world. Whether that's just helping in your community or being a good neighbour, or if it's fostering or adopting.

We will solve the challenges of the future, but it might not be our generation that finds the answers. Let's make sure we love and give confidence to the generations who may find the answers for us. Those who will also in turn grow our economy and pay for our retirement, those who will find a way to right the wrongs of our ancestors and to deal with the debts of the past that harm the present and the future.

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