I've deleted my original blog "Why Have Children" because I didn't make clear that I would like courageous, candid, frank, direct answers to the question: "Why do you have children." Down near the bottom of this blog you'll find some answers, some pseudo-answers, even some responses that aren't really answers at all. Do you have an answer - direct, frank, candid - that you're willing to share? Now, here's the original post.
What could we reckon as more serious than the continuance or survival of our species? Camus reportedly chose suicide as the only serious philosophical question. Few would deny that he asked a most serious question but it hardly measures up to a more fundamental and vastly more serious one: the question of procreation, the most selfish and - more times than not - the most thoughtless, careless act that a human can perform. No one conceives another human for that human’s benefit. We confer life and death on another person without that person’s consent or knowledge.
I am troubled, greatly saddened by the rampant death and destruction, the hateful use of wealth and power, the heartbreaking suffering of millions of people, the starvation and sickness that afflict untold numbers of children around the globe. And all across the planet humans are busily engaged in killing their fellows, inventing new, more efficient ways of doing so. It makes no sense. For what purpose, for god’s sake?
A lot of us would probably have rejected the "gift" of life had we been given the chance. Now that we have it we need to think deeply before we have children ourselves and, if we already have them, we need to accept the obligation of discussing the issue with them (or with their children, our grand children), trying to convince them to think long and hard about it - not from their perspective but from that of the child they may selfishly consider bringing into existence.
Others share my foreboding – a sense that our habits, our unconcern, may set in motion a horrific ending to the human species.
Scientists warn of 'emergency on global scale'
My solution, if I had the power, would be to sterilize everyone, to put a humane end to the human species. Of course I don’t have that power. Instead of finding ways to reduce global population our great, rich, powerful pharmaceuticals feverishly concoct sexual desire boosters and performance enhancers. What we need is an anti-Viagra for both men and women.
We have the ability to choose how our species will expire. We can choose either of two paths: we can elect a humane, caring way or we can continue the insanity of war, pollution, starvation and destruction - a route that may signal an awful prelude to the end - a regression to the most brutal, savage conditions imaginable. This latter path - the one that we travel now - will, I fear, inevitably lead to man's extinction but in a horrific, inhumane manner.
As a realist I recognize that universal acceptance of the idea of zero procreation is almost certainly a pipe dream. Tradition, ignorance, social pressure, organized religion and most certainly the powerful sexual urge all strongly militate against it. But at the individual level some thoughtful, intelligent couples may very well accept and apply the idea in their own lives. "The greatest symphonies begin with a single note."
I posted this blog hoping that one or two people might present arguments against mine in a thoughtful, reasoned manner without rancor or insults. I truly want to know why some - most - people decide to have children. I’m asking for your anonymous, candid, frank and honest answer.
Here are some answers to the question; “Why did you have children?” Some are evasive, hedging. Only a very few are candid, direct answers. Most people just don’t respond at all. Anyone care to add one?
• My own answer: I never thought about it. I wanted a good orgasm and I hated condoms. It was the woman’s responsibility, after all. She didn’t have to have a child; it was her decision, not mine.
• A philosophy professor who had once been adamantly opposed to procreation said: “I changed my mind because my wife wanted children.”
• My sister, who has five sons, says- smugly: "It's my contribution." Contribution to what she doesn't say. One of her boys, as I think I've said before, is a Pentagon bureaucrat, one of the prime developers of the drone. Some contribution.
• I think the answer is so simple (as) to be scary. I was always searching for the perfect mate. Perfection in mating literally implies sharing in a birth. I had four wives. Fortunately the last was sterile.
• It’s like asking an earthworm, why do you procreate? There is a biological drive in all life to replicate, and it transcends rational thought. When rational people stop having children, then the world fills up with children of the irrational.
• Looking back I made poor judgments about relationships, children, marriage, and much more of life. I hope to do better when I come back as a social insect.
• To ask people NOT to procreate is like asking them not to eat or sleep. It a biological imperative. My approach was to limit family size, like the Chinese did to stabilize population.
• But, in the political climate we now have, with the lunatic fringe trying to close Planned Parenthood, and with the consideration that abortion is murder, I see we are headed back to the premedieval age that the radical Islamists want. We are playing right into all this.
• I would support all of your reasonable government actions below. The question is why has government and society not taken these actions already. I think it is important to answer that question if we hope to change. Is it because of the long human history of producing children for labor and armies? Is it purely economic to create a large labor force for the purpose of outproducing the enemy, or to create an army to steal their goods. Is there a deep biological urge to pass genes, and as the case for most large, sexual animals, for males to keep the females pregnant with their own gametes, even sometimes kill the offspring of other males to impregnate the now childless mothers with their own gametes? I think Nietzsche was correct when he said that human life is about the will to power, and if we allow - as we should - a will for other organisms, not in the teleological sense, maybe it's the will of all organisms. I think there is no greater question for humanity. The issue I have come to realize is not just birth control on a vast scale. Instead the question is why has it not already happened? I have thought that the problem is nationalism or religiosity. Now I think these are just symptoms of some deeper problem.
A revised poem of mine followed by some recommendations:
Suppose no one was ever born.
There'd be none cast down, forlorn.
No fools to prate about Jehoshaphat,
No bribes to tempt the bureaucrat.
No people emulating sheep,
Nor men who kill while mothers weep.
Ideally, from this moment forward, no woman would ever become pregnant.
Reasonable governments would:
1. Distribute contraceptive devices free of charge, dropping them from the air where warranted and practical.
2. Encourage and reward same sex marriage.
3. Pay both men and women a substantial sum for permanent sterilization.
4. Tax heavily those persons who have more than two children.
5. Require all health plans – government and private - to provide contraceptive, sterilization and abortion coverage with charges commensurate with other medical services.