Welcome to part 3 of my in depth exposition on why I don’t want to have children.

I. Intro + Stage 1: Initial Shock

II. Stage 2: The Demand for Answers part A

III. Stage 2: The Demand for Answers part B

IV. Stage 2: The Demand for Answers part C

V. Stage 3: The Rebuttal + Wrap up

In part A of Stage 2 I discussed my personal reasons as to why I just don’t want to have kids of my own. Today’s post looks at the practice of breeding on a more global scale. With just a few considerations, it soon becomes clear that many others should be following my example.

They are Fragile

I have never understood how some people consider it a virtue when something is delicate. Delicate means structurally weak. Why on earth do people even bother making thin drinking vessels made of brittle glass when sturdy, droppable, hard plastic is an available alternative?
“Ooh, look how thin the stem is on this wine glass is!”
“Wow, that thing would probably shatter in a strong breeze.”
“You’re right. We had better buy a lot of them.”
On a related note, I am also clumsy. If it wasn’t for my martial arts training, providing some basic coordination and some toughness, I’m sure I would have killed myself a dozen times over by now. A newborn would not have any such training, severely reducing its chances of surviving my attempts at parenting. I have been handed an infant twice, once a sibling, once a nephew. They both happened exactly the same way and were both occasions of great terror and duress. Holding my breath, not blinking, I held it at arms length, my hands rigid, straining to ensure I could not possibly drop or crush them. An eternity passed in the 15 seconds it took for someone to relieve me of the infant. I was mocked, but I didn’t care. We both survived and that was all that mattered. “Oh, you’ll get used to it and you’ll learn. Don’t worry, there isn’t a ‘Self-Destruct’ button you could accidentally push.” They’re right, there isn’t a Self-Destruct button. It’s more like a Self-Destruct mine field. And getting used to it is the last thing I want to do. My guard would slowly be let down. I would begin to think that it’s all ok. Then, due to this relaxed vigilance, calamity will sneak through the cracks and then I’d suddenly be responsible for a newborn falling off the edge of a cliff. No thank you. And even despite all these worries, a floundering care taker is not a child’s only danger.

Canadian stats have 1-2 children in every 25 will be born with some kind of birth defect and 28 in every million it will be fatal. When I see stories of dedicated parents who give up their lives to look after their disabled child in the news or in my life, I do not feel inspired. I feel dread. Nature is so cruel, making these families either chose to abandon the child, which will result in grief, an even worse off child, and quite possibly social ostracization; or they can keep it and endure unimaginable stress and strain on their lives. The ones who make it might tell you that it was hard, but they found a way to make it work. First, red flags jump out and sirens wail, “Survivor bias, survivor bias!” Second, even if these “success” stories are the norm, they are no success to me. I do not want to so completely convolute my notions of a happy life and lower my standards to such a degree that they are no longer recognizable. “Oh, it will just take a shift in perspective”, says The Breeder, as if that somehow makes it a good thing. When faced with starvation, a shift in perspective on cannibalism may be required for your survival. While it is technically better than everyone in the dire situation dying, that does not make it a happy turn of events. Anyone with even the tiniest bit of sense can see that it’s a situation that ought to be avoided, whether or not there’s a lesser of multiple evils.

Not only do they break easy, the care with which the young must be cultivated is extraordinary. Failure to live up to this can result in disastrous consequences for both the parent and the child. There are so many horribly wrong ways to raise, educate, discipline, feed, house, entertain, and engage your child. And everyday, parents everywhere are finding new bad ways to do these things. Quite often the bad decisions are systemic, but sometimes it can be just one bad call. To be a parent is to accept the risk that, as you cannot be perfect, it is entirely possible that, despite all your best efforts, you will completely fuck up your child’s life. There are many days when I feel I shouldn’t trusted with my own well being, much less that of a defenceless child. Perhaps I’m being pessimistic/overly self-critical/paranoid, but even if the odds are of me doing irreparable damage to an innocent life are only 1% of what I imagine, they are still much too high to warrant me having a child.

E) They are Bad for the Environment

It’s fairly simple. Humans are causing climate change, procreation results in more humans, therefore having children harms the planet. Bearing spawn is placing one’s own self-indulgent conceit over the importance of the entire world. That’s right, I’m throwing that ‘being selfish’ charge right back in The Breeder’s face. Just how much do these little bundles of “joy” harm?Here is a link to an article that looks at a study which compares the efficacy of climate change reduction measures. It looks at recycling, efficient light bulbs, going carless, eating a plant based diet, flying less, and having one less child.

The one less child was so massive compared to everything else on the list that it required not only a break in the illustration, but an entirely new scale for the graph. Consider two hypothetical people. Person A flies regularly, drives a gas guzzling car, never recycles, and eats enough meat to make an American blush. Person B never flies, doesn’t even own a car, recycles everything, and is devoutly vegan. Based on that, Person B’s carbon footprint is substantially less than Person A’s. But if Person A remains childless while Person B sires just one offspring, suddenly Person A is doing about 10-15 times more for the environment than Person B. And if Person B has two kids…forget about it. But so strong is the Breeder’s hold on our cultural ethos that the value of not having kids was barely mentioned, despite it being a scale of magnitude more impactful than anything else on the list combined. This level of societal blindness is Bond-villain worthy, as it is truly destroying the planet.

F) They are Going to Starve

Probably not any children I would hypothetically produce, as I happen to be one of the world’s fortunate: not destitute in an industrialized society. However, considered globally, this conclusion is inescapable. One of my favourite books is called “Ishmael”, written by Daniel Quinn. In it, the main characters address the fact that our “advanced” culture still has its myths and what many of those myths entail. The one that is relevant to this discussion is our myth concerning world hunger. Our culture tells us that we could solve the problem of hunger if only we could produce enough food and distribute it to those in need. We have everything from local drives to international organizations tirelessly working toward this end and they have been doing so for generations. Yet, somehow, our planet is still filled with starving people. Are all these caring, giving people completely inept? Are they really so incompetent that with all their numbers and donations that they still can’t make any progress? Not at all. Food production today is staggering compared to what was possible in the past. Food distribution is likewise occurring at an incredible rate. So what gives, Culture? You said that should solve everything. All it takes to unveil this myth of ours is some high school biology.
Ecosystems 101 shows us that increasing the food supply of any given species will increase its population. The population will continue to grow until it cannot be supported by the increased food supply. At that point, some of the population will starve. They will continue to starve and die off until they reach numbers that the food supply can support. This makes sense to most people and they easily see how it applies to all species. Except themselves. Culture tells us that we are exempt from these rules of nature, but the harsh truth is, we aren’t. With a global population of 5 billion, there were people starving. So, we made enough food for 5 billion. But this lead to the population growing to 6 billion, and people were starving. Then we made food for 6 billion, so the population grew to 7 billion, and people were starving. Now we’re making food for 7 billion and the population continues to rise, and people are still starving. Throw in some imperialism and global market capitalism to take the problem up a couple notches, and eternal population growth with millions starving is guaranteed. Of course, this cannot go on forever. This is a finite planet and there is only so much food we can produce. What are our options? We could stop trying to produce more food and stop distributing it to those in need. Hunger would then be more in line with all other species. In good years we would grow, in bad years we would die off a bit. This option is obviously less than ideal. Not only is it heartless, it fails original goal of eliminating hunger, and merely manages it. The other option is to stop our rampant breeding. Unlike the need for food, bearing offspring is not necessary for an individual’s survival. If, through birth control, we reduced our population down to a few billion, our current food production would be more than sufficient to feed everyone alive. This also applies to any other limited resource. As competition is reduced, scarcity diminishes. This will be difficult to achieve, considering the grip the Breeder has over the world. But I shall do my part and lead by example. Once enough people follow, we will save the world.
You’re welcome.

G) They are Doomed to Suffer

We are a biased and optimistic race, especially when our biology wants something from us. I already talked about mate selection, but the blinders get turned up to 11 when people think about the future for their offspring. They ignore rates of sexual abuse, mental illness, violent crime, or poverty, despite them having caused untold millions to suffer unimaginably. Any thoughtful person could be dissuaded from procreation just to avoid casting their offspring into a such cruel world. I won’t explain further, as I’m sure anyone who has read this far can fill details themselves. Instead, I will focus only on the big one.
100% of all people born will suffer from death. It is inescapable. Yet the Breeder doesn’t consider that they condemn every one of their precious progeny to death simply by birthing them. I’ve seen the quote “No parent should have to bury a child” echoed many places throughout art and pop culture, and it betrays this oversight. If it were conscious, this attitude could be expressed as, ‘I’m totally fine with you dying, as long as it happens after I’m no longer around to suffer the consequences myself.’ It wouldn’t surprise me if the parental desire to protect one’s offspring comes, at least partially, from a sense of guilt over the suffering and death they themselves have sentenced their child to endure.

Although I’ve held my position for almost my entire life, I have only just learned of the term ‘anti-natalism’ in doing research for this post. That research had me stumble upon a wonderful little narrative by The Prime Directive in a post entitled, “The joys of existence.” It’s a dialogue between a freshly formed embryo and its creators/soon-to-b parents. When you get a chance, definitely read the whole thing and check out more posts, but for now, here’s an excerpt that opens up the dialogue and relates well to this point on suffering:

parents: Congratulations, little boy or girl! You’re going to exist!
embryo: Oooh, what does that entail?
parents: So many things! You’re going to be sentient, first of all. You will experience pleasure and pain. You will feel a wide variety of emotions, some of which will be augmented by your human intelligence!
embryo: That sounds complicated.
parents: It will be! The human experience is such a complex one, due to our high intelligence combined with our primitive instincts! We are probably the only creatures on the planet that have existential woes!
embryo: …
parents: In fact, we’re creating you to help alleviate some of our existential woes! You will make us feel immortal and significant in the universe, even though we’re not. You will give us a illusory sense of purpose in life!
embryo: Gee, parents, I’m not sure I like the sound of existence.

Spoiler alert: the parents fail to convince the embryo that being born is a good idea.

So now we see that having a child is not a good idea for me, for the child, or for the world at large. In part C, we’ll look at how having a child is not a good idea for one more person. One who’s wellbeing gets far too often overlooked.