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We happen to be singing an arrangement/medley of this piece this year in choir.  Welcome folks and here is wishing to a nice smooth December to you all.

Welcome to part 5 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

We’ve done quite a lot to show that reproduction is a very bad idea. Despite all the reasons explored in Stage 2, parts A, B, and C, The Breeder is resilient. Privy to the other side of the coin, they are ready to share all the reasons I ought to be poppin’ out youngin’s. Let’s look at the most common of these in:

Stage 3: The Rebuttal

“You change when you have one / it’s different when it’s your own”

To my ear, this translates to, “if you let biology mess with you, biology will mess with you”. Oh boy! Hormones will make me lower my standards, scramble my values, but make me think I’m happy about it? I’ll pass, thanks. The effect is analogous to that of heroine. Before you have any, you can clearly see all the negatives. As soon as you try it yourself, though, your biology gets you hooked on it. From then on your happiness is dependant on keeping up your habit. It doesn’t matter how objectively anyone demonstrates how much the child/heroine is detrimental to your life, nothing can make you give it up.

“You’ll regret not breeding/You won’t be fulfilled until you do”

This is just another version of the very first initial reaction back in Stage 1. Like responsibility, fulfillment can be realized in a multitude of ways. Your zeal for this one source does not devalue all others. Check your arrogance and tunnel vision at the door.

“What if the love of your life wants to have children?”

By now it should be clear that there is a pretty big difference between how The Breeder and I see the world. Thus anyone who wants kids cannot possibly be the “love of my life”. The Breeder might insist, ‘but what if, otherwise, she is THE ONE?? You’d be giving up life long happiness just because you’re stubborn’. No. Caving to values I don’t share would be giving up life long happiness just to get a constant companion to accompany me in my poorer life. Further, the entire concept of‘The one’ is total bullshit. Relationships are built, not discovered. That is, success depends on partners finding someone who is more or less aligned with each other. Then, through work, communication, and experience, each grows into the little gaps that used to separate them. The One perfect match is a naive fairy tale. Time to grow up.

“What if your parents thought like you do? You wouldn’t be here.”

This is pretty ridiculous, but I hear it all the time. My knee jerk reaction is to point out that people benefit from the bad choices of others all the time. That in no way obliges you or makes it desirable to repeat those bad choices.

Best bumper-sticker ever

For any shining examples of happy parents with happy children who all make the world a better place by their very existence, I point once again to the survivor bias. I consider myself unimaginably fortunate and I am filled with gratitude for the people and circumstances that have saved me from countless terrors that plague so many people. There’s no reason to think any foray into the child-rearing world I undertake will go anywhere near as well.  And finally, the argument simply doesn’t follow. Let’s try the form with a substitution, say the first interracial couplings. ‘What if your parents went abroad for a mate instead of finding each other in their own country? You wouldn’t be here, thus it’s a bad idea’. Doesn’t sound so clever any more, does it? So much had to happen for me to be here, it would be impossible to respect and replicate all of it. Further, me being here isn’t that special. Sure, I personally think it’s pretty important, but I also recognize that that sentiment is quite heavily biased.

“Who will look after you when you’re old?”

The $250,000.00+ I saved by not procreating. Next?

“I think you’d make a great parent.”

And if you committed 20 years and $250k to scrubbing out portable toilets with your own toothbrush, I’m sure you’d get pretty good at that, too.

“You have no fitness, evolutionarily speaking.”

Yes, I’ve actually had someone say this to me. Why would anyone consider their own fitness from an evolutionary standpoint? One of the greatest side effects of the capacity for abstract thought that our species has developed is that we are now the orchestrators of meaning and purpose. Instead of being slaves to instinct, we have within us the potential to point our efforts in any direction, to any goal we deem worthy of our attention. There are no mosquitoes working on ways to reduce the spread of malaria, so as to treat their food sources more ethically. There are no angler fish fighting for the end of sex inequality. There are no stand up comedian squirrels. To reduce my ambitions to what my biology urges want from me is to deny my humanity. But on top of being misguided, this point is also uninformed. As a member of society I interact with a great many people. These interactions will leave impressions and influence future behaviour of those I encounter. Behavioural adaptation is just as key to evolution as its physical counterpart. If anything, it’s more important, as I will show in answering a related rebuttal:

“No one will carry on your name”

It amuses me when a group claiming moral superiority uses an appeal to vanity to justify their position. I can think of no greater example of hubris than the thought, “Humanity needs MY genetics, or the world is lost!” And it’s just so very stupid. Humans are all related and it doesn’t matter.

Milton Glaser poster

Like “races”, names are superficial and empty divisions. As a species, we get a common ancestor for all humanity every 2000 years or so. That is, a couple millennia ago there was a person that everyone alive today is related to. There is someone alive today that will be related to every single person alive in the year 4000 (assuming we last that long). On top of that, an individuals genetics is completely washed out of the gene pool in about 1000 years. For a species that’s around 300,000 years old, that’s a pretty quick reset rate. Thus, individually, you breeders will have about as much affect on future generations as I will. Or perhaps, as I go about my day trying to make the world a better place while you’re busy cleaning up poop, my life efforts will be more long lasting and beneficial to the species than yours will.

“If everyone followed your lead, humanity would end!”

This one overestimates my leadership to an embarrassing degree. It is never the case that everyone follows my lead. It doesn’t matter how often I’m right, or how much I support my position, people just don’t want to listen. Even if, somehow, this is the one time in my life I end up being a global trend setter, humanity will not be in danger. Biology will ensure there will still be accidental conceptions. The rare few people who actually should be parents and who want to be parents will still go ahead. The only possible result of my views being well received is that there are fewer humans born, especially fewer humans doomed to an existence of pain and misery. “Yeah, but what if??” Ok, fine. Humanity ceases to be. So what? It’s not like we’re the nicest species about. From a very interesting anti-natalism article, David Benatar writes, “If any other species caused as much damage as humans do, we would think it wrong to breed new members of that species”. Or, if you’re more inclined towards pop culture references

While this might be considered a bit pessimistic, the reasoning is fairly solid. The human race will eventually die out. The question of ‘when’ only really matters to whatever organisms that happen to continue to exist after our demise. From their point of view, would it be better if our inevitable extinction came sooner or later? And from our perspective, would we rather come to some abrupt horrific end, or gradually dwindle our population to zero? I’d say the latter sounds more pleasant by far.

Wrap Up

And there are the three stages dealt with. The Breeder’s grab bag of cookie cutter responses and anecdotal reasoning is nothing more than a flimsy veil, covering arrogance and insecurity. To the rare exceptions out there that actual do well at parenting and truly enjoy it, I must tip my hat. Their contributions to their children, and ultimately society as a whole, cannot be understated. But to The Breeder, I say this: those great parents are in the minority. Most people should never breed, especially if they must be coerced into doing so. The raising of children is just too critical a job to be placed in the hands of the inept. Forsake your romantic notions and myths surrounding procreation. At the very least, leave us non-breeders be while you mindlessly multiply us into oblivion.

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