Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

The subject of procreation has come up so many times in the past few days (no, really!) that I felt compelled to write a little bit about it. I may repeat myself a little bit, so if I do, I apologize. I don't want kids. Not at all. My wife doesn't want kids either. So we plan not to have any. Is this right? Will I regret it?

I doubt it. I can foresee no situation in which I will wish I had had some kids, and I can see many in which I would regret having them. I don't think that this is a bad thing at all. It isn't as though my zero contribution to the population will cause the human race to crumble. There are plenty of people who are willing to pick up my slack.

If anything, I am helping society; by removing one or two potential reproducers from the world (potentially removing, of course) I may have reduced the world's future population by as many as a few dozen. There is, of course, the Idiocracy argument, which does seem to hold some water:
Don't think that I haven't thought of this, although the reasoning that goes into this argument is more comedic than logical. By far the most common argument that I hear is that I'll change my mind. Which isn't really an argument, even though it is framed as one. The reasoning goes that I should not do anything drastic or make too many public statements (like this one) that I'll regret and have to renounce when I do, in fact, change my mind and decide that I'd like to add a child to the world after all. Tellingly, the very people who insist that I might change my mind on having children are the people who also warn about how much trouble a new puppy is.

The very idea that I might change my mind is a little insulting, although I can see where it comes from. Humans, as biological beings, reproduce. We love to have sex, which leads to children; plus we love to have babies. And it may be true that most people do love to have babies. But I am very grateful that I live in a world where I do not have to have babies. I am not required to, nor is it really in my best interests to do so. A century ago, perhaps, it might have been more advantageous to have a child or two - someone new to help around the house or carry on the family business; two or three centuries further back the need for children may have been to work the land; beyond that, since life expectancy was so low, human civilization really did rely on producing as many offspring as possible. But in the 21st century society in which I am a happy participant, there is no reason to have children. Sure, if everyone thought as I do, the human race would grind to a halt within a century or less, but it is clear that that will not happen.

Currently, the world population is at 6.7 billion. This number is expected to nearly double by 2050. I would love to see some kind of population control put in place, although the thought of enforcing this conjures up ugly images of police states. Still, tax penalties on families with more than two children might not be a bad place to start...

But my point isn't that my inaction will save the planet, but that if I am a part of a larger trend, then that is not really a bad thing at all. And seen in this bigger picture, idiots like the Duggars, who treat their wombs like carnival rides, suddenly look just a little bit selfish.

Yuck! Honestly, I am glad that my complete anti-child attitude surprises people, because it is encouraging. If the standard response was "How selfish! Nobody wants kids, but we all have to do our part," then I might reconsider. Because it is, essentially, a selfish act on my part. I don't want kids because they don't fit into my lifestyle (or budget) and I don't feel the need to have a family because my mind is not set up that way. I have my wife with me, who is my best friend, and our love of each other and life is more than enough for me.

So have kids if you must. But not too many. The world is full to bursting as it is.

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