No Child Left Behind

What would you do

if someone you hardly knew told you that he or she was going to be a parent soon? Would you say things such as “Oh that’s so wonderful, congratulations!” or “Oh my, I am so happy for you”? No one ever thinks about it, but is there more to such stereotypical reactions than just dogma? Don’t we say something positive because we think we have to? The question is: what is so great about having a child?

First of all,

let us consider the importance of reproduction for human beings. Not all people, but certainly most of them, want to have a child – but why? Moreover, why are people devastated when they are told that they are not capable of having a child? Do we really define ourselves over reproductive success? The paradox is that we humans like to claim that we are more than just animals. We have culture, reason, empathy – and yet, we hang on to the most primitive instinct: the instinct to reproduce. Reproducing is almost as self evident for anyone’s life as dying. All arguments about the beauty of birth have one major disadvantage: they are based on selfish intentions. After all, I want a child that I can raise, that will keep me company and that will love me. Of course, the child cannot be asked if it wants to be born or not which is exactly why having a baby is always a selfish action.

So, why is it so great to give birth?

It is certainly not a difficult or great accomplishment one has to do a lot for. Sex is not that hard – even children could do it if they weren’t taught properly how to use contraceptives. Every animal can reproduce via sex. In and out – that’s all. The spermatozoids will find their way by themselves – and the fertilized egg does not depend on the aid of its bearer either in order to develop into an embryo. Even birth itself is not the challenge that it used to be due to modern medicine. So, unless a disease or anomalies that one was born with leave this person incapable of making a child, really everyone can do it.

Objectively, is it even good

to add to the vast numbers of human beings? In accordance to recent figures of the United Nations, about one billion people around the globe are starving. In addition, the destruction of the environment continues with an ever increasing pace and it is becoming clearer and clearer that we are exceeding what our planet is able to give. The reason that life seems to be pretty normal for us is that the rich nations will be the last to face the consequences of our irresponsible anthropogenic actions. However, droughts, floods, fires, rising sea levels, etc. are actual events that increase in intensity and regularity. So called climate refugees that have to leave their formerly habitable lands will be one of the greatest challenges worldwide in the near future. Still, one could say: “What does my child have to do with the problems elsewhere in the world?” Well, many poor people are poor because we exploit them. The more of us there are, the more exploitation will be necessary in order to maintain our standard of living. In addition, through our energy demand and consumption, we are the people who harm the planet the most per capita. Don’t point at the smokers in China when Americans or Western Europeans on average still use at least five times as much energy as the Chinese or Indians do. So, more of us means more damage to the environment.

So far

this entry just sounds like a cold hearted, child hating pamphlet. So let’s bring some empathy in – and that, in fact, is the most crucial point I want to make. If you compliment someone you don’t know well for being a parent, do you even know if the child will be treated well? Do you know if the child will go hungry, be beat, get sick, be neglected, or worse? Why do we carelessly connect the simple notion that two human beings have reproduced with something positive? Maybe the mother smoke or drank during the pregnancy, causing her child to start off with a handicap. Maybe the child will have a miserable life (as I am sure many children do) without love and care. How dare we complement the people who could possibly put a poor little creature into such a position? What about all of those people who want to commit suicide and who wish they had never been born? Of course, I am not talking about good friends where one can actually evaluate how well of a parent they might be. I am talking about the spontaneous positive reaction one feels obliged to present when someone else has reproduced even though they might not know each other well.

It all boils down to this:

there are certainly people who would be horrible parents and who would make life for their children hell on earth. Why should they be able to reproduce? Why is there such a taboo when it comes to questioning the right of any human being to reproduce? Is it our religious burden that we shall reproduce and prosper that makes reproducing considered a good virtue? Or is it simply the dominance of our primitive instincts? Of course, if reproduction was limited, the most difficult question would be how to go about defining who should be able to reproduce and who shouldn’t. Well, in my opinion it would be a good start if people who have done horrible things to children wouldn’t be able to have children themselves. After all, what kind of life would be probable for the offspring of someone who murdered, raped, or molested children?

One of the fundamental problems

is that children too often in public debates are not considered as the wonderful and valuable beings that they are but instead as manpower. In many parts around the world it is totally normal and acceptable that children are used as cheap labor. Even in our societies some apologetics are trying to rationalize this kind of behavior. After all, what choice do their parents have? Without social support in poor countries, they depend on the work of their children to get by. Seriously? Is that supposed to justify this habit? You are miserable and in a tough spot, so you give birth knowing that your own blood will have to live under these horrible circumstances as well? If you need a good example for why reproducing is a selfish act, this is it. Humans, be selfless for once and do not reproduce! Show some compassion – and love! It might mean your own death, but it will end the vicious cycle of misery and suffering from generation to generation. If you are sick of your own life, how could you give birth with a clear conscious, putting the next generation in the same misery? Well, humans do so because in many ways we are primitive animals that just feel the urge to reproduce. With more reason within our species, many problems caused by overpopulation wouldn’t bother us today.

Even in our countries

children are often considered as manpower first and as living beings second. What is the number one reason for the public to keep the babies coming? We need children to maintain our economy and our society. Ah, what a decent reason – and what an appreciation for our offspring that is! Take Germany. Population growth came to a halt several years ago. The number of 82 million inhabitants doesn’t change much from one year to the next. Due to increased life expectancy, the German population is aging. So, our politicians are very busy changing laws in order to encourage people to have children. After all, they paint dark pictures of a collapsing welfare state if too few young workers are left to pay for the elderly and needy. This train of thought comes with two major ramifications: first, increasing the population now by having more children would do nothing but shift the ultimate problem to the next generation. With even more old people in the future the problem would just get bigger and even more children would be needed to satisfy the all-embracing principle of infinite growth. Everything has its limitations – and a path of ever more and faster growth will not solve anything but lead us towards more serious problems instead. Second, and this reason alone should count, if a politician is carelessly asking for more children, does he care a bit under which circumstances they will be born? If a child wouldn’t have the chance to live a happy and fulfilled life, it shouldn’t be born – and as mentioned earlier, many people won’t offer the requirements for a happy and fulfilled life to their offspring. Independent of the need for workers, children are human beings with feelings, aspirations, and dreams. If they are not born for love only, they shouldn’t be born at all!

The bottom line

is not that I think no one should have children anymore, but I do think that in the face of the global problems caused by overpopulation, reproduction should be limited. Moreover, I would hope that more of those babies that come into being are born for the right reasons – not for work, the maintenance of a society that they couldn’t choose, or for selfish reasons of their parents. Children are helpless in that they cannot choose their parents. The whole responsibility for the child-parent relationship therefore rests on the shoulders of the mothers and fathers. They should be aware of it. Being able to have a child should not be taken for granted – but considered as a duty towards a helpless living being instead.



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