Children don’t always live


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/28/children-dont-always-live.html


#2

Sometimes all of humanity is your family that keeps you going… Hereditary and sexual links are just a convenient thought structure, and it limits your life quite a bit…


#3

It’s worth a read if you can muster your courage.

I can’t, ashamed to say. Too much recent death in my life to weather it.

I can comment on your feelings, though. I have those feelings sometimes, and my daughter is alive and well, off at university. I struggle with what is holding me down, even knowing she is there. I think we get so focused on duty as parents, that when we are relived of that duty, no matter the cause… well, it’s an enormous empty spot. Those things we set aside to be parents no longer have much importance. I dealt with a divorce at the same time my daughter was becoming an adult, so everything turned upside down.

I recall a story, probably completely mythical, about a nomadic people who carried a stick, and when they settled for the evening the planted the stick in the ground and that was the center of the world. To “lose your stick” was to be lost in the world.

To be honest I have completely “lost my stick”. I wish I had an answer.


#4

Nope. Not reading that. I was barely tethered to this place before kids, anything happens I’m gone. What scares me is if something happened to one of them, could I still be the parent the other would need? I have severe doubts about that.


#5

As a non-parent, this seems like an odd question.

What bound you to the earth before you had a child?

I live alone, and find importance in my own interests.

I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be devastating; I have lost a parent, and I can only imagine losing a child would be monumentally worse.

I’ve spent the past several years trying to bring myself to a place where I’m happy alone, since it’s becoming fundamentally clear that my imperfections and emptiness need to be filled from within, not without. And maybe, some day, I’ll find someone to share that happiness with, and we’ll have children of our own.

It might be that parenthood changes you, but I can’t see the difference between the question, “Why is life worth living if I lose my kids?” to be different from “Why is life worth living if I never have kids?” And, since I don’t (and may never) have kids, and still see life as extremely worth living, I’m having trouble understanding the whole concept behind the question.


#6

Procreation is immoral - end the cycle of death and suffering.

"Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter.
And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
But better than both
is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.
"

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 NIV


#7

My friend, you need a British Garden Shed to invent things in and while away the time.

Impress your daughter in some months with your matchstick ship building skills, or luthiery, or the commencement of a book.

None of activities may be properly accomplished outside the walls of a garden shed, sir.


#8

The former Catholic in me wants to respond:

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

  • Genesis 1:28

“As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”

  • Genesis 9:7

God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.”

  • Genesis 35:11

The present agnostic in me wants to say:
“Procreation is immoral? That’s quite the assertion. Do you have anything other than 2,200+ year old poetry to back up that assertion?”


#9

I have to think about this. It’s the most monumentally wrong comparison I’ve read in ages, but I want to give you the best answer I can.


#10

Fair enough. I’d be quite grateful to learn how parenthood changes a parent’s perspective of what makes life living. As I said, it’s something that might happen in my future, and, before I make that decision, it would be best to know what exactly I’d be signing up for.


#11

My brother took his own life in his late 30s, and this devastated my parents as it did us. They seem to have recovered, but seem is the operative word here.

My son, almost 7, is severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. I’ve prepared him, taught him, and drilled into him everything I can to protect him and do everything I can to keep him safe, I’ve manipulated everyone around him with promises, smiles and threats in order to safeguard him, but it’s not possible for me to be there every second of his life and just the thought that he might have a reaction and go into anaphylactic shock paralyzes me. I don’t know what I would do if something happened.

Yeah, being a parent sucks because being a parent is so amazing and awesome and funny and wonderful and warm and full of love the vast majority of the time.


#12

Huh?

Okay, maybe there’s something specific about parenthood that I’m just unable to get, because that sentence parses to me as "Yeah, hot chocolate sucks because hot chocolate is warm and creamy and delicious.[/quote]


#13
  1. The Bible’s wisdom is sporadic. As an ignostic atheist, I don’t look to Christian doctrine for justification of my antinatalist beliefs. That happens to be a wise and concise passage.
  2. Yes, as argued in the YouTube video I posted. If you don’t have children, they will not in any way be harmed by their nonexistence (e.g. they won’t miss out on the beauty of sunsets or the fun of riding a skateboard because they won’t exist to be harmed by not experiencing those things). On the other hand, if you do create them, they are certain to suffer some harm and quite likely to suffer excruciating, deep, terrible suffering. When you create a new person, you create a new center of suffering. If humanity died out, how could that be a bad thing since no one would exist to be harmed by it? You can never create a new person for their sake, as they don’t have a sake to begin with. Willful procreation pretty much always involves using children as a means to an end - usually for the selfish joy and psychological fulfillment of the parent.




#14

if you can muster your courage…

Fuck no.

I never knew true anxiety and fear until I became a parent. On the one hand, it’s nice to finally understand what my parents were going through as I grew up- I have a new appreciation that allows me to see their “unreasonable” actions/reactions in a whole different light.

Oh, but the horror… it’s an interminable onslaught of “what ifs” and uncertainty. Of wanting to prepare your child for a life independent from you, and still wanting to protect him/her from all the perils, embarrassment, major and minor affronts, etc., that await him.

I can’t.


#15

On the bright side, the death of a child is now seen as uncommon and horrifying.

200 years ago it was an unfortunate, but fairly common occurrence. Hell 100 years ago it was still much more common than now.


#16

Maybe I’ll try and do this piecemeal, as I don’t know I can formulate a definitive answer.

The first thought is no, it might not be so different for you. That’s not a judgement, it’s recognition of the wide variation in humans.

I’m prone to intrusive thoughts, so this is a scenario I’ve run through hundreds of times, and I know what the answer is for me. I’m losing a parent right now. It hurts, but it’s a hurt I know would be completely eclipsed by the loss of my child.

It’s the bonding that takes place that you would never miss if you did not have children. Don’t think of it as filling a void somehow, but as an expansion of what you are that would leave a jagged hole should be ripped away. It’s the loss of potential. It’s the death of hope that you feed into that child.


#17

If a seven year old were to knowingly see the penultimate human perish before them, they would gladly offer themselves to accept the totality of the suffering of our race to have the company of another person.

Where there is life, there is hope.

And as those familiar with me know, I have no religious leanings.


#18

That’s an awfully nihilistic view of the universe.

I guess it comes down to the question of: Is being alive more good than bad to a person, or more bad than good?

There’s only one life for which I have enough data to make that judgement: my own. I see my being alive as a net benefit to myself. I think that I have had more positive experiences than negative ones. I admit that it’s a small data set, but extrapolating from that data point of one, and in the absence of an adequate amount of contradictory data, I have to assume that being alive will be a net benefit to any child I have as well.

Now, I’m going to ask you a question, and I want to make sure that you interpret the question correctly. I am not suggesting any course of action for you, or suggesting that the world would be better off without your presence. I honestly believe that every human being, every life, every distinct viewpoint is a benefit to humanity. With that in mind, I’d like to know:

Since you seem to believe that life is suffering, and, being an atheist, you don’t have any expectation of an afterlife, what keeps you going? Your point of view seems to be that being alive is a bad thing, to the point where creating a new life and causing them to be alive is itself immoral. So, given the option, why don’t you end your own life?

Again, I’m not suggesting you do so, and I’d really rather you didn’t. You’re bringing an interesting perspective into this discussion, and I just want to explore it. Life is good for me, and so I want to continue. If life isn’t good, what keeps you going?


#19

You don’t love hot chocolate the way you love a human, and hot chocolate doesn’t run into the street without looking. The rewards, and the stakes, are too far beyond to compare to Swiss Miss.


#20

It also goes against billions of years of evolution.