September 19, 2012

Excerpt from Families Are Formed Through Copulation


People, stop having children. You are not doing yourselves or the world any good. Take the energies you would have spent on child-rearing and use them instead to fight American imperialism. The world is not as it used to be. Before you know it your children will be taken from you and indoctrinated in the ways of bad cartoons, over-priced toys, short attention spans, violent video games, stupid television and the endless misinformation of the internet. Stop for a moment and think. There are too many people in the world already. There is too much of everything. Your children will learn nothing from you. Is what you know really so valuable or important? People, stop having children. You think you are being generous but really you are only being selfish. You are doing it only to add surplus, disingenuous meaning to your already basically meaningless lives or as an unwitting slave of primitive biology. Your children will not look after you when you are old. They will be too busy trying to fend for themselves within the unyieldingly harsh economic realities you have created for them. Don’t worry, the species will continue. Even if every single person who reads these words were to convince one hundred of their closest friends to stop having children still the species will continue. So people, stop having children. We must all stop and think. What are we actually doing? We are following a script. But is the script well written, does it serve the best interests of humanity? We have been following this script for thousands of years and look where we are today. Things are not going well. Well, I say lets change the script and stop having children. I am not simply trying to justify my own pathetic little life. This is a real question and each and every one of us must ask ourselves: Will the children I rear add anything to the world or will they only take up space? I’m not saying babies aren’t cute, aren’t adorable, aren’t desirable commodities, perhaps the most desirable commodity any young couple could possibly hope for. But we must look at the bigger picture. The planet is not infinite. In fact nothing is infinite. Infinity is a term we use to denote an impossible space. Infinity cannot be filled and yet we procreate as if it could be.

People, stop having children. Let me tell you a story. There is a first world and a third world. In the third world they have lots of children and in the first world we have few. So that’s all right you might think quietly to yourself. The few babies we do have do not contribute significantly to the problem. And yet every baby we create contributes directly to the already considerable misery of children and adults alike half way around the world. Everything we buy, every choice we make. Let me tell you another story. There was a young couple and they got married and had children. The couple were extremely liberal in both their thoughts and actions and thought that by raising their two children within the enlightenment tradition of their liberal ideas they could, in their own small and humane fashion, make the world a better place. But their children were rebellious and, perhaps only out of misguided spite, grew up to espouse the most pernicious of conservative, pseudo-right-wing doctrines. The parents were heartbroken but their heartbreak was merely the result of naiveté. Your children might also rebel, might also grow up to represent the antithesis of everything you stand for and believe in and what are you going to do about it. People, stop having children. The world we have created will not tolerate their still unformed humanity. The world we have created will destroy them and you will be at least partly responsible, or you will feel responsible, or you won’t feel responsible but you should. Fascists believe in having children. Nazis believe in having children. Peasants believe in having children and it is time for us to get beyond all of that. And I want to be perfectly clear on this next point: the problem is not children. The problem is adults. But without children there would be no adults. And without adults there would be no children. And the cycle must be broken. As often as possible. Let me now outline what I hope we can all agree is a common enough scenario. A woman of childbearing age attends her younger sister’s wedding during the course of which she is cornered by a distant relative she neither knows very well nor particularly likes. “So when’s your turn,” asks the relative, who is also perhaps more than a little bit drunk by this point in the late afternoon, meaning of course when will it be your turn to get married. The woman of childbearing age attempts to be polite, dodging the question, claiming she doesn’t really know, when the right man comes along, etc. But the drunk relative is insistent: “Of course you’re planning to have children,” she continues, “you must be planning to have children.” The woman of childbearing age has no immediate plans for children but doesn’t want to cause a scene. “Yeah, maybe some day,” she shrugs. Trying to be polite, trying to be evasive, wanting to leave this wedding and go back to a life in which human interaction is more familiar and ironic and benign. “No, not some day. You have to have them now, when you’re still young, while you still have the energy. If you wait, if you wait…” the drunken relative trails off. Perhaps she has no children of her own. Or perhaps her children are all grown up and not treating her with the love and respect she knows in her heart she deserves. “You have to have children,” the relative says, “you just have to.” But she’s wrong.

This text was written by a child who was never born. And you might think that because I was never born I’d be bitter or unhappy but you too would be wrong. Not having been born was the most perfect, wonderful, humane, enlightened thing to have ever happened to me. I am little more than a thought, a bit of whimsy, a pre-copulatory, never conceived twinkle in the eye of no one in particular and here is what I have learned. Nothing exists in isolation. Everything exists in relation to something else. If something is good it is only good in relation to something else that is less good. If we can all agree with this premise we can see that there exists a sort of sliding scale of human endeavours in which the best thing is never to have been born, the next best thing is to be born but live your life without doing any harm, and the next best thing is to be born, do some harm but never to reproduce. To be honest it gets a little fuzzy after that. Life can be so difficult. But never having been born is a piece of cake.

[The above is one section from my book Families Are Formed Through Copulation published by Pedlar Press in 2007. As well, some other Jacob Wren Links.]


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