Children: Being Child-Free Is the Best Decision of My Life #atozchallenge

C: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Dependents and the Letter C for Children: Being Child-Free Is the Best Decision of My Life

Never had the biological urge to have a baby, a child. I distinctly remember hearing some sorority students talking about their biological clocks while I passed them in the hallway back in college. It was at that moment that I asked myself if my reason and intellect was able to rise above any biological urge I might feel in the future, if for no other reason than to distance myself as far as possible from the women having that conversation. I could. I never looked back.

I remember this as a moment of clarity, but it probably was more a culmination of thoughts that crystallized in that instant, because I never have been one to make impulsive decisions, certainly not about the most serious decision anyone can ever make. I mean, who would bring a child into the world to fill a void of external love, to not feel lonely, to keep a mate, secure a marriage, to give the child you already have a playmate or a “spare” should one die, so your ego can see how your DNA looks combined with another, to keep your “unique” DNA living after death, for the hope of having a caregiver when you are old, because your religion or other outside pressures tell you to do it or to ensure our species 7+ billion strong will survive? No one, right? Those are selfish and pathetic reasons rooted in nothing more than one’s ego. And any decision we make based in the ego or insecurity is a poor one and will certainly lead to difficulties. The only sound reason to have a baby is because you want your life’s primary focus to be the nurturing, cherishing, teaching and raising to independence someone from conception to adulthood, so that he or she will live happily and contribute positively. The ego is at the core of this reason, too, but at least puts the child ahead of you.

I won’t win fans from people with kids (adoptive parents excluded) by writing this. But if you are offended then your reason(s) for the birth was probably one of those I noted above. I stand by my claim. No single factor is the cause or the exacerbation for every social ill. Not all cultures have the awareness of the burden of our human population on the Earth but Americans do. And if these words make one person stop to consider this decision, it is worth it.

It is primarily a biological urge. And we override those all the time. We adapt our biological urges to live in a society by suppressing the urge to kill someone who is annoying or threatening, the urge to have sex with attractive strangers we encounter or the urge to grab food from a vendor without waiting to pay for it when we are hungry. You might laugh but learning to curb our biological urge to reproduce may end up being the only suppressed urge left to save our species. The exponential rate of the human population is the reason all our planetary ills are happening at an accelerated rate, from hunger to global warming to rising sea levels and deforestation. More people, more suffering. As my geology teacher said when I was undergrad, “There is no such thing as a natural disaster. What makes what happens naturally a disaster is how it affects humans.” 

It’s a just figure of speech to call childbirth a “miracle,” but there are four human births every second of every day. A miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t understand babies come via natural and scientific processes. If you still think babies are miracles, then society, science and your parents have failed you miserably! I know Merriam-Webster’s dictionary now has included the common misuse of the word “literally,” which is the literal opposite of what literally means, but the only reason someone would intentionally call childbirth a miracle is for religious reasons or to elevate this common occurrence in nature to give it a mystique. Calling childbirth a miracle makes it a whole lot easier for one of our two political parties to make abortion sound like an abhorrent crime, though, doesn’t it?

By now I have turned off or offended someone. But we do ourselves grave damage unless we stop acting like fetishists toward babies. I am glad the occasional comedian talks about this. Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman and a few others have commented on society’s baby obsessions. Personal ads often say they seek a person who “must love children.” I don’t know anyone who hates children but that question is more about finding someone to share in parenting than the degree someone actually loves all children. If our society really and truly loved children and the grown up ones, we wouldn’t let them starve, be sick or homeless. It reminds me of the question, “Do you believe in God?” which reSamanthaally means, “Do you believe in my god?” Let’s be honest, some kids are about as pleasant to be around as some adults! I like and love adults, children and infants to varying degrees of their appeal. Isn’t that more honest? And thank you, “Sex In the City’s” Samantha who, having heard about Miranda’s screaming, colicky child, said of her son, “[T]his one sounds like an asshole.” (13:04 to 13:10 has the line I mentioned: http://watchseries.cr/series/sex-and-the-city/season/5/episode/6) Hey, some infants, kids and adults are assholes! 

Deciding to be child-free is far and above the best decisions I ever made. In retrospect, I should thank that flock of college women with their silly talk about their biological clocks. But no other decision better reflects my morality and politics. Nothing would demonstrate my hypocrisy about my concerns for the planet more than if I had a child. Selfish? I don’t think so. Not having a child has the greatest, positive impact on our planet – even more than not eating animal products. Now, I’m not a perfect reflection of my values but I can defend my stances with those two big contributors! I am extremely lucky my parents did not so much as mentioned whether they wanted their genetics to live on in perpetuity or plant that famous guilt line, “Some day when you have kids of your own…” They neither gave me their insistence or their opinion about this most personal choice. They raised me right!

And I won’t have to worry or witness a child whose existence I caused face the struggles for clean water, food, temperate weather, land and economic shortages to come in his or her lifetime. I don’t know what I’m missing? I submit the same to you.

Over Population Rifts, Hissy Fits and Fertile Bits

The issue of this planet’s global, human population divided my beloved progressive, morning radio show host and some of his listeners, including me about a month ago. It occurred during a discussion of mass transit, which included his remark of our need to prepare for what soon will be five million people in this metro area, from today’s three million. That prompted a caller to remark that population growth is a root problem. He seemed impatient with her at first, perhaps because she was taking him off topic, but I sensed there was more to it. And when she began her sentence, ”Let’s start with a population of three billion,” he ended her call in what seemed mid-sentence and suggested she was implying mass genocide. He continued to comment about her poorly phrased remark as extreme and her position unsound. I could hear the passion in his voice as he defended his interpretation of the caller’s words.

He began the following day’s show on the same topic. I listened very carefully. I heard his passion. Perhaps I have never heard him so passionate. He read several tweets of support of his dismissal of the caller’s impassioned words and agreement that she wanted to annihilate four billion people, calling it “scary stuff, controlling of the population, …supporting surgical radiating” and “forced abortions” and “…die offs of black death magnitude.” Gee, he seemed upset.

He asked, “Where does this global mentality come from?” adding, “The worst laws [sic] worldwide, is a one child law,” adding he didn’t want to be taxed more “because I want three kids.” (He has three kids.) He adamantly contended the planet could “easy” sustain “seven billion and more” and surmised any mitigating problems now seen as a result of global population by many experts were only because of human greed. He did not broach whether curtailing population growth was a valid point of view, but rather contended the planet will “welcome” another billion “easily.” I’ve never heard him stop his ordinarily nuanced reasoning on a major issue – major issue for many – with the notion that we just needed to remove human greed. He said he closed discussion with a tweeter who defended the caller. He didn’t block my tweets because I wasn’t confrontational. What good would that do, anyway? And I respect him and do not want to lose civility or our friendship.

Even on that second day, it seemed he had not researched the topic, or he would have seen pretty quickly that experts who contend many global problems are caused by too many people have well established “three billion” is the maximum, sustainable number to prevent the global problems. Those of us who are closely engaged with this issue understand the “three billion” number and I believe the caller meant, “Let’s start the discussion” of the population topic, not, “Let’s start by wiping out four billion people.” Had she been able to finish her premise, she might have said something about how many problems would disappear or be greatly alleviated. We will never know. And I’ve heard a lot of suggestions for how to reduce population growth from http://www.populationmatters.org/ but never proactive human extinction! Reducing birth death rates through health care and vaccinations, increasing opportunity for women to financially support themselves, sex education and reducing poverty and starvation and the wars they cause, yes, but never mass kills.

I agree with him on practically every other issue he has discussed and appreciate his well thought ideas. He believes the easy access to firearms is wrong and dangerous. Check. He opposes puppy mills and animal abuse. Check. He opposes taxes funding professional sports’ facilities. Check. He believes taxes should go to infrastructure, health and education and not foreign wars and the military. Check, check, check and check. And on these other topics, his position may include or imply greed as a root factor, but he never makes that a cornerstone of his position and always includes thoughtful discussions of policy and personal behavior as solutions, like invest in green energy, strengthen gun laws, increase penalties for animal abuse, etc. Perhaps in a moment of missed phallic irony, he did say because wealthy people make money off gun sales, we have “all our gun shootings…instead of going out and solving the problem.” If he contends the rich and powerful don’t want to help the human suffering caused by people shooting their guns, you would think he could see a parallel to seven billion people shooting baby seeds! Maybe it’s just me. I think that’s hilarious!

Masses

 

The radio host didn’t say what we should do about human suffering while we work on eliminating greed, but I suspect he would suggest or has suggested taxes on fossil fuels (Ironically because the excess is damaging), incentives for clean energy, improving agriculture efficiency and building mass transit, among other things. I believe changing the hearts and minds of those driven by greed is far more challenging and daunting than we have time to correct. I also believe people are the single factor that exacerbates all other problems, including but not limited to famine, disease, deforestation, fossil fuel use, global warming, traffic jams, high unemployment, low wages, excessive manufacturing, overcrowding, infrastructure, prisons, schools, bridges, roads, urban sprawl, poverty, war and greed.

But I already knew where he stood on this topic long before that day. I didn’t know he would be quite so reactionary but I am not surprised. I have faced much more extreme remarks dozens of times throughout my life, as an outspoken, anti-genocide, zero population growth supporter. So why did I know in advance this day would come when the subject of human population would prompt the position he gave? First, I knew where he stood because of his life experience and his personal filters. We all have them. At least once a month, he will preface a statement with, “I’m Catholic but you do or don’t do what you do or don’t want to do,” honestly disclosing what some may see as his bias. He is also married and has fathered three children. His role as a father is paramount, as it should be. He shares stories of his love for his family and his role as husband and father. He’s a good guy! But his remark about being taxed “because I want three kids,” made his life filter very clear.

Like people who have babies, he is rewarded by the status quo in our tax system which encourages reproduction with tax deductions. Further, his remark that the worst law is a one child law, presumably referring to China, also revealed his position that people who reproduce should be rewarded through tax incentives. Instead of tax breaks for each baby born, China taxes per person, applying the logic that more people use more resources. They were overwhelmed with people! It was crushing them. They would not agree that they could handle unfettered human multiplying through changing the hearts and minds of the greedy wealthy.

Now, as a child-free person, I think my taxes are unfair but I accept that I pay taxes for an educated populace, even though I would prefer we prevent more births so we’d need fewer schools and could spend more per kid! But if I applied his logic to not penalizing him because he “want[s} three kids,” should I not be as upset by being taxed the same as he when I have no kids using schools, playgrounds, resources, fuel and roads to be driven places? I suspect he sees his kids a great value to society, which justifies needing and using more resources and the tax break. No offense to anyone’s kids, but I don’t. I don’t think more is the answer. More, untethered growth in nature is called cancer. No, I am not calling your kids a cancer. But I am calling our overpopulated planet a cancer to the planet.

Be fruitful and multiply is not a well-kept secret quote from the Bible. Mission accomplished.

 

 

 

Population: Fruitful Mission Accomplished #atozchallenge

I tend to approach issues at their root cause to find objective solutions and often use the “Conditional Formula,” meaning, “if this, then that.” Therefore when it comes to social and political issues, my life-long, number-one issue is the human population, because there is not one problem that isn’t rooted in our ability to manage 7+ billion humans. I figured someone has to opt out. So I did.

I, hereby, out myself with this deeply-held conviction. Not to compare or minimize what LGBTQ folks endure, but as a straight woman in a society with a near idolatry of all things children, I usually keep my position to myself, thus feeling closeted. I’m a liberal and believe in free will and understand the human desire for fulfillment through parenting. I understand for those with children nothing is more important in life, as nothing should be. I derive an equal level of joy knowing I am mitigating my impact on this planet the best way one can and in alignment with my core principle. I don’t hate children but I don’t want any. Nor do I think that 250 live human births every minute is a miracle. But I do think describing natural, human biology as a miracle is part of the problem. My parents raised me with free will and not only abhorred the idea of imposing one’s beliefs upon another, applauded and agreed with my decision. However I have been chastised and ostracized.

PopulationBabiesThanks to the Internet, I don’t feel quite as alone as I used to with my choice, although most of my friends (no coincidence) don’t have kids, either. The “childless” stigma has abated somewhat in America but is far less taboo in Europe. I share my choice with Helen Mirren, Gloria Steinem, Stevie Nicks, Oprah Winfrey, Chelsea Handler, Jennifer Aniston, Ashley Judd, Marisa Tomei, Margaret Cho, Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres, Dolly Parton, Katharine Hepburn, Betty White, Lily Tomlin, Anjelica Huston, Liza Minnelli, Kim Cattrall, Candace Bushnell, Cameron Diaz, Zooey Deschanel and lots of not famous women, all who have spoken out about their choice. (Guys, not that you don’t count because you have options, you just don’t have a womb.) Fortunately being first-world females, we have the choice and the ability to live and support ourselves without needing a husband and a family for sustainability.

While I realize there is more emotion tied to human procreation, I submit it took decades to convince the majority that the responsible thing to do was to spay and neuter dogs and cats to avoid over-population. Except for a few who still breed animals for financial profit (and the dopes who support the industry), this is now the norm. Human overpopulation is far more devastating and we have long surpassed the tipping point to our survival. I know how gloom and doom this sounds to some and I know how defensive people get about this. Unfortunately, every reason I chose for not having children has come true and at a faster rate than predicted. We’ve long passed our planet’s optimal maximum for sustainable quality life (depending upon the study, sustainability is between 1.5 and 3.5 billion) well over fifty years ago. Life as we know it, as we are living, is simply unsustainable. But let’s see if my premise is correct; that population is the root to all our problems:

The environment. First, the only reason we call a “natural disaster” a disaster is because it causes harm to people. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, forest fires, floods, blizzards, mudslides, volcanoes are natural events. But the more people inhabiting the planet, the greater nature’s impact upon us. But the actual, poisonous damage done to the planet is human caused. And the faster we use up our planet’s resources, the harder it will be to continue to sustain 7+ billion. The western world may feel cushioned but not so for island nations in the pacific that are disappearing under water due to the ice cap melt. Still, Florida is raising their highways because of rising water levels, while California is in a drought and has a year of water in reserve. Our ecosystem depends on the rain forests, which is vanishing at a rate of 80,000 acres a day as land and lumber is needed. Fifty thousand species go extinct every year. Our meat-eating costs an exorbitant amount of land, water and resources. And we continue to disregard the need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

Drought

The more people, the easier to exploit labor with more people than jobs. Wages fall. More people means more traffic and more aggressive wear and tear on roads and bridges. The more people, the more hungry mouths to feed and the higher cost to produce more food. And poor countries have a higher death rate so people have more babies so some make it to adulthood. So the birth rates in poorer countries is much higher, putting a bigger drain on limited food and water. One third of our global population is under 20 years old and in under-developed, poor countries. We are in military conflicts for natural resources (oil), which is depleted faster due to more people. And the Syrian conflict is actually over water.

Of course there are other factors that impact society’s problems. But the suffering is greater on 7 billion than three billion. It breaks my heart what we did to this beautiful planet. I know no decision we make is more personal. But it also has the greatest impact.

P Is For Population #atozchallenge

I tend to approach issues at their root cause to find objective solutions and often use the “Conditional Formula,” meaning, “if this, then that.” Therefore when it comes to social and political issues, my life-long, number-one issue is the human population, because there is not one problem that isn’t rooted in our ability to manage 7+ billion humans. I figured someone has to opt out. So I did.

I, hereby, out myself with this deeply-held conviction. Not to compare or minimize what LGBTQ folks endure, but as a straight woman in a society with a near idolatry of all things children, I usually keep my position to myself, thus feeling closeted. I’m a liberal and believe in free will and understand the human desire for fulfillment through parenting.PopulationBabies I understand for those with children nothing is more important in life, as nothing should be. I derive an equal level of joy knowing I am mitigating my impact on this planet the best way one can and in alignment with my core principle. I don’t hate children but I don’t want any. Nor do I think that 250 live human births every minute is a miracle. But I do think describing natural, human biology as a miracle is part of the problem. My parents raised me with free will and not only abhorred the idea of imposing one’s beliefs upon another, applauded and agreed with my decision. However I have been chastised and ostracized.

Thanks to the Internet, I don’t feel quite as alone as I used to with my choice, although most of my friends (no coincidence) don’t have kids, either. The “childless” stigma has abated somewhat in America but is far less taboo in Europe. I share my choice with Helen Mirren, Gloria Steinem, Stevie Nicks, Oprah Winfrey, Chelsea Handler, Jennifer Aniston, Ashley Judd, Marisa Tomei, Margaret Cho, Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres, Dolly Parton, Katharine Hepburn, Betty White, Lily Tomlin, Anjelica Huston, Liza Minnelli, Kim Cattrall, Candace Bushnell, Cameron Diaz, Zooey Deschanel and lots of not famous women, all who have spoken out about their choice. (Guys, not that you don’t count because you have options, you just don’t have a womb.) Fortunately being first-world females, we have the choice and the ability to live and support ourselves without needing a husband and a family for sustainability.

While I realize there is more emotion tied to human procreation, I submit it took decades to convince the majority that the responsible thing to do was to spay and neuter dogs and cats to avoid over-population. Except for a few who still breed animals for financial profit (and the dopes who support the industry), this is now the norm. Human overpopulation is far more devastating and we have long surpassed the tipping point to our survival. I know how gloom and doom this sounds to some and I know how defensive people get about this. Unfortunately, every reason I chose for not having children has come true and at a faster rate than predicted. We’ve long passed our planet’s optimal maximum for sustainable quality life (depending upon the study, sustainability is between 1.5 and 3.5 billion) well over fifty years ago. Life as we know it, as we are living, is simply unsustainable. But let’s see if my premise is correct; that population is the root to all our problems:

The environment. First, the only reason we call a “natural disaster” a disaster is because it causes harm to people. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, forest fires, floods, blizzards, mudslides, volcanoes are natural events. But the more people inhabiting the planet, the greater nature’s impact upon us. But the actual, poisonous damage done to the planet is human caused. And the faster we use up our planet’s resources, the harder it will be to continue to sustain 7+ billion. The western world may feel cushioned but not so for island nations in the pacific that are disappearing under water due to the ice cap melt. Still, Florida is raising their highways because of rising water levels, while California is in a drought and has a year of water in reserve. Our ecosystem depends on the rain forests, which is vanishing at a rate of 80,000 acres a day as land and lumber is needed. Fifty thousand species go extinct every year. Our meat-eating costs an exorbitant amount of land, water and resources. And we continue to disregard the need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

PopulatonDrought

The more people, the easier to exploit labor with more people than jobs. Wages fall. More people means more traffic and more aggressive wear and tear on roads and bridges. The more people, the more hungry mouths to feed and the higher cost to produce more food. And poor countries have a higher death rate so people have more babies so some make it to adulthood. So the birth rates in poorer countries is much higher, putting a bigger drain on limited food and water. One third of our global population is under 20 years old and in under-developed, poor countries. We are in military conflicts for natural resources (oil), which is depleted faster due to more people. And the Syrian conflict is actually over water.

Of course there are other factors that impact society’s problems. But the suffering is greater on 7 billion than three billion. It breaks my heart what we did to this beautiful planet. I know no decision we make is more personal. But it also has the greatest impact.