October 31, 2009

To Birth or Not to Birth; That is the Question

I’m told people think you are selfish if you don’t bring new life into this world. I suppose this is the general way of thinking, since most people do have children. However, many scientists are reporting that overpopulation is the main threat to our planet and that we urgently need to level out and reduce human numbers. They predict that there is no way that the forecasted population of nine billion by 2050 can meet its energy needs without unacceptable harm to the planet. Conservative environmental assessments found that humans are now exploiting about 20% more renewable resources than can be replaced each year. So perhaps there is another perspective as to whether or not it is selfish to have children?

When scientists are even wondering if we will have a planet left in the near future, it certainly seems we should consider whether it is appropriate to be reproducing at this time. According to National Geographic, some likely conditions if ‘climate change’ continues are: species loss and extinction, reduction in sea ice, diminishing glaciers, rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, drought, heat waves, severe storms, reduced growing seasons, etc. If humans don’t do something about the numbers we are bringing to the planet, the planet could possibly free herself of the human pest.

I’ve never seen too many deer that we heartlessly “cull”, but I have experienced too many people! Hmmm… People need to look at the big picture and stay informed of the environmental devastation, slavery, war, rampant violence and depression that plagues are planet and admit that this might possibly not be the best place to bring a child? When there are many starving, unloved children already here that need to be cared for, perhaps we should consider not bringing another child to a planet with over 6.5 billion people, just so they can be from your genes. People are so egotistical that they want to make “little molds of themselves”. But the fact remains that your offspring come through you and often turn out to be quite different than parental hopes for them.

Some people have many children in order to add to the members of their religion or bring in new members to their way of thinking. We have to be sure our motives are pure when considering giving birth. I firmly don’t believe everyone should have children; it is simply not for everyone, as witnessed by the amount of inadequate parenting going on. I want to let people know that they don't have to have children. There is a choice to be child-free. Until someone told me this (30 years ago), I never even stopped to think that there was an alternative. Everyone had kids where I grew up; it was just something you did. I am grateful to the woman who told me you don’t have to have children if it is not your calling in life. I wanted to give my life’s energy to educating others about veganism and the evolution of human consciousness (by evolving my own). I believe all who are here should help get us out of the mess we find ourselves in, rather than contributing even more to the demise of our planet. The last thing Earth needs is more natural resource-guzzling inhabitants.

Why bring a child to a planet that may die? Resources are dwindling, deforestation is out of hand, pollution is widespread, highways are congested yet global population grows steadily! Whether it is ignorance or lack of access to birth control, or welfare enabling children that are otherwise unaffordable, or religion condemning condom usage and abortions, or ego-maniacal behavior, we are facilitating the destruction of the planet and many of us need to STOP reproducing.


Corey Wrenn said...

This is an overly simplified argument!! Most population growth occurs in the developing world. The birth rate decreases as education and gender inequality increase. The populations in the global North are either stagnating or decreasing. Also, the adoption process is incredibly complex, expensive, and selective--not a readily available option to most. For those of us in the global North, the children we have are only replacing ourselves, not adding. Few families have the family-farm requirement of 5+ children anymore. It's also dangerous to expect an ethical commitment such as veganism to tamper with the biological nature of humans. If we start demanding vegans to refrain from doing what comes natural to them as humans(reproduction being a basic part of the human telos), I fear we will start to push people away. Furthermore, if we are having children only to replace ourselves in the population rather than add to it, we are putting forth compassionate souls to carry on our vision of a non-violent world. I certainly don't want the vegan message to die in our generation!!! Don't get me wrong, I am not a mother, nor do I ever plan to be (I agree that it is selfish), but I think it's a bit dangerous to push the vegan ethic in this direction and fail to recognize demographic realities of population growth and discriminatory boundaries to adoption.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe the point of this article was to say that if you are vegan you have to be against having children. Or that you have to support this view point. I think it is to say that having children is optional and she is simply sharing why she does not wish to have children.

As for adoption it doesn't always have to involve waiting times and extreme costs of waiting for a baby on some list, or travelling to some far off country. There are children right here in our own city that perhaps are older so not of desirable age or have different emotional needs that are waiting for parents, living in hotels through CFS.

I am glad that vegan poet made these points because there are so many things to consider when bringing a child into this world.

Anonymous said...

I am vegan and I plan on adopting instead of having biological children.

Anonymous said...

I think the decision not to have children is much more accepted today. And it is very true that birth rate tends to go down as women become more educated. If I was younger, I don't think I would have had as many children as I do because I do worry about the sustainability of our expanding population. That said, 5 of my 6 children are vegan/vegetarians and 4 are activist in promoting compassion and veganism.

Anonymous said...

I made that decision long ago. No one told me. As soon as I got married the pressure began. I had to tell them, expressly, that I wasn't having any. I come from a culture where a woman is not a woman if she does not have babies.

People expect it. Grandparents think that they are owed a grand kid. I told mom to adopt a child if she wanted to raise and play with one again, or to ask my siblings to give her a kid.

And no, it's not selfish, it's not only a right we have, but the free-for-all, rampant worldwide duplication should be controlled by now.

Don't even think of calling me Hitler, reader. It's not like we don't already have toxins in the water that are tampering with the reproductive system of humans and animals (if you don't know this you are asleep).

This post talks about common sense, but most people are riding on habits, traditions and/or religious dogma.

Much of the violence happens from religious freaks and their views. That is another major problem we face that gets in the way of solving others.

With so many people still believing that natural disasters can be stopped by the will of a god, and so many still against birth control pills (including the "holy", pederast filled Vatican) and abortion, but that doesn't mean they are good parents or have adopted at least one child to help the problem. They can only think to go hang signs in corners, looking obese and stuff.

I'm not saying people shouldn't believe in their god, but please do it privately, have the churches get off issues that is not their business and get real, get current, get evolved a bit. What? Are you waiting for your heaven so hard that you just don't care for what's obvious down here?

I think the Internet has shown that we have many many people making this decision, as well. Is it in Japan that they are worried b/c people are not having kids and it will be mostly older population?

I would not want to leave a child of mine in this f-ed up world. No, thanks.

I'm starting to think that the Earth somehow balances itself out, by getting rid of humans, one way or another, eventually. We live in a living, breathing ecosystem, and we are part of it, though we live in denial about it.

If it's coming, humans deserve it. We have done a deplorable job so far. Unless, of course, they are the type of people like the last poster. How many are raising their kids to replicate the same damage in the world by giving them a bad example?

Not everyone should be allowed to reproduce. Simple as that.

Kait said...

And obviously, those who don't think about this have several kids. Then they sit them down in front of the TV and video games and wonder why they aren't doing well in school. Then they have more kids. Aren't we smart. The smart people are choosing not to have kids, while the distracted and ignorant keep popping them out. A bunch of little consumers who will all have their cheetos and SUVs.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I never wanted children. We have lived happily with O kids. We were not interested in adopting. We do not even much like children. We are both vegans. The world seems to be rushing madly to it's conclusion-either human extiction or a very big hit-dropping population numbers drastically. And I don't mind...Something has to pop and frankly I think humans deserve what they get. What we do to ourselves, the planet and the animals and full speed ahead! We really seem to be in denial...

Anonymous said...

I think that anyone that says they don't think people should have children for environmental reasons or because of over population should seriously look at their own existence first. If they are living in the developed world, which I presume most of the people posting on here are, then they are part of the problem. If you are so concerned with the environmental impact of humans, switch off your computer and all other electrical devices in your house, eat only food that you have grown yourself and only travel by foot. Or maybe just jump off a cliff into the sea. One less problem.
And as for the person that said "Not everyone should be able to reproduce, simple as that" I have one question. Who decides? We have surely had enough genocides happen in the last hundred years that we don't need yet another group of extremists deciding who should live and who should die.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the person who said this is an overly simplified argument. The problem of human over population is largely due to the over population in developing nations, where there is extreme poverty, ignorance, and lack of resources, education, and birth control.
I have to take issue with your statement: "People are so egotistical that they want to make "little molds of themselves."

This is a gross generalization, and I'm surprised that you would simplify it that way. People have children for other reasons, that have nothing whatsoever to do with having offspring that look or behave like them, or that have their genes.
I am a single woman, with no children, but for the last 20 years of my life, I have wanted very much to give birth to at least one child.

Had I met someone who wanted that with me, it would have happened. I have been pregnant, twice, and aborted both pregnancies. The first one was when I was a teenager, the second, when I was a mature woman, but out of work, and the man I was with begged me to end the preganancy, and I did.

The second one, more so than the first, is the single most sorrowful event of my life, and a dark cloud over my entire life. I will regret that decision for the rest of my life - and I was not raised with any religion, nor am I now religious.

I am mammalian, and have always felt a powerful longing to become pregnant, and to birth a child. This is not "ego," but a natural "calling."

I can't speak for any men, but I can tell you that as a woman, my only reason for still wanting to become pregnant, give birth, and parent a child, is to experience pregnancy, to birth a new life, and to nurture that person into adulthood.

It is not to have a child that looks like me, or that has my family's genes, because to be honest, my family gene pool is less-than-stellar, and I would be happy to have a child that did NOT share my genes. But I wish for the experience of birthing a new life all the same.

If I adopt, I miss the entire experience of pregnancy, and of birthing a child, and as another person here said, it can be very complicated and expensive, especially for a single parent, who is not very wealthy, to adopt.
I would not be considered a "good candidate" for adoption, based on my not presently having a life partner.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Corey Wrenn initially wrote: "If we start demanding vegans to refrain from doing what comes natural to them as..."

First of all I was not demanding. Second of all, I was not just speaking to vegans in this essay, but to all humans.

Hi Anonymous.

Some of my closest friends think like you. I still love them, and love their child as if he were my own. However, I still maintain my position that it doesn't seem a good idea to bring children to this planet at this time. How's that for over simplified.

You don't have to listen to me...I'm just expressing my perception of the Truth.

Anonymous said...

Hi M Butterflies Katz,

I understand - and I actually do see many of your hard to refute points - it's just that for me, it's more complicated.
Thank you for accepting my comment - I do appreciate it :)

Kayla Call said...

I have thought this way for years.
Since I was twelve years old, I knew that I never wanted to birth a child. I saw it simply as:
Why bring new life into a cruel world, when life is already here, waiting for love and a home?
I plan on adopting and though everyone says, "You'll change your mind" (mostly to soothe their fragile egos), I won't.
Thank you for this article. I honestly thought I was alone in thinking this.