Limey, over at Collected Whines, posted a response to my tempted post. It’s really good, but I think a response to his response is in order… especially since he made some good arguments against my position on the subject of children being the ultimate form of egotism.
But, before I begin to address Limey’s response to my original post, I feel the need to set the defintion of ego… dictionary.com defines ego as:
|e·go () (g, g)
n. pl. e·gos
For the purposes of this discussion, let’s agree that by ego I mean 3a… an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
Limey’s argument about having children rests precariously on the idea that having children is inevitable. His claim is that, “to deny my off-spring the right to exist…” proves it. Now, I’m not sure if Limey is clairvoyant (he has too many talents to automatically dismiss precognition, so I won’t do him that disservice), but I don’t know what’s going to happen from moment to moment, much less from now until I die. But I can tell you that any children I do have will be mistakes.
Now in his response, Limey also claims that “mistakes” are myths that don’t happen in this day and age because there are options to terminate these “mistakes.” All that is well and good, but my Catholic upbringing aside, I wouldn’t terminate a pregnancy AFTER it has happened. It just goes against my morals (hard to believe I know, but I have them). The mistake was mine, not the babies and he/she shouldn’t have to suffer for my stupidity.
So, to say that denying any offspring the right to exist doesn’t apply to me (or anyone really). That isn’t selfishness as Limey puts it, but practicality speaking. Now, he also proposes that such a position might show that my world view is that life is in fact shit… which is also untrue. I think life, at least for me (and I’m happy to see that this applies to Limey as well) is pretty peachy. And it is true that I have wrapped myself in a bubble of pleasure and experiences, but only because I don’t have children. The first does not preclude the second (pleasure over children), but the second DOES tend to preclude the first (children over pleasure).
In other words I can live a life of pleasure provided I don’t have children, but it is much harder to live a life of pleasure when you have children to think about. Which is to say that I only seek out pleasure because my responsibilities lie exclusively with me, and my upkeep. Now if I had children, clearly this couldn’t be the case. Still with me? Okay. I am not “choosing not to have kids” because it would put a damper on my near Caligula-esque lifestyle. I choose not to have kids because I don’t think I have much to offer a child as a parent. There isn’t any ego involved in this exercise. I am not denying anyone anything, nor am I filled with a sense of value that I refuse to share with another.
The idea that not having children is the ultimate form of selfish egotism is interesting. I’d be remiss if I didn’t explore that possibility as well. The real question is whether a child would bring me something I don’t already have… and then, we would once again find ourselves exploring what my motivations are. Clearly, when viewed from that perspective (what a child could do for me) I am being driven by my ego.
Are there reasons for having kids that are not nested within the confines of ego? Let’s say that aside from perpetuating the human species (which we can agree includes religious reasons), there are. What are they? If as you postulate there are “positive” reasons for procreation, I didn’t find them in your response. To carry on the family name into the future? Nope, that’s ego too. To have someone to teach everything you’ve learned? That is ego as well (since you’d have to pretty egotistical to believe you have something worth teaching). To make the world a better place? Ego (in as much as you hold the illusion that you’ve sired the second coming of Jesus).
No, Limey. I don’t think there are ANY reasons to procreate that aren’t firmly grounded in the idea that the parents don’t possess an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Long gone are the days that we NEED to procreate for safety, survival of the species, or promoting the greater glory of an empire. I may be an asshole, but at least I’m an honest asshole.