May 19, 2017
To be ridiculously sweeping : baby boomers and their offspring have shifted emphasis from the communal to the individual, from the future to the present, from virtue to personal satisfaction. Increasingly secular, we pledge allegiance to lowercase gods of our private devising. We are concerned with leading less a good life than the good life. In contrast to our predecessors, we seldom ask ourselves whether we serve a greater social purpose ; we are more likely to ask ourselves if we are happy. We shun self - sacrifice and duty as the soft spots of suckers. We give little thought to the perpetuation of lineage, culture, or nation; we take our heritage for granted. We are ahistorical. We measure the value of our lives within the brackets of our own births and deaths, and we're not especially bothered with what happens once we're dead. As we age -- oh, so reluctantly ! -- we are apt to look back on our pasts and question not did I serve family, God, and country, but did I ever get to Cuba, or run a marathon? Did I take up landscape painting? Was I fat? We will assess the success of our lives in accordance not with whether they were righteous, but with whether they were interesting and fun.
I stress this because it's often claimed that having kids makes people more conscious of the kind of world they're creating or leaving for their offspring. That would be why, in London, a city with excellent public transportation, parents have to make sure they have cars. Many of these cars come speeding along my street on their way to the extremely expensive private school on the corner. You can see, from the looks on these mums ' faces as they drop off their kids at this little nest of privilege, that the larger world -- as represented by me, some loser on his bike -- doesn't exist, is no more than an impediment to finding a parking space. Parenthood, far from enlarging one's worldview, results in an appalling form of myopia. Hence André Gide's verdict on families, "those misers of love."
Of all the arguments for having children, the suggestion that it gives life "meaning" is the one to which I am most hostile -- apart from all the others. The assumption that life needs a meaning or purpose ! I'm totally cool with the idea of life being utterly meaningless and devoid of purpose. It would be a lot less fun if it did have a purpose -- then we would all be obliged ( and foolish not ) to pursue that purpose.
Who could blame anyone, child or adult, for wanting to enrich his experience by sharing it with a friend, a caring witness? We all want that. We all want someone to say, "That thing you love is so interesting and worthy that I have to love it, too." Children's needs and desires are not so different from adults ' needs and desires; the only real difference is that, unlike adults, children are not yet bridled.
Reproduction as raison d'être has always seemed to me to beg the whole question of existence. If the ultimate purpose of your life is your children, what's the purpose of your children's lives? To have your grandchildren? Isn't anyone's life ultimately meaningful in itself? If not, what's the point of propagating it ad infinitum? After all, 0 × ∞ = 0. It would seem a pretty low - rent ultimate purpose that's shared with viruses and bacteria. The current human population is descended from a relatively low number of ancestors after a series of population bottlenecks in the late Pleistocene. Most human beings back then presumably felt their lives to be just as important and meaningful as we do ours. Is their existence negated just because they left no descendants?
Yeah i know the animals were problematic but I am straight up bummed Ringeling Bros Barnum and Bailey is hanging it up, glad I got to see The Greatest Show on Earth