My own mother thinks that she’s better than me just because she shat out a kid that didn’t want to be born. We were in the airport the other day, and she started of on one of those unbelievably condescending diatribes that goes like this: “Until you have children of your own, there are some things that you will never understand…” Every parent either secretly thinks this, or tells people without kids this regularly. Everyone who thinks they’re better than me just because they bumped uglies and brought another hungry mouth into this steaming horde of the 7 billion largely food-, water-, and shelterless can eat my dick.
The fact of the matter is, every parent has never been me, doesn’t know how to be me, and therefore will never understand certain things about the human experience. Every woman who doesn’t have a penis will forever suffer from lacking the deeper understanding of the universe that having a penis bestows upon you. Every breastless man will never fully appreciate the miracle of the human mammary gland to the same degree as a breasty woman, so there’s just some things he’ll never “get” either. Everyone who lacks Multiple Sclerosis will never truly understand what it’s like to have MS. Every parent with their head up their ass will never truly understand that everyone they ever meet will know more about certain parts of the human experience than they do. If you’ve never been a homosexual, you couldn’t possibly begin to understand homosexuality, regardless of your powers of empathy or the level of your education, as the parental argument goes.
So, while it might be a truism that if you don’t have children, you may never really know what it’s like to have children, everyone knows more about something than any particular given person. So why are parents the only people who feel comfortable pointing this kind of shit out? In every other line of interpersonal communication, calling attention to the fact that you think you’re smarter than your interlocutor is arrogant behavior. Why do parents think they have a free pass to act this way?
Because most parents are selfish pieces of shit, that’s why. They had a kid because they couldn’t figure out how to have a fulfilling live without one. They had a kid to help with the family business and bring more money into the household. They had a kid so that someone would care for them when they became old and infirm. They had a kid because they needed more background noise. In short, whatever the reason was that they had a kid, the reason was 100% about them, not about the kid. Maybe they thought that they might be good parents, and that factored into the calculus, but that consideration was minor, if it was made at all. People have children for narcissistic reasons, and then these same people have the gall to call me a narcissist simply because I don’t want to bring any more thinking things into this world that have the capacity to hurt. After all, I never asked to be born, so assuming that my unborn children are asking is a dangerous precipice.
So, these narcissists that bring babies to term in their rectal cavities somehow have the gall to call me selfish? Fuck you and the horses you rode in on! It’s not my fault that no government can figure out how to be financially salient once the population starts to drop. It’s not my fault that the only solution offered by the technoindustrial complex to the fact that 7 billion people are putting a considerable strain on the Earth’s resources is to shit out more kids so that countries can continue to have awesome social services. How does this phenomenon possibly end well? We eat ourselves out of house and home because we’ll have more money if we do it that way?
So, Jonathan V. Last, author of What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, fuck you. You are selfish for not understanding what a great cancer our species is to all the other lifeforms in the known universe. You are selfish because you don’t understand that the child I am electing not to have may well mean there is water for your snot-nosed entitled little brat to drink, and food for him to eat. You are selfish because you think that your genes might make some great contribution to humanity, which is why you didn’t adopt. You are the only real narcissist, as you think you’re good enough to take on the most important job in the world at a time in which it is arguably most imperative to the future survival of the human species to do it right. At least I’m smart enough to know I would fuck that up.
And as for you, Ross Douthat (More Babies Please), writer of the following ridiculous passage, “The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place,” believer in such unicorn-like concepts as “underpopulation,” which is more decadent? Someone who brings a child into an already overpopulated world because of their own insecurities, or someone who deliberately chooses to forgo the joys of parenthood so that other people’s babies might have enough resources to be able to survive or have a reasonably decent quality of life? After all, we don’t operate in a world with limitless resources. At best having a child is no more a sacrifice than not having a child, and at worst, it’s less of one, as children are an insurance payment on later life stability.
Douthat is right about the late-modern exhaustion: America has the most productive workers on the planet and is doing everything it was doing in 2007 with 10 million fewer of them. Our entire economic system is designed to work people to the bone for the enrichment of the companies owned by the 1%. This is yet another reason not to have a child.
But you can only argue that not having a child is privileging the present over the future if you completely ignore the fact that more people has lead to an overall decrease in the quality of life. Burning fossil fuels is privileging the present over the future. Eating bluefin tuna is privileging the present over the future, as does everything you do that isn’t 100% sustainable. When more than two-thirds of humans don’t have access to safe drinking water, having a child is privileging the present over the future.
So what if our tax codes are set up to only reward rampant population growth? Isn’t it up to our Government to decide how it will need to shrink when the birthrate drops? If countries cannot figure out how to be financially solvent just because the birthrate dropped, this is only because their governments have metastasized to an unsustainable girth. Then the politicians will have to figure out how to downsize and still provide necessary social services.
Me not having a child will help to force the Government to downsize. That’s actually a good thing, because in the era of Big Data and the neverending Global War of Terror, the smaller our McCarthyan witch hunts are for leakers and whistleblowers who take one for the team to warn us about the horrible world the NSA and DOD are trying to create, the better off freedom will be.
In short, having a kid is for people who
1. Naively believe in the benevolence of our post-9/11 Government.
2. Think there’s something special about their genes.
3. Want to join the ranks of those who think they’re necessarily better than people who are not part of their group, and feel free to tell others regularly about it (parents).
4. Are in complete denial about exactly how many resources humans rape off the Earth in order to live.
5. Are dumb enough to think their vegetarianism will come close to offsetting the amount of carbon their kid will belch into the atmosphere during his lifetime.
6. Have insecurities that cannot be addressed without bringing an innocent life into their hot mess.
7. Think that growth for its own sake is always a good thing and that it’s somehow not a government’s fault if it can’t figure out how to balance the budget when population shrinks.
8. Believe in the nonexistent concept of underpopulation.
9. Hate nature, wild places, animals, and ecologies (last time I checked, human beings are anathema to all these).
10. Think that it’s ok for old people to be made to live long after their quality of life is nonexistent, so that they can continue to take more than their share of social services (yes, the “greatest generation’s” social security compensation is bigger than any other generation’s will be, so what’s so fucking great about that? Just because people in your generation killed Nazis doesn’t mean we should go bankrupt trying to keep you alive into your 100’s).
So fuck you, parents. The next time one of your ilk tries to tell me he or she is better than me merely because you used your reproductive structures to their fullest potentials, I’m going to show you that I can argue better than you and think circles around you. Then, if you still choose not to shut up about how and why you think your shit comes out in a plastic bag scented of roses, I will demonstrate to you that there are some things that you will simply never be able to come close to understanding unless you’ve been a rugby player, like how to knock someone out quickly who doesn’t know how to shut the fuck up.