‘So can you understand?
Why I want a daughter while I’m still young
I wanna hold her hand
And show her some beauty
Before this damage is done‘
Arcade Fire- The Suburbs
I read recently about a man looking to sue his parents for bringing him into the world without his consent. As a 23 year old, children aren’t on my radar yet, but are perhaps a shadow on the horizon, and hence that article got me thinking.
The guy in question labelled himself an anti-natalist; someone who believes that bringing new life into the world is just enabling suffering, as essentially we all suffer. They believe the world doesn’t need mankind, and would actually thrive following our exctinction, which considering climate change seems fair.
It’s not a movement I think will catch on, despite the nihilistic thoughts we perhaps all have from time to time.
But why do so many of us want children? Is it selfish? Is it cruel?
I believe (and this is a hill I will not die on, this post isn’t a coherent argument but an of-the-moment rambling), we all want to leave a legacy when we die. We all want to make our mark. Once we die physically, we die again the day our name is last uttered. So a child enables another 70 years or so of life in some shape or form.
If someone sat you down and said I want you to inflict a list of punishments on someone- make them watch as their parents deteriorate and die, force them through several heartbreaks, give them cancer.. you’d refuse. But we bring children into the world knowing they’ll go through most of these things.
BUT. Through all the doom and gloom and depression, I still get it.
The unconditional love, the endless laughter, the joy, the friendships, the experiences that make our heart warm, music, art, the look on someones face when they talk passionately, warm baths, petting animals, Sunday mornings, clean sheets, new pyjamas, starry nights, learning, cooking, eating, kissing, crying with happiness.
Life is full of suffering. But it’s also full of joy, and I guess having kids is just a gamble. A gamble that the joy will outweigh the rest.