If you’ve seen the news over the last week you’ll have seen that Raphael Samuel, a 27 year old man from India, is suing his parents for forcing him to be born. Samuel is claiming that he didn’t consent to being created or being entered into the world and the expectation placed upon him to grow up and get a job is akin to kidnapping and slavery. His argument is that although he’s happy with life, he wishes he’d had the choice of having one. Given that you need to be alive to have the ability to make a choice, I think there’s a flaw in his argument. On the surface this is hilarious. The guy is a walking meme. He wears a fake beard, he’s pursuing an outrageous legal battle which is a massive waste of time and resources but he’s managed to gain an audience. Whether he’s trolling or not it has put the spotlight on a movement known as anti-natalism.
Anti-natalism is the philosophical standpoint that to have children is mortally wrong, it’s not a new concept; there are hints of it dotted throughout history and religious teachings. How could bringing a new bundle of joy into your life ever be a bad thing I hear you ask? Well, there are 7 billion of us on this and Earth and counting. Anti-natalism argues that we as a human species are already pillaging the Earth of its resources, we are indulgent, destructive consumers who aren’t giving anything back but just take take take. Why continue to contribute to overpopulation when we have finite means available to us. Some may argue this is highly irresponsible and that as more human beings have to be catered for, they become liabilities.
In addition to this, and in line with Samuel’s argument, is the point of view that to have a child is an entirely selfish act. Why do we have children? It’s the next natural stage in a relationship? We want a family to be around us as we age? We feel an instinctual urge to be a parent? They’re all idiocentric rationales. We have children because we want to. We are assuming or hoping rather that we can provide this child with a lifetime of the warmth, shelter, happiness and opportunity it requires. We are subjecting this new life to constant challenges with little means of protection.
I sort of get it?
Okay, I managed to convince myself for a minute there. And it some way I’ve had these kind of thoughts before. Personally I’m undecided on if I’ll ever want children. I worry that I won’t always be able to be the best parent, I worry about the state of the turbulent world we live in and how the world will change in another 50 years. I look back at how it’s changed in 20 and it makes me nervous. If I had a child I’d love it unconditionally and can already feel the protectiveness inside me over something that doesn’t exist. I don’t know if I could love something so much and be able to accept that I have such limited control of so many variables that could hurt them.
On the flip side…
At the end of last year my oldest friend told me she was pregnant. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt so happy and fulfilled and proud and excited. I already love that little peanut in there and I absolutely can’t wait to meet him when he arrives. I love my best friend and I’ll love and protect him too for the rest of his life because he’s an extension of her. He’s not born yet and I can see how happy his very existence has made her, her husband and their families. And I realised, new life keeps us going, keeps the human race ticking over and brings us so much to live for. That little boy growing in my friend could never be seen as anything other than an asset.
So in conclusion, am I anti-natalist? No. Am I desperate to procreate? No, but I do find this a fascinating topic. I toyed with both sides just to play devils advocate with my own beliefs, I’d be interested to hear yours.
Till next time.