Everyday I have something reinforce my belief that people shouldn’t have children. I’ve written about why poor people shouldn’t have children in two blogs back in July, suggesting that I believe in (at least on some minuscule level) government-mandated sterilization and government regulated pregnancies. My rationale is simply that if one has to be licensed to drive a car, to practice a certain profession, or to fly a plane how much more important is parenting than these things and we allow anyone—and I do mean anyone—to have children. You need no credentials, no abilities, and no skill to have a child. You don’t even have to take care of it after you bring it into the world if you don’t want to. Of course, I can’t reconcile my ideas about eugenics (in my case that only some small percentage of people should have children) with my Christian beliefs in the sanctity of life and the sovereignty of God so I’m always playing with these ideas in my head, almost the same way that someone would try to put together a jigsaw puzzle. Of course, I agree that such a system would undermine the democracy and equality I’m always preaching about. Of course, I understand that eugenics taken to the extreme can produce the same hate and prejudices that spawned the Holocaust. Just think, Hitler and his followers were doing more than exterminating the Jews, they were actually trying to play God by attempting to create their own race of people! Because I understand these things all too well my ideas, at least for now, are strictly hypothetical. Take that as my disclaimer, before I proceed.
The other day I watched a news story that made my stomach turn. According to the National Center for Health Statistics the fertility rate has soared to 2.1 “the first time since shortly after the baby boom ended that the nation has reached the rate of births needed for a generation to replace itself." So essentially not since the baby boom 40 years ago have we had such a dramatic shift in our fertility rates. There are several implications of the increased fertility rates, most notably that we are seeing a consequence of immigration as immigrants have statistically more children than native born Americans and that this will inevitably lead to “Overdevelopment; sprawl; environmental degradation; competition for good jobs, education, and so on.” It’s insane that in a time of economical insecurities, weapons of mass destructions, wars on terror, and mass uncertainty people have decided to procreate like rabbits. Oh and please don’t think that the increase in births simply refers to adult women, teen pregnancy, which had been declining over the last 14 years, is up 3%! And we all know what competent parents teenagers make, right? Depressing!
If people really understood biologically what could go wrong from conception to birth I’m not sure we’d be seeing such a surge in baby-making. One slight genetic mishap and baby could be born sick, deformed, or dead! The smallest most microscopic genetic happening could result in a child that’s strong and viable or frail and disfigured. Suppose a baby turns out healthy, then in all probability it will have genetic predispositions to certain diseases (e.g., diabetes, schizophrenia, high blood pressure, alcoholism.) None of us has perfection, so none of us can pass perfect health on to our offspring. So for the rest of a child’s life he must grapple with the curses and blessings his parents have passed on to him. If that sounds unsophisticated remember I’m not a biologist. My degree is in the realm of social science (that’s not to say I’m ignorant to all things biological; biology played a good part in my education as all of the sciences are interconnected at some levels) so I’m usually looking at the environmental consequences of our behaviors. Understanding environmentally what can happen to a child is more than enough to deter me from having any. Regardless, of how good or bad a parent you may be, invariably your child is going to look at you one day and ask the hard questions. Why people die? Why people commit heinous crimes? Why bombs are dropping in some obscure country? Why perversion runs amok? Just imagine how difficult it is to explain to an innocent child a tragedy like 9/11. To make matters worse regardless of how much you shelter a child sooner or later he’s going to get sick, he’s going to cry, he’s going to have his heart broken, and yes he’s going to eventually die. Life is relentless and cruel, why would any loving individual want to intentionally bring children into the world in order to share in its misery?
I remember a conversation my aunt had with my niece who was just in elementary school at the time. “If anyone touches you in a bad place or in a way that makes you feel bad you tell me, no matter what they say. Even if they threaten you!” My aunt delivered this speech delicately with the kind of love that only a mother can exemplify, but what upset me wasn’t the nature of the talk, but that the talk was necessary in the first place. Innocence dies younger and younger these days. For every practical way that we invent to safeguard our children some malevolent person comes up with a more depraved way to harm them. What harsh realities to bring children into.
Yesterday I had a brief but telling discussion with a friend of mine to which he surmised that only the good-looking people should be allowed to breed so that the unattractive people would ultimately fade out. This isn’t the first time I’ve listened to his pontifications on eugenics. No doubt he considers himself one of the good-looking genetically superior people, which of course puts wholes in his own theory. Ultimately, who decides what’s attractive and what’s not? How would we determine such criteria, given the diversity of beauty? Is it possible to even comprehensively define it? Do we, for example, say that only a certain height, skin color, hair texture, etc is attractive and that only those with such traits should be allowed to have kids? See how subjective that becomes? Isn’t it also the case that attractive people sometimes have sick and or unattractive children and that the opposite proves true that unattractive people often produce attractive and viable offspring? Also notice the assumption that an attractive person is worth more than an unattractive person without even considering the other traits and characteristics that a person may have which makes him worthwhile. Implicit in my friend’s summation is a theory of a human hierarchy to which I cannot ethically subscribe.
On the environmental side of things, aren’t many attractive and genetically robust people criminals, murders, and child molesters? If one wishes to establish a paradigm for eugenics it certainly can’t be overly simplistic or too narrowly focused on subjective characteristics. My friend must have understood these issues, at least on some fundamental level, because he hinted that many should just elect not to have children at all. In this way we don’t have to establish paradigms, we don’t have to threaten democracy or infringe upon personal freedoms. We lose nothing and we don’t have to risk having dangerous Darwinian ideas that ultimately lead to atrocities like slavery, miscegenation laws, mass extermination, and superman-making.
I can almost see the responses to this idea. Someone somewhere reading this is thinking BUT OH NO! IF we don’t have children than we will die out!! I find this idea dubious, because even if scientists and leaders confronted people with the undeniable facts in support of my radical anti-pregnancy ideas, there will always be some know-it-all nonconformists who will fornicate like a rabbit on steroids. After all we have access to abortion, contraception, and prophylactics and teenage births are going up! In this day and age no one really has to have a child if they choose not to, but we continue to choose to have children. My guess is that we will even if we could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the effects could be detrimental! But let’s pretend hypothetically that everyone supported my ideas and that every person on earth decided against having children. The world would die out. But please tell me why that’s necessarily a bad thing especially considering the conditions that this wretched planet is in? For clarity’s sake, no I don’t support the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) goals (humans intentionally dying off in order to preserve the environment), but I can’t dismiss their methods (no procreation) without analyzing them thoroughly.
I know I’m going to get this argument too so I may as well address it here. But OH no doesn’t the Bible command us to be fruitful and multiply! Yes but it doesn’t say fornicate thy way into overpopulation and lack of resources either. You have to remember that when God gave this wise directive he was talking to a world that only had two citizens (and later when he spoke the words to Noah the earth had 8 citizens), now we have a populations of over 6 BILLION! Just as having no children would result in a decline in the human race, so would having zillions, in that our world only has but so many resources and currently we a pushing them to the limits. Ultimately, we could just as easily procreate ourselves into extinction too.
What can we take from all this discussion? Time and time again has proven that eugenics can only lead to destruction. Most recently, the worlds most respected geneticists and Nobel Prize winner James Watson made comments that blacks are less intelligent than whites. If one subscribes to theories of racial hegemony than it’s not a far stretch to accept that some groups should rightfully subjugate others. Dr. Watson has dedicated his whole life to such an approach, arguing that women should be made more attractive via genetic engineering, and that babies should be aborted if tests could show that they would grow up to be homosexual. Soon we’d have abortions based on not liking the child’s eye color or hair texture, which is morally reprehensible. I certainly don’t advocate that. But since we will never be able to ethically argue in favor of eugenics for all of the reasons cited above, and because the truth is we have insurmountable sociopolitical challenges and innumerable biological deficiencies, perhaps the only humane solution is not having children at all.