Do you consider yourself a modern citizen in a modern world?
Enlightened and elevated above the base thoughts and needs of our carnal progenitors? No longer slaves to our lowly instincts and vices and shortfalls of our ancestors?
Were you brought up to believe that you could do anything, achieve anything in life, as long as you put all your heart and soul into it? You could live your childhood dreams, be whoever you choose to be, do what you love for the rest of your life?
And then you wake up twenty years later, groggy, alone, an electronic device dictating your life, your every waking and sleeping moment. Having spent the majority of your life lying on your sides or studying something you were only mildly interested in. And then your basic instincts kick in, creep into the back of your mind – you need to eat, you need to drink, you need to get laid.
Those around you do not see your plight. Day after day your parents and relatives inquire about your marital status, or if you’ve had the good fortune to shack up with someone permanently then when the 贵子 are going to arrive.
Your friends are “moving on” with their lives, most pairing up into units to continue on the evolutionary necessities and satisfy some societal requirement, signing the contract everyone craves, ticking off the big box of life, preparing to tick the next big item.
When will you tick off the big box of life?
Which one, you ask?
Are there that many to choose from?
And so we toil and slave, and if we’re lucky not so hard because our parents or predecessors saved up some for us. And we continue our hunt – our hunt for meaning, for purpose, for life.
We put our hearts and souls into our careers, into creating things of value, of meaning, into keeping our bodies healthy and fit. All by our own choice, our own cleverness, staving away the primal instincts that gnaw at our minds, either from sheer will or fear of rejection.
But at the end of it, we always come back to the same things: continuing on the family name, the bloodline, under the guise of finding happiness, achieving success.
Of course one cannot deny that happiness is intimately tied to interpersonal relationships of some spread or depth, being the deeply social creatures that we are.
But we have overcome that, have we not?
We are intelligent, able to control our urges, our innermost instincts with rational, logical reasoning!
We can overcome widescale devastation, largely initiated by our own hands, but still avert physical crises through reasoning and communication. We avoid nuclear annihilation, natural disasters, global pandemics with the power of logic and science!
And it’s true, we have adapted and conquered and overcome. And in the madness and chaos, we have sought out our clarity; in our desperate isolation, we have learned the meaning of togetherness; in the darkness we have learned to treasure the light.
And yet, as adversity unites us, as we fight illness and loss with logic, we realise that we are but base animals. When all is said and done, it is the same driving force and motivations that drove our forefathers thousands of years ago.
Are we that different from our ancestors? Have we changed?
Is it hardwired into us?
Making babies. Do people still need to do it?
I mean the process is great and all, but is it still necessary in this day and age?
Well, yes of course, otherwise who is going to take over once the elders pass? Who will care for the aging population of our broken world?
Perhaps procreating has been painted in a negative light with all the recent talk of climate change and overpopulation, of unsustainable living and dwindling resources.
While reproduction is evolutionarily obligatory, and to be fair it is the entire purpose of evolution, where exactly do we see ourselves in the evolutionary scale of things?
What is the point of continuing to spawn and evolve exactly? To populate the earth? Colonise beyond our borders, beyond our planet?
For what exactly?
Are we not akin to drops of bacteria in a petri dish full of nutrients? Akin to a virus let loose within a thriving, healthy host? The world is our oyster, and we will take all we can, multiply as far as we can reach.
Until our resources run out? Then let’s find some more!
Is there an end? Should there be an end?
Like a creeper plant stretching its limbs into the sun, across the soil, growing and growing until it reaches the boundaries? And then…going up, and up, like a beanstalk to the sky?
In the end, is it not all just a circlejerk, a fun little game to keep ourselves busy as our cells reproduce and rupture and return to dust?
So shall we get back to making babies?
So let’s talk about babies.
Say we yield to the fundamental cause of our species, of being alive, our supposed purpose and destiny – of making the babies and keeping the wheels turning. Say we decide we’re DTF and churn out a good one, we lock ourselves in with a bundle of joy with no refunds, no takebacksies.
Congratulations! Now what?
I can honestly say that evolution has not been kind to us sapiens. Seriously, how difficult can babies be?
Ask any parent – they’ll be happy to share with you their processes and their experiences of bringing up a child. Yes, I’m sure the whole thing is fun and full of fulfillment and satisfaction and new lessons in life. But it’s a fucking full time job, mate.
Evolution/intelligent design/the one true deity has not been kind to us humankind. Think about it – have you seen a new parent that is well-rested? Then they’ve clearly got lots of help.
Most new parents do not make a good case for having babies. It is a costly, cumbersome, challenging thing to bring up a baby.
From a business perspective, the ROI on these things is astoundingly low. They’re expensive, they’re time-consuming, they’re fragile, they’re high risk. They require a lot of attention, a lot of training; you don’t get to interview them beforehand, and you certainly can’t fire them from the position.
People tell you kids are an investment, a priceless asset. Well okay, what’s the appreciate rate on kids? You have to sink in at least two decades to get these starving sponges up to speed, not to mention countless dollars and sense, all while maintaining a happy facade lest the darn things develop a sour disposition or take on your bad values.
And once they’ve matured, what do you get? Some may pay you back in cash, buy you some nice things, or sometimes just in gratitude. But can they ever actually repay you for all you’ve done for them, all the sacrifices you’ve made?
Perhaps I’m missing the entire point of parenthood. Yes, parenthood is about pouring yourself into your offspring, so that they may have a better life than you ever did, so they can gain grander, greater things, surpassing all you’ve ever achieved. You shouldn’t care about getting anything in return, because the return is seeing them healthy and happy, right?
You will give your all, expend your time and energy, disburse your dividends all to them, because they deserve the very best, right?
Well what about you? Is it selfish to consider, to think about yourself for even one second? Our genes are selfish, are they not?
Oh, so our genes are alright with us giving all without any expectation for anything in return? Unconditional love, as they call it? That was a pretty clever marketing campaign. Generations of filial piety set in stone.
Well, even if our genes are gladsome and full of glee at the prospect of us popping out a few new ones, what about our logical selves? Our thoughts and feelings? Are we really alright with going through physical and social transformation and turmoil just for the privilege of hearing a little genetic mishmash of ourselves squeak out the words “mama” or “dada”?
What about spiritual children? What about having non-genetically related progeny? Pets? People love pets!
I’m not saying we should all get pets and forego having children. I’m just curious if there are people out there who have found a greater purpose in life than spawning children.
Yes, I’m sure creating pieces of art or music, or an app or software that changes our virtual landscape, or a business that benefits billions is a worthy cause, a righteous reason to fight and live on. But can it truly replace that evolutionary call, that urge deep within our souls, to replace something that we can biologically call our own?
Do I have an answer for you?
There are many, many answers out there, and in this day and age there are many voices and stories vying to be heard and adored.
All I have to offer are questions. Simple questions that you and I will have to answer for ourselves.
What do you believe your life is about?