I’ve written a decent amount about my thoughts on having children. Here I want to focus on one of those reasons.
Selflessness is a luxury
Selflessness is not only a luxury, but a luxury that is good for the world. It helps individuals and groups devote time, energy, and other resources to others who need help.
For most who have children, it’s harder to do that for a simple reason: They have finite resources themselves, and those need to go to a seemingly infinite stockpile for their own kids. Food, shelter, education, etc.—these aren’t givens for most—even those making good money.
There’s always a better neighborhood. A better school system. A better college. So how much money do parents really have to spend on helping people in other cities and other countries?
A selfishness experiment
I think of myself as a fairly selfless person. Or, at least in terms of how willing I am to worry about and devote resources to others.
I did a thought experiment a while back regarding having a child and was surprised by what instantly happened to me.
It pulled me inward. It made me want to buy guns, hoard my money, and wish the rest of the world the best while I enroll my kid into private school.
It made me very…well, conservative.
And that seems to make sense. If you’re defending something that is vulnerable and your own, it’s far more difficult to also care about the lives of others. It actually gives me a lot of sympathy for those who clam up in this way and focus only on their progeny.
It’s logical. It’s natural. And it’s a compelling reason for me not to have kids myself.
Anything that can make me think of the world less like a unified planet with mostly identical humans on it, and transform it into a place that is “us and them” is something negative to me.
Don’t confuse it
Let me be clear about one thing. If we were in a situation where the world’s population was dwindling, and everyone had to do their part to maintain the species, I’d likely either be having kids myself or would be extremely appreciative of those who were.
But that’s not the case.
Instead, we have far too many people, and everyone is having kids because they want to. Kids who haven’t even been conceived yet are not suffering. They aren’t souls somewhere hoping for a shot at life. They’re just nothing.
So I don’t accept the strained narrative that we have kids because the kids that exist are precious and need our help. That’s circular. They wouldn’t exist if your desire to play house didn’t bring them forth in the first place, so you can’t use them as a reason to care less about others.
- Having kids seems to make people more selfish and less altruistic
- This is natural and understandable once it’s happened, and should not be admonished once the children are born
- But for those who don’t have kids, and know that the world is largely overpopulated already, and who THEN choose to procreate anyway for their own pleasure, and THEN want to use those children as an excuse to be less caring about suffering in the world…well, I find fault in that
I find fault in it, but not much.
We’re animals, after all. And animals are driven by evolution to do evolution’s bidding. As one who rejects absolute free will it’d be a bit strange of me to look down upon someone for walking the path that they are compelled to walk.
But I’m happy to have the luxury of not caring about my own offspring. That way I can care about everyone’s.
- It’s true that if you are affluent you can often be both a good parent and good citizen. My point was simply that when you have limited resources it’s increasingly hard to do this.