Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Boston Common

"There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness." --Friedrich Nietzsche
Many of the corporeal folks who’s opinions I admire are childless. This is partially (though it might be a large part) because I think not having kids is an admirable default position. There are at least three reasons why I should feel different. One was, to my great delight, brought into focus during a pleasantly drenching Boston summer rain.

The first reason is my own kids. This is the most obvious and least compelling reason. Anyone who digs through old blog posts here will stumble across multiple references to AOD and AYD. Read of the magic fairy sprinkles of vitality and pure love these beings dust so many of my motivations with and why not believe that all people should tirelessly pump out more of these treasures? If it were possible I might suggest such an approach, but AOD and AYD are super-beings; most people just pump out kids. The existence of AOD and AYD is actually another stanza of the reasoning why choosing not to have children is a great idea.

Putty in my hand

The second potential reason is to be found in the biology that unites people as a species. This reasoning is that the propagation of a social species should help to preserve the genetics of the species. There is undeniable truth in this reasoning…at least till one starts to run the numbers. The World Bank estimated the earth’s human population at over 6.775 billion in 2009. Though there might be more than enough in resources on the planet for double this number the doubling rate is such that resource depletion will become a major concern soon. The earth’s human population was 3.324 billion in 1965. That’s a doubling time of 44 years. The biology reason also decays into fertile ground for the childless stand.

There is a bumper crop of births swelling the bellies of women all over the town I live in. This is Utah so the demographic statistics suggest that there is a constant bumper crop of fetuses developing, and that I just don’t usually notice them. In my defense the crop is usually restricted to haggard looking people trudging weak-kneed through Wal-Mart; this autumn there are several women who I know swelling towards childbirth. Several of the pregnant women I know are also close enough to being teenagers that their pregnancies scream for some sort of ultra-pathetic attention.

Teenage pregnancies are also not uncommon in Utah, but since I avoid the company of teenagers they are invisible to me. Their spawn fills some bottomless “at risk” demographic which will help to enliven the future’s statistical description of social decay. Many of the children from these pregnancies will not be the product of choosing to have children; they will be the product of not choosing to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

Despite attempts to stunt them the children become real people. The less mature parents (and the unprepared grandparents) are shaped by the burden. They talk exclusively of time to themselves, budgets, and sleep. The people are shaped by the elements of their upbringing; every once in a great while one of them is beautiful to know. Each childless adult simply enhances society’s ability to shoulder some of its un-aborted burden.

Perhaps we should offer a tax credit of $100.00 for every year after age 18 that an adult remains childless. Giving a twenty-eight-year-old woman a $1,000.00 tax credit might stimulate the economy more than giving her younger sister with six kids $6,000.00. But I digress. It is so easy to slip into the negatives associated with people having children.

It was raining after I saw my friend perform for Blue Man group in Boston. For some minutes I was amazed at little things: Boston is a lovely city; in The Common electric lights make the lake look black. East coast summer rain is pleasant; the feinting cold a welcome respite from triple-digit daytime temperatures. Conversations with someone whose own decades have collected enormous talent and experience is intoxicating. I began to visualize unimagined connection between terrifically cool things. I like to immerse myself in such things. I would wallow often if given a chance, but the opportunities are rare.

We had probably been talking about kids for a while when I noted the topic. I began thinking about the thinking about the topic. This was a conversation concerning the development of other loving humans with the kind of interest driving it that might be reserved for developing some futuristic world filled with advanced civilizations populated by compassionate super beings.

We spoke of developmental stages, and the breakthroughs that defined them. We spoke of the development of super-abilities: the ability to see, to know, to reason, to communicate, to feel, and to care.

Then a beautiful woman met us in the park and began speaking of the development of her children in a similar voice. There were two of them! Is the earth ready for this cresting wave of super beings? Will we be driving flying cars and talking with our minds before we are reduced to digging fibrous roots with the sharpened detritus of our species’ former glory?

This is not a reason to have kids though. It is a reason to help the people we have develop or heal. It is thinking of the children we have as elements of our future society.

When I finally returned to Utah I realized how full-to-bursting I was with new ideas. How can I translate them though? I could more easily capture water with a butterfly net.

Both AYD and AOD received a large hug. On each of their foreheads I planted a kiss. I stepped back and imagined them as the large brightly-colored glowing brains I once saw on a star-trek episode. I smiled.

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