“I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.”
― Samuel Johnson
When we envision ourselves having a baby we envision just that....a baby. It seems so innocent. What could be more harmless than a baby? We are such shortsighted fools. We aren't just giving birth to a baby. We are also giving birth to a 40 year old, a 50 year old, an 80 year old. We are also changing the structure of life on the entire planet. We fail to consider the potential implications of introducing a whole new player to the game of life (if only Mrs. Hitler had the gift of foresight). A new player who will interact with other players, leading to a million unforeseeable consequences. But all we see is that cute little wiggling baby. We don't see the 40 year old slouched over in his office chair counting the minutes till lunch break, the 50 year old staring forlornly into the bathroom mirror ("how to cover up all these wrinkles?"), the 80 year old nursing home resident whose highlight of the day is to be wheeled into the community room for a viewing of The Price is Right. We see a baby, our baby; and we fantasize. My baby won't live like that. My baby is special. My baby is my little princess. 80 years go by and that "little princess" is just another nameless toothless nursing home bed-filler waiting around for the Price is Right.
So what are we doing this for? Or the real question, who are we doing this for? In the great movie Artificial Intelligence, a woman questions the morality of creating a living robot for the sake of fulfilling human needs. "What responsibility does a person hold toward that robot in return?", she asks. The man who makes the robots responds: " But in the beginning, didn't God create Adam to love him?" . If God did it, so can we, the man reasons (never stopping to wonder if God was right). And so the best interests of the living and feeling robot are cast aside in the name of "love." Human beings who seek to create babies are seeking a creature who will be forced to love them, and fulfill their need for purpose and enjoyment in life. Rarely do they consider what responsibility they owe towards the unborn life. The first responsibility a parent should obviously have is to prevent any serious harm from befalling the life they have chosen to create. The sheer impossibility of securing the child from serious harm leads to the only responsible option: not creating the child.
The potential depths of suffering into which any of us can be plummeted at any time, is all the reason we need to consider. From the very womb, we can be afflicted with any manner of nightmarish birth defects which will afflict for a lifetime. I myself am one of the countless victims of one of those hideous genetic disorders. My face and body forever mutilated by disease; the price I pay for having been an unwitting recipient of the "gift of life." It sure is a costly gift, eh? Perhaps if my parent's had been more educated as to mother nature's insane potential for cruelty, and less hoodwinked by all the beautiful babies on the tv commercials, they may have chosen not to play the game of Russian Roulette with my genome.
But most babies come out fine, you argue. Only a few unfortunates suffer the grisly fate of catastrophic birth defects. It may be true that most babies come out physically and mentally alright. But for how long can they stay that way? During midieval times, a torture device existed known as the Judas chair. The Judas chair was a spiked object over which the naked victim would be held in a harness and ropes. The victim could then be lowered onto the spike which would pierce into his anus. Another delightful torture device was the Pear. This metal instrument would be inserted into an orifice of the victim, such as the vagina, and expanded until tissues were stretched and torn. We can only imagine the agony of what victims were thinking and feeling as they felt skin and organs being pushed passed the breaking point. As they were led into the torture chamber, don't you think they wanted their mothers to take it all back? The great "gift of life" that had been bestowed? The gift that made possible the tearing of flesh, the shockwaves of pain running through the nerves, the horror of being completely under the control of those who had no limit to the amount of pain they were willing to inflict? Don't you imagine that the mothers of these victims...if they could have gazed into a crystal ball whilst pregnant, and foreseen the torture their child would undergo...would rather have killed themselves than to have brought forth a life doomed to suffer in this way?
But we are no longer living in the dark ages. Certainly the times have changed. But human nature has not. Unit 731, the Holocaust, 9/11, sadistic murders; how many more lessons do we need on the nature of humanity? Fire, cold, starvation, disease, drought, and old age: if humanity doesn't get you, nature sure will. For all we know the sun might explode tomorrow. "But scientists say that's impossible..." Yeah, and scientists are always right about everything aren't they? How much selfishness does it take to toss all of that reality out of mind so that we might satisfy ourselves with the creation of a new mini-me whose purpose is to distract us from all of that reality.
Of course we can always choose to do what humans do best: Justify. "Well you see, all that pain is worth it if they go to heaven in the end....." Reeallly? Let's subject you to the Pear for a few minutes and see just how worth it you think it is. If you're going to believe in a heaven, you had better believe in a hell. Now let's subject you to the Pear for all of eternity...
We are not making babies. We are making adults. It's time that we all started acting like adults and setting our selfish desires aside.
By Rachel Cole.
Image by Charles Allan Gilbert (All is Vanity).
Image by Charles Allan Gilbert (All is Vanity).