Do you feel satisfied with your life? Are you paying close enough attention? Do the things you have and hope to obtain in the future offer enough promise, or do you need more? Do you need to feel loved by someone who needs you, rather than waiting for appreciation from a world that couldn’t care less if you died?

Well then, do what we humans always do. Have children. How are you supposed to feel safe in this world of shitty healthcare and gutted Medicare if you know that no one else will be around to take care of you when you get old and gray? With your busy work schedule, how are you supposed to eat healthily, exercise, and stay off the couch? After a long day at work, nothing feels better than that bottle of Budweiser, that fresh new Jets game or hospital drama, and those old cushions stained with years of comfortable familiarity.

Yet when your spine bends inwards, your stomach grows ulcers, your liver turns into a piece of shoe leather, and your legs look like two broken sticks, who will be there to help you up? Help you to the bathroom? Help feed you bland food? After your busy work-day, that pays for the clothes on your back, the cable on your telly, the gas in your car, the lawn and chimney and rooms in your house or apartment, the Perdue Roaster in your fridge, you deserve a break, a time in your life to stop working, to stop thinking, feeling, fighting the inevitable collapse of your world around you, that forces you into a life of work for the purpose of things, items, stuff.

And what makes this break possible? The federal government? No. The obvious thing that, despite all these cyclically unfulfillable needs, will make sure that some aspect of your life has meaning, has resonance, and that all of your stuff and bodily functions will be duly taken care of, before and after you pass from this earth.

Children. The values of work, and possessions, will guide him or her or preferably them towards the wonderful places you have found yourself over the years: feelings of inadequacy, wanting more and not getting it, resentment towards your parents, all the betrayed intoxicating promises of “you can be whatever you want to be,” before the equivalently sobering mantra of “you won’t make any money with THAT major on your college degree” is shoved in your face like a deed on your future that someone else owns, not to mention respect for your elders, the same elders that told you the same things you’ll tell your own children in euphemism: “you were born to amuse me, for me to take care of, to add some meaning to my drab and unfulfilled life, to let me know what my children would look like and what kind of people they would be, to stand for some abstract promise of a future that I denied myself, and that will eventually be denied you, too, before I get old and need to be taken care of due to some stress-induced disease, the result of living a life where dreams rest safely in my youth, as yours will someday.”

Dreams, all of it, dreams. But children are real, solid things, with feelings and needs, and if you don’t tend to them, they will die. Not like the rest of the problems of this world: war, hunger, poverty, exploitation. These are but abstract issues, hardly real or solid, without inlet, without routes, without reconciliation to myself, for were I to address them, I would be forced to take responsibility for them. For these values—family, and possessions—these are the ways in which people like me ignore the suffering of the world, and focus our concerns on the “here and now,” the fulfillment of perceived needs, while the politicians and trillionaires create the conditions by which such misery and suffering are perpetuated. Yet I have no power, I have no voice except my vote….but my child will.

Ah-ha, not the power to confront, organize around, and defeat these conditions—that would take them away from me—but to be my way of feeling powerful, influential… he or she or preferably them will be shaped and molded by my “policies,” my “reforms,” to reproduce the same conditions that drove me rightly to act against my dreams and in my own material self-interest, which is a value that has never yet failed me. Perhaps one or two of my personal failings will be corrected, but in general, I will be important to this little tyke, loved, necessary, and not helpless or anonymous as this unaddressable world would have me be. He or she or them will be a mirror that can help me when I’m too weak to stand, too hungry to eat, too riddled with angst and unrest to even act civilly anymore, who will tend to me no matter what, and whose own dreams—needs, desires, impulses to address the world I know to be out of reach—can go by the wayside, while my house and car and things I’ve bought and held onto will all be dealt with, and “self-sacrifice” stands as the cardinal “family value,” while the real sacrifice is that of a world worth living in, where I don’t justify the starving and misery and death with my own sense of helplessness, where I don’t rise to the arrogance of a self-fulfilled prophecy, and wonder why those who suffer most hate me, and my child, and my definition of freedom.

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