From last week’s comments section: How I would answer the commonly heard refrain, “How can I bring a child into this [negative association] world?”
The short answer: Consciously.
The long answer: The prevailing themes of Western thought seem to follow the narratives of dominance, exploitation, competition, and fear. Humanity has been at this for quite some time, though the West has certainly turned it into an art. While some of us hear the phrase, “Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it” consider that to be a threat, the power-brokers are thrilled to repeat it, because it is profitable for them. That is what matters.
I can look at the injustices that arise from the Western mindset and cower in fear about it, viewing the world as some evil stew of disdain, hatred, and danger. Or, I can look at it as a small minority imposing its will, sometimes a malevolent will, on order and peace in this world. It’s a matter of perspective. Either the world is all bad or it has some bad actors. I pick the latter.
Living in the current epicenter of prevailing Western thought, I have a responsibility to counteract those actions as best I can in my daily life. To live peacefully, hopefully, and compassionately as a model of what is possible as we collectively awaken to the fact that the path we are taking is not sustainable for ourselves, the animals, or the trees. Remember, the Earth will survive without us. We are responsible for keeping ourselves here. Greed, war, and inequality, while popular with the few who hold power, do not have to be a rock solid fact of life.
That starts with the next generation. My future little one.
When I explained why I wanted a child to the co-founder of my school, she said, “How dare you not bring a child into this world?” Even if it comes in a small dose, any effort to change the trajectory of the story is important to me. When two people who believe in compassion, peace, and justice combine this spirit into one tiny ball of energy, isn’t that the moment where anything is truly possible?
The future kiddo is a blank slate and I know the work it will take to keep the prevailing Western messaging from etching marks on that slate. Sara and I can do our best to instill in it (and since we’re not planning to find out the sex, it’s an it) the values we hold dear about community, being good to one another, and living kindly. Then, when we the kiddo comes into contact with the narrative of our time, it will be able to navigate those waters.
This does not mean that this will be an easy task. Next week, as I kick off Body Month on this site, I will be discussing the major Inadequacy Industry that is built up to keep us in a constant state of self loathing, so I know that every choice we make with our child will be a choice about taking part in the conversation this industry has endless assets to promote. Tens of thousands of people are living within the industry’s conversation (not by choice, mind you, because they lack an advertising budget) and when anyone – adult or child – chooses to live outside of it rather than slot into it, the pressure to return to it is immense. We all want a child to live happily and fit in, so the key will be to find a community where that is possible while promoting cooperation, dignity, joy, and love.
It used to be fairly reliable that going to college would be a way to advance in our society. My parents set that as a goal for me and my brother, because they wanted us to have that opportunity. They achieved it. I loved the learning it provided, even if the experience was at times trying. Then I noticed the Inadequacy Industry at work when a bunch of English majors were going to the investment banking recruiting sessions at school. I was asked if I was going, and I couldn’t fathom why I would want a career that had nothing to do with what I studied. I knew I wasn’t going to fit in with this way of thought, though it has taken a decade of hard lessons to start articulating my vision for an alternative path. The prevailing narrative played out when my mom was told by various people that due to the paths we’d followed in life, my brother (a teacher) and I (an aspiring actor, director, substitute teacher, writer, wellness guy) were “wasting” our educations, because we went to an expensive school. My family had taken the view that education itself was both the means and ends. Oops!
As my parents had for me, my dream is for my child to learn many things for the sake of learning them and to be a good person. The path toward achieving that will draw itself out, so I am not setting up college as the ultimate goal. Who knows where the kid’s interests will draw it and what it will take for this bundle of energy to get there?
The task Sara and I have at hand: Learn from history. Don’t repeat it. Step away from the paradigm. Make compassion, peace, justice, equality, love, nature, and joy paramount. The world is not inherently cruel. And who knows, maybe our kid will be the one to lead us away from the cruelty a small amount of individuals perpetrate.
How could we not bring a child into this world?
May is Body Month here at the blog. Discussions about the beingness of our humanity will take over for a month:
- May 5: Casual Nakedness and the Inadequacy Industry
- May 12: The Pregnant Body
- May 19: Junk Bondage
- May 26: Three-Week Vegan
Also, I have been blogging daily about the Spring Cleanse I am on over at Rooted Wellness, April 24 – May 15.