"Childless by Choice" is an expression I haven't heard in years, but I still say it occasionally when I talk about my life choices.
As a baby boomer, I grew up under the threat of nuclear annihilation, with the Doomsday Clock ticking right alongside my biological clock. I was a bright enough child to understand just how stupid our world leaders can be, but also to extrapolate from the Saturday afternoon scifi films of the 50s that replayed in the 60s. One of the biggest questions of the post- World War II generation was: Could the concept of mutually-assured destruction prevent the use of nuclear weapons?
From 1945 until now the answer is perhaps "yes." We also have the examples of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima to remind us that even local nuclear damage is devastating.
The other doomsday clock of my time was world overpopulation. When it was first presented to me, the world population was 3.5 billion. It's now over 7 billion. How many people can the Earth sustain? Will we find out the hard way?
Well, we seem to have survived both threats... so far. We turned out to be smart enough not to nuke ourselves, and we developed high-yield grains to feed ourselves. Now our greatest threat now seems to be global warming. Do the children of today think, like I did as a child, "Why bring a child into this world only to watch it die in a horrible man-made disaster?"
They don't seem to be thinking this way. I was apparently the minority to think this way in my generation, too. (It didn't help that many of the men I dated were scarred from their Vietnam experience or that my family's gene pool isn't really a source of pride for me)
In hindsight, I realize there was another influence on me: the Bible. I was a weekly church-goer for almost all of my childhood. I sat through the readings and sermons barely paying attention, but what child isn't a sponge?
Reading Bart Ehrman's books brought up the issue of Christ as an apocalyptic preacher, which puts Paul's advice into context.
1 Corinthinans: What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.Is it any surprise that a church-going impressionable child should have apocalyptic fears?
The whole concept of humanity's "last days" being within our sights is a form of child abuse. Will global warming wipe us all out at once? Of course not. We would experience mass starvation, mass drowning, and mass murders but the population as a whole will dwindle, perhaps to a more manageable proportion. I'm more optimistic than I used to be, but still glad that I didn't bring any children into the world. They would now be having grandchildren whose task would be to undo the damage of Republican obstructionism and anti-environment legislation. Their offspring should be the ones to clean up their mess.
Oh yeah, and I have time to write a blog.