In the wake of the Boston marathon bombings, a lot of people asked how anyone can bring children into today’s world; a world where such atrocities are possible.
The most interesting thing about this line of questioning is that it assumes 2 things. First, that today’s world is somehow worse than the world of yesteryear; scarier, more dangerous. Second, that we deserve some guarantee of a good world to feel comfortable bringing kids into it.
Neither of these assumptions is fair. First – as any student of history can attest, the quality/safety/scariness of the world doesn’t change much as time goes by. There have always been wars, disasters, risks, suffering and pain. We may be more aware of these problems now thanks to the internet and TV, but fundamentally; bad things aren’t new.
Second, where did we get the idea that we’re entitled to a world where all children are safe and sound at all times, protected even from news of bad things? This has never been the case.
And yet – we have kids anyway. And as a mother-to-be, this makes perfect sense to me.
Making the world a better place is part of the reason for living – it’s our purpose as human beings. I plan to teach my child this. I don’t plan to pretend that bad things will never happen. I don’t plan to shelter my child from news of bad things happening.
When bad things do happen (as they surely will), I hope to tell my child that it means we must work to be the best people we can. This need for help is why we must work to become good at helping.
What would be the point of life if there were no opportunity to do worthwhile things? There is no light without darkness. There is no good without bad.
Bringing children into the world and bringing them up aspiring to be forces for good strikes me as extremely worthwhile in a world where bad things will happen.
Hey Nadine! It’s been a long time. Great article. I disagree with your point about the world getting worse as time goes by but I do agree we are certainly more aware of it now. To the main point of your article, though, I couldn’t agree more. Great perspective.
PS I almost forgot how I asked these same questions when my wife and I started having kids. Congrats on the pregnancy!
Hi, Stuart – thanks for the feedback!
Do you mean you disagree with me because you think the world IS getting worse? Or have we crossed wires here? I think the world is not getting worse on balance – that there have always been atrocities and suffering. One could argue, I guess, that now that there are more people in the world, there are more bad things happening simply because of that…I know, for example, that there’s evidence that we don’t have more natural disasters, but we have more human fallout from them now because we inhabit more of the earth’s surface. An earthquake in an unpopulated area doesn’t get much press, you know?