Sociomics. Part 4: Having children today is an act of cruelty
The family remains what may be the most conservative element of the modern society. Family traditions are rooted deep in the past. But the family has not been up to the modern demands and requirements, so it needs modernization. Vee and Jay are proposing a Union as the next iteration of a Family. A Union is the social unit of the future.
You may not ready for this yet, but your kids will definitely like it…
Jay swings one leg as he sits in his chair by the table in the living room opposite Vee, who stands at the fireplace.
Vee: I rode the subway yesterday, Jay – can you believe that? When is the last time you were in the subway?
Jay: (sighs, then – quietly) The subway is a gathering place for losers willing to be who they're told to be. The perfect place to free people en massefrom a trivial kind of life. I’m not like them. I’m the kind who speaks... (leans out over the table with a smile, staring up at Vee) And how long have you been into these experiments? (laughs)
Vee: Errr... I mean... no, no, no. I just wanted to be around people, so to speak. So I was down there, and it was like a museum of wax figures. It was morning and they were all going to work. They obviously weren't happy about it all. They looked exhausted and unhappy with life. A far cry from your happy-go-lucky mug! One look at that face and it’s obviously that here’s a man who's found himself and who is crazy about life! (gives a little chuckle)
Jay: Hah... (irony enters his voice) And what's surprising about that? Morning, the subway, going to work. And my face is a wonder! Many people when they see it suddenly understand where to find the real problems in the world. (runs a thumb across his throat and laughs an artificial laugh)
Vee goes to the window and stands with his back to Jay. He speaks with passion.
Vee: You can't even imagine – there are billions of people all over the world riding to work every morning in that state! Billions of miserable people every day doing what they don't want to do. By and large they are that same “common man” we’ve been talking about this whole time. They plod on through a meaningless existence, living identical, interchangeable lives we can describe more or less like this: birth, school, university maybe, work, family, retirement, death. They live mindlessly, never thinking about anything but menial work-a-day problems and what they're told to do at their jobs.
Vee: They have no time to grow or to seek answers to those “silly” questions about the meaning of life or what their purpose is. And worst of all, ninety-five percent of them are unhappy with that life, but they're compelled to accept it anyway.
Jay: (hangs his head, silent)
Vee: All that despite the fact that they have every opportunity to change it. They have children! They could raise them to be different, to choose another path. But society is built to prevent people from living differently. In childhood, everybody thinks they can move mountains, that they're free individuals, that ahead of them – them, specifically, personally – a bright and wondrous future lies waiting. But they grow up and are transformed into “common men.” Sometimes sooner, sometimes later. That condition eats away at their souls and spirits, turning them into mindless zombies. The system works like a factory assembly line Henry Ford would have been jealous of. Whole generations of human beings flushing their lives down the toilet. It’s cruel and very, very sad.
Vee: It’s painful to watch young people who were once full of joy, hopes and ideas turn slowly into dreary, senseless beings who live on only because they're so afraid of dying. And the most courageous of them end their lives by suicide.
Vee: People still haven’t learned to live a consciously considered life, to use their abilities for a real purpose. It's all like some kind of failed experiment that's spiraled out of control. They don't know how they ought to raise the new generation, and the current approach to the question amounts only to transferring to their offspring all their own failings, weaknesses and failures. And with each generation, the inventory of those failings and failures only grows. You would think people would have seen this long ago, and said “Stop! We're obviously doing something wrong. Let’s stop and use our heads to think this through. And well hold off on being fruitful and multiplying the planet’s population for a bit. What’s the use of breeding new hordes of zombies?”
Jay: (snoring louder and louder until finally Vee reacts)
Vee: Hmmm... (Vee sighs, then slowly turns his back on the sleeping Jay and continues his monologue as if nothing had happened) ...but they just go on giving birth to more and more riders on this senseless and horrible merry-go-round. They have children and from the moment they’re born they’re doomed to suffering and torment. Wars, diseases, social pressures, a meaningless existence, a struggle for survival – that’s just the beginning of the list of what lies in store for newborn earthlings. And another thing that lies in wait is the cruel disillusionment with the life imposed upon them by society and by their parents. That’s really the most awful thing of all. That’s why having children in our age is a terribly cruel thing to do.
Jay awakens, stretches his body and begins to listen intently.
Vee: ...but they just go on having more and more children and the assembly line never stops. The planet’s population is soon going to top ten billion. As the planet's resources shrink and shrink. What does that mean? It means that in the near future the struggle for survival and for a decent life is going to be a struggle of people against one another, and that struggle is going to get increasingly nasty. It’ll lead to all kinds of social catastrophes – that includes revolutions, wars and other forms of violence. So anyone born now has very little chance to life a full and happy life. They can expect only mindless consumption and a harsh struggle for that consumption. There is absolutely nothing more contemporary society is capable of offering the coming generation!
Jay: (with a sneer) What happened to faith in a bright future? That’s their favorite thing to do – feed the “gray masses” promises of that bright future in the name of which we're supposed to tolerate a bit of suffering today. A bright future that – of course! – never actually comes. Because there is no bright future. All there is is the present! You have to live today. Here and now, that’s all.
Vee: (shudders, turns about, sees that Jay has awoken and is sitting, sprawled over his chair)
Jay: You're taking a rather one-sided view of the issue... a bird's eye view. (leans towards Vee and speaks in a low, nasty tone) You need to look deeper and find the root of the problem! You need to see what people are like on the inside, with all their failings and foibles. You need to kill the parasite with truth (bangs the table with a fist), stamp out their illusions and lies, and yank everything they've so carefully hidden out of their lousy little excuses for souls into the light of day! (cackles with glee)
Vee: (sits at the table opposite Jay) I see you’ve been listening closely to what I was saying. (smiles a sarcastic smile) What do you mean, Jay?
Jay: Oooooh, my... Well, let me tell you, then. I do have a few little thoughts on the topic! (grins his evil grin) First of all we have to figure out why they do it, from their own self-centered point of view, without trying to make things prettier than they really are. That's important here, right?
Vee: Agreed. I do want to understand why it is that they keep bringing forth more and more children if they have nothing to give them. Well, except for that “bright” future, of course. (the sarcastic smile returns for a moment)
Jay: (putting his feet up on the chair opposite him) Well, then... they’d blather on, all kinds of nonsense, like (in an affected voice): “I want to leave something behind when I’m gone,” or “I want to have an heir to all I have,” or “Somebody to bring me a cup of water when I’m old and gray,” although who the hell should give a damn (laughs), or “That was the way of our ancestors – they lived this way, and we must do the same”... blah, blah, blah. And in reality they're out to breed yet another monster that will continue, just like them, after they die (pauses, looks at Vee, and points a finger at him) - that is, instead of them, in their place – to mindlessly pollute and wear out our beloved little planetoid.
Jay: That a-hole spews out another ridiculous mountain of garbage, and he’ll go running around, here and there, no idea what to do with himself, sensing his own pointlessness, and then, just because that’s what he's supposed to do, that's the way it is, he gives birth to another lowlife jerk-off who will make his own “contribution” to the ecology of planet Earth...
Vee: You mean that, try as you may, giving birth will always be a way to resolve certain problems of one's own?
Jay: Yes, yes, that’s it exactly (in a hoarse, quiet voice) From “just to pass the time away” to “to preserve my marriage.” That’s about as far as their imagination takes them! (waves his hand in dismissal)
Vee: Let’s stop and look at that in a bit more detail (tapping the tabletop with his a fingertip) The matter requires a more detailed examination, since it arises in the minds of millions of young people facing a choice: to be themselves and seek their own path in life, or to give in to public opinion and traditions and have two or three kids to bring them comfort in the drudgery of their black-and-white lives.
Vee: We have to show the young people that society and its medieval traditions are deceiving them, putting thoughts in their heads about obligations to have a family in order to have kids and raise them. And they justify all that with phrases like “children are the light of your life!” Go ahead, tell us the whole truth, go on now! (with another casual wave of his hand)
Jay: (laughs) I’m grateful for your confidence! (pauses, smiling at Vee, then goes on speaking with that same, somewhat forced smile) These idiots never can seem to get that giving birth, comforting yourself with the hope that oh, it’s my kid, he’ll carry on my line – It’s not going to work. The answer to the question “who needs your “line” or somebody who’ll carry it on,” is a resounding: “Nobody.” They naively imagine that when they die they’ll sit around up in heaven and be all happy that their descendents are still thinking about them. Hahahaha! (laughs loudly, then suddenly leans over the table to speak to Vee in a bitter voice) Nobody actually gives a shit.
Jay: And when he dies, a person is gone forever! Boom! (spoken in a soft voice, wild eyes accompanied by fingers spread wide in the air) And the existence of the entire world comes to an end for him. (pauses) And perhaps they believe their children aren't like everyone else and will keep loving them forever, venerate them? (loudly, emotionally) Poppycock! Self-deception. The truth is hidden deep in the soul of every man. And everybody, everybody knows it! (swings an index finger at Vee)
Vee: Yes, they do love to to get all maudlin, especially the men. They usually say things like: “They're my own flesh and blood!” You have to wonder what they're feeling at a moment like that. Pride? In what, though? A thrill of awe and dread? But before what? And you know what’s the most tawdry part of it all? That for the majority of them, what’s important about children is whether they're oursor someone else's. This one is my child, my blood, I won't let anything hurt him. This one, though, is someone else's kid – he can go jump off a cliff for all I care. They’re all worried sick about their own children, but about other people’s they couldn’t care less.
Vee: They've been so conditioned to think that family tree and blood are supposed to be important to them that if they suddenly discovered that their child wasn't really their child by blood, they’d stop loving it. Or love it less. Their feelings for the child would undergo a serious change. A curious phenomenon, is it not?
Jay: You know (glancing around him as he speaks, biting his nails, and at the same time hardly able to contain his laughter) those morons, they... they even think they can make their offspring these wonderful, special, good people! (finally laughs, loud) Perfect little good people! (laughs even louder) And what would an oddball outcast like that do surrounded by all the other jerk-offs who are nothing like him? Maybe all by himself he’ll change them all, make it right? (another loud laugh) I'd worry about him being the one they change.
Vee: They believe that children are their property, like a bicycle or a cell phone. And that they have the right to do whatever they want with them. No, they don't believethat, they're certainthat children are their property! (nods)
Jay: Let’s play “good parent - bad parent.” Let’s go to a playground, you know, where parents (pronounces the word with disgust) sit with their little kids in the sandbox. We’ll take their interviews, the topic will be “Why Did You Decide to Have a Child?” If they lie, they die in agony. If they tell the truth – a quick, painless death. If they really tell the whole truth, we could just shoot them in the leg. (falls about laughing)
Vee: (thinks, silent)
Jay: For example (again, in the voices of his characters) “I had you so your father wouldn't leave me. But he left me anyway, for another woman, and now I don't know what to do with you – I never thought about that when I was having you.” Or “the two of us were a little bored, so we decided to add someone to the next thirty of so years of our lives, like buying a toy... beyond that, the world doesn't particularly need you. There are enough people on the planet as it is!” “Boom!” That’s a leg shot.
Jay: Or this: “Little one, you came into this world because we love children and we wanted one of our own,” or “you’re the child of a great love, we wanted you so badly!” ...”BAM!” That’s a bullet in the head. You’ll have to forgive me (shrugs) - just not sincere enough. (laughs)
Vee: Hold on, Jay – you’re not playing fair! They arebeing entirely sincere with you. They really believe what they say. What kind of reason do you want to hear from them?
Jay: The rules of the game say I’m supposed to get all possible truth, with all the sordid details. (smiles a bitter smile at Vee) They’re deceiving themselves if they think that, and they mean to deceive everyone around them – Including me. But they know the truth, even if they try to keep it hidden deep inside. And when their life is on the line, that truth can't help but come out. It's the first thing that slips to the surface, the first thought...
Jay: And only someone who never goes to playgrounds, because he’s got no reason to, knows the reason I want to hear the truth. (a cunning smile) People like that have nothing to hide, although they do have other sins. For them I have other games cooked up! More interesting and varied games...
Vee: And yet I still don't fully understand your point. Let’s try to look at it all from another point of view. The desire to continue one’s line – I mean here the human race – is encoded in to the human genome. The reproductive function is built into human physiology. What do you want from them? For them to tell you that they want children? It's a natural instinct.
Jay: Hahaha! No, no, noooo! A natural instinct – that’s just another excuse they pound into people’s heads when they're still kids, part of the required content they stick in there. A person has a brain, he has a rational, thinking mind, so that dumb argument doesn't work here. A person isn't an animal, and it's those convolutions in his skull that make all the difference. (taps his temple with a finger and looks up at Vee, his head bent low) The fact that a function is built in doesn't require you to use it... (pause) You should only have kids for the sake of the kids, for the sake of the coming generation!But it's been a long, long time since I heard anything like that... You see, it's not just a reason, or words. It’s not a game. It’s extremely serious (speaks in a tense and intense voice, stroking his chin with the tips of his fingers)... extremely... today's “common man” will never know that for real, they’ll never be aware of it, feel it in their bones.
Vee: You mean that children should be had for the noblest of reasons, yes? And that people should take having children as seriously as they possibly can, because it's a demanding, creative process. It’s the co-creation of the next generation. It’s the creation of a new image of mankind, the humanity of the future. Having and raising children, people assume the role of the creator of the future of human society. Am I right? (pause) Mm-hm... Go on...
Jay: To the eternal question “What is there to live for”, the world of people – and it’s already millennia that the world is going, year, after year, to hell in a handbasket – always gives the same answer: “For the sake of your family. For the children.”... Makes me sick... (ponders) A cave man can never raise a civilized individual. His level consciousness doesn't allow him to even come close to that. And so what do we see? Yes! Just what you said back at the beginning of this whole thing!
Jay: Yes, yes, I was listening. (a cunning smile) And here come to a big, fat period on the page. A question: (pauses, then, in a tone of loud indignation) “What the hell do we need a person like that for when there are already seven billion lazy good-for-nothing people walking about the planet, and even they don't know what to do with their lives, and they in principle have no idea what they're even doing here?”
Vee: That's a question of upbringing and how conscious we are of what we do in our lives. They don't teach that in schools, or even in the university. Parents don't talk about it with their children. Instead, they force the kids to go to school and absorb a heap of useless, pointless information they’ll hardly ever use over the rest of their lives. And today, responsible parents take it still farther. They think you need to start overloading a child with all that when he's only three! Chess, dancing, gymnastics, hockey, foreign languages, mathematics, singing, music and lots of other stuff. Modern society is completely certain that to bring up a good and happy citizen they have to start stuffing his head with all kinds of nonsense as early as possible.
Vee: Jay, they've stolen the children's childhood! They’ve chosen to take away their will and their freedom before the children even have a chance to realize how valuable those things are. How cruel is that?
Jay: (in a voice of disgust, making faces) This is a monstrous, malformed society... a monster... with all the parents and the surrounding world it's going to destroy and consume each and every young soul... it’ll make zombies of them, identical, it’ll force them to serve their “obligations” to everyone – other children, parents, old folks, but no one escapes it! Got to take this wretched institution of the family worldwide and wipe it to fucking kingdom come!
Vee: Destroying's easier than creating. Do you have thoughts on what to replace the family with? How children shouldbe raised? Who should decide how they get raised?
Jay: You really want the answer? (pause) This is a whole new can of worms here.
Vee: You're right, it is. But we should definitely come back to the question.
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