Friday, October 14, 2011

The ones who choose not to

A recently released UN report on world health, states that there will be an estimated 4% increase in the number of children suffering from malnutrition in the African continent by 2014. Not only that, due to global warming and other environmental hazards, the climate will continue to be unpredictable and food production will considerably lessen in the coming years.
It is nothing out of the ordinary to be greeted with bad news early in the morning these days, but the thought of starving infants in some corner of the world, forces you to eye your breakfast with a sense of profound guilt. Just when you and me are busy planning another vacation in the Maldives or thinking of getting some elite club membership, there are people out there who are fighting for a morsel of food in unimaginably adverse conditions.
This led me to wonder. Why do parents bring children into the world they cannot feed?
Why is the population of the world growing at an exponential rate when we are running out of valuable resources at an equally alarming rate? Why do people still make a big deal out of a woman who doesn't have a child?

Since the dawn of civilization, we've been entrusted with the task of devising ways to carry our races forward and ensure the survival of our species.
Get married. Have kids. And when your kids grow up, make it your first and foremost duty to pester them into getting married and have kids in turn.

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I don't know if I'm venturing into uncharted territory by questioning accepted social institutions, but shouldn't marriage be an individual choice and not a compulsion? Shouldn't the question of having children, also be given a lot of thought?

I remember a teacher from my high school, who had a perfectly blissful marital life. She was above 40 at the time I was in the 7th grade and still childless. She was also glamorous and accomplished.
We came to know much later that she and her husband had mutually decided that they would not have any children. Now I don't understand why others (like the opinionated parents of many of my classmates) had to worry their heads over the whys and why-nots of this or concoct cock-and-bull stories about my teacher's 'infertility'. Can't remaining childless be a conscious decision on someone's part?

Quite recently I came across the information (all thanks to an amazing Korean drama) that a child born to parents who have both crossed the age of 35 is at a higher risk of having Down's Syndrome. It's not like I'm judging those who become parents at an older age than most. But do people ever pause to think about the repercussions of raising a child who may not have the same cognitive abilities as the rest, who maybe at the receiving end of everyone's sympathy for the rest of his/her life?

I have no idea whatsoever about how parenthood might feel like, but when I think about it from a rational point of view and observe so many people around me, I realize not everyone is made out to be a good father or a good mother. Giving birth to a healthy, normal baby may keep gossiping neighbors and nagging parents/in-laws at bay and end your fears of dying childless. But then it also marks the beginning of a perilous new journey fraught with more difficult hurdles. Bringing up a child is not the same as raising a Labrador puppy.
That is why we need to think a million times before judging a couple who do not have a child. Or a person who has not married or is reluctant to start a family.
More important than just adding one more to the ever-expanding sea of humans, is to inculcate good values in your young one, so that one day he/she can contribute positively towards building a better world and a society where dichotomous opinions may co-exist in harmony, where people learn to take responsibility for their own actions and those who choose to defy established norms are not frowned upon by the rest.



Defiant Princess said...

I often wonder the same you know. whats the need of reproduction if you cant take the proper most care of your offspring!?

commendable post.

Rahul Bhatia said...

A thoughtful post!At least educated people can make a rational decision in this regards.

Anish said...

Exactly.I see this all around.Parents anxious to get their children married off,anxious to have grandchildren.Specially if it's a girl the social pressure is even more to get her married off.And this is what I don't get-Why do people HAVE to get married?Why can't people have a choice without being judged?Firstly it's a personal choice as it's THEIR life and it's a huge decision.Secondly,after marriage having kids and raising them is a BIG responsibility.People should give this a lot of thought before taking these decisions and not be influenced by social conventions and pressure.Narrow-minded people all around will always be judgmental.The best thing to do is ignore them.

Well written and on a very relevant issue.

Alka Gurha said...

You have raised such valid points, but alas we do not have our priorities in place.

nkr4068 said...

The information about Down's Syndrome is new,n in all, an amazing article, provoking thoughts & conveying truth.

Red Handed said...

Seriously! If you cannot take care f a child, if you are psychologically, emotionally, materially not strong enough, then having a baby just for the sake of unburdening the societal pressure is wrong.

Strong post!

Nethra said...

Many of my friends are already producing kids. I should ask them to read this post. And one of my neighbors is childless. You should hear her complain about it all the time. Sigh!

Purba said...

Emancipation comes from knowing what you want from life and the ability to say No.

But your write-up started on a different note and ended on another.

Prateek said...

Post was different. Came with a strong message.
If you have ability to reproduce; being jiffy is absurd.
A lot of things has to keep in account; from house space to education.

Someone is Special said...

a valid point.. Why not to adapt children? instead of adding one more to the ever-expanding sea of humans? Start thinking...

Someone is Special

Giribala said...

Profound!! Nice write up Sammy! In individualistic western societies, most people do take responsibility for their own actions and those who choose their own norms are not frowned (most of the time) upon by the rest....

Avada Kedavra said...

very valid points. Nice post Sammy.. Like China, we should have a one-child per family policy atleast.

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