Don't get us wrong, we rather liked Lydia Millet's piece in the New York Times yesterday, The Child's Menagerie. It was beautifully written as she usually will have it, and it made us at once nostalgic for our own oblivious youth and terrified of the future.
But what of those children? Isn't it ironic that her concern is for our kids, the same kids that have joined the 7 billion others who are sucking up the resources that endanger the species whose extinction Millet laments? We are those kids too, undoubtedly, but it is a stark degree of cognitive dissonance to regret the loss of polar bears in your future child's present tense when the global population is largely responsible. Surely, someone as sharp as she understands the cause and effect that birthing more humans will have on this already burdened planet. It makes us wonder how she reconciled having kids in light of it.If we don’t act fast enough to save the icons that make up our natural birthright — which is likely since, as the record too often shows, it’s our chronic bad habit to turn our faces away from unpleasant sights, to hem and haw and finally act too late, when tragedy has already struck — we’ll be sending those children into a starker, poorer land whose many possibilities have been eternally foreclosed.
Maybe just send in some Endangered Species Condoms?A future mother will most likely say, when asked if her child will meet a polar bear: No, dear. The polar bears lived a long time ago, when ice still floated on the Arctic seas. The last elephants trumpeted out their calls in Africa and India before you were even born. You have nothing to fear from a prowling lioness. Nothing at all. The army fell, she may think to herself. In the end, there were no more reinforcements to send.
Turning away from our reproductive impacts is another chronic bad habit, and its a shame that many of the people celebrating her lovely op-ed probably missed that point.