Children are Like Beers- You Should Only Have Two

I am not a big dude. Clocking in at a modest 5’8” tall and a hardly robust 160 lbs., I know that there are many folks out there, including many women, that weigh considerably more than I do. And I am ok with that. After all, when it comes to a night out on the town, I make for a cheap date, even if I’m the one doing the buying. Given that I rarely drink outside of social situations, I am well aware that my alcohol tolerance barely surpasses that of a teenage gymnast (unless, of course, she’s Russian), but when I am hanging out with friends, I will often find myself enjoying an adult beverage or two. But that’s exactly it. Two should always be my limit. When I polish off my second “Daddy soda” of the evening, I generally find myself with a mild but quite congenial buzz, just enough to offset the stress and bullshit of yet another week. On those rare occasions when I do imbibe more than my allotted two, I indubitably find myself feeling like crap, be it soon thereafter or sometime the next morning. Yes, even wonderful things like alcohol should have their limits, and when it comes to mine, I know it should it be two.

The same could be said of children. I absolutely adore my two little noisemakers, and having them as a part of my life has unquestionably been the best thing that has ever happened to me, but even the prospect of having a third child was quite enough to leave me running as fast as humanly possible to the doctor for the vasectomy I never could have imagined wanting before I had children. Kids bring us joy, perspective, gratitude, and humility, but they also bring us early onset dementia, gray hair, and enough stress to overwhelm a Tibetan monk, which is probably part of the reason they don’t have kids in the first place.

But if you think my little global microcosm of 3 human beings is struggling at times to meet the demands of its two youngest members, just imagine how our planet is faring in meeting the needs of 7.9 billion world citizens. Studies indicate that the planet can comfortably sustain life for about 1.9 billion humans long-term. Problem is that we surpassed that number over a century ago in 1919. In fact, the human population remained fairly consistent for centuries, never exceeding one billion until the early 1800’s. But with the Industrial Revolution came increased fertility rates, longer life expectancies, and a higher propensity for migration, all contributing factors in an exponential growth in human population. As such, there are now twice as many people on the planet as there were when I was born in 1971 with approximately 1400 people being added just in the time it takes to read this article and 140,000 more in the course of today alone. A 2014 study conducted by demographers from several universities and the United Nations suggested that we would top 11 billion people by the end of the century, which begs the ultimate question: Just what is the impact of having all these humans roaming the planet consuming resources?

That’s some scary stuff right there…
The answer, I’m afraid, isn’t good. Our planet has already started giving us the warning signs that we better rein in this population curve, that it simply cannot sustain more and more people going forward. While the global food crisis and massive starvation may not be an ever-present reality for those of us in privileged industrialized nations that do not suffer the ravages of food scarcity, they are very much present in Africa and Asia, where 690 million people are undernourished and 9 million people die of starvation each and every year. Moreover, the carbon footprint of nearly 8 billion people is beginning to rear its ugly head as global warming continues to increase the devastation wreaked by storms, fires, and other naturally occurring phenomena. As we consume more and more of the Earth’s resources and ravage the inherent protections intended to inoculate us from these tragedies, Mother Nature is sending us a very deliberate message: Knock this shit off.

The solution is obvious: have everyone limit their reproduction to two offspring. Now I’m no Math major or anything, but I think the computation is fairly straightforward: two adults replacing themselves with two children (i.e. 2–2) = zero population growth. Problem solved.

Our world, however, is mired in gluttony and self-indulgence. What else can you call it when folks decide that they need to have more than two children in a world that is so clearly overpopulated? Some religions, notably Mormonism and Catholicism, encourage elevated rates of reproduction amongst their adherents in order to dominate the world with progeny that will gravitate towards their theological viewpoint and thus enhance their global influence. China, the world’s most populous nation, once limited couples to just one child in an effort to curb overpopulation, but has recently relaxed that restriction to 3 children per couple in order to ease the burden of an aging population by replacing them with a more robust younger generation and to continue to spread their own cultural and economic influence across the globe. Like many nations, they are obsessed with the notion of making the world look and think more like themselves.

Still, is it any different for individuals who opt for more than their fair share of children? Isn’t this a subconscious statement that the world needs more people like you, rather than all of the other people having kids these days? Or perhaps it is a reflection of their belief that they simply have more love and resources to give in raising a child. But if that truly were the case, wouldn’t the world be better off if they just adopted or gave money to a struggling family that had plenty of love to spare but not the financial means?

What it really comes down to in that case is that they just want to. Like me opting for a third or fourth beverage, it fills them with an aggrandized sense of self-importance, and makes them feel better about themselves. But just because you want to doesn’t mean you should. Unless you suffer from a severe case of megalomania and self-absorption, with an ego the size of Kim Kardashian’s backside, you realize that you and your gene pool are no better than anyone else’s and that in a world with nearly 8 billion people, we don’t need anymore of you, or anyone else for that matter. In fact, we need a lot, lot less of everyone. So be like me and stop at two. The world will thank you for helping cure its human-induced hangover.

Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Lessevery THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com

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