Doing My Bit?

Living in India it is blatantly, in-yer-face obvious that we have a global population crisis. At least - it should be. Strangely, to most Indians, the pressure is on to marry young and then breed breed breed. It's very confronting as a Westerner, to see your friends pushed towards forced marriages and the idea that they *must* have children immediately. I'm sure I'll blog about arranged marriage at some point, (when I have the energy to tackle my ever-so strong feelings!) but when it comes to the pressure to have kids, it's very hard for me to understand how people can't see the evidence that is right in front of them. Right in front of them from the moment they step out the door and jostle with the millions in their crowded cities competing for the basic necessities of life. Right in front of them on their congested and polluted roads. Right in front of them in their underfunded, crowded state hospitals, and certainly right in front of them in the nationwide slums that seem to be around every corner, never leaving any doubt that this is India. A billion people.

But, this is a whole cultural legacy we're talking about. It takes a lot of analytical thought and willpower to fight that... to come up with your own ideas and decisions for your future. It is hard for me to imagine much of that happening in India for many generations to come. There is no tradition of personal rebellion there, not like we have. No 1960's in India's past, their youth don't go through the teenage years of finding themselves and breaking away from their parents. It's just a different way of thinking, not one I understood after two years living there - perhaps less after two years!

The contrast with China and their one child policy is so dramatic. Obviously that is a pretty tough rule - and has caused many people to sacrifice their own dreams of the family they may wish to have. It's an example of thinking on a global scale, more for survival of the masses than the individual.

This is an extremely sensitive subject. It touches at the core of human nature. Most people want a family - or think they do because of family/community expectations. I've known since I was a child that I didn't want children, so I can't really comment on that instinctual urge, but I respect that people feel it. I feel that many people go ahead and have children without much thought, and don't realise how big the life change will be. Perhaps in a perfect world only the people who sincerely want to would have children, and provide loving safe homes for all. We don't think on a species level about most things - but since we are talking about global warming and climate change and everything that might impact our survival, surely we should try to think about the part we play in this too.

It was good to see the subject brought up in a BBC editorial. Discussion is a start. Population: The elephant in the room



11/20/09, 11:48 PM

Another excellent blog and pleased to read the BBC article which I had not seen previously.


1/5/10, 8:47 PM

From a biological standpoint, our success as an organism is how much we manage to reproduce, and our usefulness ends there. Witness how everything goes downhill after those peak years, and often sooner! :(

I hear you on the India thing - however there is a coherence to the social structure of marry-who-we-say-so-and-have-kids that provided smaller village communities (that we mostly lived in) a stability and sustainability for centuries that would not have been possible otherwise.. then along came the industrial revolution and it all went to shit. Har har.


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