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There Is Something About Us

There Is Something About Us October 28, 2021

Is it Thursday? It is, but I only have one thing because I’ve got to rush along. This is tragic, epic, very well written, and fascinating:

Sophia  — a 19-year old communications student who goes to a small school in British Columbia, and declined to give her last name for privacy reasons — was just approved for sterilization by her doctor in Canada. She told me she has a great relationship with her parents who are “super chill” about her decision to be child-free, despite the fact that they’re both religious Christians. She has one sister who she says is pro-kid, or at least not anti, and though Sophia doesn’t believe in God anymore — she’s left behind the church she grew up in and its “toxic culture” — she describes herself as “vaguely spiritual.”

She says taking the pill or using another non-permanent birth control would amount to kicking the can down the road since she knows she doesn’t want kids ever. “I’m going to do this invasive thing once, rest for a few days, and never think about it again.”

The teen, who has a roommate named Emily and a part-time job at a grocery store, doesn’t have a clear picture of her life besides travelling, and maybe moving to the coast, away from the “semi-desert grasslands” where she lives now. In high school she visited Ecuador and Kenya on humanitarian trips, and has dreams to hit every continent.

She was surprised that the doctor, who will sterilize her in the coming months, didn’t ask about her sexual history. If she did she would have found out that it amounts to little more than flirting and a few dates.

“I’m a virgin, and I was worried that she would send me off to have sex before she agreed to do it,” Sophia says. She acknowledged that she may come down with a case of baby fever in her twenties, but that that’s just another risk that she’s accepting. “There’s no point regretting what you can’t change,” she says. If she were to eventually find a partner who wanted kids? “That would just be a dealbreaker for me.” She doesn’t remember one moment that turned her off permanently to parenthood, but she never really liked being around other kids when she was one, and hated babysitting when she got older. “I found it draining.”

Chelsea, a 25 year-old in Sacramento, told me kids “kind of gross her out.” She’s weighing the risks of going under the knife, like infection or mood swings brought on by anesthesia, but says regret isn’t one of them. “What’s there to regret?” writes another Redditor, “That I’ll be too happy? Too free?”

This young person isn’t the only one profiled in the piece. It is a catalogue of vague distaste with the idea of children in general and of the moral malaise that more and more young women are feeling about their own existence, let alone that of another. This, this is the money bit:

According to Clay Routledge, an existential psychologist at North Dakota State University who has studied young people’s attitudes toward the future, there is a growing school of thought among twenty-somethings that humans are the problem. It’s not just that we’ve built factories and polluted the oceans and launched tons of garbage into space. It’s that there’s something about us — our psychology, our chromosomal wiring  — that makes it impossible for us to make things better.

I know, of course, that this is meant to be very bad news. And it is, epically bad news for the myth of progress, which no one has ever really believed is a myth. On the contrary, humanity has believed in its own ability to make everything better as tenaciously as they have believed in gravity. The two must go together (though only one is true, of course)–what goes up must come down but human beings will never actually come down, they will always go up. But in these latter days, some people are seeing that there is nowhere to go.  There is no “up.” And consider how true this is! How gloriously true. We are the problem. There is something about us that makes it impossible for us to make things better. It is a deadly and terrible thing that brings us down to the grave one by one by one. It is the inward turn of the self away from God. It is sin. It is the rebellion against God that we each grasp with our baby fingers the moment we are born and would go on grasping if God didn’t do something.

But he did! He did do something. He came himself all the way down because we could not go up to him because we do not have the power to make things better. With us everything is impossible but with God all things are possible. And one of the strangest and most curious things that God does is keep giving us babies, even though we don’t understand why, even though we don’t want them or him. He gives them because it is one of the most gracious ways for the human person to be pulled up out of darkness and into the light. You let another person come into the world and God uses that, in small ways, to heal you of your self-love, to cut out the poison of your selfish rebellion. Indeed, he so believes in the baby option for humanity that he came himself as one, to rescue us.

Photo by Sandro Gonzalez on Unsplash

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