Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day. Because we're selfish.

I feel like the most selfish person in the world.

It’s possible that may even be a true statement.

But my selfishness is a direct result of my instincts. You see, when it comes right down to it, the instincts of every living biological creature, animal or plant, protozoa or virus, directs us to one thing.


As higher-living organisms, we have been able to direct our urges towards other methods of satisfaction – everything from self-satisfaction (practiced by all primates and possibly some cetaceans) to barrier and chemical methods of birth control (practiced primarily by humans, although this may also be practiced by cetaceans) – but the genesis of sexual desire originates in our instinct to reproduce.

As a biological female in this cycle of reproduction, there are certain instincts that humans with this chromosomatic skill set also enact (though some are better at suppressing this instinct than others*). We must care for and protect this little creature who changed our own chemical makeup, leeched nutrients and vitamins and minerals and nearly every single part of its genetic makeup from our bodies during its term inside of us.

Once we have borne this creature unto the planet, we may continue to follow these instincts and reproduce more of these tiny creatures. But once we cease our creation of more creatures, our work is complete. Yes, we have to tend to these beings, nourish them, defend them, guide them through the perils and pleasures of the planet, but in essence, our work is done. We have left a piece of ourselves to remain here long after our journey down long road to our ultimate demise begins.

But we don’t think about it that way. We make this all a wonderful thing – we meet someone, we fall in love, we get pregnant, we have child or children, love them, and make sure that we raise them to be the best human beings they can be.

All we are trying to do is just live forever. We leave a piece of our DNA, just as our parents left theirs through us, and their parents through them. So that someone can know what becomes of the world after we have left it, whether our time ends at the moment we birth our child, a century after, or somewhere in between.

Those of us who choose to have children are often accused of the ultimate selfish act: bringing a baby into a world where there is nothing but discord and strife, hatred and violence. A world that is broken and seemingly irreparable. Those who choose not to have children often wonder why anyone would ever want to bring a child into such a place.

We do because our instincts command us to be selfish. We want those qualities of ours – kindness, generosity, benevolence, love, happiness – to stay on this planet forever. And we are leaving them here the only way we know how, the only way that has seemed to work for millennia.  We put our same qualities into those children that our instincts gave us the desire to create, love, and care for. As humans, we have learned how to easily control our instincts. But sometimes, when we make the world all about ourselves, we just want to indulge those instincts because we know we can make this world a better place.

To those of you who loathe this day because it serves as a painful reminder of what you have lost, remember you are the bearer of history. You are the eyes and ears and thoughts and tastes and smells of your mothers. By living your life, you are communicating all that she is no longer able to experience. You have not lost her; you have rebuilt her within you.

*And to those of you who no longer have any emotional ties to your mothers although she remains alive, you have been given the gift to make the world an even better place. You have halted the cycle of emotional destruction. You have the freedom to create your own cycle, and distance yourself from her malevolence. You are key people in the evolution of humankind. Celebrate this day by welcoming the changes you have brought, and relieve yourself of any guilt or hatred. You are too valuable to allow yourselves to be consumed by the hatred derived from your biological origins.

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