On days like today, with planes being shot out of the sky and what looks like wars erupting around the globe, it’s easy to get down on this whole “being alive” thing. Why do we keep going? Why did our parents bring us into a world in which little boys meet their death by being bombed on a beach?
Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan asked the question directly this afternoon in a post titled “Why Would I Ever Want to Bring a Child Into This Fucked Up World?” It’s a valid question, and one that I’m sure most parents consider before choosing to conceive new life.
My mother told me that my father was skeptical about having children for the same reasons. Life was complicated. War. All the jerks that abound and who may make life a living hell for his potential progeny. Why make another human suffer through a turn on this crappy planet? While I’m not quite sure how they resolved it, it’s clear they did because my brother and I are here.
I won’t lie; the thought of “God, can I really bring a child into a world that has days that hurt our hearts this badly?” crossed my mind around the fourth heartbreaking news item I read today. But then I thought about it. Why bring a child into this fucked up world? Because, odds are, your child will be a source of light in a dark world. And not sure while he or she is young and adorable and makes strangers smile on the train just by being there. But because, if you do your best to raise the child right, he or she will be a force for good.
Not in an earth-shattering way in that he or she may cure cancer or find a solution for peace in the Middle East, although it’s certainly within the realm of possibility. But in the way that matters to all of us insignificant specks that just try to get through the day. Think of those people that bring you love. The friend who knows the right thing to say or the right bottle of wine to pick up when you’re feeling blue. The mentor who teaches you what you need to know to grow into the career and life you’ve chosen for yourself. Those who fix a broken wheelchair for a veteran.
Without a doubt, the world can be a horrifying place. But part of being a parent is teaching your child how to rise above it, to look for the small, good things in the world and to be one of those good things for someone else. They will fail at it some days. They’ll have phases in which they bully and are cruel. But you keep teaching them that the light is stronger than the dark, they’ll give it up. They’ll find that light. And that’s exactly what this fucked-up world needs.