Thursday, October 7, 2021

How to abort yourself

Dear H,

A while back I knew a man who prayed to God for children.  So far as I'm aware not even to get children, but to make a new man of himself.  His theory was that the more children he had the more he'd develop his character, and in the act of procreation he was creating a new version of himself -- more patient, and kind, and giving, and in general more Christian.  The fruit of the body would yield the Fruit of the Spirit.

It was an awful theory, because all I ever saw him do was flip out.  Yell and try to keep from yelling.  Because he had too many kids and couldn't handle them.  You could tell when he was holding back, almost as if he knew he'd be yelling again in no time and he had to make up for it by smiling forcibly -- a fake-ass crocodile smile on a bald head on borrowed time.  I don't know how he's doing now (or for that matter how his kids are doing), but I think of him every now and then, and I laugh about it.  We're told that God moves in mysterious ways and what they should have said was God is also a malicious, banana peel-dropping prankster.  God never made him a saint but He at least gave me a clown.      

I on the other hand never prayed to be a better father and so far I'm better off for it.  At least I never prayed this before having children.  I never even wanted children before having children.  I was happy reading books and playing games and wasting my time doing whatever -- so long as it was my whatever, and nobody else's.  The announcement that I was having children was like hearing I was being drafted and sent off to war.  I had no idea I would enjoy it so much as I do.  Which makes me think maybe I should also try combat.

Nobody can prepare you for the experience of having kids.  It belongs in its own completely isolated category, and opens categories of feelings and experiences that can't be appreciated until you get there.  And like almost all of life we're better off for not knowing.  Joys that are anticipated lose some of their savor -- we dream about them, and the fun of dreaming about them is most of the fun.  Expectations are set too high and we're often disappointed.  Nobody can do with this parenting.  What God throws at you is a total surprise -- He left you no room to spoil it.

A short list of things you never knew you needed:

-Having someone grab your pinky with his whole hand while you're walking.

-Seeing tiny people run to you at the door after you get home from work.

-Getting to pick someone up after she falls down, and letting her know it's okay, and having her hold you tight.

-Having someone ask you a question -- a real and important question about life -- and being able to answer it authoritatively.

-Sitting down next to someone and showing them how to pray, and then hearing them talk to God on their own level.

-Having someone beg you to play with them because they think you're so fun.

-Driving off to work and looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing someone in a diaper chasing you and waving from the sidewalk.

-Hearing someone cry in the middle of the night because they're scared, and getting to go to them, and knowing that they feel safe because you're there.

These are of course only a few of the things that make parenting beautiful, and they only happen a little while, and then they're gone.  And it's impossible to get most of them anywhere else.  I try to remind myself of this on hard days, but my life is moving too fast, and I'm "too busy," and I like to live inside my head -- not a bad parent, like Old Yeller up above, but an absent-while-present doofus.  It amazes me how much I throw away for things that don't matter, and how being tired from working and being in pain rob me of you while you're standing right in front of me.  Parenthood is the one time you really need meth and probably the worst time to use it.

People like to focus on the murder aspect of abortion, but from a parent's perspective, what the abortion actually does is it murders a part of yourself.  It allows someone who has no idea what beauty is yet, who thinks sex is an end in itself and there's nowhere higher to go from there, who sees all the troubles of motherhood but none of the joys, who has no idea what it really means to be loved and needed and looked up to, to snip, or poison, or vacuum away the most really precious things in life because she feels she isn't ready for them*.  And she probably isn't.  But isn't that the beauty of it?

Yours,

-J        

*Here's an interesting question for you: we all know a woman who's gotten knocked up and has no money and no man have an abortion.  But have you ever heard of a mother of two getting one?  The teenager with no kids has few qualms about getting the job done.  The mother of two knows what getting an abortion means.  She imagines taking one of her living children and slitting his throat to save time and money.  

Not to downplay the dangers of having a child out of wedlock.  A policy of life has to occur in lock-step with a policy of marriage.   Romance and fidelity and making things work have to be taken seriously before having babies can be taken lightly.  The single mom aborts her baby before she meets him, but imagine meeting him and loving him for years, and putting him in a ghetto, and having to work all day to feed him, and never being able to raise him**, and having him end up dead or in prison.  Which is worse?  To kill the person you're guaranteed to love most -- preemptively, out of bad potential?  Or to see them torn away from you because you were never able to save them?

I offer no solutions here, only a warning.     

**Moses offers some guidance here.  In Exodus 21, verses 2-4 (emphasis mine):

If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free. 
What does this mean?  Not that a master should own a slave's wife and kids, but that no man ought to start a family when he's incapable of handling one.  Thus every man who put himself into unpayable debts, who couldn't run a free farm, who crashed and burned his business, would be put under the direct supervision (and effectively training) of someone who made it.  The free man, kept liberated on a daily basis by his own personal wisdom and strength, is to own the families -- even if it means owning his beta-boy neighbor's family.  

I've already stated at length what happens when the rich men buy up all the women.  But every position has pros and cons, and having the weakest, least-responsible, most unreliable men make children certainly has cons.  Moses had an answer.  At the moment, aside from Margaret Sanger, we don't.

Like most controversial issues, this "who should own the children?" is more a question of values than morals.  A moral is simple, a don't tell lies or don't commit adultery, and usually agreed upon by everyone vaguely.  A value is a ranking of how important the morals are individually, tells you how far you'll take each moral, and is something few of us know until we're put to the test.  

For instance, we know you shouldn't trade your wife out for another.  But what if she throws pans at you or bangs all your friends?  We all know things would be better if we were honest -- but how much truth do you need to say when all it will accomplish is to get you or your loved ones in trouble?  Is it wrong to kill people?  What if it's the middle of the night and those people just broke into your house?  You say you judge people by their character, but what happens if your daughter comes home one day -- with a black boy in saggy pants and a du-rag?  How much time do you give him to prove himself?     

There are varying opinions on these questions because people have varying histories, interests, loves, and levels of intelligence -- and thus different values.  The beauty of Old Testament Law is that it's both the morals and the values to place them.  That's why The Ten Commandments were followed by whole chapters of laws, and the Book of Exodus was followed by Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  Thus every good Jew know the difference between taxation and theft, and when to turn the other cheek and when to tell his neighbor to shove it, and when you had to keep your wife and when you could finally get rid of her.  The Ten Commandments are the bones of the law, not the meat and blood of it.  

I once told this to a Christian girl, how in Leviticus 17:19 Jews were ordered, by law, to air their grievances so that things could get fixed and so grudges wouldn't fester -- a great national policy which Jewesses and the men who date them confirm to this day.  She said to me we're not under law anymore, we're under grace -- and I never brought up anything beautiful to her again.  She already disrespects her God.  What more could I have to offer her?

I value religion highly because I value a conformity of values highly.  This was one of religion's main jobs: to police the soul while the state policed the body.  But in a country where the church is dying you can count on camaraderie dying too.  People who have the same morals but different values are often totally incompatible; and every man on the street is a mystery to us, uncovered when the shit hits the fan, or when an election happens.  A loss of Christendom means being a foreigner in your own land.  Almost everyone here is a stranger -- first to God, and then to his neighbor***.

***It might be safe to surmise here that a drop in religious belonging corresponds directly to a rise in virtue signaling.  Man feels a need to know who's around him, so he announces himself slyly or loudly; and when he's in a position of power, he requires those around to signal for him.  A religious society, one which predominantly features one form of a religion, is actually more free in this aspect: we assume we know where people stand, to some degree, and so we don't require them to declare it.

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