My friend Megz sent me this quote:

Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!

Now, most of the quote is very inspirational and to me it seemed to define a life well lived, except for one bit of it – ‘…to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child…’. I beg to differ slightly on this point.
I am not going to argue for or against this statement. I am only going to give my opinion on some aspects of it. This blog is not for the discerning types, who would say that I am reading too much into a quote meant to convey a general impression, why dwell on the specifics or for the stereo-types who consider that children are God’s gift to mankind so make as many as you can or even for those who are unwilling to look at an issue from a practical point of view because they are creatures of habit. This quote triggered a, previously dormant, thought process.
Having a sick child can change one’s life, but it does not and should not mean that you have left the world worse off in any way. In fact I have had discussions and thought about this issue of why people have children. Is it the inherent instinct to reproduce and ensure that your genes (how ever terrible they may be!) continue to live on (which, it has been scientifically proven, is a necessity for men and it is left upto the women to impose quality over quantity) or is it something deeper more like the sense of nurturing life and making another being in your image. I dont really know and I dont think anyone knows because it is probably individual specific.
There are millions of children around the world, as World Vision and CCF never fail to remind us by showing us the slums of India, who could do with a life (better or worse). It really wasn’t their fault that they were born into this rapidly deteriorating world and really it isn’t their fault that they are left to die. So, even with these millions needing one square meal a day (a home, an education etc. are ‘door ki baat’) the middle, upper middle and upper classes continue to make more of their own – maybe because who wants some random kid, wonder what caste it is, who its parents were/are.
The world as a whole, and not just China and India, faces a population crisis, there are more people than resources and just like we believe that one Green Bag is a step closer to a plastic free world, one less child could, potentially, feed one already born.
This is not to say that people and organisations are not trying – they are. But bringing a healthy child into this world does not amount to, in today’s scenario, leaving a better world behind you. To me it amounts to bringing another life to fight a daily battle against the adversities and increasing the population by one more – when you could have changed another, existing life, for the better.


6 thoughts on “Success?

  1. Though I do agree with a few points you make…i don’t necessarily agree with the principle as a whole…I agree that there may be many children in the world who don’t have parents, and I truly believe that by adopting one of them, you fill not just their life with joy but your own…however I think the point here is about raising children rather than giving birth.As for the quote…I don’t think it is meant as giving birth to a healthy child but to raise a healthy child (more in soul than in body)…As for the world not being a better place by you bringing a child into it – a child is not just a means to satisfy your ego and trying to live forever by passing on your genes, but to me it is a possibility – a possibility of what difference that child could make to the world and whether you bring him or her up in a way that he or she does want to make that difference.There may be a population problem in the world and the world is full of strife – but that is not to say that your child may not turn out to be the person who perhaps could change the way people think. Who knows what God has destined for each of us but how do we know that there isn’t another Mandela or Gandhi to come to the world?

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