diferent mater. In fact, it is far more an act of true love for the unborn
not to force them to accept a difficult life.
What about those who love children but choose not to bear their
own? They have many opportunities they might pursue: they can work
in professions that allow them to care for infants, the young and grow-
ing, the curious and learning, training them to live and thrive responsibly.
These adults can heal kids when they are sick, coach them as they play,
and include them in a range of adult activities where doing so might be
fruitful for all.
No doubt people might object in further ways, but in the end nearly
all these replies boil down to the first one I discussed above. I'd like to
return to it and ponder a somewhat more aggressive version, one that
might reveal the stakes of this discussion even more clearly.
Very well, someone might say. Not reproducing may make sense for
most people, but my partner and I are well-educated, well-off, and capa-
ble of protecting our children from whatever happens down the road.
Why shouldn't we have children if we want to? (Or, conversely, someone
might say: My partner and I are quite poor, and the only profound joy in
our lives is the opportunity to have children and raise them. Why deny us
this joy if we have so litle else?) he answer, as I have suggested above,
is that our lives do not simply belong to us; whatever we do contributes
to our common problem or its solution. To think we can do what we like
while the rest of the world collapses is to see ourselves as a sublime excep-
tion, figures of total privilege. This is at once naive—since no one is truly
such an exception—and hopelessly selfish.
Such a response ultimately reveals a willingness to sacrifice the well-
being of others for the sake of one's children. hat atitude is just beneath
the surface in much of American life. Occasionally American-produced
movies capitalize on this feeling, inviting audiences to adopt as their own
the belief that defending one's children justifies very threatening behav-
ior. In Flightplan , starring Jodie Foster, a woman does everything she can
think of—including releasing the oxygen masks and turning off the lights
in the passenger section of the aircraft on which she is flying—to dis-
tract the crew while she looks for her lost child. John Q , starring Denzel
Washington, tells the story of an African American father who invades
a hospital demanding an operation for his son. Neither of these movies