Why Are Elon Musk and Pope Francis Urging Us To Have More Babies?
This isn't exactly the way to save humanity
Pope Francis has long enjoyed the reputation as the 'cool pope.'
But it looks like those days might be over now.
A few days ago, he enraged quite a lot of people by suggesting that couples who choose to have pets over children are 'acting selfishly' and that this practice ultimately 'diminishes us, takes away our humanity.'
Yikes. That's rich coming from a guy who chose a career in one of the world's arguably most corrupted institutions over having kids and even decided to name himself after the patron saint of animals - Saint Francis of Assisi.
Oddly enough, Pope Francis is not the only high-profile figure who has recently jumped on the bandwagon of shaming people for not breeding like rabbits. Last month, Elon Musk said that 'civilization is going to crumble' if people don't have more children. He also added that too many 'good, smart people' think there are too many people in the world and that the population is growing out of control.
Well, at least Elon, as opposed to the Pope, is practising what he preaches. He has seven children from three different relationships, and who knows how many more to come.
Still, I don't think we should listen to either of them, over - you know - actual scientists specializing in this field. Just a wild thought.
But why do both the head of the largest religious institution in the world and one of the world's wealthiest people seem to be nervous that we're not popping out enough babies? Should we be concerned about that as well? And don't we have bigger and more pressing issues to worry about at the moment?
Someone is worried Catholic couples aren't making enough church members
It shouldn't exactly be news to anyone that Christianity is no longer the fastest-growing religion in the world. Islam is.
And on top of that, they are losing members by the minute. In the US alone, and among various religious groups, the decline in church membership is the steepest among Catholics.
This mass exodus of members leads to several things, but most importantly, it translates into less income for the Church, forcing many Catholic churches to close. And with fewer members, less money, and fewer kids being born to people who remain Catholic, it's a no-brainer that Pope and his kids' loving brigade would be concerned.
They're slowly but surely losing their power.
And they're well aware of that.
But maybe they should have thought about all of that before demonizing homosexuality, same-sex marriage, birth control, abortion and many, many other issues they thought required putting their two cents in. Even though they most certainly didn't.
Not to mention, no one in their right mind should be taking advice about gender, marriage, sexuality or family life from a bunch of men who can't marry, never have sex - at least not with other adults - and will never have a proper family, to begin with.
The Catholic Church shouldn't be considered an authority on anything. Period. Scandal after scandal proves just how corrupted, power-hungry and self-serving that institution is.
And they aren't the only ones worried about losing their grasp on the world.
Capitalists view everything through the lens of profit and self-interest
'There are not enough people. I can't emphasize this enough; there are not enough people,' Musk said during his interview with Wall Street Journal.
There are not enough people for what, Elon? What do we need all these brand new people for?
Scientists estimate that by 2050 there will be nearly 10 billion people on Earth. That's over 2 billion more than we have today. But there's a significant shortfall between the amount of resources we produce now and the amount needed to sustain our world by 2050. If we decide to expand our resources in an unsustainable way - the way we've been doing it for a long time - our planet will inevitably suffer.
But let's not forget that it's already suffering today.
Global warming is happening at a faster rate than ever. Our polar ice caps are melting. Our forests are burning. Once we've reached the tipping point, we'll be powerless to intervene.
We're in a climate emergency, and not many seem to be taking it seriously.
And what are we doing instead of figuring out a way out of this mess? We allow a tiny group of people to hoard most of the world's wealth while millions struggle to make ends meet. We allow corporate interests to take precedence over the common good. And we allow ourselves and others to be divided by endless differences instead of focusing on the bigger picture.
The world is already in utter turmoil without adding any extra people to it.
But capitalists couldn't care less about it.
They know they need more people - or rather more cogs in the capitalist machine of self-destruction - regardless of our planet and society's state. And that's because they continuously require a fresh supply of consumers and workers to keep their money-making shitshow going for as long as they can. Otherwise, their precious empires will stagnate or crumble altogether. And we can't have that, can we? Sigh.
Capitalism has always been essentially a pyramid scheme.
Its apparent health in the present depends massively on future liabilities. But it doesn't only cause future liabilities but also present destruction. Because much of its economic activity amounts to the ultra-rich building giant mausoleums to themselves while profiting off the exploitation of its workers and our planet.
Declining birth rates reflect a profound failure of our society, more than anything else
Both Elon Musk and Pope Francis at least got one thing right. Birth rates are indeed declining globally. Less and less people, especially in the wealthier parts of the world, decide to have kids.
But can we really blame people's selfishness for this situation?
Late-stage capitalism generated social conditions inimical to starting families. Our workweeks are increasingly longer and our wages lower. We're working ourselves to death only to be able to get by. And sometimes, that's not even enough. Our increasingly competitive society requires that children get intensive parenting and costly educations.
All of this contributes to rising anxiety around what sort of life a would-be parent might provide.
People choosing not to have kids, or to have only one or two, is more of a consequence of several systemic issues rather than a choice made on an individual level. Declining birth rates reflect a profound failure of our collective ability to make this world a liveable place for all. And not how selfish we've supposedly become.
As a childless, young Millenial, I look at the generations older than me and the lives they've made for themselves, and all I can think is, 'I don't want that. No way in hell I'm doing this'. I don't want to struggle like them. I don't want to sacrifice everything I have in me to bring another human being to this dying world.
Economic and social dynamics aside, many young people feel that bringing kids to this world could even be considered unethical. And that's because of how polluted, toxic and ravished by climate change our planet has become.
Nearly 60% of people from younger generations now have climate change anxiety. And understandably so. On any given day, it seems that some part of the inhabited world is either on fire or underwater.
It doesn't feel right to force another human being into this state of existence. It just doesn't.
We won't save humanity by breeding like rabbits
If the likes of Elon Musk and Pope Francis genuinely cared about the future of humanity, they'd be singing a much different tune now.
But let's be honest - neither of them does.
What they do care about is bringing even more people into this fucked up world because it translates into more money and power for them. Even though society barely cares about the kids who are already born and need love, shelter, and happy homes.
So if you want to blame anyone for being selfish, blame them. They are the ones living in gated mansions, flying air-polluting private jets and sitting on mountains of cash that could quickly solve at least a few of the pressing issues in the world right now.
How much easier is it, though, to tell people to breed like rabbits than actually to fix the problems we currently have in the world?
But having more babies won't save our planet from climate change. It won't make the issues of late-stage capitalism go away. It won't make us happier and more fulfilled in our lives. It won't save humanity.
Because the problem at hand isn't one of declining population.
It's one of choosing profit over people. Greed over compassion. Individual power over the collective good.
Not all is lost yet, but soon it might very well be. Because those who were supposed to lead this world don't seem to care about anything other than protecting themselves and the power structures they're part of.
And we're too busy consuming and working and struggling and worrying to notice it happening.
It's almost like it was intended to be this way.
This story was originally published on Medium.
About the Creator
Sometimes serious, sometimes funny, always stirring the pot. Social sciences nerd based in London. Check out my other social media: www.linktr.ee/katiejgln
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