I was idly "scratching my nose" and scanning the news on my iPhone today in the eerie early morning calm that occasionally exists at my house, in that brief span between my awakening and four children racing to get ready for school.
One of the casualties of the smartphone era is the historic male achievement of skillfully cleaning one’s schnozz while simultaneously re-adjusting one’s - er - pockets, surely one of the seminal triumphs of billions of years of steady evolutionary revision. Sadly, most of us can’t manage those two critical tasks and interact with our crackphones all at the same time.
We occupy the crass side of the gender equation, undoubtedly. For those of you who hold Donald Trump to be exemplar extraordinaire of this very sort of thing, I invite you to take a few moments to consider Scott van Wynsberghe’s startling review in Friday's National Post of former President Lyndon “The Lord of Lewdness” Johnson’s spectacularly inappropriate behavior during his Oval Office tenure. “All the way with LBJ” was rather more than a campaign slogan, it seems - Donald by comparison seems a jewel of decorum and restraint.
One could be discouraged, I suppose, by the insistent churn of unhappy news that demands our attention. Each day dawns with more names to supplement the tsunami of powerful men caught behaving detestably toward women (accused of that crime, at least, which in this modern day suffices for summary conviction and utter ruination, no evidence required, no need to bother with sackcloth and ashes).
Add in the nuclear sabre-rattling between tubby dictator Kim Jong-un and “Tweeter-in-Chief” Trump (destined to go down in history as “The Battle of Plump and Trump”, once the button is pushed) and consider the vexing spectacle of our “liberal” prime minister channeling Stalin in his quest to stamp out religious freedoms, all set amidst a perpetual thrum of dire warnings that we’re about to be drowned by runaway global warming, and it’s a bit hard to stay cheery.
Thus it was refreshing to come upon a glimmer of light, a sliver of hope, courtesy of another Post columnist, the contentedly childless Colby Cosh. The estimable Mr. Cosh, invigorated by reading the illuminated opinion of feminist CBC contributor Kristen Pyszczyk, summoned up “one-and-a-half” cheers for population decline.
Ms. Pyszczyk’s brilliant advice, stunning in its simplicity, is that we undertake, as a critical step toward the repair and sustenance of Mother Earth, the shaming of those humans foolish enough to produce children.
The road to our salvation, one can reasonably conclude, lies not in the American credo of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That timeless chestnut, modified for the modern day so as to finally capture the “happiness” pursued, should read instead “life, liberty, and the pursuit of extinction.”
This isn’t the first time, of course, that the venerable CBC has helpfully introduced the Canadian people to the concept of ridding our planet of human infestation; look to Emily Chung’s November contribution for similarly salutary instruction.
Ms. Chung’s prescriptions stimulated an essay of my own, “Shrinking My Carbon Footprint”, written as helpful summary to my friends, that being a tiny audience (or so I thought, until the definition of “friend” was magnificently expanded for me by our Aga Khan-enamoured prime minister, wherein a single conversation in 30 years engenders the most unbreakable of bonds – by that generous measure I have thousands upon thousands of friends, my lonely existence transformed into a lustrous landscape densely populated by cherished companions. Alas, as yet, no offers of free vacations to tropical private islands).
There’s a Nobel Prize in Medicine in this somewhere, perhaps to be shared by Ms. Chung, Ms. Pyszczyk, and their colleagues in advanced evolutionary thought. As a pediatrician I look hopefully to a future where the burden of child disease and suffering is dramatically and inexorably eased by simple mathematical reduction, relegating to minor footnotes in medical history the gargantuan efforts of physicians and researchers to date.
Whether our own children reproduce will be up to them. It’s a big decision, but they’re bright, and young, with ample time to let their thoughts on the matter percolate. I’m confident they will make the responsible choice, and self-sterilize before more verminous little humanoids escape to litter our world.
In any case, before they can adequately move on to that question, a more pressing issue confronts them: first they must choose to identify as boys or girls, or something else along the spectrum of “gender fluidity”. "Species fluidity" will be the next big thing - you read it here first. My youngest has already loosely decided he wants to be an elephant, enamoured as he is with all things pachyderm. A "pronoun" for that has yet to be contrived. God help us.
That we are biologically designed to propagate our species, or as those Neanderthal Christians would have it, to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth”, we shall simply ignore.
And happily, post-sterilization, our children when grown can still revel freely in the sublime ecstasies of reproductive activity, sans the reproduction – recreation without procreation, so to speak. Although Jesse, my son, may struggle to find a willing elephantine counterpart with which to canoodle.
Meanwhile, amidst a world in turmoil, in France they’re fighting over Nutella.
The universe has gone bonkers.