“Crossroads” is more and more becoming the perfect title for this column and an increasingly accurate reflection of my life. Except crossroads can be a little misleading. It is rare in life to have such obvious choices and often you didn’t realize you were at a crossroads until you are already on your path. And sometimes it is better not to choose, but to close your eyes and jump and let gravity sort it out. While I could easily slide into more abstract and esoteric writing for this issue’s column, I think I’ll go a different way.
By the time this issue is published, I will have finally graduated from college. It looks like I’ll stay with the city and concentrate on the greenhouse gas management plan. Basically I’d keep working on improving the energy efficiency of businesses and developing a plan for Boulder to become its own utility. The city has decided to tell Xcel Energy to suck it, that we are going to manage our own power needs (totally DIY!). For Boulder that means as close to 100% renewable energy as possible and incentive programs for residents. For me that means a lot of work and negotiating with fossil fuel fat cats. If I disappear, you’ll know who took me out.
Graduation doesn’t really put me at a crossroads; it just kind of extends the path already in front of me. What is more significant is that since last issue, I’ve gotten engaged to be married. Initially the idea struck me with terror. Having married young and made what my mom calls “the critical error,” I was nervous to turn onto that path again. It seemed a little premature and directly contradicted my “I’m never getting married again” proclamation. But everything is different this time. Not only is David well-suited to me- loyal, romantic, generous, understanding, and really good-looking- but I’ve evolved into someone who needs stability, monogamy, and shared visions of the future.
I feel like the quintessential 25-year-old, which makes me a little uneasy and surprised. I’m graduating from college, starting a career, and getting married. For those of you that know me, I’m sure that qualifies as one of those “I never saw that coming” things. Yet, for those people who only see me at shows, they probably wouldn’t notice much of a change, except that I’m not wasted and talking shit (well, most of the time). Anyway, as the pseudo-quintessential 25-year-old, most people assume that I’m going to work a couple of years until I get pregnant and have a baby. Not a chance.
When I tell people we’re not having kids, I get mixed responses and usually am prodded for a reason why. For me, it’s one of those things that I know deep down. But I also have a lot of reasons. There are personal issues like I don’t want to go through pregnancy or childbirth; I don’t want to have that kind of responsibility; I don’t really find enjoyment or amusement in being around kids; I don’t want the huge expense; I’d probably be a neurotic parent; I DO want to be free to travel and do things without needing a babysitter or compromising my experiences, etc. Plus, my mom had twins, then triplets out of the fucking blue. It’s not likely that that would happen to me, but even the remote possibility is absolutely terrifying.
Aside from my personal or selfish reasons for not wanting a child, which are honestly the most compelling, there are the environmental and ethical reasons. I think of these lines from punk songs: “Is the unborn child the next unknown soldier?” (Crucifix); “Why should I bring in another life into this fucked up world?” (Decrepit); “Would you choose to bring one into this world? Would you choose to be born into this world?” (Warfare State).
Some people like to think that their kid is going to be the one who makes a difference. Yeah, sure. I could work my whole life fighting global warming and my efforts would still be just a drop in the bucket. And I happen to not believe in saviors or messiahs. And with that logic, one could just as easily give birth to a real motherfucker. What their kid does do is require more resources- land, energy, water, etc- and cause more pollution. Overpopulation is perhaps the most significant problem in the world and is directly linked to resource depletion, pollution, and conflict.
I’m pretty certain the world is getting worse, or at least will get worse before it gets better. Under Bush, even the occasional improvements of recent years, such as advancement of alternative energy technology, are being undone or slowed. The upcoming election is a crossroads. There is no telling what consequences that fucker could bring on us. Even if he loses (please, please, please), the damaging systems are in place, with fossil fuel dependence being a central factor. It’s like I wrote in a Diaspora song, “We think it won’t happen but it already has.”
There will only be more pain and suffering in the world from human and ecological crises. Children not only contribute to it, but witness it as well. It’s a bloody and relatively hopeless inheritance. Some people argue that a child has a right to exist, to be born. I think this is nonsense. You can’t even compare existing and non-existing, because not existing doesn’t exist. And for all I know, maybe unborn children exist in some cool other-worldly realm that doesn’t have our problems.
In my studies and work, I have deliberately avoided population issues. While I believe that procreation is destructive, I don’t really feel like it is my place to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do. It’s their crossroads. For lots of people, children satisfy some basic need of their psyche and life. I don’t get it, but almost 6.2 billion people on the planet do. I will say, though, that children should be planned and taken very seriously. It’s not just your life you have to worry about, but the child’s and the earth’s.