This morning I noticed that a particularly beautiful flower erupted in unison across the bank on my land facing the ocean. Its brilliant white blossom reflected the piercing morning sun which confronted it from the east. And yet this resplendent flower, and the plant it issues from, is not treated with the dignity or praise that its beauty might warrant. In fact, it is not even regarded as a flower, but a pernicious and troublesome “weed” whose appetite for lebensraum apparently knows no limit. It advances like a blitzkrieg, enveloping all foliage in its path, and before you know it, it crosses the boundary of designated wild growth into the pampered territory of tended plants and flowers, wrapping its invidious stems around them like a python, choking them to death. Soon its numbers overwhelm the garden, and other flowers of no greater splendor are mourned as victims.
What criteria determines its categorization as a “weed” while those it displaces are labeled as “flowers”? It is the simple fact that they threaten to be ubiquitous at the expense of plants who are in danger of extinction in the teeth of their relentless onslaught. Weeds are weeds because there are too many to be valued. Flowers are flowers because their fragility requires consistent attendance, while weeds enjoy a flourishing presence despite neglect and a competitive advantage.
If there were a billion roses and but a dozen weeds of the kind I mentioned, it would be more likely that the rose would be designated as the weed rather than the plant with the brilliant white flowers.
There are currently 2.2 billion children in the world, and there numbers grow like yeast in a vat. According to ecologist Richard Cincotta, “There are more human babies born each day ---about 350,000---than there are individuals left in all the great ape species combined, including gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobo and orangatuns like this one.” 350,000 or 200,000 per day---the exact figure is not material. What is relevant is that some 78-80 million rogue primates----homo sapiens---are added annually to a human population already close to 7 billion in number. And it is that growing number which is killing off some 200 non-human species a day, upon which even these arrogant and intelligent apes ultimately depend upon for their survival.
It has been argued that we are a species that is so very different than the rest. Spiritual beings whose children are of such divine vintage that each and every one of them is God’s Precious Gift. After all, what other species could paint the Mona Lisa, write Hamlet, build the Taj Mahal or design an MIR machine? And among the billions there could be another Einstein or Picasso. True. But we are also a species that built Hydrogen bombs and chemical weapons, laid waste to rain forests and killed coral reefs. And for every Einstein or Picasso there are thousands who deploy their genius to exploitation and ruin. We are programmed to exploit a habitat beyond repair, then expand and move on to despoil more that have not yet been ravaged, rarely content to live within limits.
I would therefore submit that we are the weeds, and our children are like the white “Morning Glory” blossoms that invade my garden. Beautiful---but greedy, voracious and epidemic. Their collective value is inversely proportional to their number. “The more people there are, the less one person matters.” (Bill Moyers). I have no regard for their “right” to exist in the context of the threat they now pose to other life forms and therefore to humanity itself. Nature does not exist for humankind. Man is not, as Democritus believed, “the measure of all things”. We are game wardens who blew our assignment. Too incompetent and ignorant to manage complex systems that defy our understanding. And too reckless and avaricious to live within the limits of our environment and with little ability to acknowledge those boundaries. Children have our “bad seed”. They are congenitally flawed by the same predispositions that we were born with. The fault lies not with the stars, or with a given political or economic arrangement. It lies within our brains. Like the dinosaurs, we have design limits. Too much armour, not enough intelligence. We are rigged for denial and like a supertanker with a myopic captain, we need to take evasive actions to avoid dangers that loom far ahead before we are upon them, but we are unable to see them.
I am not vested with the maternal instinct. But I do not hate children anymore than I would contrive to hate tropical fish or penguins. I merely have the cold reptilian attitude of a surgeon whose patient has an infected leg that must be amputated to prevent gangrene from overtaking his body and killing him. The leg must be removed forthwith by any means necessary, in the least inhumane of effective measures. The most authentically misanthropic approach would be to celebrate human life to the extent of allowing it to continue unchecked to displace all other vital life forms. “Pro-life”then is actually “pro-death”. And Dr. Henry Morgenthaler, the pioneer abortionist, in this light, remains the greatest Canadian environmentalist to ever live. For if the truth be known, we are the gangrene. The weed that is genetically fated to spread without inhibition. If we do not perform emergency surgery soon, nature will most assuredly do so---and without anesthetic. The results will not necessarily be optimal.