Sunday, 19 August 2007

One, Two, Three

I've had this weird phone call with a relative yesterday in which three main issues were discussed. I thought I'd recount them here. I can think of several purposes there: First, to demonstrate the distance between me and my family, which is not limited to physical distance alone.
Second, I have a friend who told me this week about the fear of exposing agnostic thoughts to theist relatives; my answer was that I've been exposing my atheist thoughts for 25 years and my family is still to listen. Sort of goes to show why I'm so annoyed with religion: people think it doesn't matter, but it's everywhere and it gets in your bloodstream.
And third, this type of a discussion is exactly what Haim likes to read. And who am I to disappoint a best friend?
Off we go.

Item one: "They say"

I was told I must be happy, because now that Dylan is six weeks old he's smiling back at us. Ignoring the weak link in this theory, namely that if Dylan will be doing anything we do backwards he'll be frowning back at us, I answered that mental development is measured from conception and not from birth, and that while Dylan may be six weeks old he's only one week old, mentally.

Then I got the answer I like hearing so much: "But they say that they can smile six weeks after they were born".

The key phrase is, of course, "they say". They say lots of things, but you usually need to be quite gullible if you were to accept things solely on the basis of "they say". If "they were to say" that every reader of this blog needs to pay me $100 a day, you'd laugh at the idea's stupidity; however, way too many people fall for the "they say" bit when it comes to fictional dogmas that try to take control over the way we live our lives (yes, I'm talking about religion again), and the fact people are stupid enough to embrace the "they say" says a thing or two about the sad situation we're in.

Anyway, "they say" refers to arguments by tradition. Tradition may work most of the time or some of the time, but not all of the time and not in today's environment; taking things for granted on the basis of a "they say" is pretty foolish, and the best example is in the evidence: The only time Dylan's expression resembles a smile is when he's working on a fart.

Item two: Bar Mitzvah

Once the first hurdle was cleared, I was congratulated with something along the lines of "may you soon have Dylan a Bar Mitzvah". Being that it's me we're talking about, I immediately retaliated with something like "Dylan is not going to have any Bar Mitzvah", which the seemingly offended side answer back in aghast, "Why, are you a Goy [gentile]?"

Well, regardless of what I think of myself, which obviously my family is still having troubles digesting for over 25 years, one thing is very certain: Dylan is not Jewish, not by any religious definition of the term; nor is he a Christian for that matter (here are the basic religious person's rules: you're Jewish if you're born to a Jewish mother and you're a Christian if you're born to a Christian father; Dylan is none of the above).

At this point I would like to make it very clear that in my view, no child can have a religion by definition. To quote Richard Dawkins, one never looks at a child and says "this child is a labor voter" or "this child is a democrat" or "this child is a republican"; it just doesn't make sense, the child is yet to be in a position where he knows better. He didn't even pick a football team to support yet! So, how can you say that the child has chosen a system to govern every aspect of his/her life in the same breath?

My point is, Dylan is religion-less by every account: the stupid and thoughtless religious account, as well as by a thinking person's account. Once he's 18, he can choose to be whatever he wants to be; I hope he will follow me and share my secular humanitarian views, but that's entirely up to him. Chances are he will rebel against me and my pushiness anyway, so I should probably expect him to become a nun.

Back to Bar Mitzvahs and their feasibility: Dylan will probably hardly know enough Hebrew to perform the ceremony, and Dylan will probably not step inside a synagogue ever by the time he's 13, and Dylan will not have any friends to influence him to have a Bar Mitzvah. In short, his thirteenth birthday will come and go, and he will not have a clue about the potential for this meaningless ceremony.

As I have already stated once upon a time on this blog, my Bar Mitzvah was bought with a bribe of gifts; I still consider me doing it to be one of my lowest points of submission, even if I cut myself some slack for being only 13. But that's the entire point of it: someone who is 13 is not in a position to truly accept the commitments one officially takes upon himself (and not, god forbid, herself!) during a Bar Mitzvah.

And I still remember nodding my head when the rabbi who prepared me for my Bar Mitzvah told me he doesn't understand how people think the bible is not true when there were so many witnesses to the Moses on the Mount thing.

Item Three: More kids

The next congratulations I had the privilege to be congratulated with was along the lines of "looking forward to hearing about your second and third children". Again, I retaliated on the spot, saying that as far as we're concerned, there won't be a number two; again I was confronted with a rather bewildered answer, wondering how anyone could not want to have many children.

Well, I can easily come up with several good reasons for not producing Dylan with sisters or brothers:

Ideologically, I am of the opinion there are too many people already on this planet. I am also of the opinion that humanity is going nowhere fast, although I would have probably thought the same if I was in previous generations, too. Point is, while this is only my opinion and while I don't think that those who bring more than two children are criminals, I would not want to contribute too much to civilization's demise.

Then there are more practical reasons. Financially, a second child would be a disaster: it would mean even more costs, and worse – it would mean one of us will not be able to work, period, which means us living off one salary on a permanent basis. The reason is simple: if we each earn around $200 a day, net, and the cost of childcare is $80 per child per day, then it doesn't make much sense to pay for childcare.

This has a domino effect, because in order to stay at home and watch the children all day you need to be something really special, and I'm not of this brand; as much as I moan and protest each morning I get up for work, I also fully acknowledge the need to socialize and interact with people on a regular basis – a service dully provided by work.

Then there are logistical problems. As we have no one to help us take care of the children on a regular basis, who is going to help us along? One child is already an insurmountable burden we're finding very hard to tackle. Just take the birth itself: who is going to take care of Dylan when we're at the hospital for his sister's arrival?

On top of those issues there are technological aspects. Let's face it: We're on the older side of things as far as bringing children are concerned, and although Dylan seems fine the longer we wait the higher the probability of things going wrong, Down Syndrome etc. And let's not forget all the hardship we had to endure with bringing Dylan along, with IVF and its complexities coming very close to ruin the day for us. The introduction of a sister to Dylan would require more than the occasional sex.

And I haven't even mentioned at all that so far, we're finding the raising of one child to be quite a nightmare!

My point with all three stories is the same. People take things for granted for all the wrong reasons and assume they apply to everyone. People don't think.

Let us show this universe of ours what people are really made of. Let us actively use this box on top of our heads. Let all of us think!


Anonymous said...

As my name appear in this item, I guess it mean I need to read it.
On the other hand, do I really need to read 2 pages that contains word like insurmountable?
Well, that means I need to read one work out of five and figure out the ideas.
If I understand the bottom line it is saying that the cat will use a lot of salt on his hat when he will eat it.
So far he was a cat of his word and no BRITH was done, but I dout he will keep the no Dylan's brother/sister story.
Come on, all the reasons for not doing #2 stand also for not doing #1.
The main reason why #2 will be created is probably not connected with somthing you can do or prevent.
In addition I heard that a son of a person that is a Gewish cat and his mother is not Gewish got a reliogion, he becomes KIRGIZI.

Moshe Reuveni said...

You're right that our minds can always change. But that aside, I'm afraid Jo does not recognize Kirgizitry; you'll have to teach her all about it when you come over for a visit.

Joanne said...

I have a different problem with looking forward to a Bar Mitzvah soon. I don't want to wish away the next 13 years. I will be 48 then I there is a lot of living to do in between.

Moshe Reuveni said...

You mean you're not counting the days till Dylan's wedding?