I don’t have kids. This is a thing I’ve thought about. Depending on who asks, I’ll usually answer the “why not” question with something glib and vague– like “well, I like being selfish.”
This weeds people out of the discussion because many already assume I’m selfish and are just looking for confirmation. So, here you go. Bye.
But one of my major hesitations is that I’m terrified by the prospect of having a child. I know I’m writing about something I fundamentally can’t understand because I haven’t experienced it, so I’m speculating. But I feel like having a kid is like taking the purest most innocent part of your soul– the part that was there from the beginning, before the cynicism and nihilism and jaded residue built up– and putting it inside a more vulnerable vessel that doesn’t know how to take care of itself without your help. Then, after a short period of time, you start letting that piece of your soul wander off into the world without you. Out into a world where people are interested in destroying it.
I’m not sure I can handle that. So I guess I’m selfish because I don’t want to invite the vulnerability of worrying whether my child– this soul-bound part of myself– is going to die in a violent moment of terror because the country I was born into prioritizes the earnings of the gun industry over the inevitable profit and loss of a few dozen murdered kids every year.
I’m about to travel outside my country. This is a thing I do. Depending on who asks, I’ll usually answer the “why” question with something glib and vague– like “well, I like adventure.”
But the truth is I like seeing how other humans are doing– and have done– Life. And because nothing expands your worldview and exposes the limitations of your mindset, assumptions, and prejudices quite like getting outside the bubble you were born into.
Most of the time my thoughts want to go ZING BANG POW but instead they’re slowed to a crawl, constantly pausing at mental checkpoints to examine the source of my judgment, the belief informing it, where that belief came from, and whether I might be wrong– which I often am. It’s not fun. It’s so much more comforting to be right, so right, the most rightest, shake your fist and roll your eyes and “ugh, people.”
I came from the same world as most of the humans I find myself arguing with on social media. I know this vicious debate thing is a part of our culture but I’m not particularly good at it, and it’s frustrating because it feels like arguing with a past version of myself.
Or with a frog stuck at the bottom of a well who’ll never be convinced the sea exists.
Just this morning someone told me it’s illogical to compare ourselves to Australia because they have “a very different culture.” First of all, what? Second of all, you’re the person advocating we station armed guards outside schools so kids are safe. Guess where else they do that? Nigeria. Because of Boko Haram. That’s your grand vision for America?
I remember when Alex and I went to South Africa a couple years ago and one of his coworkers said “Are you sure you want to do that? For the rest of your life you’ll have to admit you’ve been to Africa.” Not to blow your mind or anything, but there are 20 African countries with a lower homicide rate than the United States.
We have a gun problem in America. But we also have an isolationist, willfully-ignorant human problem.
Everyone seems to think the world is so dangerous and that teenagers getting shot up on Valentine’s Day is just the price we pay for hashtag freedom. But statistically the world is the least dangerous it’s ever been. I know I’ve contributed to the melodrama of “travel is a magically dangerous adventure” and that’s something I need to apologize for, because you don’t need to look concerned and tell me to “be safe” when I get on an airplane to fly to another country. You know one of the nice things about traveling outside our borders? You can often feel safe going to a grocery store, a movie theatre, a concert, a church, or a school.
Here’s a list of the countries I’ve traveled to in the last decade, along with their homicide rate (per 100k people).
Austria – .51
Spain – .66
China – .74
Hong Kong – .30
Czech Republic – .75
Germany – .85
Slovakia – .88
United Kingdom – .92
Morocco – 1.05
Vietnam – 1.52
France – 1.58
Cambodia – 1.84
Thailand – 3.51
Turkey – 4.30
((America – 4.88))
Kenya – 5.75
Laos – 6.87
Ecuador – 8.23
Costa Rica – 11.77
Guatemala – 31.21
South Africa – 34.27
I’m not trying to romanticize or fetishize foreign countries. They’re all full of humans and we all have problems, but my god we’re also more similar than we are different. And you can send thoughts and prayers while asserting your “right to an opinion” but it doesn’t change the fact that countries where it’s more difficult to access guns don’t have school children mowed down on Valentine’s Day.
Last time I wrote about guns (and their correlation to domestic violence) someone accused me of being a “smug upper-class white woman” who “reeks of white privilege*” and “demeans/attacks/dismisses/ridicules” women with a “condescending tone” because telling my story in order to encourage other women was just me “bragging.” I also got a lot of angry unsubscribe emails and Facebook messages about how I’m “missing the point” when it comes to guns and am just another “liberal snowflake” trying to violate their rights. So I’m sure plenty of people are going to use their favored method of communication to tell me I’m a terrorist and that if I’m so lacking in patriotism I should just move away from ‘Murica all together.
Well, I’m still figuring that one out. Because it feels like abandoning ship. And while I’m not sure I could raise a kid here, I’m also not sure I’m smart or fit enough to gain citizenship in a more advanced country. So you’re probably stuck with me.
*we should all examine our privilege. This statement was made by a fellow privileged white woman with her own reasons for mischaracterizing and misquoting my statements.
Also: Replies to comments will be delayed because I’m about to be traveling (to two more countries with a lower homicide rate than America). Thanks for understanding.
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