My Dad, who's 76, once told me his mother (who was born in the late Victorian era) used to worry herself silly about her children and the fact that she'd had them at all, that she'd brought them into such a terrible world. My Mom tells me her mother felt much the same.
I think every generation has its problems, and WWII - which started when my Dad was 10 - was a pretty major world problem. I don't think that makes people who want to bring children into the world selfish. We are human and part of the animal kingdom and our instinct to reproduce is, for most of us, very strong. We are human, which has inherent problems, but I like to think that the very fact of our humanity provides us with many skills which can help us to overcome our problems.
On a personal note, it's my opinion that in current times, for those of us lucky enough to have been born in the "developed" portion of the world, there is no excuse for having an unwanted child. No child asks to be born. Those of us who CHOOSE to have a child OWE it to that child to give 110% effort in raising him/her and doing everything possible to help junior to have a happy and fulfilled life.
One thing's for sure, if we all decided it would be selfish to bring children into this terrible world, humanity would be dead within 100 or so years. I think that would be a pity.
To confirm what Trys says, yes, I was talking about the geas of compassion in the s'Falenn line, not the mistwraithe's curse.
I find it interesting that Arithon does not choose to have kids - his tryst with the barren Vastmark woman for example. It would solve a huge problem for the F7 and he'd have an heir to foist the throne of Rathain upon - and could choose to retire. He doesn't choose to pass that burden on. A remarkable choice.
And HJ *grin* I was quoting someone's comment, and pointing out the absurdity of labelling single mothers 'selfish' for something that couples also choose for the same reason! I was not saying that it is selfish for people to have children.
One thing I notice in Africa - in the poorest of rural villages, children sing, dance and play and welcome strangers and smile. Parents devote themselves 110% to their kids, without blinking an eyelid. It's quite a contrast to the urban kids, they are far less joyous, more awkward, trying to grow up too fast, not to mention all the social problems of gangs and drugs. Parents are far more involved in careers and social lives. Douglas Adams in "Salmon of Doubt" describes a trip he went on in Tanzania, made the same comment about rural African children, and pointed out that the more 'developed' western kids would not sing spontaneously the same way... a telling observation I think.
Several of my friends and a cousin have just had their first kids - so it's a topical subject for me at the moment. (So cute too!)
He doesn't want to foist the burden of Rathain on anyone- let alone his children. I think because of the geas of compassion he could never look at progeny as tools or obligations -the way all the other characters seem to. Keep those blood lines or commercial ties viable.
So much of Arithon's path is all self dicovery if it weren't for the geas he would appear much more selfish. At this point in the story children would be a distraction- because they would be his creation he would not likely hand them to someone else to raise.
On another note there are those of us who raise our children in the "first" world who try very hard to keep them joyous and spontaneous. We implore them to take their time growing up- they have that luxury. Whereas their poor rural (especially female) counterparts are thrust into hard and often brutal lives by the time they are 12 years old.
Hi folks, can i slip in a passage about children from 'The Prophet' by kahlil Gibran, i no it's not all relevant to T.K, but there are aspects i feel sure 'arithon' would agree with.
Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of lifes longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archers hand be for gladness,
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he also loves the bow that is stable........
It's been years since I read The Prophet. I think I need to revisit it. Thanks for posting that Susan.
I reread The Prophet a few years ago when dealing with a particularly painful episode with one of our teenagers. It is a beautiful philosophy and I agree with it. Which is why we strive to provide the strongest bow from where our children can fly.
As far as relating it to the character "Arithon"- a perfect reason for putting off parenthood-he cannot provide the stability and devotion.
Susan - when I read that first - I cried. I thought it was the most amazing thing I'd read. Friends of mine give it to new parents... Nice post!
Isn't it fascinating how words are used, for instance: develop-ing develop-ed 'worlds' and also 1st, 3rd 'worlds'. After all, if we assume humans originated in Africa, it would have been our 1st world. Develop-ed and -ing... civilisations are continually rising and declining. And 'worlds' - different planets - aren't we on different dry bits of the same world?
Not only are we all on the same world, we are also all on the same journey. That is, as continuously evolving potential... and, if i may be so bold as to suggest...we are all gods in the making...big responsibility that one!!