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Jan 14Liked by Charles Eisenstein

I shared this post with my mother in deep gratitude for her giving me such sturdy shoulders to stand on, so I could have a chance at dreaming something beautiful into being, and we shared a sweet and tender moment together. Thank you for inspiring that, and giving us an opportunity for deeper love and appreciation.

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Jan 14Liked by Charles Eisenstein

Thank you, Charles. In the short days of January I tend to lose hope. I do know that our mother Gaia knows how to go on. As a mother myself, I know what it takes to conceive and bear and bring forth a child. I have never felt that it was in vain. Always have known that my daughter is here for a good purpose and have been watching to see how her purpose will be fulfilled. We humans are part of this creation, part of this earth and heaven, one of the many children of Gaia. She has not made a mistake in bringing us forth, evolution is continuing and we are part of it. May we mature and do our part well.

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Those from the Neo-Marxist PostModernist mindset pretend to believe humans are no more special than other species and therefore should limit their numbers to aid other species. By this very argument, they reveal that they do believe humans are special. Humans are to sacrifice themselves for the good of all. That is a plagiarized form of Christianity.

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Jan 14·edited Jan 17Liked by Charles Eisenstein

In Charles’ book, Climate, A New Story my favorite portion was Tending the Wild about how the landscape of California before the Gold Rush was a cultivated landscape, cultivated by the indigenous people and that to them untouched wilderness was a lesser state of being. Yes, for nature to be at her highest state she needs the hand and mind of humanity. I know a present day indigenous leader in California whom I have heard express the same vision. Ron Goode, tribal chairman of the North Fork Mono Tribe in California.

In the Bible in Genesis humanity is placed in Eden to “dress and keep it” The Hebrew for ‘dress and keep” could also be translated to “serve and observe closely”. This service and observation to me is the real heart of the purpose of the gift of human dominion over the earth for if we wisely meet our material needs the earth is brought to a richer more beautiful state. And for that to happen humanity needed to be fruitful and multiply so there would be enough of us to effect that.

Here is Tending the Wild from Charles’ book Climate - A New Story, a very wise book and well worth purchasing and reading

https://charleseisenstein.org/books/climate-a-new-story/eng/tending-the-wild/

By the way I am not advocating a wholesale return to the indigenous lifestyle once present in California, but an application of wisdom to find new life giving ways using what we know and are now and finding new knowledges and applying knowledges now on the sideline.

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Thank you so much for this essay. And I’m appalled at the insensitivity? audacity? of the person who said such a thing to you about having 4 kids. Back in “the day” (1980s/1990s), when I was an activist invited to keynote and offer workshops around the country on “Gaian Economics”, “creating an economy for a living Earth”, in the Q & A after one presentation, a white, middle aged man who had no clue I was a mom of 3 boys, went on about how women were having too many children, population growth, etc. in quite a dogmatic way. In addition to pointing out to him that it is we, in the western world whose consumption far exceeds the consumption of the brown women in what was called the “third world” back then, he seemed to be denigrating (forgetting, of course, that it takes 2), that the solution is education and opportunity for women. That when women have opportunities for education and ways of supporting their families, they have fewer children. Then, because he was so dogmatic, and he irritated me so much (I was young then, in my 30s, LOL), I said to him: Oh, and by the way, I have 3 boys. Do you think I should have aborted one of them? He didn’t know what to say. It was like . . . oh well, it’s you and you’re aware so your kids are okay . . . like because I am a privileged white woman, I was not being irresponsible. It was just the poor, brown women who were. Anyway, I love your response and that you managed to keep your cool. And re: hope. I agree. While I don’t have hope in the conventional sense, I have something better: I know that we can do this, turn things around, that humans have amazing innate but latent talents and even “powers” that we must acknowledge and learn to use and honor in each other. I don’t know that we will. But I do know that it is possible.

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I never had kids because I didn’t want to compromise my ideals for the sake of material security (at least, not more than any individual already has to compromise in this society). The parents I know were more likely to take a job for The Man, because they have mouths to feed. Some of them come up with sophisticated rationalizations to justify it.

I wouldn’t want to be in the position where I had several dependents and was given the opportunity to work for someone who endorses genocide...

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The problem isn't the number of people. The problem is our relationship to consumption and our disrelationship with Nature. We were really fulfilled on a soul level, would we need to try to fill a bottomless pit with rampant consumption?

As a farmer growing on a regenerative biodynamic operation, I try to give back more than I take, but even here I am limited. The material good I can offer the world is limited, and I depend on the grace of the Sun's recurring gift of light every year for any plants to grow. I try to foster conditions to maximize the potential for life.

The world has destroyed itself many times over, and there's nothing we can do to stop the voracious hunger of people who've been hollowed out — other than loving them and perhaps sparking the light of enthusiasm in them.

We have enough resources to feed the world many times over, but access and prices prevent this. There's enough light to power the world endlessly, if we were serious about switching over to sustainable energy.

When I have children, I want them to be apart of a world open to life, new unfolding possibilities, not ever more material consumption.

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Charles, I read much of your writing, and agree with you on almost everything. I also agree that we – like every species – have a purpose here, whether that's within the ecosystem and as part of a trophic cascade, or whether that's altogether on a different more subtle plane. I also agree we are here to learn. And like you I believe in hope. Personally, I think this is to do with how we live, and how conscious we can become, and especially how soon.

However (and this is not a judgement on you), I still kind of feel you are using a rather feeble justification for people having several children at a time when the sheer weight of the human species is driving all other species to extinction. We are nearly 9 billion people and rising, and that is at a time when only 4% – 4% – of mammals extinct in the wild, as free-living creatures. The rest are captive, in one way and another, for our exploitation. It's really important, I believe, for the future of all of us, human and other-than, that we shift our viewpoint from the anthropocentric to the ecocentric, and fast. Very fast.

I know that is a different argument, to do with what and how much we choose to consume. But unless the rest of humanity suddenly decides to go vegan, becomes very aware of their choices, curbs their appetites, and a great deal of land is reforested miraculously swiftly, we don't stand a chance. That's one thing, but I hate the fact that we will take all the other species on this beautiful planet down with us.

So it's hard to escape the fact that we are simply over-populated for the capacity of the earth to sustain us within our current economic and especially agricultural systems. More people is not a solution to that, in my view.

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This is an inspiring perspective, in alignment with the Symbiocene and symbiogenesis, where all species thrive on biodiversity. Children are a gift to the future 💕🙏

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The real reason people aren't having children is multi factorial.

-economy sucks, housing is ridiculous, job market sucks, food inflation

-thankfully women have a choice to choose to not have kids. See Scandinavia, more freedom and better conditions for women lead to less population

As much as I respect those who take the burden of raising children, it's a huge sacrifice for those of us who prefer to have alone time or time alone with our partners.

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Earth might know what it is doing... how would we know anyway? Most humans don’t have a clue. Breeders will breed.

This Be The Verse

BY PHILIP LARKIN

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

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Here's a note & book that helps this fundamentalist-raised boy deal with our common uncertainties. The book is titled: The Christian Future; the author is Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy. The author was an artillery officer in WW I; he wrote the book after WW II. The quote: "The evils of modern life cannot be escaped.... They are rather a challenge to us to find constructive ways of overcoming the sterile divorce of labor and leisure, and of mastering the sequence of changes which industrial society makes inevitable in every individual life."

Here's another book and author who are also helpful with our cascading predicaments: The author is Lao tse; the book: Tao te Ching; the translator: Stephen Mitchell. Poem #67, verse 2: "I have just three things to teach:/simplicity, patience, compassion./These three are your greatest treasures./Simple in actions and in thoughts,/you return to the source of being./Patient with both friends and enemies,/you accord with the way things are./Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world."

A note of my own here may also help. Multiple combat engagements in Vietnam taught me that sometimes impatience is also invaluable. The core value of that verse is glimpsed but not revealed: empathy. Empathy takes us into that center of simplicity, compassion, and patience, all three conspiring to enable us to see when these three wise words are refuted by the present our empathy renders impossible to ignore. This is also applicable with raising children.

Having raised two now fine, creative, industrious, and magnanimous daughters humbles me today by observing their own superior parenting to my own back when they were children. Wisdom sits in places is also the title of a brilliant Native American story about stories. Families are the most prominent places in which stories find they most welcoming places. My grandchildren teach me the value of letting them hear my stories as well as the value of welcoming their stories. When stories sit inside us, they also remind us of appropriate offering moments, which are new places the stories want to visit, and places that seemingly & spontaneously emerge in daily life.

Thank you all for your stories here. They remind me this is a great gathering place for stories.

Namaste'.

Namaste'.

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Thank you Charles for being one of the voices our Humanity needs to hear in order for us to know the greatness we can be. Your words "You know, hope is an interesting word. It can mean wishful thinking, but it can also mean a premonition of a possibility." are so inspiring, helping us to connect to All That Is. To All That We Are. Thank you.

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Goodness sakes. A lovely sentiment and a nice rationalization for us to feel good about ourselves. I am happy to be alive. I’m happy that I have 2 children. I wouldn’t be unhappy if I had three or four or five, but don’t. No great deed on my part. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if my youthful indiscretions left additional children out there unknown to me. We have sex because we are driven to it by nature. Homo sapiens is a pretty cool animal (if I do say so myself) but ultimately everything happens for a reason in the ecological sense but there is no purpose. The universe is a place of randomness. It is what it is. Homo sapiens will exist until they don’t and the universe will continue on its random journey. That doesn’t mean we should be nihilistic. Homo sapiens has evolved the ability to see consequences of its behavior, to reflect that in both altruistic and selfish behavior. Now, I love my children and my friends. I live my life in relative freedom, joyfully seeking my individual purpose because that is all I can do. Homo sapiens is now ubiquitous in the world. We define the Anthropocene. Regardless of whether we number 8 billion or 12 billion, our mark is made. Nothing to do about that, really, so enjoy the party! Unless you happen to be one of the billions of unfortunate H. Sapiens born to poverty, war, hate, and lack. The altruists will try to solve problems while the selfish will exploit. Just like H. sapiens has always done.

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Thank you for this article. I feel the same- having 5 kids, I know that they are enriching our world. They are beautiful, compassionate, creative beings, elevating the consciousness of the Universe. There’s nothing more important than that. 😇

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Thank you for this piece, Charles. I largely share your sentiments, but I think you are wrong to assume that young people don't want to have children out of some kind of concern for nature. I seriously doubt the authenticity of even those who put it so explicitly. Generally speaking, humans do not act for reasons. Take the most reason-oriented people there are--say, philosophers and judges--and pay close attention to them and their arguments, and it becomes abundantly obvious that they reason backwards from whatever conclusion they already favour. They rationalize, so I think it's... ahem, reasonable... to infer that that's mainly what the rest of us are doing.

Overwhelmingly, I suspect, young people are not having children because they are not finding themselves in the positions to do so, or do not expect to find themselves in the positions to do so. But even still, it is far too vague to speak of 'young people'. We should speak of the gatekeepers of babies--that is, women. Young women, by and large, do not want to have children. Or maybe, better put, they don't want it enough.

I think, when pressed, most of them would say that they do. But the 'liberation' of women has given them more options. They want children, but not yet. They want to go to school, to work, to travel, to date, to make art, whatever. That's all fine, in itself. But the trouble is, by the time they are 'ready', the conditions for having children have largely evaporated. Many women do not even attempt to have children until their mid-30s. They were never taught--no one is ever taught, because it's so taboo to say--that women's peak for reproduction is somewhere between 16-24. Women spend most of their fertile years not having babies. And then when they want to have babies, it's much more difficult to do so, and there is a shorter period of time during which it is possible. So many fewer babies are born. It's not such a mystery.

But then, many, probably most, women come to want to have children, usually by their 30s. But now the window is much shorter, and there are relatively far fewer men who are interested in these women (perhaps in part because they are subtly or not-so-subtly treated primarily as prospective sperm donors, which is hardly how a man wants to be treated). So these women can't have children, or at least don't. They have re-discovered their most primal desire and instinct, and it is no longer possible.

So what are women supposed to do in such a situation? They can acknowledge they made bad choices and that they are less desirable to men and that as such, they will never have children. That sounds like a very difficult thing to do, psychologically speaking. So instead, they can tell themselves and the rest of their world a story: that they choose not to have children (how empowering!) out of a concern for the planet (how noble!). That is a much easier story to tell oneself.

To argue that, actually, one should have children despite whatever effects it has on nature, will not move these women. This story is how they cope. They need this story. If you want young people to have more children, more women should be encouraged to do so at an earlier age. As you are fond to say, you have to give them a different story. And that story is probably one that does not glorify, say, women going to Yale Law.

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