In February 2019, I will become a Father. One thing I am learning about the capitalist marketing of parenthood is the endless list of items one “needs” for their infant. Cribs, changing pads, clothes, boopies, bottles, bassinets, rockers, car seats, lotions, oils, and then what do you need when your little one soils his or herself?
Then there’s classes to take to prepare for your upcoming project of parenthood like birthing and new born classes. Don’t get me wrong these things are supposed to make a parent’s life easier and knowing what is happening inside your partner’s body and how to take care of the infant once it hits the outside world is vital, but it all becomes overwhelming and some of items marketed for infants taps into our excessive culture of consumption for temporary fulfillment and usage.
It’s as if becoming a parent is being marketed as going to war. And in a capitalist economy war is a racket, this war on newfound parenthood is a racket on your bank account, and the capitalists wouldn’t have any other way. One would think the human species would have never reached 7.6 billion people and counting without various forms of plastic equipment to guide your children through infancy.
Figuring out how a diaper genie works is not what keeps my mind racing and thoughts popping into my head late into the evening. Wishing that I could rub the diaper genie to have an actual genie appear before me to grant me three wishes is what I think about.
I think about how I would use these wishes to bring my son into a living world instead of a dying one, equality would topple oppression, and our community wouldn’t be centered around jobs or sports teams.
Son, you are coming into a world in which in the beginning of 2017 it was estimated 360 species a daywere going extinct. Wildlife populations have fallen 60% since 1970. The last time oceans were this acidic, 96% of marine life went extinct. Carbon emissions in 2018 will reach a new record high of 37.1 billion tons. You are entering a world in which you and all of us among the living are literally getting gassed to death.
Some politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders are calling for a “Green New Deal“. This Green New Deal is the equivalent of Christina Aguilerasinging “I’m a genie in a bottle, you gotta rub me the right way”.
There is no “right way” to rub the bottle of Industrial Civilization in hopes a genie will appear before someone to grant them their wish of a Green New Deal to “save the planet” especially when there is no platform in the Green New Deal calling to abolish the US Military, the world’s largest polluter. I would call on people to ask the children of your generation in Yemen, Palestine, and the Global South to see if this new deal rubs them the right way.
If anything the Green New Deal is an attempt to answer the age old question pointed out by Neil Evernden in his book The Natural Alien:
“But the question society wants answered is not how to be right but how to be smart – how to go on doing what it has been doing, without paying the price.”
The Green New Deal will not answer this question even though Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders brag about this deal putting people back to work.
Whenever climate change is brought up by mainstream politicians, the economy immediately follows. The economy is treated just as much like a living organism as our planet is from this culture. This is the problem. We need to stop working and we need to stop producing. We need to get people to imagine life without a job.
Working is what is causing this massive production of converting the living to the dead. Industrial Civilization’s engine is work. Working is what is fracturing our social bonds which in turn is fracturing our society that is leading to as the French Sociologist, Émile Durkheim, calls acts of personal and collective self-annihilation. This state of hopelessness and despair Durkheim calls anomie.
We need to replace work with repairing, maintaining, growing, and conversing as a community to form these social bonds many of us long for that have been sliced and diced by the oligarchs pulling the levers of Industrial Civilization.
Son, I hope to form a healthy social and familial bond with you given the times we are in. In my 36 years of life I realized from an ecological standpoint it has been 36 years of free falling. Being a Father to you in this time where vast changes of the living systems in this planet are breaking down is going to be a task of all guts.
With that being said the first gut wrenching thing I need to tell you is even though you have just being given the gift of life on this planet you are dying. The one comforting thing I can tell you is that we all are dying.
When a forest gets logged, a piece of us dies. When a trophy hunter flies to Africa to hunt a lion, a piece of us dies. When an orangutan’s habitat is destroyed so those of us in western society can eat Oreo cookies, a piece of us dies. When the US Government approves a 716 billion dollar military budget, several pieces of us die.
One day all of these pieces will lead to the death of our species. So you may be wondering at this point what can we do? How as a Father am I to move forward in raising you?
Many will count on churches, synagogues, or mosques to instill morals and values into children of your generation. It’s these spiritual experiences they believe will form and shape you into the person you will become.
I will not rely on these institutions. Instead, I will be trying to show you that forming bonds with your community is spiritual. Having an intimate knowledge of the land you are surrounded by is spiritual.
The definition of spiritual is relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
What got us into this mess was the colonial mindset of failing to recognize the physical things that are spiritual in this world are rivers, mountains, or even birds. Our predecessors looked at these things as something to conquer and take the materials from these living things to suit their personal desires for control and subjugation of the planet and people of color.
I will instead teach you the living planet are the physical and material things that make up the definition of spiritual. Physically helping those in need are the physical and material things that make up the definition of spiritual.
Our spirituality will be fighting for the living planet and the oppressed peoples of the world. We will try to teach people activism is spiritual and taking to the streets to protest organize against the death and domination of our planet and those living in it is an act of spirituality.
Spirituality is in fact the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. We have a moral obligation to fight for your generation and any generation that may come after you. Even if the odds are stacked against us, we have the privilege and obligation of using that privilege to fight while others will not able to fight since they will be trying to alleviate their own suffering.
As more of our freedoms are taken away and our lives become further marginalized to the edge of oblivion you will soon understand that outwardly expressing the thoughts in your head and the feelings of love towards others in your heart will be a freedom no one can take away from you.
Many parents my age will obsess over a college fund for their children to secure their future. I will obsess over subsidizing your mind will critical thinking skills, because you are going to need to critically think about what is happening around you. You’re going to need to be always looking at the big picture, and also live in the moment because I don’t know how many “moments” you will be given.
I will be here for it all though, to help you, to hug you, to talk to you, to cry with you until my last breath on this planet. I may get overly emotional at times and I may seem distant at other times, but just know every action I take, every thought in my mind, and every feeling in my heart and soul will be for you my Son.
I will be overly emotional at times because I realize you will not have as many precious moments in your life as I’ve had in mine and that breaks my heart.
I will be distant at times because I will be trying to navigate through what this system is throwing at the lives of you and your Mother. I will try my best to take on that burden and not pass this burden on to you.
I write this letter to you because I hope one day you will read this and future letters and understand the man your Father is now as you are about to enter the world. I hope one day you will be able to see the man I want to be for you, and finally I hope you will see the man you must become for your community and for this planet.
I don’t know what being a Father with an “all guts” approach looks like but I hope this is the start of our beautiful and difficult journey that lies ahead of us.
Matchbox Twenty in their song, How Far We’ve Come, sing:
“I believe the world is burning to the ground
Oh well, I guess, we’re gonna find out
Let’s see how far we’ve come
Let’s see how far we’ve come”
I say to you my Son let’s not see how far we’ve come, but let’s see how far we’ll go. Even if the world is burning to the ground.