If you had one lice on your head, would you think it was a problem? How about two? Would you hunt them down and murder them, or just let them be? What about 10? Or 20? Or 200? What is the number of lice on your skull that you would tolerate before you dunked your head in toxic poison to kill them all? Sometimes I think that is how the earth feels about us. Even though I know over population is a serious threat to the environment, it is hard to come up with a solution without some sad stuff happening. I mean, I am not a mathematician or anything, but either more people have to die or less people have to be born.
About a year ago, when I was pregnant, I saw
I had to laugh at the irony of the moment, especially when I thought of my hybrid SUV in which I was planning to drive my baby home from the hospital. Life is such a quantum mass of contradictions. As much as I want to consider myself an environmentalist with my recycling system that would put Al Gore to shame, an organic farm that would make Michael Pollen kale-colored with envy, and guaranteeing I let every yellow mellow in the toilette, does my procreating negate all that? Is my producing another human to consume and create waste mean that I can no longer judge people for using Dawn or drinking from plastic water bottles?
I now find myself second-guessing every environmental decision since I produced this little being of natural destruction. Take for instance diapers. Do you I use cloth diapers? But what about all the laundry? Think of all the children who die because they can’t get clean water… the same water I am washing my kids poo with. Okay, what about 7th generation diapers? They are okay, but if I use them while she sleeps, she wakes up covered in pee and I have to wash her outfit or ignore the comments at the grocery store that my baby smells like urine. So, what if I use Huggies just at night? Is that okay?
Or toys. I don’t want her to have off-gassing toys made by babies in the developing world, so I should buy all new eco happy toys, right? But the price difference between a ruby ducky chew toy at Babies R Us, and a Sophie giraffe is $20. For a parent like me, I will get the deluxe French shi-shi option because of my belief that too many toys will condition you to be entitled. But what if you differ from my Marxist mommy style? What if you don’t have the money to afford $50 handmade letter blocks, painted with the nectar of butterfly tears collected from virgins in a local field?
Now that I have a baby, I realize that every choice I make is a potential environmental catastrophe. How do I reconcile the fact that I am glad she is alive, but that every life is a budding threat to the health of the earth? I don’t want to live in denial, but feeling the guilt of creation rather than the beauty is exceedingly stressful. In order to sleep at night, I tell myself “it is not the number of people that is problematic, it is the way people are living…”