What Is Success in Life?


TigerCity got me to thinking last night. I started out by thinking I disagreed with him, but now I’m not sure how much to disagree. So a good way to clear my thoughts is to write about it. He tells us that he isn’t really impressed by most of the life goals that turn other people’s cranks. Money? No. Influence? No. Ambition? Nope. Doing what you love doing? He doesn’t think so. He thinks the only logical measure of success in life is augmenting the gene pool; making babies. To be sure, and to fair, he does mention “prolonging the life of the species.” But right now, he says, he’s a failure, because he hasn’t yet “managed one sprog.”

First of all, I’m a little worried that I’m treating this all too seriously. Maybe TigerCity is just being light-hearted and laughing at himself. Maybe he’s saying, “Look at me, I haven’t progressed too far toward what the world considers success. Maybe all I’m good for is pumping out a kid or two. Heh. Well, there’s a goal I might succeed at—at least I’d be augmenting the gene pool.” I’m all with you when it comes to keeping a sense of proportion through humor.

On the other hand, some things deserve to be treated seriously, and for some reason (to be disclosed), I’m thinking this is one topic that does. So. Can we really reduce success in life to how well we augment the gene pool by having babies?

There are a lot of people who defend the thesis that the best life is for a man and woman to get married and have children. Often times, this admonishment is backed by some branch of organized religion. Often times, the subtle implication is that people who don’t do this are failures, and even, are just parasites living off of the leavings of the productive masses. Well, no matter what the form or disguise this definition of success in life is, and no matter the degree, I’m here to disagree.

For starters, let’s use American football or baseball as an example. (Hoping to cleverly win as many converts to my way of thinking as possible.) You don’t want to insist that all 11 or 9 players, or 5 if it’s basketball, that they all play the same game in the same way. Instead, in a team sport, there are positions, and players are expected to do a good job at the position that they occupy. To be sure, if you have pitcher who has a batting average of .250 too, this is a good thing, but it is a goal that is beyond many. In a team game, you play your part, and the team profits. In fact, if you insist in putting too much importance on your role in the game, it can be a real detriment to the others.

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I am using the analogy above to argue that we don’t all have to be playing the position of baby-maker to have a good society. Not only that, baby-makers are important, but they are not any more important that others who preserve or improve our society. There’s always a personal angle behind every argument. On TigerCity’s definition of success in life, I am going to die a failure, because defiantly babyless at age 70, it isn’t too likely that I am going to mend my ways, never mind my reasons. But, I did teach 35,000 students over a 33 year period, I do have a family, and I am a bread-winner.

Ok, I could probably stop here, but I do want to make one more kind of big point. What really worries me is this: people who not only think that the more babies they make, the better things are, but also think that the more people that follow this example there are, the better things are. It’s just not true. I honestly don’t know what the solution(s) to the world’s over-population problems are. But we do have them. Hunger, homelessness, competition for goods, melting icebergs, species going into extinction are with us, and though it is true that they have always been with us, I think an honest look at the world will show that they have been made worse by overpopulation. I’m not going on and on. Clearly, I don’t agree that it’s a good idea to pop little pips until the Rapture takes us all up into the cloud. On the other hand, I’m not even sure that the human race as a whole can even decide to turn off the baby-making machine, even if they could agree to do so.

One thing I am sure of though. I am doing the world a favor by not augmenting the gene-pool, at least in its current state of person-bloat. And I ain’t a bad cook or ragtime player, either.

Advertisements

Author: Jim Andris

Retired gay married early adopter. Cooking, cleaning, fixing. Makes good music occasionally; U name it. Churchy dude. Likes to think about things, too much, sometimes. Dump Trump. Trying not to do too much harm. Revisiting blogging. Looking for a new handle on things. Exploring genderqueer.