As my teacher used to say,
The ultimate aim of every organism is reproduction.
From the tiniest prion to the blue whale, everybody reproduces. In a sense, attaining immortality, to let the life flow on through matter even after decomposition. But lower organism do not have higher thinking to seek the philosophical aspect of reproduction, they do it for doing it, that is the only way they are programmed to act.
So, I am not bothering about procreation in lower organism, that will bring in scientific paraphernalia. Let’s focus on the highest intellectual being on the planet, us, the humans.
Why is reproduction considered so much essential in the life of man, modern man? Primitive humans mated for fulfilling sexual desires and even with a less refined intellect ( talking on a broad spectrum view) they realized the need to increase the strength of the groups they lived in , for combating with nature and other rival groups, over survival of the fittest, due to limited harnessing of available resources. After a point, reproduction became the absolute norm, nobody questioning the need for it, just accepted as a much welcome aftermath of temporary pleasure.
But, was there , at some point, a few frowns over the necessity of reproduction? And the proponents of the doubt being minority of course were sought to be convinced otherwise, hence the emergence of marriage?
Well there can be other arguments over origin of marriage , cultural needs when humans created a civilization ( as a mode to escape ennui) , another way to celebrate procreation, biological need to stop spreading of fatal diseases that arise from multiplicity of sexual activity , emotional need to keep two together so that layer 1 of Maslow’s pyramid of needs doesn’t overpower layer 3… and then came the historical facts about marriages for alliance between realms etc etc. That is not what I am talking about today.
So, for modern humans, procreation has been accepted as the “normal” pathway and hence the celibate / childfree / unmarried people are a minority, as “it was supposed to be”. Now, resting the thinkers’ ideal on incoherence of intellect or stupidity of incoherence aside, let us analyze how procreation is perceived in the modern human society.
It is said that human beings are the only ( apart from dolphins) animal that has sex for pleasure, not purely procreation purposes. But , still why the average human , whether economically/emotionally/physically/socially/environmentally stable to sustain another life or not, still “dream” of reproduction. And any hindrance to it is perceived as a deprivation.
Now I am not going to get into the necessity and infallibility of reproduction induced into us directly or indirectly by the society.
I have been told by more than one that my complex emotional set up ( thanks to hormones) are an indication by nature that my “fertile” body is slowly “blossoming” , preparing for a “life” in “near future”. That I like to help homeless kids with food sometimes are an indication of my “flowering motherly instincts” .
Yes, nature necessitates reproduction , so the whole menstrual cycle melodrama comes in. But how is procreation psychologically appealing to us?
Think about this, a scientist makes an invention, he is elated. A writer writes a book, a painter creates a masterpiece, a little child makes a paper plane… the simplest of creation makes the creator overwhelmed.
So, when two people can create something as absolute and exquisite as another life, that too with the minimum level of investment in material terms, how can they not be inundated with pride? That is transcribed into “selfless” love towards the child. Man feels one and at par with the “God” they created, at that moment. Creation of “The Creator” considering itself creator at the creation of another creator. Labyrinthine Paradox, indeed.
That lure itself is too much and too deep-rooted to overlook or get to the bottom of it. May be that is why, perhaps a happily childfree person needs re-convincing himself/herself time to time with the woes of “raising a child” to look beyond the “joy” of “creating it”.
A creation so perfect that no man of “higher intellect” as they claim themselves to be can undermine it, a creation so powerful that someone who has renounced worldly attachments seeks alternative definitions of “immortality” after the heartbeat stops.
For the dwellers of real plane, somewhere the question of “to create or not to create” resonates with “to be or not to be” at a subconscious level.
On an end note, I would put up a quote by Keith Henson:
“People repeat behavior that leads to flooding their brains with pleasurable chemicals. The short-term reward loop acts over hours to years, and the long-term reproductive success loop over generations.”