Parental Declaration of Non-Liability for Suffering

“We are aware that, in begetting them, we deliver our children up to an unforeseeable fate: namely, besides to possible joys and pleasures, also to sufferings that must count as unacceptable and to certain death, not only their own but also that of their relatives, which they will have necessarily to witness. It is also clear to us that we cannot possibly gain their consent to any of this before the act of their begetting. We reproduce, for our own pleasure and at the expense of new human beings, the Conditio in/humana and it is this alone that renders possible all future sufferings, catastrophes, wars and mass murders. We feel unable to acknowledge any responsibility for all these negative consequences because they are a matter of force majeure, over which we have no control.

In the end it may prove to be the case that we have indirectly contributed to the perpetuation of suffering already known from the past on into the future; but this does not fall either within the sphere of our responsibility, since we declare ourselves responsible only for the bringing-up of our own children, who may in their turn go on to become responsible.

Nothing is predetermined. Only if someone could prove that specifically our child and no other is bound to die or grievously suffer, after the passage of some years, in some ecological, atomic or war-related catastrophe would we perhaps choose to refrain from begetting said child, just as we would possibly choose not to procreate if it were proven to us that any child we might have would, due to our own genetic predisposition, be born afflicted with some grave illness that would cause him or her serious suffering.

Our own experience has left us convinced that the pleasurable aspects of life mostly outweigh, and compensate for, all negative experiences that may befall us, for which reason we may also suppose it to be probable that our child will also form a positive judgment of the quality of his or her life.

If having-been-begotten were a Diktat rather than a gift, then in the first place, there would necessarily be far more human beings who declare that they would have preferred never to have been born. And in the second place there would be far more people who would refrain, due to their own wish never to have existed, from begetting children of their own. Since these attitudes are in fact shared by relatively few among those already born and since existence is indeed experienced rather as a gift than as a Diktat, we must assume that we too can continue to carry on the business of procreation with a good conscience.”

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