Have you ever noticed that pessimistic and depressed people avoid babies?
I’m sure there are exceptions to this statement, but on the whole, I think it’s accurate. Dark, gloomy minds shy away from babies. I think there’s something to learn from this.
Here’s another thought: There is a psychological need to be around small children. I’m convinced that we need a sufficient number of children in our lives if we’re to function well over time. While I can’t point to particular studies, I’m convinced that interactions with children keep us properly balanced… that we become unbalanced, in some way, when we’re without them for too long.
And so, if these thoughts are true… or anywhere close to true… they’re things we should pay attention to.
Babies have strong effects upon us because they reset us mentally; they pull us back to less-damaged states of mind. They are a sort of untainted comparator… a tool to help calibrate our minds and our sense of life. With babies we are confronted with raw humanity, newly introduced into the world, headed into unlimited possibilities.
To say it another way, babies provide a sort of spiritual reset; they take us away from the dark mental loops most people live in and confront us with a nearly blank human slate.
Without such resets, we tend to lose our vigor, our energy, our forward inertia. Conversely, when we lose our sense of purpose and value, we stop having babies.
This doesn’t mean that everyone has to have babies, of course. Some of us don’t want to, some of us can’t, and some of us have yet to find a suitable partner. But all of us, or nearly all of us, need to be near small children from time to time. Being a caring aunt or uncle is probably enough, but that level, or something approximating it, is almost a necessity for a vigorous human life.
Or so it seems to me.
I’m pretty sure I’m mis-stating this in some significant way, but I also think I’m close enough to make the point. And I’ll add this:
Civilizations and cultures that lose their sense of purpose, their sense of direction, their moral confidence… those cultures also cease to produce babies.
And before I go on, let me give you a passage from G.K. Chesterton’s book, Heretics. I think it adds a bit of depth to this discussion:
We ought always primarily to remember that within every one of these [new minds] there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation. In each there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea.
So, pick her up, hold her, and look as deeply into her as you can. Hold the beautiful boy and imagine the kind of life you want for him. Let the experience recalibrate you. Start imaging a better world, then go out to build it, because the seeds we sow will determine what these babies reap.
Babies pull love out of us in specific ways. We tend to see them as objects of love. Whether it be their innocence, the hope of the humanity’s continuance, or whatever, we latch onto them as vessels we can pour the best of our love into.
I define love as a hunger to bless. And that’s precisely what babies draw out of us. This, perhaps above all others, is a terribly healthful thing to feel.
To put it simply, babies help us to function as benevolent beings. It is they who help us back to a sense of purpose, of direction and moral clarity.