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What’s the Motivation?

February 3, 2007

kr’s note – Before I get to the actual post, I should perhaps say a word on my three month absence. Everyone’s been asking me why I, of all people, stepped aside from xanga suddenly. Speculations and theories ran amuck, with various people offering explanations to explain my departure. “His mom made him”, “he got in trouble with some authorities”, “he forgot his password”, “he got engaged and she made him quit”, and “he ran out of ideas” topped the list.


Hah. Buffoons. The truth is I just got bored. Sorry to offer such a mundane explanation, but sometimes the truth is mundane. So it goes.


So now that I’m back (for the moment, at least), you might be thinking, does he have any more wild posts like wife-demotion theories?… Perhaps I do, but I’d hate to reveal all my cards at once. I’ll start off with something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, and make this more of a discussion post, rather than a classic rant from yours truly.


——


I’m currently on a pediatrics rotation and I recently saw Children of Men (great movie, I highly recommend it), so that’s probably sufficient background to explain the nature of my recent musings. As I’ve been seeing sick kids all day, I’ve been thinking… What’s the motivation for people to have kids these days? Hear me out.


Don’t get me wrong… I love kids, but I look at all these kids that are born everyday and I ask myself this question when I look at the parents. A newborn child is pretty much defenseless and can’t do anything by itself: it needs to be fed 3-4 ounces every 3-4 hours and will dutifully and effortlessly produce 7-8 diapers a day. They cry, they whine, they spit up… and of course, they’re so deliciously cute. Their parents hover over them, worrying about them 24/7, and attending their every need… well, actually it’s just the mother, we men pretty much sit around as decoration and hold the baby every now and then. And then the child grow up, learns to walk and talk, and the parents worry about the child falling, hurting himself, putting poisons in his mouth, etc. Then they worry about school, worrying about extracurriculars, family vacations, religious education, doctors appointments, homework, friends, TV… the list goes on. And as kids get older, they talk back, rebel against their parents, and go out into the world wanting to explore the various “freedoms” and generally make buffoons of themselves and causing their parents’ grief in the process. Then they discover the opposite gender (and well, these days, the same gender), causing a new host of problems for parents, especially the parents of daughters. And of course, there’s the financial part of it, which is something like $200,000 until the age of 18… that is to say, without college. But that’s neither here nor there.


Of course, the obvious reply to the above is the satisfaction that parents get from their children’s happiness grossly outweighs any of the mental, physical, psychological, and financial costs briefly listed above. And the absence of children, beautifully captured in Children of Men, is self-evident. But it’s precisely the story in this movie, combined with the above, and added to the undeniable fact that the world is not evolving towards a brighter tomorrow. Sure, academically and technologically we’re producing miracles by the minute, but ethically and morally, I think we as a human race pretty much plateaued out (see a society in 7th century Arabia for more information) in these departments and have been de-evolving rapidly. We’re curing abstruse and rare diseases with brilliant genetic and medicinal proficiency, yet the simple problem of human hunger (the main treatment required known as Triticum aestivum, or wheat) remains. We’re killing each other mindlessly, once-sacred institutions such as family, marriage, and religion are defunct, and we’re destroying the environment, as inventor-of-the-internet Al Gore (“even though I won the popular vote”) has brilliantly reminded us in An Inconvenient Truth. In short, with due respect to Louis Armstrong, I can’t “…think to myself / what a wonderful world“.


Again, don’t get me wrong. I love kids.  These ruminations are in no way to imply my personal beliefs, because inshallah I hope to have kids… if only to have someone to inherit my xanga account. And yes, I realize that I’m here because my parents had the desire to have kids (and yes, Allah willed it… smart aleck). But in a world that’s rapidly disintegrating, figuratively and literally, and combined with the above investment that parents put into children, what’s the motivation to have kids? Do people want to bring children and go through that raising experience (which again, I’m sure is worth it) only to have them live in this kind of world? The dangers we’ve experienced and the temptations we’ve faced growing up now are only going to be exacerbated as time goes on (and yes smart guy, I realize the Mahdi is the trump card in all that, but humor me). In that kind of a world, do people really want to expose their children to that future? Would future generations hate us for being the means for their existence in a miserable world? Is it time for the human race to look back at ourselves, pat ourselves on the back, and wistfully say, you know what, we’ve had a good run, but maybe we oughta just call it quits


I could be wrong. Maybe I’m just sleep-deprived and have seen too many sick kids lately. But the question remains…


What’s the motivation?


I await your thoughts, comments, and rotten pesticide-injected cancer-causing tomatoes.

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37 Comments
  1. thumbs up

  2. 1)Why is he wearing a brownish/beige-ish suit, couldnt he find an orange one?2)I had a similar post a while back. But I didnt look at why parents brings kids into this weird world, (but atleast to me the most important question is), when they do bring them, what kind of maniacs they turn into raising their kids – worrying about that one cough at night, to stubbing a toe, to walking from one class to another in cold weather, to trying to find the most flavourful, ‘nutrition’ filled apple sauce…

  3. because youre a girl ill allow this one time moment of blasphemy… but DO NOT EVER question WHY the COACH(!!!!) does/did anything. he is a legend. he can do, wear, or say anything he wants. he’s wearing a brown suit because he felt like it, and to establish a fashion trend to how any real man should dress, and why i would kill for one of those ’85 retro ditka bears sweaters.

  4. in my soc class.. we just finished watching this 2 part ‘film’ lol.. that documented the lives of a couple who had 11 kids.. and when the lady who was filming asked him why he kept on having kids if they were so poverty stricken..  he said it was because he loved his kids.. and he wanted more to love.. and he said he would find some way to provide for them.. and half the class was like wth?!.. and then in the second part that was filmed 20 years later.. with the kids all grown up.. they were all middle class..
    but yeah i’ve thought about that.. ( i Insha’Allah do want to have kids).. with the world and society getting to the point where its at right now.. whats going to be left for them.. it is kind of scary.. but i dont think we should give up on the future just yet.. we should get some awesome deeni knowledge.. provide our kids with that.. and trust that somewhere.. there has to be goodness.. if only just enough to get by..

  5. U OWE ME FRIGGIN EPROPS…or no Ditka Sweater for you!

  6. the motivation is primarily genetic — we’ve been imbued with a natural drive to carry on the species, which is a common trait in all living creation. but is we look at humans, we might wonder why our higher brains dont override our thalamic responses and perhaps the reason for that is perhaps that most people dont think about WHY they want to have kids — they just do because 1) it’s an accident as a result of sexual activity or b) it’s a planned activity that is socially supported/expected of humans by their counterparts.
    of course, with the way the world is now and the crappier state it may be moving towards, I and a friend contemplated just the same question you’ve presented in this post — why would you bring kids into a world that has a more negative prognosis than ever before?? and I guess as Muslims, the answer we’ve reasoned would be the following: we were out on this world to serve God. we didnt ask to be here. we’ve got a job to acknowledge our lives to be a test and growing up, getting married, having kids, caring for our aging parents and growing old ourselves are part of the test. 
    The Nabi got married, he had kids, and sadly, he has no direct living progeny today. The life he lived, and the life of all the prophets were not so rosy either. But they took part in all the activities of life and did their best to raise their kids in the best manner possible, regardless of the tests God would throw their way. So, ultimately, we take part in having kids because we have hope that God will provide for us and for our families, just like the man ilmaddit mentioned said that he would somehow provide for his 11 children. So their effort are cosmically not pointless, in spite of the terrible struggles people go through when they see the suffering and loss of loved ones like those families in Iraq and palestine today.
     The challenge may only be explaining to kids why we bring them into the world when we as parents recognized that the world and its condition is getting more tremulous. First, that’s not totally in our hands either – there are couples that have tried in vain to have kids and are not given any. And then there are people who have so many they wonder how. But in either case, families and the community can only work to only raise children to understand their relationship to God and their place in the universe, allow them to understand that we have been encouraged to have families and that we have faith in God’s providing for us and them because we’ve believe in being optimists, having faith and looking forward to a better day (even if it is not in this world), one which we have a role in creating so long as God wills it.

  7. eeeyeeeeah.. if that all reads like jibberibibbish then please ignore me. jazak allah khair.

  8. “Marry the loving and child-bearing, for I will compete with the other Prophets with the number of my followers on the Day of Qiyaamah.”

  9. Aisha radiallaahu anhaa reported that Allah’s Messenger sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said: “Verily, a sign of blessing for a woman is that her engagement, dowry, and womb (i.e. giving birth) are made easy.”

  10. “Undoubtedly Allah the Most Glorious elevates the rank of a virtuous slave. The latter says, ‘O Lord, where did I get this rank from?’ Allah says, ‘It is due to the invocation of forgiveness that your children have made for you.’”

  11. “Anyone who has three daughters and provides for them, clothes them and shows mercy to them will definitely enter the Garden.” A man from the people said, “And two daughters, Messenger of Allah?” He said, “And two.”

  12. “When the son of Adam dies, his actions are cut off except for three: an on-going charity, beneficial knowledge, and a virtuous child who makes supplication for him.”

  13. Brother, I am terribly sorry for the offense. I didnt even know he was a coach. The following fact may offend you even more but, I actually thought it was a picture of some random fat man wearing a Bears sweater. Once again, I apologize. I sincerely say, I absolutely meant no insult.

  14. ^hahaha, im sorry, my comment was a joke considering the ditka fanaticism that is part of the chicago culture. i thought you knew that, so i used all those capitalizations and exclamations. if you took it seriously, i apologize myself, cause i was totally joking and didnt think your initial comment meant any insult either.

  15. naseehunameen: with due respect, you’re missing the point. the “we” used in this post is referring to the human race in general. religiously, there’s more than enough reasons to carry on the human race, more than the copious ahadith youve listed. religion is irrelevant as a primary causative factor in this discussion. for example, a similar type of discussion would be, ‘why should we stay away from alcohol?’. there’s enough ayahs/ahadith to indicate why not, so the discussion would instead focus on secondary reasons. similarly, that was the idea behind this: to consider secondary reasons instead of the obvious religious ones.

  16. I see you have started this new season of your xanga in a different style. Its a thought provoking post. If you ask somebody in the sub-continent with 15 kids, they will say I have 15 fixed deposits awaiting for me in my old age. hehe! Amm. Every father and mother will tell you that even though they have to go through so many hurdles for their kids, it still is the most amazing feeling for them to have their kids hold on to their fingers (atleast when they’re kids). Could it be for selfish reasons? I dont know.Although your question would make a lot more sense to those in trying times/places. Unfortunately where so many people are killed in countries like Iraq and Palestine, it may be worth knowing their motivation.I dont know if my reply made any sense. ha!

  17. These are not personal; I’m just brainstorming ones I’ve noticed/heard.
    Addition to the reasons by others above: procreating a family, a home, a place to come at the end of day and call your own – niche? : Children – material belongings; and/or emotionally an investment as an additional relationship in life – to attain or strike a possible balance of relationships – aka. motherhood, fatherhood (among other kinds in life). Communalism -? Possibly, to fit in with society/world/etc? Or even to procreate desire ‘perfection’ – correct all the wrongs of your own past/or childhood?
    There may or may not be repetition above. Interconnected.

  18. ill be back… inshAllah, good post,  but no time.

  19. I’m thinking about this one, because I don’t want to use our typical religious reasons, which would make perfect sense for muslims to have kids. For now I am thinking along the lines of… maybe Allah swt implanted that desire for all parents to have kids. I guess another question could be why do non-muslims get married in the first place. Either way, I think there is this unspoken satisfaction in everyone when they do the same things that those who “submit-to-God-Almighty-as-a-religion” do. For example, last year or so I met this non-muslim who came to pray with us at Jumu’ah prayer, and he said he wasn’t trying to convert, he just wanted to understand Islam…and he told me and Abdul Sattar that yesterday he prayed as muslims pray (at his place) and he felt a sort of peace and happiness that he couldn’t fully describe. Another reason that I could say for this post is, those children who seem weak, and sick, and may be doing things in the future that cause so much hurt to their parents, and all that…they may be the ones who one day find the truth and become the strongest followers in Islam and a light for this world getting covered in darkness. Man, I think I might have done exactly what I didn’t want to do, which is give a typical response. Maybe I’ll be back to say more…SubhanAllah. Good post. I’ve been missing out. Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah.

  20. I think there are a lot of reasons why people choose to have kids. One reason that someone else brought up (ilmaddict) is that they want someone to love. The love between a parent and a child is a beautiful, blessed thing. Also, parents see in their children so much potential, potential to do great things, to be someone special, even to change the world. There are more selfish reasons to have children of course. Parents want to have someone to take care of them when they become old. Who better to trust than your own flesh and blood?

  21. Anonymous permalink

    The forces of good (ME) were able to cause the forces of evil (omar w) to pull down his horrible/fake xanga post. You may now take this time to shower me with your gratitude.Yes, I’m Uh-Mazing

  22. i’ve missed you and been waiting for you to come back. much love

  23. so here is a haiku for you:Oh Mr. K.R.Or should I say hot doctor?Be my McSteamy.

  24. sienna miller (ex girlfriend to Jude law) said that she’d like to have children to give her a sense of purpose in life, a place to put her energies and a place to put her love (and hopefully get some back). from an article in the chicago tribune magazine dated oct 9, 2005, the author said regarding the relationship he has with his daughter that a child is an oppotunity for a lifetime of self improvement; his daughter makes him want to fulfill the “true masculine ideal”. and while he’s improving day by day, he has an opportunity to develop a beautiful/good human being by putting his time and financial efforts into the better development and happiness of his child. (also see the film Matchstick Men, starring Nicholas Cage for an example of how children give adults a new outlook on life).
    children are also the vessels that can carry on an adult’s dream. ie. some projects people embark upon cant be continued by that individual and his/her generation alone — they need a new batch of younger/energetic people to carry on the task. for some people, their own children may be more sympathetic to the mission and task then a young person who is not related. in that regard, children are a source of hope and a chance for change — they provide the outlook of a future, even while the parents/guardians of a child see that there time on earth is up.

  25. Good question and thought-provoking post…it’s too bad that i don’t have the time to really think about the answer as i would like to…let’s say i had a slightly different opinion of babies/children before my little brother was born 7 years ago. nevertheless i’m still going into elementary education inshAllah…little compares to the satisfaction of passing on knowledge to little kids, laying the foundation of their future and the feeling you get when you’ve accomplished something like that

  26. i want a baby squirrel…

  27. Alhamdulillah, I think I did not miss your point, which, by the way, you would have done well to make more explicit initially or apologize for not having done so rather than to suggest after the fact that I missed it. The ahaadith quoted above shed light on both the primary and secondary reasons, as you call them. You’re right, the ahaadith quoted speak directly to the primary reasons, the true, revealed reasons. In pondering these hadith we realize that there is a distinction between the primary reasons and the secondary. We find, then, that the secondary reasons, many of which many commenters have kindly mentioned, are merely ‘accidental’, in the language of philosophy. They are but excuses or explanations or manifestations of our human (not just Muslim) fitra, which has been created in tune with the primary realities and motivating enducements mentioned in the hadith I quoted, of which, as you noted, there are many more. “He who doesn’t thank the people, has not thanked Allah.” Thank you brother kr156.

  28. To pray and hope that your child is used for Islam; guiding others and being guided by Him and His Rasul.

  29. When a child smiles and laughs back at you, logic goes out the window. Going through my peds rotation, this idea is reinforced over and over again. Of course, I fear the future and raising a child in this world. But we do our best and pray Allah guides the rest. P.S. Hey, that’s my book! 🙂

  30. those are some good comments up there but I think I have to agree with the last one the most.  despite all the hardships a parent faces throughout the child’s life, to see that being smile and succeed has got to be a feeling like no other, subhanAllah.  I can only partially get that feeling with other people’s kids, I can’t imagine what it’d be like to see my own.  and although there are many harmful things in the world today, i think most people would like to take that opportunity to at least try their hardest to get that child to smile and more importantly succeed always.  

  31. From the one and only Yahya Youssef:Collegeiskilli (2:07:23 AM): on a more serious noteCollegeiskilli (2:07:28 AM): thank you for coming back to xangaCollegeiskilli (2:07:37 AM): esp. with this thought provoking postCollegeiskilli (2:07:49 AM): however I have to contend with the rest of your readersCollegeiskilli (2:07:55 AM): I do NOT want to have childrenCollegeiskilli (2:08:38 AM): mostly cause I dont feel compelled to have anyone live out my ‘legacy’Collegeiskilli (2:08:59 AM): and it would be a crime to enforce my vision upon another lifeCollegeiskilli (2:09:29 AM): also the world is mad ‘effed upCollegeiskilli (2:09:48 AM): and would not want my children to live in a world where human life is not valuedCollegeiskilli (2:10:09 AM): and art music and true freedom are viewed as threats Collegeiskilli (2:10:39 AM): and religion is used as a tool to subject people to other menCollegeiskilli (2:10:55 AM): But Children of Men was a dope movie esp. on the big screenCollegeiskilli (2:11:19 AM): god willing I’ll marry and NOT have childrenCollegeiskilli (2:11:37 AM): and will live my life in struggleCollegeiskilli (2:12:15 AM): and attempting to uplift the people around meCollegeiskilli (2:12:52 AM): and end with the words of god on my lips and a true legacy firmly imprinted in god’s memory

  32. Great question. I’ve got 4 nephews and a niece visiting currently. I ask myself that question every night before I go to sleep: why?  I think its because it makes peoples’ lives feel purposeful.  Btw, good discussion topic, I think I’m gonna subscribe 🙂

  33. So that your ego will have a noble reason to exist… someone to let you know its okay to live again.
    See?  Doesn’t seem too complex, but works for most.
    Or, as I would like to state, so that the children of the people who are morally inclined to realize the gravity of the issue will atleast be able to draw mankind a bit closer to the side of good than would be possible by the children of those who are too ignorant to realize what is really going on. 
    Something like this:  Most people want to have children to satisfy their instinct, in one way or another.  A few people realize that they are bringing their children into a world which is devolving by the second into the pigfest that we are soon to see.. now, considering the people who are just trying to satisfy their instinct probably don’t look at the world as a pigfest, they in general are a bit less inclined to see to it that their children aren’t active initiators and participators in the pigfest.  Now, the people who do realize it is becoming a rancid situation will think twice about having kids, but when they do have kids they will be more likely to train their kids not to become part of the pigfest, but rather rebel against the pigfest for the betterment of mankind in general.  And thus, a balance is achieved because even though some people such as yourself realize that it is getting to be a horrible situation, they will continue to bite the bullet and have children for the greater good because they dont want only the ignorant donkey part of mankind procreating.  Because, we all know it would be just that less bearable without the good people out there to sweeten the pot.
    Simplified for the sake of theory, the truth is a bit more complex I will admit.

    I am not sure if you understand…but oh well. lol.
    Awesome Post, salaamalaikumwarahmatullahwabarakatu.

  34. oh yeah, or I could tell you something lame like, “Kids are just so damn cute, everyone wants one!”
    lol.  Thats non-religious enough, and valid too.  =)  Remember, smiling kids=logic out the window

  35. BEARS GOT OWNED!!!
    It was… dissappointing to see that white quaterback dismantle the Bears previously impregnable defense… lol
    You ever notice that most star QB’s, if not all star QB’s are white, while almost all star wide recievers are black?
    indeed.  Manning sure kicked ass and got everyones name lol.

  36. Servant_of_Allah: i loved the way you summed it up — thoughts that were on my mind or a part of what I wanted to say but forgot or sumthin –cheers! …LOL at “they dont want only the ignorant donkey part of mankind procreating” … so true 

  37. Thanks…  I am happy the message is still discernable through all the euphemisms… haha.  =)
    Cheers!

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