Human children are more than gene carriers, or such is the hope in which we live. The inspiration for this series of collected thoughts however has a colder and bleaker view of offspring. With the impressionability that my age and experience allow me, I re-quote if not endorse the views of Richard Dawkins. So what thought of his intrigues me today? It is the genetic consequence of being a single child.
There are on this planet undeniably more people than are needed or should be. China the fast emerging world leader in production and manufacturing conquered this domain of baby production long ago. It has in place now for many years strict regulations which aspire to control population growth. The single child policy has often been discussed with great gusto, especially in India where we ourselves are not lacking in numbers. A nuclear family vs a joint family were debate and elocution topics which I grew up with. The focus now shifts to the size of the nuclear family. The single child policy is good for the society, the parents, the country and also for the child for he receives undivided attention. When I say undivided attention I of course mean among animate objects for what child could replace the android, apple or blackberry device of today’s young professional? Reading through a chapter on distribution of genetic material among families got me thinking: Is a single child like me getting a raw deal?
I introduced how our sibling possess about 50% of our genetic material, so do our parents and children. If one goes about the business of trying to calculate the spread of genetic material with the help of a binary tree one could end up with a seemingly pointless but interesting observation. Suppose it be a norm in a certain day and age and society where it is appropriate for a couple to copulate and bring into this world 2 carriers of their seed. Your parents live in this described era. They decide due to reasons most conveniently labeled as personal that they shall stop at one child. Their parents frown, friends applaud, neighbors get jealous and society doesn’t give a hoot. You grow up without fraternal love. Besides the usual emotional elements attached to being brought up alone is there something more? The choice of your parents diminishes by a considerable amount the genes which inhabit your body in an already competitive gene pool. Suppose you in your must fertile of years decide to remedy this with respect to your genes you shall have to conceive 3 children. If you do so it is most likely that you shall restore genetic balance with respect to you. But if you choose to actually make it all right from your parents point of you view you might just have to have 5 kids.
The introduction of larger numbers in upcoming generations may seem numerically equal to siblings but actually the chronological factors are also to be considered. Your brother shall inject into the society (quite literally) his genes and in turn theoretically half of yours at a date much earlier than you children can possibly hope to (in a normal household that is). So by the time you give birth there shall already be considerable gene carriers. When measuring the effectiveness of relations in genetic dispersal although direct descent ensures higher probability of common genes but higher numbers ensure greater penetration into the society.
And finally we come to this, what difference does it make? When our bones are turned to ash and dust when the very semblance of one’s being is wiped from the face of all that is measurable and tangible what difference would it make? When I am dead and gone then the sheer number of my children may take the world by storm giving new glory to my legacy but all that could ever do would be fan my ego which will have perished with me. The passing of any creature is most absolute certainly for the pragmatic man and thus such man, whatever academic discussions he may court must bow to the truth that is death and the full stop that accompanies it.