Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
The natural world is heartless and cruel. Yet we humans equate ‘natural’ with ‘good’.
It turns out there’s an entire magazine aimed at sucking the joy out of parenthood. It’s called Green Child.
Apparently, we aren’t smart enough to teach kids to respect Mother Earth all on our own. We need a preachy periodical to show us the way. A periodical whose mission is to help us “raise a child the way nature intended.”
I find that statement astonishing. Allow me to explain.
Shortly after it appeared back in 1980, I read a book titled The Sceptical Feminist. It left an indelible imprint on my thinking.
For thousands of years, women were considered intellectually inferior to men. Our great-grandmothers were told that nature was responsible for this state of affairs, and that fighting for property or voting rights was therefore unnatural.
Shamefully, many feminists now employ similarly specious reasoning. For example, they believe women should get custody of the kids when a marriage breaks down because nature made the mother-child bond more intense than the father-child bond.
Rigorous thinking shining from every page, The Sceptical Feminist eviscerates this sort of shoddy analysis. In Radcliffe Richards’ view, equating what’s “natural” with virtue amounts to a cheap debating trick.
Chapter 2 is titled The Proper Place of Nature. Several pages in, Section 5 is headed: An Analysis of the Natural. Like a splash of cold water, it asks:
why should it be considered good to act naturally? The natural world contains quite as much evil as good.
Surely anyone who has spent an afternoon watching the Nature Channel has figured this out. Wild animals terrorize their prey before tearing it to pieces. Nature is vicious, cruel, heartless.
It is civilized human beings who believe that the weak, the sick, and the old deserve protection. Nature destroys those beings first. She cares not whether we suffer, whether we live or perish.
Getting to the heart of the matter, Radcliffe Richards challenges the “what nature intended” promoters to turn their backs on modern medicine. Dying in childbirth is perfectly natural. So is suffering brain damage due to infections such as syphilis.
In her words:
This sort of arguing from the natural is an unmitigated menace. If the people who use [these] arguments come to the right conclusions, it is entirely by accident and for the wrong reasons.
Amen to that.
Today is Mother’s Day here in Canada. A female acquaintance has long argued that green initiatives aimed at altering people’s everyday behaviour are another manifestation of busybodies using maternal guilt to push their own agendas.
Breast milk rather than formula. Cloth diapers rather than disposable ones. Homemade baby food rather than the sort that comes in jars. Packaging your child’s school lunch in a washable plastic container rather than a disposal sandwich bag.
Far too many decisions that should be matters of personal choice have become emotionally-charged opportunities for strangers to boss parents around. My friend is especially resentful of people whose “green solutions” invariably increase the amount of time the average mother spends on mind-numblingly boring tasks.
There’s a growing mountain of evidence, for example, that curbside, consumer recycling is close to pointless. In some respects, it’s actually worse for the environment. But every week millions of mothers sort (and, in the case of empty cans and jars, wash) their family’s refuse.
As if they had nothing better to do with that most non-renewable resource of all – their limited time on this Earth.