Parents, hey. Who’d have ’em? Well, not this guy, who is trying to take his parents to court for giving birth to him without his consent, that’s for sure.
The parent-child dynamic will always be a tricky one to manoeuvre; aside from the usual minefield of unwashed dishes, puberty-driven petulance and feeling misunderstood by your mum and dad, there’s a constant rumbling battle between a child who is fighting for autonomy and independence from the very people who gave them the life needed to do so.
But there’s a small but determined movement fighting the literal people power of parental procreation. In simple terms, those who support the child-free movement do not want you to have kids.
This guy is at its forefront:
The child-free movement has three main pillars, Raphael Samuel, a 27-year-old proponent from Mumbai, India, who plans to take his parents to court for bringing him into the world, tells UNILAD.
Samuel gets along with his parents ‘extremely well’, save a few issues with his father – who has struggled to come to terms with the prospect of a legal case – the son would prefer to remain offline and unreported.
But, his largely positive relationship with his mum and dad does belie his belief system. He subscribes to anti-natalism which means he is ‘primarily against any and all sentient life being born’.
Why? Because life sucks. Like, a lot. Between global warming, the impending sixth mass extinction, Brexit and online dating, it’s tough out there.
Raphael has brought his own particular brand of nihilism to Facebook, and started a forum for his fellow child-free supporters to debate the meaninglessness of it all.
One self portrait (below) was shared online, for example, in order to tell his 1,508 followers and all those who stumble across his page that he ‘blesses the gaping void of your soul…’
It’s straight out of the play book of nihilist meme pages – but it’s not actually a joke, as far as we can tell.
Samuel reassures UNILAD he’s not a suicide risk – in fact, he disagrees with the idea of taking your own life adding ‘it must be discouraged on all counts’. But, despite confirming he personally enjoys life ‘to the fullest’, he’s a realist of sorts.
He simply accepts the ‘pitfalls’ of life as we know it – including but not limited to ‘overpopulation, climate change, increasing violence, unemployment, and loneliness’ – and doesn’t think prospective parents have the right to bring life into this uncertain world of pain without their consent.
He’s a far cry away from the Efilist pillar of the child-free movement, he explains, which constitutes the single-minded belief ‘all life must be destroyed and soon’ and, worryingly, he says, includes suicidal tendencies.
To a lesser extreme, there’s the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which lies somewhere in between Samuel and the Efilists on the scale.
They think humanity should go extinct quietly and act under the banner of ‘living long and dying out’, apparently.
In fact, there’s a morbid sense of humour to his online persona and he’s not exactly a glass half empty kind of guy. His Facebook bio reads: ‘Much ado about nothing. Welcome to your life.’
He posts anti-natalism memes to Facebook using a disguise – a fake beard and aviator shades, to be precise – in order to protect his parents’ identity.
Some of the posts come alongside the hashtag ‘Parents are hypocrites’, and others come with catchy slogans shared among the child-free movement circles.
There’s a divide between people on his page who say he is ‘brave’ to ‘speak sense’ and others who troll him with death threats for his seemingly ungrateful attitude towards the chance at life he’s been afforded by his presumably long-suffering mum and dad.
He’s unlikely to take them to heart, though, and continues to ‘enjoy life’ at least in part, he says, because he has freed himself of the societal expectation to have children, unlike his parents.
As far as the day-to-day grind goes, however, Samuel says he finds perks in ‘freedom, the ability to live according to your beliefs and increasing equality’ but has no hobbies or interests, a fact which he cites as one of the reasons he plans to sue his parents.
You might argue the potential lawsuit will suffer from a sense of cognitive dissonance, not to mention a lack of precedent.
But Samuel is still hoping to use the case – and the media attention surrounding it – to file a case under Article 21 of the Indian constitution, which enshrines the right to life.
Samuel shared his mission statement with UNILAD:
I want everyone in India to realise they are born without their consent. They do not owe their parents anything. Basically, none of us have consented to be here. We came by our parents’ discretion.
They got a certain joy by having us, a certain happiness. We were not asked. It’s not even possible to ask. I am going against the very fundamentals of human existence and reproduction.
The small security business owner wishes to add a clause which says any person who imposes life on a child – in other words, all parents – must maintain said life.
When pressed on what maintenance would involve, in his eyes, Samuel listed money, emotional stability and the freedom to choose your own profession, which is ‘not a freedom afforded in Indian society’, he claims.
He would also like to ‘introduce a wider idea to the court that parenthood must be licensed and under strict procedure’ and is vehemently pro-choice in the abortion debate…
I feel people should have children only when they are healthy, can provide enough and have thought about it thoroughly. But I definitely feel no one should be pressured into having a child.
Who knew, you might end up agreeing with him on something, after all.
Samuel, whose alias is Nihil Anand, would only ever bring a child into a ‘world that guarantees no suffering’; a sort of Utopia he believes to be ‘impossible’.
The extreme reaction to his own predecessors is reactive to a society he finds oppressive, he claims:
Children in India are often treated like investments or an insurance scheme. The children often highly respect parents but later treat them like a backup plan in case of their failure.
Motherhood is almost compulsory in most societies in India. The whole world treats the conception of a child like their personal business and most children in India almost ruin their lives trying to please their parents.
While 2018 was a monumental year for the development of civil rights in India – the Constitution now grants homosexuals equality – marital rape continues to be sanctioned by criminal laws, and reproductive laws leave much to be desired.
Perhaps Samuel has a point. Perhaps prospective parents should be held to higher standards by law. Perhaps the highly controversial philosophies of population control demand better public debate.
Does the child-free movement have a point? (Probably not.) Or is Samuel just an adult-sized petulant kid; a product of privilege and every parent’s worst nightmare? (You decide.)
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