Birds do it, bees do it, squirrels do it. All animate entities on this planet—and most likely extraterrestrials as well—are programmed by nature to multiply. Procreation happens automatically. It requires no special training, no talent, no skill, and no higher intellect. In all of nature, there’s no such thing as “too dumb to procreate.” Any living being too dumb to produce offspring would also be too dumb to respire or to convert sunlight into chlorophyll, i.e., be non-viable right out of the gate.
Even potatoes know how to multiply, hence the ingenuity of a potato is all it takes.
In addition to the necessary skill set being already built in, all living creatures are endowed with an inherent drive to procreate, and a pretty powerful one at that. So aside from no skill and no intellect, no more effort is required to effect conception than it takes to sit back, relax, and leave the driving to Mother Nature.
What does require a measure of skill, on the other hand, is to prevent procreation from occurring. One must possess at least a scintilla of intellectual prowess to be able to follow a pill regimen or to properly don a condom, and it certainly takes a lot more effort to exercise restraint—either by retreating in time or by abstaining from potential procreation-inducing activities altogether—than it takes to refrain from actively and consciously interfering with nature’s programming. Breathing is easier than holding one’s breath, and all contraceptive methods reside far beyond the intellectual reach of a squirrel.
This—to forestall yet another predictable knee-jerk objection besides the infertility issue—is not to suggest that there’s anything “wrong” with procreation per se, that babies aren’t cute, that having them isn’t a wonderful thing, blah-blah-blah, nor that women who become pregnant, or the men who contributed to the condition, or both, were simply too dumb to prevent it.
My point is merely that to achieve conception is a lot easier than to prevent it.
So then how come people, in general, are much more inclined to issue felicitations when a pregnancy has been brought on than when one has been prevented even though the latter was more difficult to achieve?
Certainly, raising a child into becoming a productive member of society can be considered an achievement, but no such raising has yet taken place at the time the felicitations are issued.
Anytime we encounter a non-pregnant woman of reproductive age, chances are some preventive skill and effort are in play, yet no one congratulates her or her mate on their accomplishment.
If, on the other hand, we encounter an expecting lady, no skill or effort were needed to bring about her condition, and if prevention was attempted, it obviously failed. Yet she and her guy will be treated as if they just won a bunch of medals in the Olympics.
Every baby bump picture on Facebook is followed by a list of congratulatory comments a mile long. No bump, no congratulations.
I don’t have kids (at least not to my knowledge), and I’ve never been complicit in any begetting (ditto), yet no one has ever congratulated me for the skill and effort I’ve put in over the years to accomplish this feat. Granted, not exactly an overwhelming amount of skill and effort in absolute terms, but certainly quite a fraction more than it would have taken me to share my chromosomes, in which case I would have been swamped with wows like I had passed the bar or completed a novel.
Methinks we’ve got it backwards.
PS: Infertility is a separate issue which does not bear on my central point. For the sake of providing a concise and streamlined presentation, I have omitted prefacing every single statement in this post with “Except in the case of infertility…”