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Dialogues with The Elder
On Obligations and Morality -

Dialogue 1: Having Children



By Feng Xin-Ming, 2014

跟长者的对话 - 伦理、道德



对话一:生儿女



冯欣明著,2014年

(To "Dialogue 2: Raising Children, Marriage")
(To "Dialogue 3: The Multigenerational Extended Family")
(To "Dialogue 4: Homosexuality")

到“对话二:养育儿女、婚姻”
到“对话三:多代大家庭”
到“对话四:同性戀”
The Elder said:

Having and raising children is the natural morality of the universe; we are all obligated to have and to raise children. And both biological parents should marry to raise their biological children together. The multigeneration extended family is a great achievement in human morality. Persons with homosexual sexual orientations, just like persons with heterosexual sexual orientations, should also fulfill these same obligations - having different sexual orientations doesn’t mean one has different obligations...
长者说:

生儿育女,天经地义,我们都有义务和责任生孩子和养育孩子。同时,两个生理上的父母都应该结婚,一起来养育他们生理上的孩子。多代大家庭是人类道德的一个重大成就。具有同性恋性倾向的人跟具有异性恋性倾向的人一样,都应该践行这些义务和责任;具有不同的性倾向并不意味具有不同的义务和责任。。。

I:   Why is one obligated to have children? To experience the joy of raising children, one can just adopt, so why have biological children?

Elder:   It is wrong to not have offspring when one can have offspring, because there is a chance that one’s children might mean the difference between survival or not, and flourishing or not, for the entire human species; therefore one owes it to the species to have those children.

:为什么有义务和责任生孩子?收养孩子,就能够享受天伦之乐了,为什么要有生理上的孩子?

长者:一个人有生育能力而不生子女是错的,因为他的子女可能会决定整个人类生存与否和旺盛与否,所以我们对人类有责任生孩子。

I:   Please explain how one’s children could mean the difference between survival or not, or flourishing or not, for the entire human species.

Elder:   From DNA studies we know there’s a genetic Adam and Eve, who are the most recent common ancestors of all humans today. The genetic Adam lived some time between 140,000 to 340,000 years ago. Having a most recent common ancestor in the genetic Adam means that all the progeny of those who weren't Adam or weren't Adam's ancestors have died out; so, without the genetic Adam, either the whole human species would have died out, or, assuming some non-Adam progeny would have survived without competition from the Adam progeny, the human species would have survived at a lower aptitude, one that would have been out-competed by the Adam progeny. For all we know, without the genetic Adam humans might still be living in caves! Or otherwise not flourishing as well as we do today.

There was a set of decisive genetic and other features in that one Adam, and the human race would have been totally different - either extinct or not flourishing as well - if that one Adam had decided not to have children.

Now today’s Adam will no longer be the most recent common ancestor as time goes on, because some of his progeny lines will die out, and the most recent common ancestor will shift down one or more generations from him. So the most recent common ancestor continues to shift down the generations as the human races marches on and progeny lines die out. Anybody living today could become the most recent common ancestor Adam 100, 200 or 300 thousand years down the line.

Of course, the father, grandfather and all the male ancestor of this most recent ancestor Adam, from every generation, will also be the common male ancestors of the human race, only not the most recent one. The same goes for the most common female ancestor Eve: her mother, grandmother and all her female ancestors from every generation, will also be the common female ancestors of the human race, only not the most recent one.

So, someone from every generation will become the most recent ancestor; anyone could be the forefather of the sole survivors of human race; forefather of a set of people who forestall the extinction of the human race, or who uplift the human race to much greater heights of morality and splendor. Therefore, every individual’s genetic material is precious.

Human biodiversity is precious. We are obligated to preserve the human biodiversity that our ancestors have handed down to us, hence we are obligated to have children. That is why in their wisdom the ancient ancestors of the Chinese people said, "There are three major transgressions against xiao; of these not having descendants is the greatest." To be xiao, that is, to be good to parents and ancestors, the most important is to have children, to preserve the human biodiversity that our parents and ancestors have handed down to us.

:请解释,一个人的子女怎么可能会决定整个人类生存与否和旺盛与否?

长者:基因研究证明,人类有一个基因亚当和基因夏娃,是今天所有人们最近的共同祖先。基因亚当生存于14至34万年前。基因亚当作为我们的最近共同祖先,意味其他不是亚当或亚当祖先的前人,他们的后代最终都灭绝了。所以,如果没有基因亚当的话,要么人类便也灭绝了,要么,人类便会在比现在更低的能力水平上生存下来了。假设没有亚当的后代、亦即不需要跟他们竞争的话,非亚当们的后代可能因此而生存下来,构成人类,但是他们是比亚当后代低能,不足以跟亚当后代竞争的,所以人类便会在更低的水平上生存下来了。也许,如果没有基因亚当的话,人类会仍然住在山洞里!总之,人类不会有现在这么旺盛的状况。

这位亚当拥有一套具决定性的基因及其他特征,如果他当时选择不生子女的话,人类便会完全不同,要么灭绝,要么没有这么旺盛。

随着岁月的过去,今日的亚当将不会继续是人类的最近共同祖先,因为他的一些后代支系将会灭绝,最近共同祖先的地位将会从他转移到他之后的一代或更多代。随着人类的前进和支系的灭绝,最近共同祖先将会越来越往下代转移。10、20或30万年后,任何今天活着的人都可能成为最近共同祖先。

当然,这位最近共同祖先亚当的父亲、祖父、以及他所有的、每一代的男性祖先都是人类的共同男性祖先,只不过不是最近的。而女性最近共同祖先夏娃也一样,她的母亲、祖母、以及她所有的、每一代的女性祖先都是人类的共同女性祖先,只不过不是最近的。

所以,每一代人都将会有人成为人类共同祖先,任何人都可能成为人类唯一生存者们的共同祖先,他生下的后代将会防止了人类的灭绝或将会把人类提升到了更高的道德水平或旺盛水平。所以,每一个人的基因都是宝贵的。

人类的生物多样性是宝贵的。我们有义务和责任保护祖先们传给我们的人类生物多样性,所以我们有义务和责任生子女。这就是为什么充满智慧的华人古代祖先说,“不孝有三,无后为大。”要孝,即要对父母和祖先好,最重要的还是生孩子,还是保护父母和祖先们传给我们的人类生物多样性。

I:   So, the human species is very valuable? Don't humans oppress, exploit, and on a massvie scale slaughter each other? Moreover, according to the Buddhist reincarnation theory, the fish cooking in the wok may be one’s grandfather, so aren’t other animal species equal with humans and just as valuable? Why must I be responsible only to the human species and not be responsible to other animal species? And doesn’t being responsible to other animal species mean that one should limit the number of humans, because humans are crowding out the other species on this planet -- and therefore means not having children?

Elder:   Of course, there are no non-human reasons known to us why the human species is very valuable, reasons that are not tainted by human bias. We only know of one moral standard – the one we humans have, the one with the bias of we humans.

The human perspective calls for the survival and advancement of the human race. The human race is so splendid: people are cooperating with each other on an extremely large and detailed scale; each purchase is an act of cooperation; humans are complex and harmonious. Morally and aesthetically the human race has value - now of course, moral and aesthetic value is what is felt by us humans (not necessarily what is felt by some God who may exist who doesn’t share this aesthetic and moral value). This moral and aesthetic value is based on an appreciation of increasing harmony: humans are utually helping rather than mutually hurting each other, and more and more so on a finer and finer and larger and larger scale; that’s just very beautiful, unique among all the species of sentient living things. The human species has advanced and is continuing to advance morally.

If one were to imagine an extra-human morality, that morality should still favor continued human survival and advancement. Let’s say we arrive on a different plant, and we come upon two species of approximately equal physical complexity, but one lower and one much, much higher on the scale of mutual help and mutual cooperation, and there’s a catastrophe coming and we are given the power to save one species over the other, you would have to say that you would definitely save the species that is much, much higher on the scale of mutual help and mutual cooperation, wouldn’t you? So the human species is valuable. It’s worth valuing a species that has become and is becoming more moral, and by moral I mean higher on the scale of mutual help and mutual cooperation.

We each may hold the genetic material that, by passing it on in the form of progeny, may mean saving the whole human species one day, or allowing the species to advance and become more moral much more than otherwise. One has an obligation to save the human species and to allow the human species to advance and become more moral, and therefore one has an obligation to have children.

Of course, we cannot fathom non-human reasons to not have humans – for example, the Old Testament God didn’t value the human species and had decided to wipe it out, along with all other species in the world. To us that God could not be moral, to us that God would be acting according to an immoral morality. We cannot fathom those other moralities, especially when there's no proof such Gods exist, and we cannot let that affect our actions and decisions.

:那么,人类很宝贵吗?人类不是压迫、剥削、大规模屠杀同类吗?而且,根据佛教的轮回论,锅里面烹的鱼,可能就是你的祖父,那么各动物种类不都也跟人类平等,也同样地宝贵吗?为什么我偏要对人类负责,而不对其他动物种类同样负责呢?而对其他动物种类负责,不正是要限制人类数量,因为地球上人类太多,把其他动物挤出去,所以不是需要不生孩子吗?

长者:当然,我们没有非人类的、不染上人类偏见的理由,来证实人类很宝贵。我们只理解人类所拥有的、染上了人类偏见的道德准绳。

从人类的立场来看事物,就要人类继续生存和旺盛下去。人类非常辉煌:人们极大规模又极细致地相互合作,每项买卖都是一项合作的行为,人类既复杂又和谐。从道德上和美学上来说,人类有价值(当然,是我们人们所感觉的道德和美学价值,不一定是一个可能存在的、不拥有这个道德和美学价值的神所感觉的)。这个道德和美学的价值源于历史上日益增加的和谐:人们相互帮助而不是相互伤害,而且相互帮助的规模越来越细致和庞大,这是非常美丽的,在所有具灵性的动物之中是独一无二的。

假设一种非人类的道德,也仍然会赞同人类的继续生存和进步。假设我们到达了一个外星球,发现两个动物种类,肉体上差不多程度的复杂性,但一个种类相互帮助和相互合作的水平远远超越另一个种类。如果有灾难即将到来,而我们只有能力挽救其中一个种类,那么我们一定会挽救在相互帮助和相互合作水平远为高超的那一个动物种类,不是吗?所以,人类宝贵,一个越来越道德的种类值得珍重,而道德就是高超的相互帮助和相互合作水平。

我们每人身上所携带着的基因,都可能是传递给后代就会挽救整个人类的,或让人类继续前进,变为更道德的。我们有义务和责任挽救人类和让人类继续前进,变为更道德,所以有义务和责任生孩子。

当然,我们不能理解那些不要人类的非人类理由,例如《圣经旧约》的神就不珍重人类,决定了将其灭绝,亦把全世界其他种类都灭绝;对我们来说这个神不可能是道德的,他遵循一种不道德的道德。我们不能理解这些不同的道德,尤其是当这种神的存在没有证明;我们不能让这些东西影响我们的行为和决定。

I:   But humans oppress, exploit, and on a massvie scale slaughter each other! How can a species like that be called moral?

Elder:   Now yes, some would argue that, no, the basic feature of human society is immoral, is harming of other humans, is oppression, exploitation, and killing on a massive scale, call war. And humans have even invented and built a way called nuclear weapons to kill not just all humans but also all sentient life on the planet, not just once, but many times over. And humans kill other species, often for sport, such that many species have been driven to extinction. So according to these people, how can humans be considered moral at all?

My answer is that war and killing is not the basic feature of human society at all, but is an abberration; the basic feature of human society is exchange, which is a sophisticated, self-directed, and sustainable way of mutual help. Exchange is carried on daily, among all individuals: from simple barter and division of labor between the sexes in the most primitive Amazon tribes to the fine and myriad division of labor between the occupations in modern society, with the attendent buying and selling, almost all we live on today are given to us by complete strangers, often in faraway countries - in exchange for things we give them, of course, mediated by a medium of exchange, also known as money. Now some people will denounce exchange for money as being selfish and greedy, but actually it is only mutual benefit, and mutual benefit is not some kind of immoral selfishness or greed, but is fairness; a thing must be fair to be sustainable! Or could it be that encouraging others to be parasites, to take without giving or to take much but give little is fairness? No, humans are creatures with a sense of justice, and that's why exchange among human beings have been sustainable all this time. From the most ancient of times it has been thus, with or without money, and exchange is getting finer and more complex as human civilization advances. This exchange is mutual help: I make or do what you need, you make or do what I need, and we voluntarily exchange, not forcibly plunder. Besides that, the permanent mutual help between the sexes called marriage, the mutual help among members of the family, and the mutual help among members of society whether effected through the coercion of government or the volition of charities, can all be looked upon as exchange, only this exchange is not for money but for fulfillment of a sense of obligation. This exchange, this mutual help, is absolute and blankets every person every day. Meanwhile, war is only on a sparodic basis, among a minority of the human population, in a minority of countries. And as humans advance, especially since the Second World War, war is becoming less and less of an occurence, and when it has happened it has been on a small scale.

As for nuclear weapons, well, that has not been used except on small scales, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, right? Far from killing the whole species, let alone all life on this planet. While the capability is there, that capability is not being used, and there's no likelihood of being used. Humans are rational.

As for oppression and exploitation, my answer is that, sure, some injustice exists among humans. The mutual help is not perfect, but the marvelous thing is that humans are aware of the injustices, every society has implemented mechanisms for accepting complaints and upholding justice, and humans have been steadily improving as a species in increasing justice. Meanwhile, study some other species, and you will see that the domination/submission, oppression, and violence between members of the same species there are far, far worse. Look at how wolves bully, maim and kill each other. Or lions, even chimpanzees. And even among supposedly peaceful herbivores, look at the cruelty with which sheep mothers ignore the weaker members of the litter, such that they inevitably die from failure at competing for suckling. No, one has to admit, of all sentient species, humans are far more moral.

:但是,人类压迫、剥削、大规模屠杀同类啊!这样的种类怎能称之为道德?

长者:是的,有些人会说,人类社会的基本特征是不道德的,是伤害别人,是压迫、剥削、和大规模地杀人,亦称战争。而且,人类还发明了一种方法,叫核子武器,可以杀尽不只人类而且还有地球上所有具灵性的生物,不但可以杀尽一次,而且是很多次。另外,人类杀其他动物种类,很多时是为了作乐,令到很多种类灭绝了。所以,根据这些人,人类怎能称之为道德的呢?

我的答复是,战争和杀戮不是人类社会的基本特征,而是失常情况;人类社会的基本特征是交换,是一种精密的、自我指导的、可持续的相互帮助方法。所有人都天天进行交换:从最原始的亚马逊部落简单的以物换物和性别之间的分工合作,到现代社会各职业的细微多样分工,及其附带的买卖--几乎我们维持生活的一切都是由完全陌生的人们,很多时从遥远的国家,提供给我们的。当然,是换取我们提供给他们的东西,而这是通过一种叫金钱的交换媒介。有些人会斥责金钱交易为自私贪婪,但其实这不过是互利互惠,而互利互惠并不是什么不道德的自私贪婪,而是公平,要公平才能具持续性啊!难道鼓励人家做寄生虫,只取不给或多取少给,才是公平吗?不,人类是具公平感的动物,因而人类的交换能够长久持续下去。自古就如是,有没有金钱都如是。而且,随着人类文明的前进,交换越来越细微和复杂。这个交换就是相互帮助:我制造或做你所需要的,你制造或做我所需要的,我们自愿地相互交换,而不是靠暴力相互掠夺。这交换是神圣的,是构成人类道德的基础。另外,性别之间的永久性相互帮助即婚姻、家庭成员之间的相互帮助、社会成员之间有时通过政府这种强制手段亦有时通过慈善这种自愿手段的相互帮助,也可以说为是交换,只不过不是为了金钱,而是为了满足一种责任和义务的感觉。而这神圣的交换,这相互帮助,是绝对的,是任何时候都覆盖着每一个人的。与此同时,战争只是零星的,偶发于人类的小数之中,各个国家的小数之中。而且,随着人类的前进,特别是自二次世界大战以来,战争越来越少发生,纵使发生也是小规模的。

至于核子武器,不是除了在广岛和长堤的小规模使用之外,就没有使用过吗?远没有杀灭整个人类,更不用说地球上的所有生物。虽然能力存在,但这能力并没有使用,亦不很可能会使用。人类是有理性的。

至于压迫和剥削,我的答复是,人与人之间的确存在一些不公平。相互帮助并非完美,但美好的是,人类对不公平有觉察,每个人类社会都设有接受投诉、主持公道的司法机构,整个人类在改善公平上一直有所改进。与此同时,研究一下其他动物种类,就可以看到,同种类之间的欺凌和屈服、压迫和暴力比起来坏得很多很多。看看豺狼是怎样欺负、伤残和杀害同类的,或狮子,甚至黑猩猩。就算是应该很和平的食植物的动物,看看母羊怎样残酷地不理会同窝生下比较弱的幼羊,让他们必然地因为竞争哺乳失败而死去。不能不承认,所有具灵性的生物之中,人类是远为最道德的。

I:   But what about the Buddhist theory of reincarnation - if my grandfather could be that fish in my wok, doesn't that make all species equal?

Elder:   No. Whoever enunciated that famous saying that the fish in the wok was actually the eater's grandfather had the theory of reincarnation grieviously mixed up. The theory of reincarnation says that the next life one gets reincarnated into is actually better or worse than the last life totally as a result of the karma one has built up during the last life, and is a reward or punishment for one's acts during the last life. The next life is not random. Hence, for a person to get downgraded from a human to a fish, one has to have committed heinous crimes - Hitler perhaps? Ending up in a wok as a fish may be Hitler's punishment. At any rate, that fish has to be a good fish and go through many cycles of reincarnation building up good karma every life, to reach the stage of a human being again. So, according to karma, it is impossible that one's grandfather, without being Hitler, would end up as a fish in one's wok.

At any rate I believe that if reincarnation is true, then souls are capable of splitting and merging. How can the soul of a worm be the same as the soul of a man? Just as it takes a number of cells to come together to form a multi-cellular animal, it must take a number of the souls of lower animal to merge together to become a higher animal. So Hitler's soul may have entered the next life split into a number of souls that become lower animals.

At any rate, no, we cannot regard other species as being on the same level as the human species.

:那么,佛教的轮回论呢?如果我的祖父可能是我锅中的那条鱼,不是所有动物种类都应该平等吗?

长者:不。那个想出祖父可能是那条锅中的鱼这个著名论点的人,对轮回论的认识完全错误。轮回论说,一个人的来世比今世好或坏,取决于今世所积累的因果报应,是对今世行为的奖罚,来世不是胡乱随机得来的。所以,要让一个人从高等动物的人类阶段下降这么多,直至到低等很多的鱼类阶段,是极大的惩罚,是需要犯下滔天大罪才获得的--例如希特勒?变为锅中鱼可能是希特勒的惩罚。那么,这条鱼必须做条好鱼,然后经过很多世的轮回,每世都积累很好的因果报应,才能再达到做人的阶段。所以,根据因果报应,祖父并不是希特勒却变为锅中鱼,是没有可能的。

此外,我相信,如果真的有轮回的话,那么灵魂一定是可以分开和合并的。一条虫的灵魂,怎么能够跟一个人的灵魂相同?正如好几个细胞组合起来才构成一个多细胞动物一样,一定是好几个低等动物的灵魂合并起来才构成一个高等动物。所以,希特勒的灵魂可能被分为几个灵魂来变为比较低等的动物。

无论如何,不,我们不能把其他动物看作为跟人类平等。

I:   But, what about crowding out the other species? There must come a time when we need to stop the increase of humans. And as human technology becomes more and more powerful, we are going to destroy the habitats of other species on a larger and larger scale, as each of us take up more and more space. So should we, or at least should some of us, not abstain from having more humans?

Elder:   Ah, excellent question. The fact is, it is exactly through technological advance that we humans will come to take up less and less space and make room for more and more habitat for other species. What takes up the space of most of the former animal habitats today? It is farmland. Now as human technology advances, we are going to, sooner than you would think, do away with farmland. Nuclear powered photosynthesis and cell culture meat in little food manufacturing machines in the kitchens of individual families will be where food comes from. Farmland to grow both food and animal feed will be a relic of the past, and all that farmland, and grazing land too, will be returned to natural habitat.

Another thing that takes up a lot of the space that used to belong to animal habitats is space for those high speed metallic monsters, called automobiles. Look at an aerial photograph of a city, and you will be struck by how much room is taken up by streets, roads, freeways, parking lots and even residential driveways. As human technology advances, our means of transportation will take up far less surface area: subways, trains, and air travel with vertical take off airplanes that don't take up huge airports. Moreover, as information technology advances, travel will lessen. That's because people can work long distance from home, and can hold meetings and converse long distance. The phenomenon of huge numbers of people every day spending long periods on the road to go to work will disappear.

In sum, the more human technology advances, the more humans will restore natural habitats and live in tune with nature, for that gives humans happier and healthier lives.

For human civilization and human technology to reach that level of splendor we need better humans, and better humans come from us having children and maintaining human biodiversity.

:那么,排挤其他动物种类呢?总有一天我们需要停止人类的增长吧!而且,随着人类科技的日益强大,我们会越来越大规模地毁灭其他动物的天然栖息环境,我们每个人会占据越来越大的空间。所以,我们,最少我们之中的一些人,不是应该避免生孩子吗?

长者:啊,非常好的问题。其实,正是通过科技进步,我们人类将会占据越来越少的空间,腾出空间给其他动物做天然栖息环境。今日,是什么占据了最多的动物栖息环境?是农田。随着人类科技的进步,我们将会比你想像的还快地废除农田。食物将会来自核动力之下的光合作用和细胞培养,进行在每个家庭厨房里的小型食物制造机里。用来种粮食或饲料的农田将会变为古物,庞大的农田和牧场都会归还为天然栖息环境。

另外占据很多动物栖息环境的,是供那些高速金属巨兽即汽车使用的空间。看看一张空中拍的城市照片,便会发现街道、马路、高速公路、停车场和甚至住宅车道等,占去了极多的空间。随着人类科技的进步,我们的交通工具将会占据远为细小的地面面积:地铁、火车、和垂直升降、不需要庞大飞机场的飞机等。 而且,随着信息科技的发展,出行将会减少。因为人们可以远距离从家中工作,远距离开会交谈对话,所以庞大人群为了工作天天都很长时间在路上跑的现象,将会消失。

总之,人类科技越前进,人们就越会恢复天然栖息环境,跟大自然同调生活,因为这样会让人们更快乐、更健康。

要人类文明达到那个辉煌水平,我们需要更好的人,而要更好的人就要生孩子,保持人类的生物多样化。

I:   But surely there must come a time when we need to stop the increase of humans. And aren't there too many humans already for the amount of resources on this planet? If even just China's population becomes as rich as the U.S.'s, there wouldn't be enough oil to support the consumption, let alone the rest of the developing world--isn't that so?

Elder:   As for "surely there must come a time when we need to stop the increase of humans", well, perhpaps, but let us not worry about it until then. The important thing to realize is: that day is far from arriving. When it arrives, the human race will be in much greater splendor, with far better technology. Humans will deal with that problem just fine then. Our descendants will be a lot more rational than us.

As for the argument that "the resources that humans depend on to live are already insufficient to supply the present human population and therefore the number of humans must decrease", this argument is wrong. That's because whether a substance is or is not a resource depends on the technology: two hundred years ago oil was not a resource but was a despised substance that welled up in some places and polluted farmland. It was only the internal combusion engine that made oil into a resource. Likewise, the technology of the future will not use existing resources, but will use as resources some other substances that exist in common abundance.

As for China, as long as China doesn't become a society where a handful of "elite people" determine everything, as long as China becomes a free market society such that the general populace and ordinary people can exercise their wisdom and imagination, then China will not copy the West and build China into an unsustainable society choked by roads, automobiles and pollution, but into a rich society that uses much cleaner technology, vastly different from the existing. Then, the false premise that "the world's resources cannot support the Chinese becoming as rich as Americans" will no longer exist. China can and should become as rich as America, nay, more so, only in a different way, and all developing countries can and should become rich.

:但是,总有一天我们需要停止人类的增长吧。而且,不是人类赖以生存的资源已经不足以供应现有的人口,所以人类必须减少吗?只要中国人变为像美国人那么富有,世界资源就已经承受不了,更不用说全部发展中国家都富有起来了,不是吗?

长者:至于“总有一天我们需要停止人类的增长”,是的,这是有可能的,但是,到时才算吧。必须认识的是,这一天还远远没有到来。当这一天到来时,人类将会辉煌得多、科技发达得多,是会妥善处理的,我们的后代将会比我们理性得多。

至于“人类赖以生存的资源已经不足以供应现有的人口,所以人类必须减少”,这个论调是错误的,因为一种物质是资源与否是取决于科技的:二百年前石油就并不是资源,是从一些地里涌出来污染农田的可恶废物,只是内热发动机使到石油变为资源。同样地,将来的科技不会是继续使用现在资源的,必将会使用其他丰富普遍存在的物质为资源。

至于中国,只要中国不搞一小撮“精英”决定一切的社会,只要中国搞容许广大人民群众发挥自己智慧和想像力的自由市场社会,那么中国就不会照抄西方社会,把国家建设为汽车公路泛滥、大气污染严重、不可能具持续性的社会,而是一个使用跟现存崭然不同的、更加清洁的科技的富有国家。那时将不会仍存在“中国人变为美国人那么富有,世界资源就已经承受不了”这个伪命题。中国可以和应该变为跟美国一样富有或更为富有,只不过是不同方式的富有;所有发展中国家也都可以和应该变为富有。

I:   Alright, but what if by disposition I am cruel and selfish, and would be a terrible parent, should I not abstain from having children?

Elder:   Then you need to cultivate yourself and learn to be kind and generous, so that you would be a good parent. It is that old Chinese saying: “cultivate yourself and set your family in order.“ Everyone is obligated to become a good person, and everyone is obligated, as part of being a good person, to have children.

Of course, if your cruely and nastiness is because you have depression or some other mental illness, then you must seek treatment and not continue to harm others. That is also part of being a good person.

Besides, it's not the case that once you've cultivated yourself and become a good person, then you are set for life and can be a good parent forever. Cultivating oneself and being a good person, as well as being a good parent, "can only be an ongoing process, never a finished one", and must be continued throughout life. Challenges continue to arise throughout life and parenthood that demand continuously further cultivating oneself and figuring out how to be a good person, be a good parent, and carry out your obligations under the new circumstances. Therefore, you need not be afraid that you are not a perfect person and cannot be a perfect parent; no one can be a perfect person or a perfect parent. You only need to unceasingly do your best to carry out your obligations, that's all.

:好吧,但如果我的性格是残酷自私的,将会做一个非常坏的父母,那么我不是应该不生孩子吗?

长者:那么你就要修身,学做一个仁慈宽厚的人,以致能够做一个好的父母。还是中国那句古老的话:“修身齐家”。每个人都有责任和义务做好人,而做好人就包括了负起生孩子的责任和义务。

当然,如果你的残酷暴戾是因为你有忧郁症或其他精神病,那么你就要接受治疗,不要继续伤害他人,这也是做好人的一部分。

另外,并不是一旦修了身做了好人,就能够一劳永逸地做好父母的。修身做好人跟做好父母一样,是“只有进行式,没有完成式”的,是一辈子都必须进行的。做人和做父母的过程中,总会有新的挑战持续出现,要你不断地更进一步修身,研究怎样在新的情况之下做好人、好父母、践行你的责任和义务。所以,不需要害怕你并不是完美的人,不能做一个完美的父母;没人能够做完美的人或完美的父母,只需要不停地尽力践行责任和义务就行了。

I:   What if my genes aren't very good? For example, maybe my IQ isn't that good and I can't get into a good university? Or my socioeconomic position is low, or I have some kind of hereditary disease? Then what hope do I have to become the most common ancestor of mankind? I should be one of those lines that get eliminated; why should I still be transmitting any genes?

Elder:   Aiya, that's not the way it is, that's completely wrong! Who can judge whether your genes are any good or not? Who can predict what the world will be like in the future and whose genes will be most suitable? That your IQ may be quite ordinary may not be the decisive thing; perhaps your descendants' IQ's will become quite good, who knows? You may, however, transmit certain decisive genes that will enable your descendants to survive extremely adverse conditions, or enable them to live in greater splendor, more morally, than anyone else. Who can predict? Maybe there will be a nuclear holocaust, and the genes that cause your hereditary disease might just turn out to be the same genes that enable you to adapt to and survive the nuclear holocaust environment, making you mankind's only hope. Who knows? So, everyone's genes, which have been tranmitted from his ancestors, are precious, human biodiversity is precious, and we have the obligation to transmit our genes from generation to generation.

:如果我的基因不好呢,例如我的智商并不是那么好,考不上好的大学,我的经济社会地位低下,或我有某种遗传病呢?那我还有希望做人类最近祖先吗?应该是被淘汰的一个支系吧,还传递什么基因呢?

长者:哎呀,并非如此,完全不是如此!谁能够判断你的基因不好?世界将来会怎样,谁的基因才合适,谁能够预料?你的智商略为普通一些,不一定是决定性的东西。也许你的后代智商会变成很好呢,谁知道?但是,你可能传递某种决定性的基因,使到你的后代能够在极端逆境生存下去,或使你的后代生存得比任何人更辉煌,更符合道德。谁能预料?也许将会有大规模的核灾难,而造成你遗传病的基因,恰巧就能够让你适应在核灾难的环境下生存下去,变为人类的唯一希望。谁知道?所以,所有人从祖先们得到的基因都是宝贵的,人类的生物多样性是宝贵的,我们有义务和责任一代一代传递下去。

I:   Since having children betters society, then is it that the more children the better, unto infinity?

Elder:   The more the better, but not to infinity – within the ability to raise them properly. The number of offspring you have is morally constrained by your ability to provide for them properly. Also, for males, to have infinite children you need infinite wives; to have more children than one woman can bear you must have more than one wife, and that means some male will go without. The number of offspring is also morally constrained by the obligation to let others have spouses to have children and thereby fulfill their same obligation to have children. (...continued)

:如果生孩子会改善社会,那么是不是孩子生得越多越好,直至无尽数字?

长者:越多越好,但不是无尽数字,而是限制于妥善养育的能力。另外,只有男人才能生无穷数字的子女,而男人要生无穷数字的子女就要有无穷数字的妻子,因为要生超过一个女人所能生下的子女就得娶多个妻子,那么就会令到有其他男人没有妻子,所以子女的数字在道义上限制于要让其他男人都能够有妻子,都能够践行他们生孩子的义务和责任。( ... 继续



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