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Dialogues with The Elder
On Obligations and Morality -

Dialogue 1: Having Children



By Feng Xin-Ming, 2014

跟長者的對話 - 倫理、道德



對話一:生兒女



馮欣明著,2014年

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

到“對話二:養育兒女、婚姻”
到“對話三:多代大家庭”
到“對話四: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...
長者說:

生兒育女,天經地義,我們都有義務和責任生孩子和養育孩子。同時,兩個生理上的父母都應該結婚,一起來養育他們生理上的孩子。多代大家庭是人類道德的一個重大成就。具有同性戀性傾向的人跟具有異性戀性傾向的人一樣,都應該踐行這些義務和責任;具有不同的性傾向並不意味具有不同的義務和責任。。。

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.

:為甚麼有義務和責任生孩子?收養孩子,就能夠享受天倫之樂了,為甚麼要有生理上的孩子?

長者:一個人有生育能力而不生子女是錯的,因為他的子女可能會決定整個人類生存與否和旺盛與否,所以我們對人類有責任生孩子。

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.

:請解釋,一個人的子女怎麼可能會決定整個人類生存與否和旺盛與否?

長者:基因研究證明,人類有一個基因亞當和基因夏娃,是今天所有人們最近的共同祖先。基因亞當生存於14至34萬年前。基因亞當作為我們的最近共同祖先,意味其他不是亞當或亞當祖先的前人,他們的後代最終都滅絕了。所以,如果沒有基因亞當的話,要麼人類便也滅絕了,要麼,人類便會在比現在更低的能力水平上生存下來了。假設沒有亞當的後代、亦即不需要跟他們競爭的話,非亞當們的後代可能因此而生存下來,構成人類,但是他們是比亞當後代低能,不足以跟亞當後代競爭的,所以人類便會在更低的水平上生存下來了。也許,如果沒有基因亞當的話,人類會仍然住在山洞裡!總之,人類不會有現在這麼旺盛的狀況。

這位亞當擁有一套具決定性的基因及其他特徵,如果他當時選擇不生子女的話,人類便會完全不同,要麼滅絕,要麼沒有這麼旺盛。

隨著歲月的過去,今日的亞當將不會繼續是人類的最近共同祖先,因為他的一些後代支系將會滅絕,最近共同祖先的地位將會從他轉移到他之後的一代或更多代。隨著人類的前進和支系的滅絕,最近共同祖先將會越來越往下代轉移。10、20或30萬年後,任何今天活著的人都可能成為最近共同祖先。

當然,這位最近共同祖先亞當的父親、祖父、以及他所有的、每一代的男性祖先都是人類的共同男性祖先,只不過不是最近的。而女性最近共同祖先夏娃也一樣,她的母親、祖母、以及她所有的、每一代的女性祖先都是人類的共同女性祖先,只不過不是最近的。

所以,每一代人都將會有人成為人類共同祖先,任何人都可能成為人類唯一生存者們的共同祖先,他生下的後代將會防止了人類的滅絕或將會把人類提升到了更高的道德水平或旺盛水平。所以,每一個人的基因都是寶貴的。

人類的生物多樣性是寶貴的。我們有義務和責任保護祖先們傳給我們的人類生物多樣性,所以我們有義務和責任生子女。這就是為甚麼充滿智慧的華人古代祖先說,“不孝有三,無後為大。”要孝,即要對父母和祖先好,最重要的還是生孩子,還是保護父母和祖先們傳給我們的人類生物多樣性。

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.

:那麼,人類很寶貴嗎?人類不是壓迫、剝削、大規模屠殺同類嗎?而且,根據佛教的輪回論,鍋裡面烹的魚,可能就是你的祖父,那麼各動物種類不都也跟人類平等,也同樣地寶貴嗎?為甚麼我偏要對人類負責,而不對其他動物種類同樣負責呢?而對其他動物種類負責,不正是要限制人類數量,因為地球上人類太多,把其他動物擠出去,所以不是需要不生孩子嗎?

長者:當然,我們沒有非人類的、不染上人類偏見的理由,來證實人類很寶貴。我們只理解人類所擁有的、染上了人類偏見的道德準繩。

從人類的立場來看事物,就要人類繼續生存和旺盛下去。人類非常輝煌:人們極大規模又極細緻地相互合作,每項買賣都是一項合作的行為,人類既複雜又和諧。從道德上和美學上來說,人類有價值(當然,是我們人們所感覺的道德和美學價值,不一定是一個可能存在的、不擁有這個道德和美學價值的神所感覺的)。這個道德和美學的價值源於歷史上日益增加的和諧:人們相互幫助而不是相互傷害,而且相互幫助的規模越來越細緻和龐大,這是非常美麗的,在所有具靈性的動物之中是獨一無二的。

假設一種非人類的道德,也仍然會贊同人類的繼續生存和進步。假設我們到達了一個外星球,發現兩個動物種類,肉體上差不多程度的複雜性,但一個種類相互幫助和相互合作的水平遠遠超越另一個種類。如果有災難即將到來,而我們只有能力輓救其中一個種類,那麼我們一定會輓救在相互幫助和相互合作水平遠為高超的那一個動物種類,不是嗎?所以,人類寶貴,一個越來越道德的種類值得珍重,而道德就是高超的相互幫助和相互合作水平。

我們每人身上所攜帶著的基因,都可能是傳遞給後代就會輓救整個人類的,或讓人類繼續前進,變為更道德的。我們有義務和責任輓救人類和讓人類繼續前進,變為更道德,所以有義務和責任生孩子。

當然,我們不能理解那些不要人類的非人類理由,例如《聖經舊約》的神就不珍重人類,決定了將其滅絕,亦把全世界其他種類都滅絕;對我們來說這個神不可能是道德的,他遵循一種不道德的道德。我們不能理解這些不同的道德,尤其是當這種神的存在沒有證明;我們不能讓這些東西影響我們的行為和決定。

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,人類壓迫、剝削、大規模屠殺同類啊!這樣的種類怎能稱之為道德?

長者:是的,有些人會說,人類社會的基本特徵是不道德的,是傷害別人,是壓迫、剝削、和大規模地殺人,亦稱戰爭。而且,人類還發明了一種方法,叫核子武器,可以殺盡不只人類而且還有地球上所有具靈性的生物,不但可以殺盡一次,而且是很多次。另外,人類殺其他動物種類,很多時是為了作樂,令到很多種類滅絕了。所以,根據這些人,人類怎能稱之為道德的呢?

我的答覆是,戰爭和殺戮不是人類社會的基本特徵,而是失常情況;人類社會的基本特徵是交換,是一種精密的、自我指導的、可持續的相互幫助方法。所有人都天天進行交換:從最原始的亞馬遜部落簡單的以物換物和性別之間的分工合作,到現代社會各職業的細微多樣分工,及其附帶的買賣--幾乎我們維持生活的一切都是由完全陌生的人們,很多時從遙遠的國家,提供給我們的。當然,是換取我們提供給他們的東西,而這是通過一種叫金錢的交換媒介。有些人會斥責金錢交易為自私貪婪,但其實這不過是互利互惠,而互利互惠並不是甚麼不道德的自私貪婪,而是公平,要公平才能具持續性啊!難道鼓勵人家做寄生蟲,只取不給或多取少給,才是公平嗎?不,人類是具公平感的動物,因而人類的交換能夠長久持續下去。自古就如是,有沒有金錢都如是。而且,隨著人類文明的前進,交換越來越細微和複雜。這個交換就是相互幫助:我製造或做你所需要的,你製造或做我所需要的,我們自願地相互交換,而不是靠暴力相互掠奪。這交換是神聖的,是構成人類道德的基礎。另外,性別之間的永久性相互幫助即婚姻、家庭成員之間的相互幫助、社會成員之間有時通過政府這種強制手段亦有時通過慈善這種自願手段的相互幫助,也可以說為是交換,只不過不是為了金錢,而是為了滿足一種責任和義務的感覺。而這神聖的交換,這相互幫助,是絕對的,是任何時候都覆蓋著每一個人的。與此同時,戰爭只是零星的,偶發於人類的小數之中,各個國家的小數之中。而且,隨著人類的前進,特別是自二次世界大戰以來,戰爭越來越少發生,縱使發生也是小規模的。

至於核子武器,不是除了在廣島和長堤的小規模使用之外,就沒有使用過嗎?遠沒有殺滅整個人類,更不用說地球上的所有生物。雖然能力存在,但這能力並沒有使用,亦不很可能會使用。人類是有理性的。

至於壓迫和剝削,我的答覆是,人與人之間的確存在一些不公平。相互幫助並非完美,但美好的是,人類對不公平有覺察,每個人類社會都設有接受投訴、主持公道的司法機構,整個人類在改善公平上一直有所改進。與此同時,研究一下其他動物種類,就可以看到,同種類之間的欺凌和屈服、壓迫和暴力比起來壞得很多很多。看看豺狼是怎樣欺負、傷殘和殺害同類的,或獅子,甚至黑猩猩。就算是應該很和平的食植物的動物,看看母羊怎樣殘酷地不理會同窩生下比較弱的幼羊,讓他們必然地因為競爭哺乳失敗而死去。不能不承認,所有具靈性的生物之中,人類是遠為最道德的。

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.

:那麼,佛教的輪回論呢?如果我的祖父可能是我鍋中的那條魚,不是所有動物種類都應該平等嗎?

長者:不。那個想出祖父可能是那條鍋中的魚這個著名論點的人,對輪回論的認識完全錯誤。輪回論說,一個人的來世比今世好或壞,取決於今世所積累的因果報應,是對今世行為的獎罰,來世不是胡亂隨機得來的。所以,要讓一個人從高等動物的人類階段下降這麼多,直至到低等很多的魚類階段,是極大的懲罰,是需要犯下滔天大罪才獲得的--例如希特勒?變為鍋中魚可能是希特勒的懲罰。那麼,這條魚必須做條好魚,然後經過很多世的輪回,每世都積累很好的因果報應,才能再達到做人的階段。所以,根據因果報應,祖父並不是希特勒卻變為鍋中魚,是沒有可能的。

此外,我相信,如果真的有輪回的話,那麼靈魂一定是可以分開和合併的。一條蟲的靈魂,怎麼能夠跟一個人的靈魂相同?正如好幾個細胞組合起來才構成一個多細胞動物一樣,一定是好幾個低等動物的靈魂合併起來才構成一個高等動物。所以,希特勒的靈魂可能被分為幾個靈魂來變為比較低等的動物。

無論如何,不,我們不能把其他動物看作為跟人類平等。

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.

:那麼,排擠其他動物種類呢?總有一天我們需要停止人類的增長吧!而且,隨著人類科技的日益強大,我們會越來越大規模地毀滅其他動物的天然棲息環境,我們每個人會佔據越來越大的空間。所以,我們,最少我們之中的一些人,不是應該避免生孩子嗎?

長者:啊,非常好的問題。其實,正是通過科技進步,我們人類將會佔據越來越少的空間,騰出空間給其他動物做天然棲息環境。今日,是甚麼佔據了最多的動物棲息環境?是農田。隨著人類科技的進步,我們將會比你想像的還快地廢除農田。食物將會來自核動力之下的光合作用和細胞培養,進行在每個家庭廚房裡的小型食物製造機裡。用來種糧食或飼料的農田將會變為古物,龐大的農田和牧場都會歸還為天然棲息環境。

另外佔據很多動物棲息環境的,是供那些高速金屬巨獸即汽車使用的空間。看看一張空中拍的城市照片,便會發現街道、馬路、高速公路、停車場和甚至住宅車道等,佔去了極多的空間。隨著人類科技的進步,我們的交通工具將會佔據遠為細小的地面面積:地鐵、火車、和垂直升降、不需要龐大飛機場的飛機等。 而且,隨著信息科技的發展,出行將會減少。因為人們可以遠距離從家中工作,遠距離開會交談對話,所以龐大人群為了工作天天都很長時間在路上跑的現象,將會消失。

總之,人類科技越前進,人們就越會恢復天然棲息環境,跟大自然同調生活,因為這樣會讓人們更快樂、更健康。

要人類文明達到那個輝煌水平,我們需要更好的人,而要更好的人就要生孩子,保持人類的生物多樣化。

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,總有一天我們需要停止人類的增長吧。而且,不是人類賴以生存的資源已經不足以供應現有的人口,所以人類必須減少嗎?只要中國人變為像美國人那麼富有,世界資源就已經承受不了,更不用說所有發展中國家都富有起來了,不是嗎?

長者:至於“總有一天我們需要停止人類的增長”,是的,這是有可能的,但是,到時才算吧。必須認識的是,這一天還遠遠沒有到來。當這一天到來時,人類將會輝煌得多、科技發達得多,是會妥善處理的,我們的後代將會比我們理性得多。

至於“人類賴以生存的資源已經不足以供應現有的人口,所以人類必須減少”,這個論調是錯誤的,因為一種物質是資源與否是取決於科技的:二百年前石油就並不是資源,是從一些地裡湧出來污染農田的可惡廢物,只是內熱發動機使到石油變為資源。同樣地,將來的科技不會是繼續使用現在資源的,必將會使用其他豐富普遍存在的物質為資源。

至於中國,只要中國不搞一小撮“精英”決定一切的社會,只要中國搞容許廣大人民群眾發揮自己智慧和想像力的自由市場社會,那麼中國就不會照抄西方社會,把國家建設為汽車公路泛濫、大氣污染嚴重、不可能具持續性的社會,而是一個使用跟現存嶄然不同的、更加清潔的科技的富有國家。那時將不會仍存在“中國人變為美國人那麼富有,世界資源就已经承受不了”這個偽命題。中國可以和應該變為跟美國一樣富有或更為富有,只不過是不同方式的富有;所有發展中國家也都可以和應該變為富有。

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,但如果我的性格是殘酷自私的,將會做一個非常壞的父母,那麼我不是應該不生孩子嗎?

長者:那麼你就要修身,學做一個仁慈寬厚的人,以致能夠做一個好的父母。還是中國那句古老的話:“修身齊家”。每個人都有責任和義務做好人,而做好人就包括了負起生孩子的責任和義務。

當然,如果你的殘酷暴戾是因為你有憂鬱症或其他精神病,那麼你就要接受治療,不要繼續傷害他人,這也是做好人的一部分。

另外,並不是一旦修了身做了好人,就能夠一勞永逸地做好父母的。修身做好人跟做好父母一樣,是“只有進行式,沒有完成式”的,是一輩子都必須進行的。做人和做父母的過程中,總會有新的挑戰持續出現,要你不斷地更進一步修身,研究怎樣在新的情況之下做好人、好父母、踐行你的責任和義務。所以,不需要害怕你並不是完美的人,不能做一個完美的父母;沒人能夠做完美的人或完美的父母,只需要不停地盡力踐行責任和義務就行了。

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,例如我的智商並不是那麼好,考不上好的大學,我的經濟社會地位低下,或我有某種遺傳病呢?那我還有希望做人類最近祖先嗎?應該是被淘汰的一個支系吧,還傳遞甚麼基因呢?

長者:哎呀,並非如此,完全不是如此!誰能夠判斷你的基因不好?世界將來會怎樣,誰的基因才合適,誰能夠預料?你的智商略為普通一些,不一定是決定性的東西。也許你的後代智商會變成很好呢,誰知道?但是,你可能傳遞某種決定性的基因,使到你的後代能夠在極端逆境生存下去,或使你的後代生存得比任何人更輝煌,更符合道德。誰能預料?也許將會有大規模的核災難,而造成你遺傳病的基因,恰巧就能夠讓你適應在核災難的環境下生存下去,變為人類的唯一希望。誰知道?所以,所有人從祖先們得到的基因都是寶貴的,人類的生物多樣性是寶貴的,我們有義務和責任一代一代傳遞下去。

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)

:如果生孩子會改善社會,那麼是不是孩子生得越多越好,直至無盡數字?

長者:越多越好,但不是無盡數字,而是限制於妥善養育的能力。另外,只有男人才能生無窮數字的子女,而男人要生無窮數字的子女就要有無窮數字的妻子,因為要生超過一個女人所能生下的子女就得娶多個妻子,那麼就會令到有其他男人沒有妻子,所以子女的數字在道義上限制於要讓其他男人都能夠有妻子,都能夠踐行他們生孩子的義務和責任。( ... 繼續



Back to Essays Page 回到論文頁 To "dialogues with the Elder-2" 到“跟長者的對話-2”→

 
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