In another virtual context, Jayman posed the following question:
Is it possible to believe that parenting (beyond the primary functions of keeping your kids healthy and safe) has no long-term impact on children’s intelligence, personalities, values, or life outcomes – which it in fact has none – and still engage in most parental activities for fact that they bring joy to all involved and no other reason (or, at least, for the reason that they give your children fond memories of childhood)?
The answer seems self-evidently to be an emphatic “yes”. I say “self-evidently” because the same set of questions, only slightly altered, could be posed to one’s self, and the answer for virtually everyone will be the same “yes”. There are a countless number of ways I can spend my leisure time, none of which are going to have much impact on how I influence the social statistics on income or heart disease rates or how my data point figures into a certain population’s average IQ or personality trait profile. Yet how I spend that leisure time is not meaningless from my own subjective perspective. To the contrary, it is the essence of my existentialism.
We live our lives quite subjectively, even those of us who make a concerted effort to look at the world around us as objectively as we are able to.
My response to a question like this dovetails well with my response to the question of free will because, if one takes a moment to dwell on them simultaneously, it becomes apparent that there is a lot of overlap. We may not believe that we have free will, but we all act as though we believe that we do. Subjectively we have it, even if objectively we do not. Existentially, it doesn’t matter much one way or the other, especially when it comes to the day-to-day activities that, collectively, constitute life as each one of us experiences it.
We may not think what we do to our children or to ourselves has much–if any–long-term impact on the way their or our lives turn out, but we all act as though our behaviors and decisions do. Paradoxically, knowing that the parental approaches game is one with pretty low-stakes allows a person to engage the parental role with enjoyment–memory-making and the like–as the goal, rather than anxiously agonizing over every deceptively malleable moment of it.
The die is cast. Cross the Rubicon without regret!