Wanting something more than the self

Philosopher John Haldane:

One thing that I would point to as a looming crisis — which is also an opportunity –is the disintegration of the family… In Italy by 2050, halfway through this century, 60 percent of Italians, almost two thirds of Italians, will have no brother, no sister, no first cousin, no uncle, no aunt. In 45 years time… people will just be isolated atoms with no familial relationships. When that happens it will be a disaster and a tragedy, and we should be preparing ourselves, trying to warn people, trying to say that “Look what you’ve chosen, your lifestyles, haven’t enriched your lives. It has impoverished your lives. You’re poorer than you were, not richer than you were, and the only richness that you cannot recover is the richness of deep personal relationships, of family, intergenerational relationships and so on…


  1. I grew up as an only child because of medical problems my mother had. Based on my experiences as an only child, there is nothing more evil, more selfish, than to deny a child a family of siblings–especially as adults when it is sometimes even more important than as a child to have sibling support. Fortunately I married a woman from a large family, we had a large family, and my children are already working on having large families. There is no wealth greater than a large family, but try to find ads on TV urging that instead of greed, selfishness, and worship of material goods.

  2. Hate to say it, but some limitations on family size are built into the societal structure (not necessarily talking about Italy). Here in the US I can think of at least two structural barriers to large families:
    1) Loss of manufacturing and other jobs that do not require 16+ years of education and advanced degrees, but still paid enough for a decent middle-class lifestyle w/ 4+ kids.
    2) Skyrocketing cost of insurance (if you can even get it) that has maternity benefits.
    It may sound “liberal,” but there you have it.

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