Cancel culture has come for humanity. An op-ed in The Guardian calls for voluntary human extinction. Written by Les Knight, the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEM), the idea is that the world and its biosphere would be better off without people on it, so we should all stop breeding. Knight writes that he is “advocating for voluntary human extinction,” because there are too many people fighting over inadequate resources. This is one of many calls of late for human beings to extinguish themselves.
VHEM is just one of the abundant anti-human groups proliferating in the western world today. Their mission is that the “Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth’s biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense.” These sentiments are veiled in altruism and care for the planet, but really it is hated of humanity. Population Matters, #NoFutureNoChildren, Birth Strike, Population Connection, Extinction Rebellion, all tout the idea that breeding is irresponsible.
The Post Millennial reached out to Les Knight for clarification on some of his ideas. When asked what he means by “better” when he says the world would be better off without us, he replied “in this case, the world refers to Earth’s biosphere: all the life systems of the planet. Whenever we leave an ecosystem biodiversity increases, as does the resilience of that system. We’re not evil, but where we live not much else lives.”
Knight’s take is that human beings are too human-centric, that we should not put the good of humanity at the center of our view. “We are just one of at least 10 million other life forms which have co-evolved with us,” Knight said. “Putting our species’ interests at the center of our considerations is the mentality of sociopaths and narcissists.”
We know that suicide is on the rise, among teens, young adults, and those in middle age. Our ability to find meaning is in decline as we lose religion at record rates. Divorce rates are decreasing, but so too are marriage rates, which means we’re not finding and committing to long term partnerships. Women are delaying having children to the point where it’s harder for them to conceive. Transgender identity is on the rise for teens, indicating that young people aren’t comfortable with who they are. And most American kids want to grow up to be YouTubers, whereas kids of the same age in China want to be astronauts.
The climate crisis is held responsible for countless problems, and the blame for that crisis is laid at humanity’s feet. We berate ourselves for holding biases, even those of which we aren’t consciously aware. News stories and op-eds abound about everything we are doing wrong, and all the ways we can punish ourselves for it.
Despite gains in racial equality we search for ways to divide ourselves further. What we don’t do to intentionally punish ourselves is taken care of by opiates, meth, and this new phenomenon, “death from despair.” We engage in continuous confirmation bias about how much we suck. The constant barrage of self-hatred can be overwhelming.
The Post Millennial asked Knight how the cultural barriers would be overcome to convince people that ceasing breeding is the right course of action. “Extinction of Homo sapiens has to be global,” Knight replied. “There were only 10 to 15 thousand of us about 70,000 years ago. Now look. We’re just so freakin’ fecund. Methods of getting there need to be tailored to each culture, but reproductive freedom, especially the freedom to not procreate, is a prerequisite for all. Restrictions on not procreating exist in every part of the world, ranging from inconvenient to violent and deadly. The patriarchy and natalism must be addressed globally as well.” He noted that “these issues will be difficult to overcome, so the odds of our succeeding are slim: about the same odds as adequately providing for 10 billion people in 2100.”
The mere fact that this collective, progressive suicide is being so thoroughly thought out, and not just by Knight and VHEM, but by so many groups, is disconcerting. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez addressed the guilt that comes with breeding on her livestream, The Guardian published this op-ed from a man who thinks humanity is a scourge upon the earth, and rhetoric abounds as to the many myriad maladies of mankind. It is a persistent cry of humanity’s unworthiness.
We don’t just despise ourselves individually, we reject our whole culture. These groups that urge us to stop having children want to steal the future from humanity and give it to other species. We are so fueled by self-hatred that we can’t see how beautiful and truly glorious humanity is. We are not polluting machines intent on destruction, but beings who strive for grace, live for love, and yearn with all of our being to matter, to each other, to our God, and to our children. We want our hearts to be full of joy, not fleeting, simple happinesses, but real joy and revelation in the wonder of this world and the breadth and scope of the human spirit.
We are innovators, leaders, missionaries for grace and compassion. We don’t need to crush ourselves, we need to grab hold of ourselves and remember that we are human beings, and there is nothing we cannot do, either individually or collectively. Humanity is just so beautiful, and the evidence of that is in every child’s eyes. Without our children, there is no reason to try to better the world. There is no meaning without new life. The love that life brings is the only reason to live. To crush ourselves is more mindlessly destructive than wildfires or rising tides could ever be. We are the mission. We are the reason. Let’s hold ourselves in the light, revel in our capability, and forge a path to the future with human kindness and love as our driver.