Is this the world that I would have liked to offer you?

Jean-Baptiste Del Amo is a French writer, author of "Règne Animal" (2016), among the others, that brought him to win the Livre Inter price.

Loir et Cher, april 23rd 2020

 

To the child I will not have.

When I was the age that you might be today, I often thought that I would never had children. What saddened me was not so much the prospect of not having them as the idea of depriving my parents of grandchildren, of disappointing them and knowing that I would remain, in their eyes and those of others, unfulfilled. And then I grew up. I wanted to make your absence a strength. Without you, I would have been freer, without duties, without bonds.

I would be lying, however, if I said that I never envied those who have children, if I said that sometimes I am not assailed by the melancholy regret of not having known you.

In truth, I probably wouldn't have much to give you. I would not have a solution to get you through life without getting burned. Nothing that would have kept you from growing, from clashing with the harsh reality of this world, from becoming sad and serious, from being disappointed in friendship and in love. You see, the more time passes, the less certainties I have. My beliefs are fragile and I have learned nothing. And then look at us, sad human beings, who have never stopped defining ourselves in opposition to other forms of life for the sole purpose of justifying our domination over them.

We have ignored the signals and warnings.

We burned the forests, exhausted fossil fuels, acidified the oceans. We locked the animals in factory farms.

We silenced the birds. We have pushed our greedy pursuit of profit to the tipping point. We have modeled the most cynical and disillusioned capitalism, to which we sacrifice the weakest without blinking: the animal, the migrant, the old, the sick, the worker.

Is this the world that I would have liked to offer you?

Some will say that we must have hope, believe in future generations. But it's just the umpteenth way to get rid of all responsibility, as our parents’ generation in the 70s did, when politicians and industrial lobbies worked to bury a major international agreement on the climate and to gag those who sent out warning signs.

Thirty years later, the US and Brazil are ruled by climate-skeptics, millionaires from Silicon-Valley invest in bunkers in New Zealand in anticipation of the collapse and humanity trembles at the new pandemic.

The American essayist Nathaniel Rich says it: we could have saved the Earth and we didn't.

So yes, sometimes, as at this moment, I regret it: not being able to share with you this beginning of spring, the scent of the newly blooming apple tree, the wonder of finding a small snake behind the old pile of wood, this children’s book I wrote knowing I wouldn't read it to you.

I console myself by saying that if, without you, I undoubtedly lose a lot, you don’t miss much, however.

 

Jean-Baptiste Del Amo

scriviamezzanotte@gmail.com

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