27-year-old Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel announced he intends to sue his parents in court — for giving birth to him without his consent.
Samuel told the BBC that it’s wrong to bring children into the world because they subsequently are forced to put up with lifelong suffering. He contends that people bringing kids into a miserable world is akin to “kidnapping and slavery,” and an act that strains the Earth’s resources, according to News18.
Mr Samuel, of course, understands the paradox of his argument that it is impossible to acquire our consent to be born before we are born, but stresses that “it was not our decision to be born”.
As children are powerless to decide whether to come into this world or not, the parents should be financially obligated to support them for life, he argues in a now viral YouTube video (shown below).
Mr Samuel’s belief is rooted in a new movement gaining popularity in India called anti-natalism – a philosophy that argues that life is so full of misery that bringing new life onto the planet is immoral, and people should cease procreating immediately.
This, he says, would gradually phase out humanity from the Earth and that would also be so much better for the planet.
A year ago, he created a Facebook page, The Nihiland, which features posters that show his images with a huge fake dark beard, an eye-mask and anti-natalist slogans like “Isn’t forcing a child into this world and forcing it to have a career, kidnapping, and slavery?” Or, “Your parents had you instead of a toy or a dog, you owe them nothing, you are their entertainment.”
It is a stance that has been promoted for decades by members and proponents of The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, or VHEMT for short, which embraces the motto of “May we live long and die out.”
VHEMT’s argument is founded upon a somewhat outdated Malthusian worldview that is alarmed by a false scarcity (inherent within the dogma of capitalism) and resource shortages exacerbated by overpopulation wreaking havoc on an increasingly depleted planet. While the prescribed solution remains the same nevertheless, it is myopic and faulty thinking to simply blame overcrowding and insufficient resources for the vast, ever-growing global climate crisis presently threatening the very future of humanity and its existence on the planet. In reality, the earth provides mankind with plenty of what it needs to nourish and support life; the problem is, these universal necessities are not being properly distributed across the entire human population in a fair or remotely equitable way. Instead, as a consequence of capitalism and colonialism, these vital necessities — food, water, shelter, and arguably includes healthcare and education also — are commodified and assigned monetary worth, which can then be hoarded, leased, and sold for even more pecuniary profit to those with sufficient economic means, while simultaneously denied to those too poor to pay the capitalists the extortion dues to stay alive. According to Samuel’s philosophy, these extortion fees should be covered for life by the parents responsible for the child’s existence.
A demand like this could cause a rift within any family, but Samuel insists he gets along very well with his parents (both of whom are lawyers) and they appear to be handling the situation with a good deal of humor.
Samuel told the BBC that his parents are pretty good-natured about his whole philosophy, though when he informed them about his plans to sue them, Kavita Karnad Samuel, his mom, replied, “That’s fine, but don’t expect me to go easy on you. I will destroy you in court.”
In a statement posted on her son’s Facebook page, his mother elaborated on her response to “the recent upheaval my son has created”:
“I must admire my son’s temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault.”
“There’s no point to humanity. So many people are suffering. If humanity is extinct, Earth and animals would be happier. They’ll certainly be better off. Also no human will then suffer. Human existence is totally pointless.”
Mr Samuel says he remembers first having anti-natalist thoughts when he was five.
“I was a normal kid. One day I was very frustrated and I didn’t want to go to school but my parents kept asking me to go. So I asked them: ‘Why did you have me?’ And my dad had no answer. I think if he’d been able to answer, maybe I wouldn’t have thought this way.”
As the idea grew and took shape in his mind, he decided to tell his parents about it. He says his mum reacted “very well” and dad too “is warming up” to the idea.
“Mum said she wished she had met me before I was born and that if she did, she definitely wouldn’t have had me,” he says laughing and adds that she does see reason in his argument.
“She told me that she was quite young when she had me and that she didn’t know she had another option. But that’s what I’m trying to say – everyone has the option.”
In her statement, his mother also said it was unfair to focus on a “sliver of what he believes in”.
“His belief in anti-natalism, his concern for the burden on Earth’s resources due to needless life, his sensitivity toward the pain experienced unwittingly by children while growing up and so much more has been ruefully forgotten.
“I’m very happy that my son has grown up into a fearless, independent-thinking young man. He is sure to find his path to happiness.”
Mr Samuel says his decision to take his parents to court is only based on his belief that the world would be a much better place without human beings in it. He is now looking for a lawyer to take up his case, but so far he’s not had much success.
“I know it’s going to be thrown out because no judge would hear it. But I do want to file a case because I want to make a point.”
His Facebook posts have also attracted a lot of responses, “some positive, but mostly negative” with some even advising him to “go kill yourself”. He has also had worried mums asking him what would happen if their children see his posts.
“Some argue logically, some are offended and some are offensive. To those abusing me, let them abuse me. But I also hear from many who say they support me but can’t say this publicly for whatever reasons. I ask them to come out and speak up,” he says.
His critics also say that he’s doing this to get some publicity.
“I’m not really doing this for publicity,” he says, “but I do want the idea to go public. This simple idea that it’s okay to not have a child.”
When asked if he is unhappy being born, he replies:
“I wish I was not born. But it’s not that I’m unhappy in my life. My life is good, but I’d rather not be here. You know it’s like there’s a nice room, but I don’t want to be in that room.”