If I didn’t realize it in college, when I happily sang The Sinking Feeling by The The, I know it now – I’m just a symptom of the moral decay, that’s gnawing at the heart of the country…
My interlocutor explained that of the three ways to be unfilial, not having children was the worst (不孝有三，无后为大).
I laughed. He turned serious, “This is what’s wrong with foreigners. You have no sense of responsibility.”
I admitted that I didn’t want to raise a child and pointly asked, “Does China really need more people (中国真缺人吗)?”
He counterpointed that, “Every family needs their own (每个家庭都缺自己的).”
I laughed again.
He went on to explain that I had failed to continue my family line. Chinese abroad and at home have geneaologies that clearly mark generational differences. For thousands of years, each generation has followed the next. He himself had two children, three grandchildren, and hoped to hold a fourth.
I congratulated him on his happiness (幸福).
He nodded soberly and encouraged me to reconsider, “Maybe your mother-in-law can take care of the child and you can continue your carefree [and irresponsible] life.”
This truly is an argument I didn’t know I was in and can’t win anyway.