Michael Hirsh: a personal letter to an inquirer
Michael Hirsh an anti-abortion activist who practices law (beginning with the defense of Paul Hill, his first case) wrote me the following on 26 Oct., 2017:
A guy (whom I don’t know) heard that I have 13 children. He wrote me, asking “Do you feel that your actions [having 13 children] are based in selfishness? With such a large family, you have to be depriving them of some things and have to have experienced problems with attention and privacy.”
Sorry that it took me so long to respond. I couldn’t stop laughing. I’m assuming that your question is a sincere one, but could you please identify exactly what about having 13 children is consistent with being selfish. Seriously! I would suggest (at the risk of sounding too self-congratulatory) that it is the exact opposite. We call it “dying to self”; or, obedience to God, if you prefer.
During most of my years as husband and father, my income has been very, very average. Embarrassingly average. There have been some fatter years; but, more leaner ones.
Do you view that a child who isn’t constantly feted as the center of the universe to be deprived? Is it a trauma of childhood to never have your own room, wait your turn for the bathroom, or told to make it quick so someone else can have some hot water for their shower?
Aren’t we overrun with adult children who continue to operate as entitled brats and who believe that it’s all about them? Don’t know about you, but I’ve never been real impressed with that model. I remember a conversation I had with a wealthy colleague years ago who was boasting to me that he had just set up a trust fund for his 2.2 children: “My children became millionaires today” he told me. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to respond: “I hope that they are able to overcome that obstacle during the course of their lives.”
What do you imagine that my children have been deprived of? We’ve not lost one to starvation. All those that wanted to go to college did so. They didn’t get a new car on their 16th birthday. Heck, I don’t get a new car either. We don’t send them to government school or take any other form of welfare either.
We’re certainly not perfect – far from it – but they are generally happy, well adjusted, and productive. Some of them would be considered wealthy; others (most) of more modest means. But raising rich kids was never our goal. Should it have been? Nearly all of them have written me letters after they were on their own thanking me for not indulging them, teaching them how to work, and to serve others. I treasure those notes!
I will try to be careful with comparisons but wouldn’t it be safer to say that the chemically and/or surgically self-sterilized who want to have 1 or 2 children so that they can maintain that never ending pursuit of a “lifestyle” are being selfish?
The presupposition of your question is the mistaken notion that the addition of every child slices the quality of life pie one more time and everyone gets an increasingly smaller piece of all “the stuff” that life has to offer.
I will not blow smoke up your backside and tell you that it’s always sunshine and roses. But even the challenges, difficulties, turmoil, struggles, and heartache (and we’ve had our share, believe me!), seem to turn into even more love.
But I will tell you from experience that the reality is that the addition of each child makes the pie bigger. Bigger in love, bigger in joy, bigger in the things that matter, bigger in the things that last. So having a big family might mean we have to pick a number for the last pork chop at dinner, but the reservoir of love grows with every contributor to it.
So, in answer to your question, I’d say no sir. I’m the richest man in the world.