Love's role in procreation. Co-winner ? Why ? Why Not ? Contest, February 2020.
|Prompt 8) Why or why not does 'love' keep our species going on from generation to generation?
If the sole purpose of love is to ensure the continuation of humanity from one generation to the next, then what am I to make of this love that binds me to a woman I met when she was forty-eight and I, fifty-seven? Past child-bearing and progeny we may be, yet this love is stronger, purer and more intense than anything before. The plain fact is that procreation missed its mark if that was the aim in bringing us together.
So what is going on here? What possible purpose is served in uniting old with ancient with never a thought of posterity? It seems unlikely that evolution would make a mistake this obvious and yet the fact remains that my lady and I (and countless others) have found love and fulfillment late in life. Explain that, if you will.
Which is not much of a challenge if you’re prepared to admit that evolution is not the only force at work here. Insist on it and the mystery must remain forever unexplained since evolution is inextricably bound to the transfer of genes to descendants. Without those descendants, there is no evolution.
At this point, it would be easy for me to escape the argument by introducing the subject of God. And that, of course, would immediately lose all those readers who have yet to meet Him. No, if we are to continue our investigation, it must be without the assistance of a divine push from behind.
To understand this matter of love amongst the seniors, we should examine its counterpart, youthful love. In this case, the overpowering necessity of procreation is clear. From a brief excursion into nature, it would seem that all life feels the need to multiply and populate the earth. There is no reason that humanity should feel any differently.
It is hard to argue that the drive to procreate is all that is going on, however. Humanity has many instincts that are shared with animals but never is it as simple as that. If we are just animals, we are the most cussed and contrary animals on the planet. Give us an instinct and we’ll immediately pile up complexes, complications and contradictions on it. Everything has a drive to eat and so do we. But then we add a need to overeat and, amazingly, a compulsion to starve ourselves into anorexia. We get a taste for the poisonous liver of the puffer fish and invent competitions for the one who can eat the greatest number of hot dogs.
Evolution may decree a need for self survival in us. We complicate the matter with dreams of heroism and self denial. Give us a social nature and we’ll crowd together into cities until we hate the sight of each other. Clearly, there is more than simple evolution going on here. Tell me that love is the force behind reproduction and I would wonder whether the force is really lust. At least that is closer to what we consider an animal compulsion. Love may have some relation to procreation but it begins to look much more like a human invention complicating the whole sex thing.
Now it seems that we are actually dealing with at least two forces: love and sexual attraction. And, of the two, it’s the latter that proceeds from the need to reproduce. Love must somehow be something different. Which would solve our problem of love amongst the seniors. I told you the way to understand that would be in looking at the other side!
So, to answer the original question, love may well have progeny as an accidental by product but that is not the reason for love. So yes, it is and it isn’t, it’s why and why not. But as for what exactly is love, that is another story entirely and, possibly, a subject for another contest.
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