Royal baby boy: The awe-inspiring unimportance of birth (+video)
Royal baby boy: With 134 million humans born each year, birth is utterly ordinary. And, yet – as a microcosm for birth in general – it is of course totally momentous. We all can relate to the royals on occasions like this.
Much has been made about the birth of the so-called royal baby. He will be the new heir to the British throne, via the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. But as much has been made about it, there has probably been more made about how too much has been made about it.
"The statement from Kensington Palace contains just 45 words. Such is the global fascination with this baby, those words will be translated into countless languages and endlessly repeated until fresh information is provided once the child has been born."
Even factoring in the (nominal) importance of the baby to the overall health of the still-robust British monarchy, itself a system of nominal importance, the event is not stunningly important. It's absolutely trivial. It's utterly ordinary. And, yet – as a microcosm for birth in general – it is of course totally momentous.
What really happened is that a new baby was born – something that happens about 134 million times a year worldwide, according to the United Nations. But for everyone observing the event by TV, radio, Internet, newspaper, or other means, it's not merely a random baby that's coming into the world – it's a symbol for every baby that's ever come into the world, with all the fear, joy, and expectations that come along with it.
We can relate. And where there's that kind of emotional connection, there's a live-wire, capital "e" news Event, the kind that attracts special sections, 24-hour-watches, and blog posts that nibble enthusiastically on every particular edge of the story. (Yes, a bit like this one, I suppose.)
If you've recently become a parent like I have, you understand how difficult it is to get perspective on a birth, and so the royal baby is fascinating both as an exotic event and as a mirror to our own experiences.
For the parent involved in the baby carrying, birthing, and caring processes – each of which have their own halos of myth, superstition, and panic – the birth of a baby is not a trivial event. It is the big bang kickoff to an epic, years-long combination of celebration and self-flagellation, both a festival of joy and funeral for the freedoms of the pre-baby era, to be played out in adorable gifted onesies and growing mountains of soiled diapers and declined dinner invitations.
So yes, the royal baby has nothing to do with us, and isn't very remarkable. But, no, you shouldn't feel bad for following the spectacle. It is, after all, everybody's spectacle – it's the spectacle of human life.