Fall in Love, Have Children*, Stay Put, Save the Planet, Be Happy
Frank Schaeffer & Gareth Higgins

Course Syllabus

Session One - Fall in Love

Thanks to oxytocin, bonding with our pair-bonded partners, lovers, children, adopted children, grandchildren, and other members of our communities—feels rewarding in ways that go beyond anything else. The "oxyjoy" we feel makes all our struggles seem worth it. So... how do we shape a better, more humane society that caters to who we humans actually are—evolving primates who discovered our ultimate joy in being loved and loving in return? 


Session Two - Have Children

Bonds form when we become home, protector, caregiver, nurse, best friend, teacher, and co-adventurer with a child, lover, or friend. What if we changed our definition of success so none of us faced social pressures or economic pressures during our children’s little-child years (say birth to four years old and preschool) to conform to a pro-business, one-size-fits-all, Goldman Sachs’– style model of life focused on our job title? How can we push back against the careerist survival of the fittest time and soul famine? 


* And it's important to note that procreativity is not just for parents - the idea of “having children” does not have to be taken literally. Every life is called to be generative toward others, to “make” something with their lives. Let us find a way to honor the procreativity in us all, and to speak with great tenderness toward folk who have wanted but not been able to have literal children, and those who have chosen not to.


Session Three - Stay Put

US Americans on the move, chasing jobs, leave behind family and other deep connections again and again and again. Then we wonder why our relationships go bad and why we feel lonely. Evolution built us to expect help from others and to give it. But we’ve made it hard for anyone to be there for us or for us to be there for them. If the coronavirus taught us anything, it’s what our actual needs are. College is nice, jobs are necessary—but we need connection. We need community. We need to be nurtured and supported. That means we have to resist moving all the time. This means choosing to live intentionally in stable long-term community. 


Session Four - Save the Planet

We need to make a choice to not become just another cog in the heartless grow-the-economy, money-worshipping, status-seeking, power-hungry, fame-seeking commerce machine inexorably squeezing the life out of our fragile planet—and the joy out of our lives. In other words to "save the planet" we need to first redefine what we mean by the word success. 


Session Five - Be Happy 

A lot of us are asking: Is so-called modern life all it’s cracked up to be? Is being selfish really the way to declare our presence on this earth for the short moment we have on life’s stage? Can we listen to our own evolutionary biology and dare to embrace the truth about ourselves or will we listen to the next version of damn-the facts ideology and start yet another cycle of unhappiness? Given who we evolved to be—cooperators who are happiest when caring for others and sacrificing for others, and in return being cared for—we can choose to direct our next step and the one after that toward a better, more humane life. That is when we will find we are happy.