Sexual frustration can either impair performance or direct extra energy towards it. There is, therefore, still some censorship and also this provides a range of 'transgressive' activities. Actual sexual liberation is at a similar level to that seen in the most liberal late 20th-century societies, although religious beliefs constrain many people's behaviour below this level.
Reproduction and family life
Reproductive activity is far more complicated than sex. There is a general fear that your gametes might not be clear, and those with clear gametes, or a clear heritage, may feel quietly complacent and superior about it - they're confident their genetic lines will continue and prosper.
All conception takes place in vitro. Unscreened conception by natural means is prevented by the presence of efficient contraceptive agents in all food. Where IVF is not used, gestation takes place in artificial wombs known as Peretti tanks (after their main inventor). 15% of births are by Peretti tank. These methods of development show extremely low failure rates.
Sample gametes are always taken and stored when sexual maturity is reached to ensure no loss to the genepool, although usually fresh material is used when people wish to reproduce (this is stronger stock, as untampered with).
Parents and the authorities don't interfere with gamete / foetus genetics or programme, as not only would this contradict the 'choice' rhetoric, but it would also edit the human genome, rarely a desirable option. Multiple births do not occur, as the development conditions in the womb must be optimized. Squashed conditions make for physical weaknesses, and they're attempting to ensure that genetic combinations are varied - three lots from the same pair of gametes unbalances the next generation. It is extremely rare for parents to be allowed to have more than two children: overpopulation was one of the triggers of the Catastrophe (it allowed rapid spread of the viruses, in addition to the ecological pressure it had caused), and the people of the 22nd century have nowhere to build more cities, except Antarctica, until clean-up is further advanced. Many want to put some eggs in another basket before another Terran city-building project is started.
People feel that it is very important to have children. In a way it's unconsciously seen as a privilege. Qualifying depends on passing gene screening. There are no-psycho-social criteria, as all subs can be expected to be reasonably well-adjusted individuals.
A small number (8% or so) of families are structured according to new models, with only one genetic donor. To rear your child as a parent you must have the time available - either a career which allows breaks and set working hours, or one which allows gap years for parenting. Key personnel may have to delay or resign themselves to biological contribution with monitoring visits. Where this does arise the other bio-contributor can choose a friend, relative or lover of either gender to act as the replacement rearer (these variations are all socially acceptable). In the majority of cases children are reared by their biological parents, though, and in all cases each child ends up with two 'parents' and is reared with its sibling (if any). It's best to stick with the human relationships which psychologists have studied for the last 300 yrs, it is felt, rather than experimenting with new social models.
An individual may have a child by each of two partners, if still healthy enough - the second child must be delayed until after the first reaches adulthood in the biological family unit. If the family is not biologically linked, biological parents can start afresh much sooner, but those deemed unsuitable to rear their first child will almost certainly be rejected as rearers of the second.
Mutations are unusual but not impossible. Individuals with mutations are known as 'specifics' - as the only mutations which are seen to arise are beneficial in some way, the only social disadvantage of having specific children is that parents may be uncomfortable with their child, or try to overvalue the ability (as if it's some form of precocity). As with the disabled in former years, many people feel uncomfortable and try to hide it, but the source is different - not pity or curiosity, but apprehension that humanity is taking this or that new direction and that you are the old model.
Crèches and school / childcare facilities mean that no-one has to disrupt their career beyond the minimal birth and bonding period (two months). It is possible to opt to concentrate on your offspring, but this requires that you move career to the childcare sector and have to spend time helping in crèches or nursery schools.
Reared by a two parent unit, usually both gamete donors. Parents cannot separate during a child's minority. Although some have considered breaking up, all have decided to put the children first and waited until the child is 18.
Children start schooling at 3 years. Schools convey a lot of information which in earlier times was left to parental input. Naturally, in the circumstances, the syllabus units on reproduction and parenting skills are larger and rather more detailed. There is emphasis on how valuable each child is, on their unique ability to contribute their particular DNA, as well as other qualities, to the continuance of the species. When an academic year finishes, classes and subject groups alter, on an apparently random system. Everyone knows that the Merit system is a pyramid, and random assignment to initial layers seems most fair - besides, individual choices as an adult may alter your destination level. It would be inefficient and sabotage race survival to insist on free individual choice in all cases in this area.
Lesson topics are otherwise similar to 20th century ones - the same topics, modified by new discoveries, taught to a similar level. The exceptions are the lack of religious instruction and the absence of politics as a subject - it is covered as a part of History. Business courses lack financial/ fiscal components - efficiency and optimization studies, including worker comfort, replace these.
Final year students pick a University lottery number, to see if they go on or start to be productive. An attitude of eagerness to start working and so contributing, as well as gaining full adult status, is fostered. Those drawn to remain as students quickly lose this attitude - they want to give the highest quality service.
Wide access to the full range of recreational options is granted according to the child's assessed potential. There is some rotation, to allow a taste of all the relevant sporting and artistic / creative activities evident in adult life. The child gets to choose which options to pursue further. Each will continue with at least a couple of sporting activities and in many cases a creative option. Talented students may pursue many. Part of the point of varying the experiences of each child, in the home and in media habits, is to emphasize to them their uniqueness, which will also ensure that each has something different to offer the company. Everybody's different, everybody's the same.
A scientific view of the Century of Catastrophes would suggest that it resulted from wilful myopia, even blindness, to environmental forces - whether natural or exacerbated by industrial action. Most pre-existing religions, though, took the view that it was a judgement of some sort, or at best a warning. The fact that the areas most thoroughly initially devastated were primarily Islamic fostered a belief that either (1) doctrine had gone astray, (2) the world had been abandoned by God, or (3) atheism had been responsible, God disapproving of a (con)fusion of religious and temporal power. Many abandoned the faith, of the relatively few who had survived in the first place. Christianity and Judaism also suffered great loss of life in the devastation of Europe and the Near East, and like Islam have gained few converts since.
Buddhism coincided better with the new need to conserve life and increase responsibility, but clashed with the frantic need to put the needs of conserving the species temporarily above those of the planet. New Buddhist sects sprang up to address these problems, and these days the most popular version is one which considers only 'higher' creatures as being truly 'living' in the same sense that humans are. Neo-Buddhists will only take their own lives when they feel they are ready to be judged and pass on to the next karmic stage.
Ba'hai is another religion that survived, with a new Prophet born in 2012 teaching this faith's pacifist and tolerant ethics. Most people, though, turned their backs on organized religions of any stripe, feeling it had proved itself inadequate to truly answer the problematic questions of human existence. Today religion is very much a minority interest, with an enlightened atheism being the majority position.
There are though also a number of new religions, which between them probably now have more worshippers than the traditional faiths retain. They include Atonement cults, teaching salvation through a renewed reverence; Philosophic Agnosticism, speculating on humanity's role in the universe, and the light shed on it by recent events; the Church of the Third Coming, a Christian offshoot which teaches that Christ returned and was martyred again in the tribulations, but was able thus to defer a final judgement of humanity; the Lodge of the Abandoned, gathering together former monotheists who believe the world has been abandoned by God; informal worship of Natural Energies, a kind of neo-Gaianism; Materialistic Jainism, a curious faith which preaches respect for materials and the avoidance of destruction and waste; and, perhaps the most popular, a range of extropian cults, such as The Fractal Church, which claim that humanity is now better and more capable than it was before, and that continued variation can only improve matters.
Mammon Inc is entirely tolerant of religious beliefs, in fact it is widely rumoured that it sponsors some of the new faiths itself.
|'<puff> I've been offered a new posting - Fuerteventura. Could
be a big one. Troubleshooting.'
'Ho! - better take your hotsuit, hombre. Still pretty raw up there! <pant> What's the problem?'
'Algae trouble. Some new mutation - they're losing blue-green, getting too many cilia. Contaminants <urgh>'
'Ay! That's three-zero to me, compadre. Better get into shape for those Fuerte high-fliers, man - don't go letting your people down, now.'
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