Monday, May 18, 2009

Regarding the Family

It seems that the word family is supposed to usher in all manner of positive concepts enveloping ennobling themes such as love, loyalty and devotion.. It is viewed by most everyone as being the bedrock of our culture and the representative of the very essence of social cohesiveness. Yet under the umbrella of the concept of family lies many untidy and not so attractive realities as well. Only the supposed virtues are extolled; only the inspiring characteristics are open for discussion. The more insidious and incestuous “qualities” of family are conveniently placed out of the scope of consideration. The less attractive aspects of being, however, are often just as common within the fold of the family, but relegated to the unimpeachable darkness.

The crazed uncle possessed by the demons of his impaired and diseased brain, the patriarchal grandfather with a formidable record of abusive and violent behavior, the promiscuous and pregnant daughter sent off to live with an older sister while bringing her growing fetus to term away from the prying eyes of neighbors, the gay cousin convinced by the language of his authoritarian minister that he is a deviant in the eyes of his personal savior are all examples of realities that are surrounded by a formidable cone of silence in an effort to keep alive the mythological quality of wholeness that is supposed to embody the family.

In reality, the family is fragile and flawed like all human institutions. Families and clans are a natural and practical consequence of the biological urge to propagate the species. Within the structure of the family, resides the entire gamut of human proclivities and possibilities. Yet, it seems that only what is believed to exemplify goodness is embraced while that which is unflattering is coerced into the void of the unspoken. It is not truth that triumphs but rather the lie. It is an insidious lie, for it creates a perception of family members and the family that is decidedly one-sided, and for that reason, grotesque. The family mirrors all the aspects that compromise humanity in general and the individual in particular. It should be seen for what it is and nothing more.

It is from the mosaic of the family that the structure of the larger society is built. We have become in many regards a cult of the individual. Children are raised within the assumption and the implicit notion that the individual is the center of existence; that all of the universe gravitates around the singular person with his or her singular consciousness. Individual happiness is the fundamental goal that is seen as the inherent right of us all. Yet state of being happy is poorly understood and remains illusive. The quality of happiness has come to be seen as achievable through the medium of material success and personal achievements. This seems perfectly natural to us, since this is the essence of the message perpetually conveyed through the communications media and thoroughly inculcated in our thinking and perceptions. In this particular social environment, happiness is not equated with the well being of those outside the territory of the family. Even within the family, this is not necessarily the case. This particular idea of happiness is not dependent upon the health of the natural environment nor the state of being of our fellow creatures.

Those who pose as the guardians of life and constantly and vociferously proclaim their unimpeachable belief in the sanctity of life have an exceedingly narrow conception of the life they assiduously protect. It is certainly not the life of those in dire need; it is certainly not the quality or extent of life of those creatures who are destined to be sacrificed so that we may have bountiful sources of nutrition; it is not he life of those fellow humans who have had the misfortune to be regarded as our enemies. Oddly enough, the life they wish to protect are clumps of cells genetically definable as human and destined to be human, but decidedly without consciousness and incapable of pain or suffering. These pre-humans growing within the body of the women who carry them are living, but not individuals. Yet the suffering of so many individuals born into abject poverty and perilous social conditions are of only peripheral interest to those who carry the banners of righteousness. Yet the conditions of those living creatures who the unwilling providers of their bodies for our mass consumption are not regarded in any way by those who proclaim the moral high ground. Those who take up a cause without reason or intellect are dubious and often dangerous for they are capable of justifying terrible deeds in the name of hollow and ridiculous notions.

The cult of the individual has left us with a world whose natural environment has been sorely abused. The cult of the individual has left us with a social order that is remarkably skewed to the few who hold the wealth and its concomitant power. The cult of the individual is not sustainable for it will continue to rob humanity of its future. Until we see the well-being of all as within the purview of our state of happiness, the human world will remain restive and unfulfilled.

1 comment:

Oberon said...

...thank you for your insightful and pertinant perspective. seems that since the advent of television, the notion of community has faded slowly into the realm of the obscure.
...and the hypocrisy of the pro-life movement is on full display when they ignore war, executions, the arms trade and the need for birth control and sex education.
...i look forward to your next installment.