Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Meet The Modern Family

Human Civilization

Frankly, I'm fed up with politicians in Washington lecturing the rest of us about family values.
Our families have values. But our government doesn’t.
Bill Clinton,
speech at Democratic National Convention,
July 16, 1992

A family is a unit of civilization. An ideal family ought to work together toward a common purpose or goal; in modern times it ought to be more than selfish individuals living and eating together under a common roof. For many, this means a traditional biological-based family, citing genetic similarities and religious or ethnic affiliation as the best basis for unity and harmony. I don’t agree; I have known families with only biological children who don’t get along; and others with children who are adopted who do.

In my estimation, a family is a unit of at least two individuals who decide, willingly, to live together. That’s it, a simple and clear definition. This could be a heterosexual couple with or children, a gay couple with children or a single parent with children. The children can be adopted, or biological, or a combination of both, including to what is referred as blended families. You get the picture. It is entirely up to individuals to decide how and with whom they want to live.

The state has no moral or ethical ground to interfere, as they often do, in the inalienable rights of individual on how they want live as a family.  The chief question is who gave politicians, ill-equipped to decide on such matters— given their pre-modern ideological and religious biases— the power and authority to legislate such intimate and personal relations? I wouldn’t.

Today, there are two generally competing ideas: traditional religious views and secular liberal views; there is little meeting of the ways, little tolerance for differences, little acceptance for deviations from traditional norms. One of the modern norms, a prevailing idea that has gained strength in the last 40 years, is that money and resources make family life easier, more rewarding. While there is some modicum of truth in this “belief,” many of the reasons why it is given so much sway is that the wealthy use this idea as a means to hold power and influence over those who lack money, influence and power.

In other words, wealth and political power dictates moral supremacy and moral reasoning, even if the wealthy and political classes themselves often live dissolute lives, in opposition to the norms they vociferously say they defend: the Great Moral Code of Religion and Tradition. Yet, such a moral and ethical code is set aside by the wealthy and powerful —given only little relevance and triumphed and trumpeted for public consumption—and dumped on the less-fortunate, the Great Unwashed, if you will. The reasons are clear enough.

Given the way many nation-states operate today, it is inconceivable to consider them as true moral agents. As U.S. President Clinton remarked some twenty years ago, such ostensible representatives of the people are ill-suited to make even the most minor of decisions related to the health and welfare of the ordinary citizen. Let alone important and intimate ones as to the make-up of a family and how people ought to live.