Ever since we got over rutting for the sake of it, we have seen the benefits of being together.
A lone wolf, versus a pack of wolves.. Co-operation has become second nature.
The security of family also became self-evident. No migrant workers to enslave? Then have lots of children, and use them as your workforce!
It’s all very well, ranging far and wide, raping and pillaging as you go, but we all know how nice it is to get home, to a hot bath a comfy bed, and to snuggle up next to our favourite wife!
At some stage, some jealous wife somewhere had enough power to stop her husband’s worst tendencies, and so monogamy became the trend, leading to what we recognise as the family unit these days.
Even this unit is evolving and morphing before our eyes, as the worst aspect of the 70’s and 80’s rolls through, selfishness leading to an inflated sense of self.
There are so many young people being raised in a one-parent setting, that any stigma from the 1950’s is now gone, and it has become the choice in many cases, rather than having that thrust (quite literally) upon one.
The family unit, be it single or plural has changed too.
Once, because we had a) a heart and b) no choice, we used to look after our old folk. These days economics and opportunity have split the tight-knit family apart, and left many of our older people marooned deep in the countryside. The children have to desperately fight for survival in our over-populated cities.
The family unit itself has never been a watertight compact either.
Can I just draw you attention to the case of “Cain Vs. Able?”
The children of a well known couple, Adam and Eve. Cain a Farmer and Able raised sheep.
They made offering to their Grandfather (God) who was clearly, a full on Carnivore and chose to favour Able. (I’m sorry Vegetarians, but it’s clear what God thinks of Tofu sausages and Faken!)
This of course upset Cain, who decided that the ONLY course of action was to kill his brother.
Get that! Kill his brother? This is quite obviously the FIRST family we’ve had, and they are already up to fifty percent Fratricide rates! Not a good start or Omen in my opinion.
It seems that rather than trash the whole experiment, God allowed this blood-thirsty fiend to go on to be the Father of a whole race, based in the land of Nod.
There’s a hidden message in that story! (One hidden message, there’s about a thousand..!) However I find it interesting that first Jonathan Swift and then Robert Louis Stevenson (in a Child’s Garden of Verse) both refer to going to sleep as “going to the Land of Nod” – quite literally nodding off. It’s clear that since Able’s demise, we have been asleep as a race. Very few of us have ever “woken up” to see the reality of our world.
Family is not a guarantee of friendship, or kindness.
The old joke goes, at least you can choose your own friends…
We used to rub along in an accepted hierarchy. Firstborn get the lot, other children have to find their own way. If that’s the way the world work, then most people accept their lot and get on with it.
Fratricide levels plunged, but certainly never stopped! We are now down to .001% Fratricide Rates (Figures officially provided by ..no-one!)
Generally, we are better at not killing one another, instead we have football. It provides the perfect tribal outlet for those who wish to shake their fists, shout rude words and occasionally fight.
Back in the 1950’s we still had the Two “R’s” holding society “together” – Respect and Religion.
Respect was something that you earned – generally by fighting in a War (even if you were the Quarter-master in a shed in Woking, rather than actually being shot at!)
You’d made good, bought your own Semi of £15, you’d clothed and fed a wife and 2.5 children, and rarely kicked the family Labrador. Everybody got a present at Christmas, and a trip to the seaside for two weeks in the Summer. You deserved the respect of your wife and family for being a decent provider.
The Social Bond of Religion held you to account. Don’t steal from your work or neighbours. Don’t cheat on your wife or the Tax man.. and Clearly, we had already got way past the whole “don’t slaughter your brother, EVEN if he’s got vegetarian tendencies!”
Mostly everybody interacted with the Church to some level. It’s no different to Mao’s China of the 50’s – everybody was apt to inform on their neighbours. It was just called “Gossip” rather than “Informing” but it amounted to the same thing. If you didn’t want everybody to be talking about you behind your back, you’d better play a clean family game.
Regan and Thatcher let the Genie out of the bottle.
Their key message was Greed is Good!
You can have whatever you want, whenever you want 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 364 days a year (Just leaving one reserved for celebrating carnivores and murderers.)
This kind of thinking was supposed to apply to Business and to Stocks and Shares. In reality, if your local bus driver was being encouraged to turn into the “Wolf of Wall Street” then it’s not a hard leap to see that it signalled the end of “Common Decency”
It’s always been clear that “God” has been something of a mixed bag.
If you are of the opinion that he’s totally real, and that he’s your Father figure, then he has repeatedly disappointed and downright “ended” many of his faithful, making him look somewhat mercurial.
If you believe that we are the actors in a fantastic play, that as we go along, the Universe learns more and more about itself (like a toddler exploring its world) then you see that none of this needs to make sense anyway! (It rather lets God off the hook!) It makes the bitter blows of life much more acceptable. (“The value of this Life will go up as well as down, please see terms and conditions…written nowhere..”)
The upshot being that people started to question the societal value of this tenuous control mechanism, and ask for something a little more real, and free.
The more freedom we’ve been offered, the more we have taken.
Have you ever tried to offer ice-cream to a three year old, who’s just eaten a full meal of nuggets and chips? Would you ever expect them to say NO!? No, they just say yes and allow you to feed them until they vomit all over you and the restaurant! (A real life example, you know who you are!)
We all behave like children. Sometimes we play nicely for a while, then we want more and more, until – tears, before the Land of Nod!
Let’s be fair, we generally need some guidelines. If you don’t believe me, check the worst excesses of various dictators, Noriega, Hussain or Marcos to name but a few!
Look at the resources of our planet, running amazingly low, and yet we take, take, take, like 3 year old’s stuffing in the ice-cream.
The Young Rebel against the Old
It’s a fact of life, we feel obliged to stretch or muscles and test our strength against our seniors, in every walk of life. The truth is that respect kept us from going too far.
Now, the young have technology on their side, the old have become irrelevant. They breeze by us in a flurry of one’s and two’s. Now we are marooned in another part of the countryside, nowhere close to our parents, and are fast becoming the new “forgotten!”
There was some figure in the UK, that stated “Up to the 1950’s 95% of children never moved more than 15 miles away from the family home” (Statistics correct at the time of publishing and supplied by …nobody…)
Now the “Nuclear Family” has quite literally exploded, and the debris is scattered across the earth.
People have had to make new plans. More broken families find that rearranging themselves for financial reasons, emotional reasons, and for comfort and convenience is a good way forwards.
There’s more of a sense of tribalism returning. In South Africa, where I lived for a few years as a young man, the tribal system still worked. Grandparents in a village looked after the children and educated them, whilst the parents went out to work, and sent money back. The Kids were communal, and free-range. They grew up knowing, respecting and loving their Grandparents.
This model is playing out all over the World, and seems to be a good solution. But what of the Ego, that trickiest of players. What of the stories that we tell ourselves.
Communally, in the West, we have been trained to think “Greed is God/Good”
We have increasingly been taught to believe that OUR interests should come before the Herd. (I do believe that you have to look after yourself before you look after the next person. I also believe that sometimes we have to act in unselfish and self-less ways too. It’s a fine balance.)
If you are fighting tooth and nail for your slice of the pie, and to hell with everybody else, then you are probably a child of the 80’s and 90’s!
My Chinese teachers told me an observation that they had made. Was a standard trope on Chinese children’s TV of the 70’s. Pile of Apple’s on table, Western child visitor in Chinese household, the biggest apple on top of the pile. Western Child grabs the biggest apple off the top. Cue giggling from Chinese children who would never presume to take the best one first! Hehehe!
Bet that’s not playing on screens in Beijing these days, more likely re-runs of Dallas, in an educational time-slot! (Learn about Capitalism 101 and Fratricide!)
The Ego really gets is first boost in a family setting.
If you have decided to train your little ankle-bitters to be the next swinging dicks of Wall Street, then so be it. It’ll try not to judge, because I tried to train my ankle-bitters to be non-judgemental and kind!
Just take a quick look back at “The Wolf” and remind yourself it was a true story – I know, because I was there..
Just look at California and Australia in flames, and our polar caps melting, and ask yourself if the massive rise of Ego in our families and our lives MIGHT just have anything to do with this destruction? (and of course it’s close cousin GREED!)
If you genuinely don’t see the problem or connection, then YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!!
It’s down to us to help our children, and our children’s children to become better, more self aware, kind and less egocentric people. For the sake of our planet, it’s time to act now.