The Parent Trap
If anyone were to ask me what the problem with parents is today I would tell them it is that we have children.
Having canceled cable, we now watch only public television, TVO and CBC, and Netflix.
And I cannot recommend canceling cable enough. Just do it. Cancel cable. You’re welcome.
Anyway, TVO’s The Agenda had a discussion the other night about what constitutes family. It was kind of unfair because the woman from the Vanier Institute got to sound reasonable, but the man who’d written a book was stuck defending it, and his argument is essentially that there’s a qualitative difference between the family defined by two men and a cat, and the family defined by two men and a baby.
He got tagged as being in favour of specific kind of family, but what he was really getting at was that only a specific kind of family has adults in the position of raising the next generation of adults, and that the parent/child bond is a necessary building block of a bonded society.
And so on and so forth and more of the same etc etc.
Still, even though he wasn’t necessarily judging, or saying definitively that the two men with a baby beat the two men with a cat in the “which is the better family” sweepstakes, it’s a tricky row to hoe.
After all, we’re on the tail end of a time when the nuclear family was the be all and end all of government policy. But now, Americans can’t even elect politicians to government who will put the safety of America’s children ahead of the profits of gun sellers.
There aren’t any politicians willing to do that. Why? Are they afraid? I think so. I think the gun industry has become so ideologically powerful that politicians are probably afraid they’ll be killed by some psycho with an arsenal of guns if they take on the cause of banning guns.
Americans are way past gun control. They need an outright ban on all guns. And I think it’s thanks to American parents, dads mostly, buying guns with which to protect their children from other American dads with guns.
Or, lone wolves with guns.
Either/or, it’s the gun purchase that nets the gun maker a profit, and profit is the why of the gun.
(I was just commenting on a TVO thread, a live chat (although it didn’t seem very live to me, it seemed like any other internet blog entry that invites comments) about the Sandy Hook murders. At least one commenter, a Robert Bradley, (but, of course, it could be anybody, I’ve known at least one of my haters, a local nutbar, to comment under my name on Small Dead Animals) spent the evening attacking not my comments, but me for commenting. I would argue that for too many Americans these days, the right to own guns trumps the right to free speech (without intimidation). Big Guns does not want any kind of debate about buying guns to happen while the bodies of so many children killed by its products are still warm, that’s for damned sure.)
But back to the family, and what kind of family we need to have a bonded society.
My Conservative friend is concerned about demographics. That’s code for “white birthrate”. But the fellow on The Agenda wasn’t talking about that sort of demographic, either. He was really very specifically, although he seemed to have a hard time getting it across, talking about the bond between a parent and a child that is required to have the right kind of society down the road.
Or is it? What’s so good about the parent/child bond, as the dominant one, anyway, the bond around which government policies are made, that maybe not having that bond wouldn’t be better? Imagine, for a moment, living in a country without children, an adult only enclave. Maybe it would prove to be an innovative paradise, a land of reason and maturity, a stable influence on the rest of a baby-producing world.
A country of elders.
I don’t necessarily believe that, but I’m not sure being parents makes us better people, either. And as I blogged in my previous entry, I’m not sure why it’s so important that we keep reproducing. What’s so special about us that can’t just let nature take its course and if we die out we die out.
In this society, too, once we’re parents, that’s it, we’re parents for the rest of our lives. Even when tragedies happen and we lose our children, we’re still parents. That’s what every parent knows is going to be so awful for the parents of the murdered children of Sandy Hook. And they haven’t lost their kids when they’ve had a lifetime of them either, they’ve lost them at what my friend, Barb, calls “the golden ages” that start somewhere around 4 or 5 and last until somewhere around 8, 9 or 10.
But it’s the nuclear family society that brought Americans to Sandy Hook, too. And up here in Canada, it’s the nuclear family society that will be responsible for the development of the tar sands, an environmentally, politically, economically risky, almost crazily so, undertaking that isn’t even necessary, just profitable for a handful of oilmen who probably also like their guns.
I don’t know, I’m not a sociologist, I just play one on the internet, but I think we need to start challenging some pretty broad assumptions about what sorts of government policies will lead us to the promised land (here on earth, too, I’m not talking about that wacky religious promised land) as opposed to, well, maybe just letting nature take its course.
Because I really don’t think we’re doing this thing right.