Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and i against the stranger

On Sunday's li'l shin-dang at the house we talked about how much the family should get together, points of conflict and the seemingly inevitable drifting that will happen as our family grows larger.  These are obviously familiar (no pun intended) topics, and I don't think we broke a lot of new ground (if any), so those who missed it shouldn't feel too bad or anything.

One part of the meet-up did stick out to me though.  We had just been discussing the pains and travails of getting together for thanksgiving: how there were feelings hurt, annoyances had, and pains in the rear left and right and maybe we shouldn't get together again like that etc etc etc.  I had a bit of a different view about thanksgiving - i may have been the only one, but I had a great time.  I interjected (as is my habit;) saying that i felt that it would be easier to not get together but the value of having us together was worth it.  there may have been a metaphor involved.  Whatever.  the last thing I said was: "We shouldn't worry about doing the easy thing, but doing the right thing"  Duncan followed up with "Well, what is the right thing?"  I threw out something over-simplistic because I didn't have a real, useful answer.

That question has stuck in my craw for the last couple of days, and now I think i have an answer.  Maybe not THE answer, but one that I would like your thoughts on.  When I was attending a course on Middle Eastern Studies, I read a book and one of the quotes in it was "My brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against the stranger".  It is one of my top 5 favorite quotes of all-time, because it is simple, easy to understand, iron-clad and reflects how I already tend to see the world.

My interpretation:

If our family event conflicts with your immediate family and their interests, blow it off and don't think twice about it.  If it is just easier to not go to the family event because you have a beef with somebody, or it seems like a pain, or it seems lame or slightly inconvenient, then resolve your beef, cowboy up and be with our family.  because when it comes right down to it, I will be there for you.  I will bail you out of jail, i will take care of your kids, i will do my best to support you in hard times.  And I'm counting on the same from you.  When a family member dies, or gets sick, we will need to pull together, support each other, and strengthen each other.  If we haven't been accustomed to working out our issues, and have become accustomed to taking the easy way out, we will be worse for it.  As the saying goes - the more you sweat in peace time, the less you bleed in war.

Let's not be afraid to sweat a little in peace time.  I love you guys.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

By popular demand....

Just kidding on the title.  Jason and Duncan and I were talking about a few things on our way back from basketball, and the conversation kind of turned to anxiety and depression and other mental illnesses (this seems to happen a lot when i'm around...weird).  I was spitballing that these mental illnesses are a factor of our modern society, possibly from the fact that gender roles are all out of whack.

I think that the traditional female characteristics are more valued in todays society (or at least enforced).  Specifically the focus on team-building (versus individual achievement), the valuation of effort (over results), the emphasis on introspection (over action), and the emphasis on feelings (over facts).  While men are socially forced (or incentivized) to combat their natural strengths, women are socially forced to take on more manly roles as they try to raise children (especially boys) by themselves (partially because men have been feminized into thinking its ok to abdicate their responsibilities because women should be just as good or better at parenting than them anyway).

This is not to say that the feminine values and characteristics are less important.  Women and their strengths and characteristics are essential for society to even exist.  A focus on purely masculine values would be as oppressive and perhaps more destructive.

the point I am trying to make is that for us to be mentally fit as a society, we must recognize each genders strengths and values, learning to embrace our differences and understanding the power that comes from the meld of men and a women.  The more fully we embrace the harmony of these mutually supporting characteristics, the more fulfilled we will be as people.