Family

From “The Closing of the American Mind” by Allan Bloom

“In family questions, inasmuch as men were understood to be so strongly motivated by property, an older wisdom tried to attach concern for the family to that motive: the man was allowed and encouraged to regard his family as his property, so he would care for the former as he would instinctively care for the latter. This was effective, although it obviously had disadvantages from the point of view of justice. When wives and children come to the husband and father and say, “We are not your property; we are ends in ourselves and demand to be treated as such,” the anonymous observer cannot help being impressed. But the difficulty comes when wives and children further demand that the man continue to care for them as before, just when they are giving an example of caring for themselves. They object to the father’s flawed motive and ask that it be miraculously replaced by a pure one, of which they wish to make use for their own ends. The father will almost inevitably constrict his quest for property, cease being a father and become a mere man again, rather than turning into a providential God, as others ask him to be.”

He’s also not saying we should go back to the idea of women and children as property, but he has a point. They system worked in its way. It satisfied one natural need and we can’t just discard it like rubbish and expect to have the same outcomes of secure families. I guess what people think is that secure family attachments aren’t necessary. Mother’s aren’t exactly necessary to children to grow up in the world and become functioning citizens. Father’s aren’t necessary. It all seems so bizarre to me really because I’m a Mother and Wife. I don’t feel owned by my husband as property. I feel protected and respected for my role in our family. I don’t think my husband feels used as a provider of income. I feel like we work as a team. Hmm…Something is wrong in this world, though. Families aren’t the strength they used to be. We keep the older generation out of the current and the younger generation away from the home. Husbands and wives act as independent machines. It all seems to be going nowhere and no one is happy anymore.

This chapter has been very good to read. There is a lot about the equality of men and women, how things have changed (up until the late 80’s when this was written), and the political/social forces behind the change. Reading it I wonder if things are different now in the colleges and universities. Are entering students worse or better off? From what I see around me, I think it’s worse or at least things have run the natural course they were taking 30 years ago.

What will happen to humanity if we keep insisting that biology doesn’t exist and that we must all be independent citizens of a state instead of interdependent members of a family? It brings to mind the other book I’m reading at the moment, “Kallocain” by Karin Boye. The family situation in that dystopian novel is frightening.

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