Sunday, October 16, 2011

Family first?

I have noticed that even people who clearly spend enormous amounts of time on their work, like Tom Hanks and Steve Jobs, always say: "family is the most important thing in my life". Everybody says that.

It may be true for them. Or it may not, but they really believe it anyway. I think it's a social acceptance necessity for people to say it and believe it though. It's universally believed, and very strongly, that personal relationships are the most important thing in the world and in anybody's life, and that family is the most important one of those. Anybody who acts or says different is seen by most people to be antisocial to a suspicious degree and to have something wrong with them inside.

And yet many of the people who have made great accomplishments up through history didn't even have a family, or children of their own at least. (Including Jesus and Buddha.)

I'm not saying that friends and family are not important, clearly they are very important to anybody's emotional health. I'm just saying that the universal insistence that they must be the the single most important thing to every person in the world is just ideologically narrow-minded and draconian. For people for whom this may not be true, it often makes them feel that something must be wrong with them.

11 comments:

Will Duquette said...

Seems to me that it depends on whether you have a family or not. (By which I mean a spouse and minor children.) FWIW, I do have a family, and I do try to put them first.

Me, I'm Catholic. In the Catholic tradition, marriage is a vocation, a calling, and it carries with it duties and obligations. My children (I have four kids) have a right to my protection, care, guidance, and so on. As for my wife, when I married her I promised to put her first, before all other human beings (including me). This is an obligation I freely took on, eyes open, not something levied on me by social expectations. It is also an application of the principle of loving your neighbor as yourself--the people I actually share a house with are my neighbors par excellence.

But if I don't have a family I'm under no obligation to acquire one. Catholicism has a high place for those who choose to remain single, following Jesus' example.

Joe said...

"family is the most important thing in my life".

I think it is a balance we try to keep between family and work. If we spend all of our time working. We will lose our family.

If we spend all of our time with family. They will starve and be out in the cold.

Many work hard all their life to aquire things.
But when the day is done the question is.. was it worth the cost?

Timo Lehtinen said...

Eolake said: Including Jesus ...

This is incorrect. Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child.

On the topic itself, why be bothered at all about other peoples values? Unless you are uncertain about your own path. But you don't seem that way.


CAPTCHA: parings

Jim King said...

Buddha I think did have a family or at least a wife, whom he neglected when he went off to find enlightenment. At least he was rich, so she was provided for. :-)

Jesus may not have had a family but he was supposed to be a carpenter although he must have really neglected that business. 'Course, he and his disciples were fags.

It's true that some of the greatest men in history haven't had families, which may partly explain their accomplishments. If Isaac Newton had had a wife and kids, he couldn't have put in the long hours he did and wouldn't have achieved as much. Then again, he spent the bulk of that time studying alchemy.

not something levied on me by social expectations

As the kids say, LOL.

Catholicism has a high place for those who choose to remain single, following Jesus' example.

Oh, yeah, we know all about that, wink wink.

This is incorrect. Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child.

Blasphemer! ;-)

On the topic itself, why be bothered at all about other peoples values?

We shouldn't be.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"why be bothered at all about other peoples values? Unless you are uncertain about your own path."

True, and posts like this are part just thinking aloud, and partly to help people like myself in my twenties, when I had not thought beyond taking it for granted that getting a wife at least was a necessary part of expansion in life.

We all learn, and I think it's a precious few who are 100% certain about their path all along.

Dan Park said...

A lot of people get married and have kids because they think it's what you're supposed to do. Go to school, get a job, get married, house, kids, retirement, death.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Exactly!
I had a much older brother, when he was 24, I was like 8. I asked him how old he was, he said 24, and I said "shouldn't you get married soon?" Much laughter, but I was just thinking in the lines of the impressions I had of the way life went.

Cado said...

"On the topic itself, why be bothered at all about other peoples values?"

Because RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!

http://tinyurl.com/6bc7s6z

Rod Flanders said...

"family is the most important thing in my life". Everybody says that.

They think they have to say it. The same way every U.S. politician, at least those who want to get elected, have to pretend to be religious.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Good point. It almost turned one's stomach, the enthusiasm with which Dubya did that. That drunken slacker, a devout Christian, yeah, right.

Joe said...

"every U.S. politician,.... who want to get elected, have to pretend to be religious."

Those in politics have to be able to be a chameleon. Changing to project something in common with who ever they are talking to at the moment.

They never call it lying. Just talking with a "silver tongue".