May 19, 2005


You know, I always wonder how much information I should put in here about other people. For instance, I just had a conversation with my sister about her in-laws and the general hell they create for her and her family. I'd like to write about what we talked about, but I don't really know how she'd feel about it. The reason I want to talk about it is because the shit they do to her pisses me off royally and I've got to blow off the steam somehow. Without getting too specific, let's just say that some of her in-laws are CRAZY. Although them being crazy is problem enough, they're also cruel and vindictive. And I'm talking about the kind of cruel and vindictive behavior you find in a Dickens novel, the kind where adults don't care what they do to children. The particular in-laws I'm talking about do things like pull my nieces and nephews aside to try and fill their heads with lies about my sister and her husband. They spend a good amount of time spreading malicious lies about my sister and husband behind their backs and have subtly threatened to do things that will put my nieces and nephews in harm's way.

My sister is not so concerned about what they do or say to her, but she is very concerned about what they do or say to her kids. At a certain level, the kids understand that these in-laws are mean and hateful people and try to turn a deaf ear, but they are just kids and I don't think one should ever underestimate the amount of damage that could be done to children because they just do not have the coping capabilities of adults. There's going to be an inherent challenge taking place between the thought that your family members are good and are trying to protect you with the reality that, in fact, some family members are not good and don't care if you end up bruised and battered as hell. Because I don't want to go into the specific details currently at hand, it's probably hard for any of you reading this to truly grasp the level of my anger towards these toxic people. I should be better than allowing myself to feel angry towards people who don't deserve the courtesy of it, but I don't seem able to control myself.

And, of course, it is a large, complex problem. My brother-in-law is obviously torn about how to handle his family because it hurts him to know that his own brothers and sisters could treat his wife and children with such malice. But they're his family, right? You're supposed to stick with family, right? My own opinion is in this situation is that he and my sister should completely shut themselves off from the people in question. But it's easy for me to say that because I'm more on my sister's side and she's not the one potentially turning her back on her own family members. However, for as much as I love my family, if they were to do the sorts of things that my brother-in-law's family has done, I would turn my back on them in a second if that's what was necessary to protect my husband and daughter. I can say that with all the sureness and conviction in the world.

You know, the family unit in and of itself is such a fascinating thing. It can be the strongest thing in the world and it can be the weakest. During revolutionary Russia, the communist government effectively acted to destroy the family unit as a building block of society. Primarily because they did not want individuals to have an allegiance to something above the government. Divorce was incredibly easy to attain, you could just send in a postcard saying you divorced your spouse and that was it. The institution of marriage was discouraged. Women could have abortions without restrictions. Parents weren't held responsible for their children and the family did, in fact, break down. But you know what happened? As the family unit disintegrated, so did society. Suddenly, the government realized that supporting strong familial ties created better citizens who worked harder and invested more of themselves back into the society. So what did the government do? With the enthusiaism with which they destroyed the family, they attempted to build it back up. They offered rewards to families that had lots and lots of children. They encouraged families to love each other and help each other and be accountable to each other. You could get more rations for being a "good" family. It was all about the family.

And I believe it, I believe an emphasis on creating and nurturing strong family units does lead to a better society at large. If you learn to love and respect the people you grow up with, I think it carries over into the way you love and respect people outside your family. Maybe that sounds corny, maybe that sounds old-fashioned, but I believe it. I think people who come from strong families tend to be happier and more successful in life, as well as have a better understanding of how the individual impacts society. It's no surprise to me that things in this country seem to be breaking down when everything about modern life makes it very difficult to support the family unit. Work demands keep parents from their children for large portions of the day. Children don't understand their connectedness to anything. It's a tragedy, it really is.

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