What we learn, in respect to how to deal with others, is learnt at a very young age within the family, and, the lessons, are applied when we, each of us, go out to deal with the world at large. It was Burke who said, "to love the little platoon we belong to in society ... is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country and to mankind ..." Therefore, when we collectively take steps to destroy the family unit; we, by so doing, take steps to destroy the state.
Life is a trial for all of us, and, it is to family to whom we turn for support; indeed, during hard times we are driven to seek out our family. Now, I do not talk of exceptions; I talk of the rule. It is a family member who can make the best assessment of another family member; and, silent bargains are made -- to do or not to do in the future. Roles are sorted out: children are children: a father is a father: a mother is a mother. As for the male female relationship, again I talk of the rule not of the exceptions: the needs, temperament and reactions -- it has been my long experience -- are, quite different and entirely predictable. As for children: they need mothering; and, they need fathering.
There is a lesson, to one degree or an other, to be learned from what L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), the founder of scientology, said about the role of a mature woman, qua mother and wife, in the family unit: "A society in which woman are taught anything but the management of a family, the care of men, and the creation of the future generation is a society which is on the way out." If you cannot subscribe to Hubbard's view of things, then, you might subscribe to this old Spanish proverb, "An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest." Or, how about Napoleon, "My opinion is that the future good or bad conduct of the child entirely depends on the mother." Or, Henry Ward Beecher (1813-87), "The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom." My purpose is not to play down the role of the father but to emphasize the importance of that of the mother's. ("One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters." - Geo. Herbert, 1640.) But, you see, as the Finnish proverb goes: "The fatherless child is half an orphan; the motherless child is all one. But, then again, my point is sufficiently made if one understands children need both a father and a mother.
For the family to work, first and foremost the relationship between the heads must work; not necessarily work smoothly; but work. We might all observe, of course: men and women are different. Their roles in the family are different and no ranking of them is necessary. Their roles (I talk here of the general case) will likely fit the sensitivities of their gender which have long since been accepted, recorded, and, which, I cannot see will ever be changed for many evolutions, yet. I can put it no better than Benjamin Franklin:
"It is the man and woman united that makes the complete human being. separate, she wants his force and strength ... he, her softness, sensibility and acute discernment. Together, they are most likely to succeed in the world." (1745.)
"For contemplation he and valor formed / For softness she, and sweet attractive grace." (Milton, Paradise Lost). "O woman! Lovely woman! Nature made thee / To temper man: we had been brutes without you." (Thomas Otway, 1682.) These differences may well be cursed, for they seem to give men the upper hand; but, that they exist and cannot be denied. At any rate -- as far as personal or family relationships go -- as many women, as men, are the true head of the unit. And even where the matter has fallen out such that the man is the head: a loving woman can soon turn it.
Feminism as a movement, as we have come to experience it, in the late 20th century, is a reaction to the manner in which historically women have been treated; like so many vassals to men. Women and men throughout the ages, possessed of an intellectual sense (and their numbers have gradually increased), of course abhor the treatment. Such treatment is extended yet today by our customs and culture; and, is generally promoted by a number of religions throughout the world. It has been a long time in the coming, "baby"; but in the "western democracies" of the world, we may now observe some real improvement in the lot of women. My concern, for some time now, is that in the promotion of women's "independence" we have done great harm to the family unit. The educated and those with an intellectual understanding have tossed the mores which have and continue to subjugate women; and still, they form families and rear children tolerably well (though I wonder). However, while there is a great mass of woman who certainly have gotten the message that they have a "right" to be free and independent of men they perceive to be abusive, a great number of them, I suspect, have no idea how to deal with a personal relationship so it will not lead to abuse; or, better yet to have taken steps at the outset to avoid such relationships. Families get busted up and society must, in the result, pay a large bill. And, it's a deadly cycle: for, the ability to get along with another -- to compromise, to adjust, to barter -- is learned, and must be, I think: learned early: in the bosom of one's family.
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January, 1999 (2020)