I was 5 ½ when John F. Kennedy was shot down. I was a month away from my 10th birthday when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and I had hit 10 years old when Robert Kennedy was shot. The Vietnam war was a constant until I was 17. I remember watching reports of the Ohio 4 shootings. The racial hatred spewing from the southern United States and in 1968 – Montreal was forced to face its own racism by way of the Sir George riots.
The older male members of my family were all military men; they wouldn’t speak of the things they faced while sober but I learned that when alcohol was served, to sit close by because the stories willed themselves out.
My generation and the generations we have spawned are arrogant. We do not recognize that we are, what we are, due to sacrifices that we do not appreciate to any real degree. Our generations seem to feel that we are the authority on everything from birth to parenting to the dying process and everything in between.
It is so easy to feel superior when a life of choice has been handed to you.
This whole trend of thought was birthed by listening to a conversation on parenting. One individual thinking they knew all about the topic and had done an excellent job, in her opinion. The other person was not from Canada, not from the West but from a country long known for strife, famine and subjugation. A scenario was put forward that, to me, tore away the façade of superiority we all seem to carry. A family, with nothing – scrounging for food, nothing but dirty water to drink, absolutely no government welfare or health system. Education unheard of by anyone in the particular village. Brute force ruling daily life. Someone offers money for one of the children, enough money to feed the rest of the family for a very long time. Enough money to allow the family to survive and not sicken to death from starvation. What choice then, Oh Pillar of Parenting?
There was much sputtering and muttering about family and love. Of FINDING work, of leaving the village. Of the responsibilities of a parent. All the proper Western rhetoric based on ignorance. In this country of desperation and despair? There are no jobs. One village is the same as the next. Truly out of the frying pan, into the fire.
Being a good parent in the West is a no-brainer. You have to be either a total idiot or completely self-absorbed to not raise “good” kids. We have no true challenges to family in the West. We don’t have to fight tooth and nail just to draw another breathe. We don’t have to sit and watch one of our children die from malnutrition, from disease born of that malnutrition. We don’t have to face the spectre of our children being kidnapped and forced into guerrilla warfare. We can’t even imagine, to any true degree, the monstrous act of having to sell or give a child away.
Our smug satisfaction with ourselves is, truly, appalling.
Oh sure, we are all great parents. We are all that and a bag of chips. But then, we really don’t look for a valid frame of reference; it would show us reality and who wants reality when you live in the West.