Have you ever gone to a family picnic with a family with roots in India? I have and it is nice. Uncles, Grandparents, cousins and kids get together to
socialize, hang-out, develop bonds, and be their for one another. If you become friends with some of these folks you find their Grandparents living in
the house, and maybe a joint effort of raising the kids at home.
America today, on the other hand, is startlingly segregated by age and family relative to historic norms. Modernization has brought about a
separation of age old relationships that existed between generations and family. We have chosen to part with the elderly for their costly, grumpy, or
stodgy ways. And, we have chosen to log into a virtual world, to find like minded souls. If you are seen as not useful in advancing our careers or
providing me instant gratification , we say “let them live in their own communities.”
The thing is, it is the unchosen obligations that we have as humanity that have historically pushed people together... despite our irritableness and
our inconvenience to each other. We have ignored this and have advanced social separateness in general and generationally separateness in particular.
The advent of the Welfare state accelerated this division; by making elderly wards of the state. Obligations to them came from the government, not
their own families. Now we have people that want the state to raise our children.
We used to live in the same neighbourhoods, stay in the same house, and get to know our neighbours next store. Now we watch TV and relate to our
favourite character's instead of our next community around us.
Facebook and the digital world that youths inhabit has expanded this dissociation. Digital networking connects us across geographical and political
boundaries and makes us citizens of the world. But, we can mentally depart from a relationship by clicking a button (you cannot do this with your
cranky Grandfather). Facebook is actually a tool for autonomy and mental laziness. We can associate with those we like, but click a button to remove
“friends” who we do not agree. We can also choose the Face that someone see’s—which may not be our real face at all. In fact, studies have
shown many children refuse to ‘friend” parents because...well, they just wouldn't get you.
Why is this an issue? Alienation from our families, community and culture makes us senseless to what is going on around us. We are less likely to
develop patience and character and learn about the tradition of our own families and community.
What if: 1) More people died in their homes (we could understand the life cycle better)
2) People once again took their aging parents in to care for them (then could share their life experiences with their Grandchildren who
would immortalize them).
3) We improved employment opportunities for seniors (the US now punishes people for working past 62---allow seniors to work without
paying FICA tax!)
4) We stayed in our communities and developed relationships with those around us.
We need to address the threat to human communities and end this separation, alienation and self-enclosure we call life in North America. then we could
reconnect with our families and society, and no longer look to faceless institutions to save us. The balkanizing of society could cease.
on 1-7-2011 by Ultraman2011 because: spelling