What’s Important

Sometimes I wonder if my view about the serious nature of our society’s continued devaluation of children is unrealistic. Maybe I really should be like everyone else and just live as if it is one of those things that everyone knows about but no one talks about. I’m serious. This is not sarcasm. It would make my life so much easier if I could somehow convince myself that the things I’ve seen and the things I’ve learned are of no importance. Then I could be that happy, positive-type person that everyone else seems to be striving for.

So I second guess posts like the one I made yesterday. Does it matter that Hollywood will always promote the social norm that parents can do whatever they want and children don’t matter? From the reviews of the film, it doesn’t seem to matter. It seems that we are all very happy with the idea that children should be forced to accept family members into their lives regardless of their own pain.

And then I get bored, spend time on YouTube (something I rarely do) and find something like this:

It’s not just writers who need to kill their darlings.

It’s an older video, obviously, but nonetheless relevant. 

This is what happens because we really do not truly care about anyone who suffers, particularly who suffer at the hands of those more powerful than them. It’s a weird hierarchy that lands the perpetrator in the seat of sympathy time and again. And it doesn’t matter where we are from or what we believe, all nations, all belief systems, or non-belief systems, harbor the same opinions.

As I mentioned yesterday, this is a social norm. It affects anyone who does not hold some sort of power. Children are the most powerless, so they are the most abused by our social norm. Within children, there are gender and racial divides that allow us to tolerate the sexual predation of a black girl while finding it appalling when it happens to a white girl, and usually ignoring it when it happens to any boy. But in all cases never really doing anything to stop it from happening again, especially if it was done by a parent, or some other relative.

We as a society have accepted the norm that parents are given carte blanche to do whatever they want to their children. Oh, there are a few who are against it, but that pits them against nearly every society on the planet so it is barely a drop in the ocean.

We as a society have agreed to ignore children, all children. We dismiss them and their needs because, for the vast majority of parents, children are just a showpiece. I mean, ask yourself why you had children in the first place. Not many of us gave it any thought. And having a copy of ourselves (actual reason given to me by many) or wanting to love someone, are not thoughtful reasons.

I was told, from the time I was a little girl, that I would grow up and have children. This is the only purpose god made me for and to avoid this would make me miserable. The only way a woman could be happy was to marry and serve her husband and raise a family. Everything else was against god’s plan. And we all know what happens when you go against god’s plan:

Isn’t religion so positive and uplifting?

Most people have children because it is expected of them. The pressure is on from childhood. Ask anyone you know who is single and/or childless and just spent the holiday with family. They likely got an annoying earful about their refusal to give into that particular social norm. Childless people are a threat to the status quo and are probably only viewed as one step above children by most.

As a result of society’s dismissal of children, we ignore those who tell us that some other person, adult or other child, is abusing them. And when they are finally listened to, and proved right, crap like what’s described in the video happens. The child rapist gets let off with a slap, and the child gets swept under the rug, told to shut up and deal with it themselves. No one has time for them. The courts never order a child rapist to pay for a lifetime of therapy it will take to recover from the trauma. Our society does not help them. In the US, where healthcare is another enforced social hierarchy, the few insurance companies that will cover psychologist visits give the insured only eight visits a year. That is definitely not enough to take care of any sort of trauma at all.

Our social norms are agreed upon rules that we all live by in order to keep order around us. Most of us are raised to conform to them regardless of whether they are right or wrong. We might pay lip-service to the idea that they are bad, but we do nothing. This is because there are so few people who would actually stand together and do something that it’s like a beaver building a dam to hold back a tsunami.

It never works. It never changes. Because most people are OK, obviously, with the idea that we as parents can hold all the power and do what we want, all we have to do is say “sorry” and that makes everything OK.

Again, I do not believe that this was ever Mr Rogers’ message. It was only the message of the film. But it is society’s message, and while Mr Rogers worked to elevate the worth of the child, he was just one beaver, building a little stick dam to fight back the onslaught of billions of other people who cannot, or will not, fathom the idea of change.

5 thoughts on “What’s Important

  1. This was one thing I got right about being a parent – seeing my children as their own, individual selves, not an extension of me, not my property, not something there to make me feel good – people I had a responsibility to care for and teach and do right by, because they didn’t make the choice to be part of this world, I made that choice for them. I’m amazed at how many people become adults and then seemingly forget what it was like to experience childhood!

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  2. This is not sarcasm. It would make my life so much easier if I could somehow convince myself that the things I’ve seen and the things I’ve learned are of no importance. Have you ever been at a point in your life where you just know that the choices placed before you are always just two wrongs? Now humanity is stuck in belief mode, and you have a choice between belief and atheism. Those are two wrong choices that both lead to a never ending mental conundrum. True there are no gods, but is there nothing else? Atheism is simply an awakening —a clean slate, if you will, to see the world now in a completely different light.
    After reading through your posts, I feel a lot of anxiety and worry and a bit of hopelessness. The universe isn’t what we’ve been told it is. I’m not sure why but I feel compelled a bit to chat with you about these things if your interested.
    I know my blog is The CommonAtheist, and true, I don’t believe in any gods, but there is another way that is so obvious that it escapes our attention. The first step is letting go. Not because you don’t care, but because you do. You really do.
    Atheism in the informal sense of the word is a profoundly religious attitude. It is an attitude to life of total trust in letting go. When we form images of God there are all
    really exhibitions of our lack of faith, something to hold onto something to grasp
    . When we can actually let go of whatever it is you spend your energy on, the world can open up and reveal your place in the universe. A contradictory free way to understand the central mystery.
    I live on earth at present and I don’t know what I am. I know I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb. An integral part of the universe Buckminster Fuller
    I understand your dilemma. Most people have trouble understanding that all the bickering and suffering in the world isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t really matter in this happening we call life.

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    1. It is difficult to revise a reply to this statement. I might know where it comes from, and I might know what is behind it. I have heard these exact words so many times in my life, from the first time I tried to tell someone about my parents extreme abuse, to when I tried to talk about the neighbor and babysitter who molested me and my siblings, to when I left my abusive ex-husband. Nothing you said here is remotely contradictory to what most people already think. “Let go” is one of the most universal social norms there is. It crosses all religious and cultural boundaries. And that makes sense. No one likes to hear about trauma. We who are traumatized don’t want to hear about our own trauma. But those who are outside the trauma, they really don’t want to hear about it. The person who is hearing about the trauma has to find a defense. I get that. But this is why we placate abusers and ask trauma victims to “let go,” telling them that in the grand scheme of things what they suffered doesn’t matter because–insert nebulous and unproven promise. And this is why the pain and suffering continue. We remain silent and we allow the abuser to abuse again. That’s really how it is. I do not know if your statement is that of the self-righteous who are always telling the victim that they would feel better if I just “let go,” when in reality they just want us to shut up because the idea that we have experienced trauma makes them uncomfortable, or if it comes from a place of having experienced trauma and having that trauma dismissed so many times by people who should care, that you just gave up and numbed yourself. Your statement sounds very numbing. But everything in this life matters. If you are raped, that matters. If you are abused, that matters. If you are forced to kill a person for whatever reason, that matters. If you are a child and suffer extreme neglect, that matters. And you are welcome to think of yourself as anyone you’d like. But I would advise you to not tell the rape victim, or the molested or abused/neglected child, or the victim of violent crime to “let go.” You will do even more damage by dismissing their pain. If you want to comfort the traumatized, really offer helpful comfort, you should acknowledge their pain as real, and then you might just be silent. That would probably be the most helpful thing of all. There is no need to speak when we are uncomfortable with someone else’s suffering.

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  3. My reply simply an attempt to offer a way of seeing the world that escapes most people. I was also abused for religious reasons as a child. My brother is 64 and still in counseling. I let it go. Maybe that all I could do. I’m not suggesting anything but a different way of seeing the world that is taught by zen and yogi masters, with a small part of that, learning to let go. It’s really total trust and faith in that process. I think your wounds are deeper than I perceived. No harm was intended and I extend my apologies and my love to you as a fellow human.

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    1. There’s no need to apologize. But I hope you will understand that when you tell people who are suffering that nothing in this life matters, you are pushing them toward the edge. Whether the religion is Buddhism or Christianity or whatever, the teaching that what has happened to the person, the pain they have been inflicted with by other people-the rape, the molestation, etc., doesn’t matter because of (insert religious or personal ideology), is exactly the sort of thought that goes through a suicidal person’s mind before they commit the act. This teaching is rather universal in all religion so I really don’t think any religious people understand the effect at all.

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