What is Family?
You hear family defined in a multitude of ways. Some people define it based upon legal paperwork. Some define it by blood relations and the standard genealogy charts. Others blatantly disavow themselves from blood relatives and become so connected and supported by/supportive of non-blood relatives that they become more family than actual blood relatives.
YOU HEAR THIS MORE AND MORE IN THESE COLD DAYS.
I’ve heard so many horror stories from people over the years; both their parents basically disowned them, the rest of their family treated them like black sheep or an entire “side” of a family disassociates itself from the other due to something trivial that occurred in the generation prior. Or worse yet, blood relatives betray, gossip, backstab, set up other blood relatives to fail and others sit back and willfully watch blood relatives sink to their absolute nadir while having the ability to help and being completely unwilling to do so.
I HAVE HEARD, SEEN/WITNESSED FIRST-HAND AND EXPERIENCED IT PERSONALLY IN THE PAST FEW YEARS SINCE THE OLDER GENERATION OF RELATIVES BEGAN PASSING AWAY.
It’s rather disturbing how selfish and material-minded we have become as a society. The things that we do to family all in the name of a buck or some material item are maddening. People getting “married”, and PAYING OFF the other person to join in the charade — all for publicity for some show, or appearances down the line — just shows you were we are in society today (cue the Mike Gundy clip).
I have friends from so many different backgrounds, different parts of the city, different national origin, different ethnicities and heritages, friends outta town and so forth and almost ALL of them has that one or two relatives who do nothing but sow discord for the entire family. Each of them also has at least 2-3 (or 30) relatives who don’t even come around if there is some sort of material benefit for them to do so. And some of us have relatives who turn a blind eye to a relative’s plight, all out of spite because ‘so and so did something that so and so didn’t like”.
Yes, that’s the nature of family and human nature at work. But DEAR GOD, we have reached extreme levels in these past couple of decades.
So much of it is attributed to capitalism, if you really think about it. Every man for him/herself. “Get as much as you can, ’cause ain’t no guarantee they gon’ luh you nigga, ain’t no guarantee they gon’ luh you nigga, ain’t no guarantee they gon’ luh you nigga (fading out)”.
Then the silver lining for people who had abusive parents, or were abandoned by their parents and relatives in general (i.e. foster homes, left to be raised by surrogates and nannies, etc.) is that they run into people who lovingly care for them, provide for the support, care and overall expressions of love that are critical to the development of a child and young adult. Some people would not be here without it, let’s face it. However, think about how it gets to this point with many people… short of the deaths/murders of several close relatives (including parents), what would possess people to put fleeting material gain ahead of the welfare of their children and their blood relatives as a whole?
Family, unlike what some people have come to believe, does not stop at blood relatives and extended family (i.e. married into the family, that “cousin”, “breva” [brother, with our local diction] or “aunt” that is just so close to you that they’re virtually thus.
It is an interesting dichotomy; one that was rarely seen in my days as a youth, but is so commonplace nowadays that the books on “Family” have to be re-written completely.
These traits follow a family: love, honor, respect, care, support, selflessness, longsuffering, patience, kindness, fighting/forgiving, etc. etc. etc. Whether you possess this with blood relatives or erstwhile elsewhere, family is family. And to some of the people I know who did not have much, if any of this from their immediate families, I respect you and am happy for you that you have TRUE FAMILY who provides you with the basic human needs. I am sure you are happy and fulfilled.
And so is Abraham Maslow, in his grave.