My public writing has brought my mother and I closer together than we’ve been in decades. There have been disagreements. But now, my almost ninety-year-old mother tells me she reads everything I write. She recently told me that she’s glad I see things so clearly.
“Maybe people will wake up,” she last wrote to me.
After high school I performed the act I had been groomed for by the education arm of our industrialized nation. I left home abruptly and went far away from the farm in search of my new individual life, free from family shackles. I had been taught by my teachers and counselors at school that my family, with its farm poverty and immigrant surname, was to blame for the angst I felt. My family was responsible for any and all troubles I encountered during my school box years. With sympathetic whispers and wrinkled noses I was led to loathe and blame my home, family and parents.
I learned I’d have to separate myself from my family if I was ever to get ahead.
When I was in college studying to be an elementary school teacher, I was taught to blame families. During sociology, psychology and education courses I was taught that we young people, banded together in peer groups and wielding modern education ideas, could create a brave new world. Old people had nothing of value to say. Their old ways were the root causes of our societal ills. History was boring.
I learned this same “blame game” again during medical school. I was taught that multigenerational (family) poverty was the cause of the medical and psychiatric suffering I was to treat. I learned that if we could only separate a lovely young child from her mother, we could prevent that child’s individual adult distress. Lip service was given to putting aside the concept of the “schizophrenigenic” family that had been blamed for “mental illness”. This made way to shift the blame for modern human suffering to inherited “biologic” (family) causes.
This blame game, with individual families and communities as the cause of human suffering, continues today. It is a now a core cultural belief, a sacred cow within the religion of industrialization.
This cultural lie, that family and community are the specific causes of personal unhappiness and anger, is a wedge used to rip children from their families and tear communities apart. If people are allowed to keep their family and community relationships, they are not so easy to melt into our materialistic pot. Small individual-sized bits melt better than larger hunks of humanity.
The destruction of family and community is a root cause of suffering in any industrialized country. It is at the root of the emptiness, loneliness and rage that drives our unceasing consumption, restless driving and violence.
There is, nonetheless, resistance to awareness that we have been intentionally misled by our wealthy industrialist forefathers who designed the current American culture. We are many generations deep inside the digestive tract of immortal corporations today.
There are no family farms and small towns to return to. There are no extended families waiting to take us back in.
We are the ones who will have to make a difference now.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Thanks for reading, thinking and writing.
All the best.
Alice de Saavedra Keys MD