Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The decline of the spiritual clan

There are many writings about the decline of the family unit, but that's not exactly what I mean by "clan," and I wish to go in a little bit of a different direction. To even discuss "the family unit"--due to contrived politics, conflicting values, disinformation, etc.--can be problematic in of itself. One of the UN's stated goals from the start is the elimination of the family unit, just as the Communists had declared before them. Then we can document the Fabianist bankers having regular meetings with the Communist International for a long period of time, and other such strange and dangerous bedfellows... suffice to say that "the family" doesn't have many true proponents on the true-literal far right or far left. Bella Dodd was one important person who told her account of this type of manipulation of our country, and many others by these people. Their job is as it's always been.. to take the normal working and business class for everything their worth. They're the predators, and we're the prey. However, there is a different type of social phenomenon that has taken place over the decades. One more subtle, and is perhaps more of an unintended consequence.

There was a time where common people lived in close proximity to the graves of their ancestors, some of which they never knew. There was a well defined "homestead," most often the house of the passively dominant family of a clan. I think "clan" can sometimes also mean a larger collective of people who are very similar. People that one would grow up with. I saw a program this past year about the Amish, and at one point there was a brief shot from outside an Amish homestead in the early evening. The windows of the house stood out in the darkness, and the kindred inside could be heard singing Christian themed songs together. I find it telling that Americans are now so interested in the Amish world, even though it would seem that they are socially cut off from the larger society. Could it be human instinct that people may feel that the Amish "have" something that is missing in their own lives? That sense of true community. Even in certain traditional Italian-American communities, even in places that one may not thing of.. like Kansas City or St. Louis.. there is a close-knot sense of community where even people who are not related are still considered "family."

The movie 'Indian Summer' (1993) was about a summer camp in the northern woods which was closing, and the longtime camp director (played by Alan Arkin) decided to invite a few of the former attendees from the camp's "golden age" who were now in their early 30s (Diane Lane, Bill Paxton, Vincent Spano, etc.).. up to spend a week or two. Of course this would be unlikely to really happen, but it's was a fun creative license anyway. When people begin their adult lives, everything changes, and it's not the same as when they were kids and they shared experiences together in a different way. I saw part of a movie this past week--which I had watched numerous times before--entitled 'Dazed N' Confused' (1993) about people from eighth grade to early twenties in 1976 Austin, Texas... although it could have well been in many places. Near the end of the movie, a group of friends were on a football field at night, drinking beer and talking about the meaning of life in a lively candid way that adults would rarely do. It was the last day of school, and they stayed out all night, and then it showed the sun rising on a calm clear morning.

More to the point, eventually people within a town or district move on, and the sense of community and kindred spirits break up. Of course, this may not happen in every instance.. but more frequently than not. The movie 'Beautiful Girls' (1996) reflected this. Former students, now about 30, from a town in rural Massachusetts come home for a high school reunion. Some had moved far away mostly for economic reasons, to big cities; while others still lived in the area. Realistically, some people wish to cling to their roots, while others can't wait to do away with it.. if for no other reason than a change in scenery; or maybe they grew up in a bad place. Still, those bonds from childhood are broken. In larger urban areas, this type of change is due mostly to mass movements of people, but the results are pretty much the same. As far as the family unit, this also frequently becomes more and more detached over time. For example, children may not really even know their grandparents. However, the internet may have aided this dilemma a bit.

About two weeks ago I brought a few boxes of items to the Salvation Army to donate. This process of letting go of things may or may not be difficult for people. Usually it's just "stuff".. and nothing to cry over. One of the items I brought there was a Christmas themed stuffed polar bear mama which my mother had brought out during the holidays. It was stored in plastic bags, so it is still like new. She no longer cares about it, and I decided to donate it along with other "stuff." As I drove away, and for the next three or so miles, I realized that I wasn't ready to give it up. I drove back, and reclaimed it. I felt a childhood connection to it, as like a representation of my mother and holiday memories.

I think because so many things from our early memories of family and community are taken away, we may occasionally want to cling to items from our past. I think many people think about.. something like the idea of taking a walk on perhaps a cold dark early evening on Christmas Eve, and as they walk back to the homestead they see the window, the Christmas tree, the lights, and the warmth inside. Their family, their mother, their father, and they don't want to think that it's gone in the sense that their parents can continue on as powerful maternal or paternal figures long after the nuclear unit is detached. Perhaps I'm rambling on a bit, but if you can imagine times when you may have put a lot of stock in a new person who later betrays you... then you think of certain people who were in your corner all along.. who maybe you had gotten away from for too long. That spiritual sense of clan and community is a fragile thing.


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