The other day Anne-Marie and I were talking about extended families living together, and how the nuclear family is a sign of our impoverished humanity. The reason why it's so hard to have a widowed mother or a 'deadbeat' uncle living with you is because we are very selfish and have come to define our good as individualistic.
Here's a few reasons why:
1) my good is not really my good; it's our good. We are far more relational than is commonly supposed these days
2) in effect, nuclear means "get the hell out of my house, grandma, sister, etc." It is a negative concept. Even within the nuclear family territories are carefully staked out: my room, my bathroom, my TV time, my computer, my cereal, my sporting event...
3) the nuclear family is an achievement: you now have enough money to justify having your own house, family, etc.
4) some of those things upon which the feasibility of the nuclear family are based are not spiritually satisfying, but which we put in the place of people: I mean insurance, I mean government subsidies, I mean dental and medical plans. All of these things have the subconscious effect of making us believe that we do not need our neighbour. So fine, we don't actually need our neighbour (family) when we have a toothache because we have a dentist and a dental plan. Oh, really? Think about that one for a moment. No one has ever been saved from loneliness and meaninglessness by a dental plan.
|Wouldn't this make you proud if this|
were your son?
People cannot be good who do not have people depending on them. Service is the only path to virtue, and I don't mean the kind we can freely elect to take on and freely elect to ignore on any giving day. Contraception is a great example of this: it is the pretense of love without ensuing responsibility. Not possible. Love is supposed to have strings attached.
Nor can we say that any of this is easy - having grandma move in or uncles or more babies. But if you want to be alive, you have to expand your heart. I don't believe many of us are ready for this.