If you're like me, just hearing the words "family values" makes you want to throw up. I'm not sure who coined this term but it has become a code for bigotry, right-wing conservatism, fundamentalist Christian judgemental beliefs, and a hatred-filled rigidity that's downright scary.
When I read my voter's pamphlet, any candidate who mentions these words gets a big black X across their entry because I know it is his or her way of saying what their true agenda is and it doesn't match mine!
The words "values" and "family" have been twisted to mean the beliefs of a small segment of a specific religion's values and their definition of family. Different religions teach various value systems and there are many kinds of family in this world. For these very general terms to be used in such a restrictive way and for these narrow views to be forced onto the rest of us is a crime in the true sense of the word!
I've heard of a group of Christians who are banding together to try and offset the erroneous information being taught by this small segment of the population who are trying to foist their harmful beliefs onto everyone else. If Jesus was still in his grave, he'd be spinning over what some people are teaching in his name. Talk about being misquoted! He'd have the basis for a great lawsuit!
Here's my take on values and on family.We all need to have some internal value system by which we navigate our way through the world. We need to know what's important in our lives and we need to have a yardstick by which to measure our choices and decisions.The greatest value system I know is the one that teaches to put Spirit first in our lives and to love other people as Spirit loves us. Anyone who follows these two principles will live a grand life in total harmony with the universe. Within this framework each person makes a multitude of life decisions which take people in different directions, making for a richly diverse fabric of humanity.
Within this framework, when people have disagreements which they surely will they have the ability to sit down together and work things out rather than beating each other up, shooting each other, or starting a war. Loving one another has little to do with the sentimentality of romantic love. The love I'm talking about is the one which accepts others and ourselves as unique manifestations of Spirit which includes our oddities, opinions, and shortsightedness.
So often we believe that to love someone we have to agree with them. True, it is easier to love someone we like and with whom we hold common views and feelings. But we can also love people with whom we are in direct opposition. For instance, I love Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell but I doubt we agree on anything but what day of the week it is. And I don't really want to spend personal time with either of them, not that I've had an invitation.
"Family" is a loaded word. No one can say or hear that word without it conjuring up feelings and images unique to that person. Some people have warm fuzzies when they think of family because their early family life was loving and supportive. Other people get depressed when they hear the word, and others go nuts. To think every family is like or could be like the Cleavers is naive.
One of the crucibles of learning on this planet is the family of origin. It is a goal to have every child wanted and loved and raised with high self-esteem and the ability to love others unconditionally. As a people we are on the road to learning how to do this; we haven't yet achieved it. In pursuing this goal, some believe that a family is defined as a man and a woman legally married to one another who biologically produce children. Along with many other people, I see family in a much broader perspective. Blood is only one way to define who's family to whom.
I know lots of people related by blood who are not family to one another at all. Being family means people love and care for one another, spend time together by choice, support each other through life's ups and downs, share feelings and ideas with one another, and even argue sometimes. What binds people together as family is love. If two or more people love one another and want to call their relationship family, then it is. It doesn't matter if the people are of mixed racial, cultural, or religious backgrounds; it doesn't matter if they are two men or two women or some other kind of assortment; it doesn't matter if there is a big difference in age; it doesn't matter if they decide to produce children; and it doesn't matter if the relationship has some sort of legal stamp or not.
The largest family of which we are all a part is the human family. Whether you believe our ancestors used to swing in trees or you believe everything happened in seven days, there is one way in which both theories agree. Something or someone birthed us; how it was done might be up for discussion, but the fact that humanity has been birthed is pretty obviously true. That means we all have the same parentage ameoba or an old guy with a white beard, wearing his nightie and floating on a cloud which one isn't majorly important for the purposes of this discussion. We all have the same origins.
It isn't just a song. We really are family to one another: Jews, Pagans, Buddhists, and Christians; blacks, whites, yellows, reds, and browns; straights, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered; rich and poor; the smart and the intellectually challenged; scientists and psychics; women and menùyikes, we're all siblings, we're all family. And I suspect our parents are getting pretty tired of our fighting and lack of acceptance for one another.If we want to avoid being grounded or having our allowance cut off, it might be a good idea to start seeing one another as family and at the least start being tolerant of each other and quit our petty bickering.
If the words "family values" start being code for people accepting and loving each other with re-spect for our differences, giving up our individual agendas and the need to stuff our beliefs into other people's brains, you'll see me first in line to have the words embroidered on my jacket. Until then, I'll hold onto my little plastic airline baggie in case I need it. After all, this is election year.