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Family and Belonging

”Forever Oneness who sings to us in Silence,
Who teaches us through each other.

Guide my steps with strength and wisdom.
May I see the lessons as I walk.

Honor the purpose of all things.

Help me touch with respect,
Always speak from behind my eyes.

Let me observe not judge.

May I cause no harm,
And leave beauty and music after my visit.

When I return to Forever,
May the circle be closed
And the spiral be broader.”

{ Bee Lake – an Aboriginal Women.}

In this article I am going to look at what I see as a troubling development in our culture in the disintegrating concept of family. In particular how it has affected the maturing younger generations and a direct relationship to the increasing crime rate within that age group – particularly over the last 50 years.

In our Western civilizations particularly in North America and particularly since WW2, I would suggest, a real family is a disappearing element in our culture.

To have that feeling that we belong is, for each of us, a critical part of who we are and a very stabilizing element. When it is absent from our lives the effect can be damaging with long term negative effects in how we live our lives for each of us individually. I believe this is happening to far too many and is a major element to the increasing youth crime we have witnessed over recent years.

To know and to experience unconditional love and affection is the hallmark of a true family. Sadly, it is becoming a rarer experience within our Western societies.

Family break-ups, younger adults moving away from parents, grand-parents in Senior's “Homes” or else where, single parents – all of this indicates the absence of any real foundation and reference point for us who are or have been affected by this in our lives of where exactly is the family? There is little cohesiveness – no belonging – indeed it is fracturing, and this can be a very troubling lack for those affected by this absence in their lives. Maybe that's why perhaps so many get hooked on certain T.V. episodes. The characters become familiar and we start relating to them as someone we know and like and they take on a familiar image for us. I am sure many of you reading this can relate to what I am saying.

Let me give you a very personal example of how it affected me when I lost “family”. After the war my parents broke up. Up until then I had been at a private boarding school but as I went with my mother she could not afford that luxury. This was when I was 14 in 1949. We lived in a rented house in Pt. Claire, Quebec and I went to a high school in Ste. Anne de Bellvue. My mother was employed as a live in nurse attendant which meant she was away from the home for a week at a time. She trusted me to look after myself and left me with some money for food.

I felt lost and unsure of myself in this new environment. I sought friends and found one. John would come over to my home after school and we'd spend time together. After awhile John brought over another guy he knew called Jerry. Jerry was older – 20ish as I re-call. We started to get together later in the evenings after supper and Jerry introduced us to cards and particularly poker. This was fun. Then Jerry one evening brought a couple of other older friends of his and we started playing poker all night and I found myself using my mother's food money in the betting, and missing days at school. Then these guys started sleeping at my house and some unhealthy things started to happen to me by these guys – use your imagination. I got “bugs' which were later cleansed.

One day Jerry said “Let's go to Quebec City in your Mum's car.” [She would leave the car as she would be picked up by her boss]. So, Jerry, John and I took off. On the way down Jerry told us of his plan. We were going to steal a car. When we got to Quebec it was evening and Jerry took us to a car yard for wrecked vehicles. I was commissioned as I was the smallest to crawl under the fence and take a license plate off one of the cars. I remember thinking “What am I getting into – Is this for real?” – but loss of respect and the need to belong won out.

How many others at my then age have had the same thoughts when faced with “crossing the line.” ? Hhhmmmm – I wonder.

Then we went to the more expensive neighborhood and after cruising around Jerry spotted a car he liked. He did his thing – got it going and I drove my Mum's car and we took off back home to Pt. Claire. The next day I went to school. When I got home my Mother's car was gone and John who had shown up told me that Jerry had taken off. I began to feel we were being betrayed and had a feeling I knew where he was going. I took off with the stolen car and drove like hell. It had started raining – I hit a corner at 70mph skidded off the road and hit a tree dead on – drove the engine up into the front seat area and by some miracle I walked away with hardly a scratch.

The rest of the story you can guess. I ended up being taken back by my father and back into another boarding school where he was the headmaster. There was once more a security about it even though my relationship with my father had not always been the best – nor ever was.

I have told you this to illustrate from my own very personal experience when families are fractured whether actually or by tension within the home, or when parents are so exhausted when they get home that they have no time for the children, or as in my case a single parent situation, then they will go outside to find “family” as I did with often very sad results.

I feel we all need to have that sense of belonging – of love and affection that only family can give us.

In this respect I am impressed by attempts in Russia to get people back to the land. I referred to this in my last article on the “Growing Food Crises”. However, another benefit is that families are it seems, so much stronger and more cohesive within those who live close to the land – to nature.

Here once again I look at global Indigenous cultures – those not polluted by some of our more negative elements – and here we see a true sense of family that extends and embraces the whole tribe. When that element is not there there is a certain emptiness we carry within us which I feel is never truly satisfied.

When grandparents, parents and off-spring all live in different locations and situations “family” is hard to maintain – the routs of which are fragile. We truly need to look at this in the context of the youth crime that is escalating everywhere. Once the basic route cause of the problem is recognized then we can hopefully begin to cure the cause and bring a sense of healing to those affected. Indeed in a very real sense we are all directly or indirectly affected because, in a larger sense, we are all family.

If my personal revelation helps only one person I will feel happy for one and one makes two and two and two makes four, four and four – and you know the rest.

Thank You.


PS – What happened after that accident? Well, they found Jerry – he was known to the police it seems – Mum's car was returned – John was never implicated. I was interviewed but nothing further. It seems the owner of the car was the Chief Justice of the Quebec High Court who also, as it happened, knew my mother. Someone was looking out for me it seems! M.

Thank you. Michael Brine.

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Readers who may wish to read previous articles by this writer may do so by going to the following Australian web site: <> and click on “Beyond the Box”.

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