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Archive for May, 2012

On Sociology and Balance

I hated Sociology class in college. A good friend of mine was considering a major in Sociology and couldn’t understand my perspective. I attended approximately one week of Sociology 101 and then, quickly, before the deadline, dropped it. I think my dislike for Sociology gives insight to where I was mentally at age 20-ish. I was bound in the logical and could not have cared less about the theoretical. If the information wasn’t going to directly educate me further in my study of Linguistics, I didn’t want to learn it. I managed to get by learning the bare minimums to achieve good grades. I know what you might be thinking. Sociology and Linguistics are connected. The way we use language both influences the language itself as well as the society using it. For instance, new to Websters Dictionary in 2011 were words that reflected cultural changes like social media, tweet, fist bump, bromance, and helicopter parent. And, even though I didn’t particularly care for Sociology 101, I have always been interested in books that examine society and the future. Books like Farenheit 451, 1984, etc. Books like this have always fascinated me and scared me at the same time.

Recently I read the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read it before, but I think I might have in 7th grade. I was on a big Lois Lowry kick that year and I think I was in 7th grade the year the book came out. Again, reading this book I was both fascinated and scared; angered and awed. There were many times I would think, “Why would they do that?” and then, as I considered why, I could rationalize it, and again I would get scared.

To give you a little background on the book, it is set in a futuristic society of unknown location and time, as far as I can tell. It takes into account the ideas that society is in balance: to feel joy, you have to feel pain; to have choices, you have to have consequences; to have benefits, you need risks; to have order, you need rules; to have complete equality, you have to have what the book calls Sameness. The people in this society do not experience true feelings, only surface feelings. They have no concept of war or murder or theft or disaster. The sun doesn’t even shine there. The weather is always comfortable and overcast the best I can tell. If they fall and skin their knee, they take a pill to erase the pain. These people have very little to no choices. Their routine is set. Their family is designed. Their destiny is determined by the Council of Elders. Food is delivered daily and never hoarded, never wasted. The rules are strict. Even child development is controlled and things that make people unique or different are minimized and never discussed. Children are born via Birthmothers – 50 children each year. Those children are divvied up among parents who have applied for a child. Each family receives one male, one female, already named and taught to sleep through the night.

As I start to ponder this family arrangement, I can see why it may have started. Right now in our society, there are couples out there trying to conceive a child that cannot; there are people out there having children that cannot afford them, there are mothers who give birth to 5 girls, left to desire a son and vice versa. I can see a glimmer of why this might seem like a good idea. To elicit fairness for families; to eliminate the feelings of sorrow and loss that come with infertility and miscarriage; to dampen the reliance of large families on government assistance to survive; to keep population growth under control; to balance the need and distribution of resources, etc. It seems like a good idea. There are psychological, societal, environmental, and governmental benefits from controlling the design of the family unit.

But, in my own case, none of my children would have existed in this scenario. My husband had a child in his first marriage. There would have been no divorce. To rid The Community of negative ideas like divorce, unions are arranged between two adults that share the right level of compatibility and balance each other’s weaknesses exactly. There would have been no second marriage between us. No Natalie. No James. No Liberty. Or no first marriage, no Taylor. Even in your case. Do you have more than two children? Do you have two girls? Two boys? Forget it. It would not have happened that way for you. You would have simply been given either a boy, then a girl or a girl, then a boy. No pregnancy. No birth. No caring for a newborn baby – getting to know him, and his needs. Looking into his eyes for a hint of what he will become, what personality will emerge, what traits he will inherit from you. No adoption process. No knowing the history of where he came from. No knowing about his birth mother or her story. And, if you were given the job of Birthmother, you would give birth to a set number of children whom you could never hug or name or raise. You would likely never even know who they even were.

Society has balance. With the good, you have to experience the bad. To experience the joy of birth, you have to endure the pain of labor and delivery. The changes to this dystopian society may have seemed small at first. They may have seemed insignificant. But insignificant changes can add up and become and ugly monster. There are signs of this everywhere. Elective c-sections take the uncertainty of out of labor and delivery, medications mask symptoms without dealing with underlying causes, awarding “participation medals” takes away the pain of a losing soccer season… The message of this book, to me, is to be aware. Be aware that with freedom, comes increased risk; with choices come consequences; with knowledge, comes understanding of both the good and the bad. But, without freedom, without choices, without knowledge, life ceases to exist. Consciously decide knowing both sides of the coin. For every discomfort you attempt to decrease for your children, you diminish their ability to make choices based on the knowledge of the consequences. Let them experience the consequences of going barefoot in the snow or skipping dinner and feeling hungry. It is with these consequences they will experience choice; with these risks, they will experience freedom. If we don’t keep this spirit alive, we could end up in a Community like the one portrayed in this book – blindly following the rules, regulations and destinies set before us without the knowledge or ability to ask why.

When I was college, I hated Sociology, but today, I find the ideas fascinating. And, I still have the freedom to change my mind.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Summer

We have been doing all kinds of things that are symbols of summer. Swimming, playing outside, riding bikes, going to the park, having picnics, roasting marshmallows… I knew this challenge would be easy. It turns out what wasn’t easy was choosing which of those activities would capture summer! We took the kids to the city pool today. It was a little windy and a tad bit cool when the sun hid behind the clouds, but, all-in-all for Memorial Day, it was perfect. Yesterday, we went to the beach in Chetek with some friends. As we approached the beach, a lady said, “This is the fun part – going to the beach. Its easy. Its getting them to go home that is the challenge.” I have often found that with my kids. Convincing them to leave when they are having a blast requires promises. Promises of food or rewards or, well, even punishment (for non-compliance).

After our swim, a quick picnic, playing in the sand and then taking one more dip to cool off before we left, I knew convincing kids, who can sense nap time approaching, to leave was going to be difficult. Promises. “How about if we go sit in the yard and have a fruit popsicle when we get home?” That got smiles. Although we still had to drag three pouty, sleepy swimmers out of the pool, the pain of arriving home after a fun morning was dampened by the fruit popsicles. And, so, fruit popsicles in the yard after a swim on a beautiful Memorial Day is the picture of summer to me.

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Public Bathing

Last night we went to Family Fun Night at Natalie’s school. There were water tables with bubbles, a sprinkler and other toys. The kids had a blast washing the cars and playing with (hoarding) sponges. They washed up their own bodies with the soapy sponges and rinsed off in the sprinkler. No bath necessary!

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This afternoon we had some strong storms roll through. After the worst had passed we were left with some sprinkles and some great puddles. Riley suggested James run through the puddles. Riley went out in the garage to wait for James. It had been a minute so Riley called to James, “What are you doing, buddy?” James answered, “I dus gettin’ naked, daddy.” And out he streaked into the puddles, laughing with a mischievous delight that only naked little puddle-jumping boys can muster! No bath again tonight!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Blue

I knew right away that I needed to wait for my irises to bloom for this photo challenge. There is part of me that wonders if they are blue or purple, but if we think back to art class in elementary school, I believe that purple is made from blue, so I decided it works. I even broke out the “real” camera for these shots! And I’m glad I did. I went out just before sunset when the light is soft and started shooting my irises. James was near by and shrieked when he saw a “buzzy bee” by my flowers. I shushed him and hoped for the best. I clicked away trying to get that bee in focus, framed by the deep purply-blue of my irises. And, it happened. I’m so excited about this shot!

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This Moment: A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Weekly Photo Challenge

I must have followed an incorrect link earlier in the week that led me to believe that this week’s photo challenge was “Simple.” I was quite excited and got a cute little shot of Natalie reading a Spiderman comic book to James at the cabin. My mind raced with all that connected that scene to the word “simple.” But, alas, I went to get my post and my links all set up and the theme was a startling word for a wanna-be photographer: Unfocused. Ack. So I thought of all kinds of symbolic meanings for unfocused and how I could photograph them. Then, I gave up and decided to skip this week’s challenge. That was, until tonight when I snapped this picture. I’m still trying to perfect using the camera on my phone for better photography. And I like following the kids around the yard in the perfect evening light of the sinking sun. You have to be quick to catch good shots in these conditions… er, with these subjects. So, here is a shot I would have loved had it been in focus. And, how many, many times does this happen? Sometimes I save the unfocused shot because it helps me remember the moment.

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And, as you can see, he background is quite crisp!

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This Moment: A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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