Another EMT™ ‘Early Morning Thought’ inspired by listening to the radio on my way home from taking jason to work for the early shift. The specific song that inspired it is “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” by Carole King. And the EMT™ that it brought to mind; why do we humans seek permanence in a world were clearly ‘the only constant is change’ ?.
An immediate response is that with strong ‘positive’ emotions such as love and joy it’s the desire to keep those feelings (and the endorphin rush) happening. Even with ‘negative’ states such as fear is the thought that whatever the current reality, changing it might make things worse. ‘The devil you know’ as the old saw explains. Often dismissed as merely ‘fear of change’ animal physiology is designed to mistrust change as more likely a signal of danger than an impending blessing.
Someone who’s life centers on acting; whether a professional entertainer, con artist or sales person, quickly learns that they either can ‘put on the clothes’ of another life or perhaps bring to the surface another life contained within themselves. How permanent (or ‘real’) is my life if it is but one facet of my totality? The next character may be the antithesis of ‘who I am’ today; so who, really, am I? As a side note, this is a major reason why I’m not surprised that many such performers have multiple long-term (or not) relationships. When your success depends on being totally open and vulnerable with a group of similarly open people, all sorts of emotions come into play. But the ‘real world’ is not the world of those characters, and as noted, how many ‘different people’ are in the relationship?
Religious philosophy attempts to answer ‘the big questions’ with reference to something other than what the scientific approach to the physical world can explain. Some religious traditions say that the only permanence is ‘god’ – the ideal. In ‘western’ traditions to be united with god is generally labeled ‘heaven’. In many ‘eastern’ traditions ‘heaven’ is still part of the illusory world; escaping the cycle leads to the permanence of Nirvana or Vaikuntha. (Please excuse the imprecision of those very over-simplified descriptions).
These world views may be reflected in someone trying to bring as much permanence as possible into their life, in imitation of the ‘promised land’ to be found after we leave the world. It can also be an excuse to not care for the planet and other people, as they are transitory and will be left behind.
Permanence, or “providing stability to a nuclear family” is also often used as a justification for denying marriage equality to LGBT folk. This of course denies the reality that many such families would (indeed, already do) include children; biologically related or adopted. And of course those who argue against marriage equality generally don’t want to admit that the foundation of the need for family stability is grounded in centuries old societies where most families lived a subsistence existence where every person was needed to keep starvation at bay. A culture of farming and/or hunting where few individuals ever lived (or even traveled) more than a few miles from their birth place. Our modern world is much more transient; many people have siblings in another state, another time zone or even another continent.
This does not invalidate the value of providing stability to our youth; but does suggest equating stability with permanence is no longer (if ever it was) accurate or useful. Such stability may be in place despite a family that moves multiple times, or eventually spreads widely. And ‘extended families’ that grow to include various partners and permutations over time.
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