Taken and edited from “Living in a Utopian World” by Rip William
We’ve been taught to see marriage and starting a family as sacred, the ultimate goal in life, yet in reality far too many marriages end up in divorce, or worse, exist on a basis of ignorance and hypocrisy.
It has been suggested by anthropologists that our early ancestors believed women weren’t impregnated as a result of sex, but through divine intervention. The resulting baby was a cause for celebration and a welcome addition to their clan – a clan back then being nothing more than a group of people drawn together predominately for the sake of survival. It would be interesting to know how children raised without patriarchal influence fared.
Today ‘clans,’ particularly long-established ones, are commonly associated with power and privilege, big business in themselves. Sadly, these dynasties are, by and large, self-serving, and simply a convenient mechanism for keeping their influential position within society, and accumulated wealth, firmly in family hands, more often than not at the expense of the common good.
Not only does our current family structure keep the rich and powerful, rich and powerful, it also encourages ordinary families to act and think in the same expedient manner. How so? Well, in short, following the example set by their wealthy counterparts they put their own kin’s selfish aspirations above the broader needs of society. Governments also play a role in this insidious cycle by adopting policies that influence people to focus about what is best for themselves, rather than what’s best for all of us, egged on by greedy and unscrupulous capitalists. It’s in their interest of course to have the manipulative advantage of keeping families preoccupied with their own self-interest.
The shortcomings associated with the current domestic arrangements society has imposed upon us go deeper, however, than just selfish pragmatism. The matter goes to the very core of our personal relationships.
We’ve been taught to see marriage and starting a family as sacred, the ultimate goal in life, yet in reality far too many marriages end up in divorce, or worse, exist on a basis of ignorance and hypocrisy. While no relationship is immune to failure, unrealistic pressure on couples today to conform to certain standards of behaviour, that are pretty much counter human nature, make the task so much harder.
Our civilisation’s obsession with sexual fidelity causes far more harm than good. The pain and suffering that results from people being unable to observe this unrealistic principle is enormous. It’s the overriding cause of most relationship failures. Adultery (the love for another person outside the relationship) is often considered a far greater sin than committing acts of violence. This absurdity, however, reaches its pinnacle in the tremendous hypocrisy associated with men who ‘play the field.’ Despite these fellows happily flouting those sacred vows of faithfulness, they’re held up as icons, given glorious titles such as Playboy, Casanova, Da Man, while on the other hand, women who behave this way are simply seen as sluts.
Being realistic about human nature’s sexual proclivities does not, however, preclude the fact many people may happily choose to live their entire life in a contented monogamous relationship.
Another starry-eyed expectation imposed on relationships is the prerequisite of not only having to live together, but also forever sharing the same bed. If couples are genuinely happy to do this, then go for it! However, it should not be something imposed, or even expected. How would couples and even families be better off by not being forced to cohabit? ‘Living together apart,’ as it’s often referred to, gives relationships room to breathe, and allows participants to continue to express the individuality that too easily is lost by one or both partners when forced to live together. It may even improve the romance within the bond by heightening the time spent together and creating expectation. Over-exposure, not just to your partner but to your children as well, can have fatally damaging effects on the relationship.
Of course financial necessity plays an important role in forcing people to live together, but so does society’s perception. If we emphasised the importance of individual freedom, even within a committed relationship, our housing policies would be different – ‘a room of one’s own’ would be everyone’s right.
The generation gap might be an outdated term, but children pressured, or worse, forced, into lifestyle choices they’re uncomfortable with by well-meaning parents is still something that happens far too much in our society. Despite government regulation, the rearing of children is largely an unqualified occupation, and is, and will remain, a difficult and complex task. And while it goes without saying most people want what’s best for their kids, more often than not these decisions are subjective, and often counter-productive to the child’s healthy development. Opening the household up to greater influence from the broader community would not only lead to better decision making all round, but ease the burden of raising children considerably.
Condoning extramarital affairs, an end to cohabitation, and opening the family up to outside influences, is, no doubt, going to have reactionaries making comparisons with the hippy movement. It’s true that during the major social upheaval that occurred in the west during the 1960s and 70s something akin to the changes we’ve mentioned were experimented with, and, largely, failed. It is important to note, however, this was a period where many old and outmoded views and practices were replaced with more sensible progressive ideas. It is not surprising that some aspirations were too radical for the times. The Evolutionary Party’s endorsement of alternative lifestyles is not, however, a repudiation of the basic tenets of our society. It’s about making relationships stronger. So there is no confusion, let us stress that we firmly assert the belief that the most important thing for humans to do is to form lasting and meaningful bonds with one another, and when appropriate celebrate that union with offspring.
As our customs and habits continue to alter along more sensible and egalitarian lines, the myths we currently adhere to in relation to families and relationships will also be replaced with more tolerant and understanding behaviour, freed from the baggage of unrealistic rules and expectations. A society based upon such principles would no longer encourage people to constantly attempt to outdo one another, and the barriers and fences we put up today to hide behind and protect us will crumble, replaced only by those required for privacy. Families would intermingle more freely and individuals would gravitate naturally to people with whom they felt kinship, even if they were not actually related.
This might all sound too fantastic, and it may very well be. However, if the desire for a fairer, more peaceful civilisation where common-sense overrides selfish desire and unrealistic dogma, then the world in time may very well evolve as described.
Change the way we think and we can change the way we live!
The Evolutionary Party is an Incorporated Association in Victoria Australia.