Thinking of family

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I put the title of this post as ‘Feeling of family’ at the beginning, but I changed it from ‘feeling’ to ‘thinking’. There are two different realisations for this change: First, thinking shouldn’t be separated from feeling. In many Western languages the word ‘mind’ is located inside the head, but in Eastern term, it is located inside the heart. So basically what we normally say ‘do what your heart says’ means equally as ‘do what your mind says’. In such sense the thinking and the feeling unify emerging as one. The separation of those two is called ‘justification’ in many cases. One always knows what she wants but cannot follow what she wants, and there comes the justification of thinking that excuses why she isn’t doing what she wants. Here I eliminate such separation towards the word family.

The second reason is that when one just feels but not thinks the word, she tends to adopt it, adapt it, made it her own – made it say what she wants it to say. This is completely wrong, abusing and misusing the very meaning of the word. But, surely it is another matter that what actually is the meaning of the word. Have we ever actually thought about the meaning, or just assumed how the meaning should be? This lack of critical thinking has mangled the very meaning of word which is ever changing reflected by the society where the word resides. About this second reason I have a good example to share:

Once I was in an interview, I was asked if I knew a specific and technical term. That question was directed because my appearance is not from North America, so they wanted to know if I managed English well enough. I even didn’t remember what was the word they gave me to test. But I realised what was the purpose of their question; it was to verify if I was able to communicate with others. So I replied back with another question: “Sir, before answering that question, could you give me the definition of family?” He looked at me, and said “Family means a unit of biological group normally formed by parents and their children.” Then I answered back: “I don’t know what means the word you gave me before. But I understand why you asked me the definition of such word; it’s to see if I can manage to communicate with others in English with efficiency and without misunderstanding. But not knowing doesn’t provoke the misunderstanding, whereas assuming of knowing does. You gave me the definition of a very simple word; family, but by assuming the meaning of the word we hear every second, you excluded the single-mum family and family with adoption. With your definition they are not even in family category. Misunderstanding comes from this violent assumption that you think you know the word, not by not knowing it. If I don’t know a word in English, I simply just ask to know in order to prevent the misunderstanding, rather than assume about it, which you just failed to do in front of me where I’m the one who was tested to do so.”

Family, especially the families in modern form which categorise as Nuclear Family, is a conceptual invention that emerged along with the Industrial Revolution in England so that the State could control over the population as in small entity; Men are taken out from this group and put under the surveillance of factory. In the house unit then women stayed out of control, so children were sent to schools, so that the State could have control over their mums, locating each of them in different surveillance system. Michel Foucault argued this historial process and examined that schools, factories and prisions share the same surveillance system over individuals.

The question now comes then; are we still internalising this violent assumption of the definition of family in this day where we now have critical reflection over such term? Label me integrationist as I prefer to have every person I interact with as my own family member. This integrationist philosophy has long history under the name humanity and brotherhood.

I had a dinner with my family today, and there was a little boy. We played chess, and I never had felt so bad by winning the game. Luckily he didn’t seem to bother. We played also with some toy cars, making our own formula 1 on the floor, and of course he won every time for this. We cooked the dinner, we drank and we talked. At least I didn’t have any preoccupation for tomorrow’s work, rather I fully enjoyed the moment mostly listening others’ faces and words. Suddenly a sort of imagination filled me up that this little boy was growing old enough to attend high school, and then to university if he desires to study further. There would be one day that I’d come back and sit on the same table, witnessing how much the time had passed. Surely I’d miss most part of the process of his growing up, but it was a heartwarming thought that I might see some blocks of such process.

Then I had to think about forming a family, which requires an economic and geographical stability, and most importantly a sacrifice of my own identity, if a certain geographical and social condition limits and binds one’s identity. I wouldn’t say that growing up with a child, or at least having a family, is such a sacrifice in a negative tone, rather it surely enriches to reach the further opportunities to understand of human beings and their interaction. But wherever region would permit what I can enjoy? It maybe be true that European environment permits more diversity and better standard of living even though I’m not specifically mentioning that I deserve such standard of living away from where I live at this very moment. Nevertheless this limitation passes the question from ‘Should I go where I can form a family where I can be part of others growing old with me?’ to ‘Can I form a such family whatsoever?’.

In this moment that I’m moving to Paris, France, maybe is the righteous moment to ask such question. I’m not thinking my past family nor my present family who supports me in any case. I’m not thinking of my future family whom I can form and give the caring that I have received so far. Thinking such, I feel like I am ready to grow old with other significant people in my life, sharing my experience and perspective of life, loving and giving much care I can deliver, hopefully enriching mutual enlightenment of relationship and human interaction; is it what family for?

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