Saturday, June 6, 2009

Trust, Confidence, and Trust in Reality

Trust and confidence are two things that childhood has a profound effect on. As I've been reading some books about psychology, it seems that if trust and confidence are not established early, then both are extremely hard to come by later in life.

From birth, a child must rely on his mother and father to protect and provide for him (or her). That child is well aware of his dependence on the parents. The child also trusts that the parents will do what is in the his best interest.

However, if these are broken early and/or often, the child becomes skeptical of his parents' ability to protect and provide for him. Since the parent is the "first impression" the child receives of someone who promises something (protection and provision), if he has bad experiences, the child will grow up to question everyone that "promises" something to that child.

In some cases the child begins to question the idea that reality is even real, or that anything is objective (these are all things that society is acting out, yet saying something opposite- but that's a different post).

My point in all this is that if the family continues to break and be as dysfunctional as it has been, our children will pay the price with their confidence in reality.

When someone questions reality itself, many doors are opened. First, as a Christian, my concern is that if someone can't trust reality, then why should they trust the God who supposedly created it? Second, if reality is not to be trusted, then any implications about reality are not to be trusted either. These implications include morality. When the child (now teen or adult) realizes this connection, they are "freed" to do whatever they wish, with no lasting consequences.

Our children are watching our every move. When we break their trust and confidence, they get closer to moral relativism. It is truly amazing the kind of eternal impact parents have on their children. The repeat-offender parents are the one's that really need to pay attention and turn around.

If we allow society to continue to destroy the family and perpetuate our children's mistrust in parents, we may lose our kids forever.

I'm not trying to be Chicken Litter, here ("the sky is falling..."), but am trying to awaken parents to the damage they may be doing to their children without even realizing it. We all need to take a look at everything we do and ask ourselves "how would I feel if my mom or dad were doing that?"

We have all heard that we are "examples" that children follow. I'm not going to argue with that. I would even say that children are not stupid enough to not notice a bad example, too. But I want to take this one step further. Even though a child may recognize that you are a bad example and decide not to follow you, they still have not realized that their trust in someone who they believed to be trustworthy (you), has now placed one more strike against anyone else who would try to gain that child's trust. If you continue, the strikes continue to build a case for mistrust of everything.

For more on this subject check out these links:

Focus on the Family
Healing the Masculine Soul by Gordon Dalbey
Faith of the Fatherless by Paul Vitz
Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson

7 comments:

  1. "When the child (now teen or adult) realizes this connection, they are "freed" to do whatever they wish, with no lasting consequences."-Luke

    Sartre put it best,
    "The essential consequence of our earlier remarks is that man being condemned to be free carries the weight of the whole world on his shoulders; he is responsible for the world and for himself as a way of being." -Sartre

    ***
    I think the trend of divorce and the dissolution of the nuclear family may be highly related to the emergence of capitalism, the trend of industrialization and bureaucratization, and the inundation of America into mass consumerism.

    Durkheim and Weber were heavily concerned with the social changes brought about by industrialization and capitalism but I haven't really delved too deeply into their work although I plan on doing it in the future.

    The shift from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity is one of the key factors I would be interested in studying further to understand the dissolution of the nuclear family. Mechanical solidarity is social cohesion based on similiarity, eg. when we were an agrarian economy, our social bonds were tight and caused by similiarity. Families worked together in the same industry, usually agriculture. With the shift to capitlism and industry, the division of labor expanded and families no longer worked together. Society as a whole has a much weaker bond and we are kept together by contracts because with increased specialization we are no longer self sufficient.

    To put that in layman's terms....
    think how many hours you spend away from home because of your job (include transportation time and work you do from home)..... think about how your work life and Amanda's work life are entirely seperate. Think about how even within your company you only associate with those you are directly working with..... for example, at Academy I worked with hunting and fishing people, interacted with my manager, and on occasion talked to employees from other departments. I was completely seperate from corporate and other stores.... and on top of that, I was paid an hourly wage for my labor rather than having ownership over my labor. In other words, I rented out my time for the company to grow its profits. If you make Chaparrel 50% more profitable, you may get a 5-10% raise but you aren't holding onto the profits of the company.

    But more than anything, I think the increased anomie (weak bond, isolation) of family members from each other caused by long hours spent apart at work doing unrelated tasks is one of the biggest culprits in the frailty of marriages today. If you work 40-50 hours per week, and spend 5-10 hours commuting.... assuming you sleep 8 hours a day - 40-50% of your waking time is devoted to work.

    Don't even get me started on the double-edged sword that is the 7 day week 24 hour society.... it creates jobs and profits BUT at what social cost?

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  2. In response to the Sartre quote- Why is man responsible for the world? I'm not asking for the mechanism (his free choice), I'm asking for the reason that man should choose to do what is "right" for the world. Also, further define the term "world" in this context- what is it comprised of?

    "With the shift to capitlism and industry, the division of labor expanded and families no longer worked together. Society as a whole has a much weaker bond and we are kept together by contracts because with increased specialization we are no longer self sufficient."

    I think we have two separate issues here (one per sentence).

    Let me start with the first. I don't think that the shift to capitalism and industry has caused a break in the nuclear family or the "familial" bond of society (I'm assuming that the "familial" bond in society is the one you're implying is weaker also). The Industry Revolution has opened more options for people to work in ("division of labor expanded"). Capitalism has further provided the option of making hobbies lucrative. More options does not limit families from working in the same industry (or lucrative hobby), or working in the same office or working together. What DOES limit it is the policies of the companies (my company does not place such a limit on families), and the choices of the children in a family (of whether or not to follow the parents in their industry or hobby).

    Second part. I agree that society has a weaker bond; I agree that we are kept together by contracts. I do not agree that the reason is because we are more specialized and less self-sufficient. More specialization and less self-sufficiency can also lead to a tighter "familial" bond. This leads me to ask you a couple questions:

    Why do you think society went down the path of "contractual" bonds rather than "familial" bonds to solve the problem of specialization and less self-sufficiency?

    Final question given everything here: (assuming that you still lay the collapse of "familial" bonds at the feet of capitalism and industry), would you be willing to do away with capitalism and industry to regain the "familial" bond? Why or why not?

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  3. "I don't think that the shift to capitalism and industry has caused a break in the nuclear family or the "familial" bond of society (I'm assuming that the "familial" bond in society is the one you're implying is weaker also). "

    I didn't say it broke the nuclear family but rather capitalism and DOL is one of the factors contributing to the trend of divorce and the dissolution of the nuclear family. It's probably the strongest agent at work in changing our understanding of the nuclear family and marriage.

    "More options does not limit families from working in the same industry (or lucrative hobby), or working in the same office or working together. What DOES limit it is the policies of the companies (my company does not place such a limit on families), and the choices of the children in a family (of whether or not to follow the parents in their industry or hobby). "

    I think that's a gross oversimplification. I'm not going to go in depth right now though.

    " agree that society has a weaker bond; I agree that we are kept together by contracts. I do not agree that the reason is because we are more specialized and less self-sufficient."

    So you are capable of acquiring everything you need for yourself? You can make your own clothes, gather your own food, build your own house, and make your own source of transportation? If Wal-mart (and other retail outlets) dissapeared you could function just fine? You and your family could do every task necessary for living on your own?

    "More specialization and less self-sufficiency can also lead to a tighter "familial" bond. "

    Explain.

    " would you be willing to do away with capitalism and industry to regain the "familial" bond?"

    Capitalism hasn't destroyed the familial bond. It's just a factor that is changing the structure of the nuclear family, and probably one of the key factors causing strain in the nuclear family. To summarize, I didn't say capitalism destroyed the family - but is probably a large factor in redefining the traditional family as well as putting strain on those families that would be classified as traditional.

    I don't think it's a coincedence that as our economy becomes ever more complex and the DOL becomes ever more specialized, divorce rates have trended much higher.

    There are many factors to analyze though and don't think I am trying to pin it all on capitalism. I am just saying, it's probably one of the largest driving factors that should not be ignored. This would be better discussed over coffee.

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  4. "I think that's a gross oversimplification. I'm not going to go in depth right now though."

    I agree that it is oversimplified, but I have to do that for the sake of the blog. You didn't say if you agreed or not about the basic claims.

    "So you are capable of acquiring everything you need for yourself? You can make your own clothes, gather your own food, build your own house, and make your own source of transportation? If Wal-mart (and other retail outlets) dissapeared you could function just fine? You and your family could do every task necessary for living on your own?"

    Read my quote again. I did not say that I disagreed that we are more specialized and less self-sufficient (what you seem to think I said), I do agree with that. But, I don't agree that more specialization and less self-sufficiency leads only to a more loose familial bond in society.

    "Explain"

    If one is more specialized and less self-sufficient, then he must depend on others for what he is incapable of accomplishing. In turn, the one he is dependent on may also be dependent on him for his expertise. As people rely more on others, (if they choose to) they can develop a relationship with the person whom they are dependent on. Now this example is only between two people, but with increased specialization, the opportunity to build a relationship with more people not only exists, but may (not must) be described as essential. If I'm thinking correctly, I think this is described in society as a "sense of community" in small towns or other small communities (clubs, churches, groups of friends, and the like). The people in the small communities have access to the greatest that industry and capitalism has to offer, but are able to maintain the "familial" bond and even cause it to grow stronger.

    I agree that Capitalism is not the only factor. But, since you say that it is a large factor, would you be willing to give Capitalism up to undo the damage to the nuclear family that it is responsible for?

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  5. This is a long reply, but I think I answered all your questions.

    I misread you on the self-sufficiency thing, los cientos.

    "The people in the small communities have access to the greatest that industry and capitalism has to offer, but are able to maintain the "familial" bond and even cause it to grow stronger"

    Just as divorce trends have increased, I am sure if one gathered the data one could show that migration amongst churches has increased. In other words, people don't go to one church their whole life but fluctuate much more than in a homogenous pre-industrial society.

    Durkheim called the new bond you speak of based on contracts as "organic solidarity" opposed to the previous bond based on similarity "mechanical solidarity." No one would doubt we have more relationships now because we interact with many more people in an ever larger (but bureaucratized) society.

    Society is more heterogenous though and those bonds are less strong than the bonds under mechanical solidarity (Durkheim's claim). What little bond you have with the produce guy at Wal-Mart is very small indeed. You probably know next to little about him and only depend on him to put apples out for you to buy. You may talk to him here and there. But he is easily replaced, because in the bureaucracy of Wal-Mart he is but a person with a certain skillset (a small one at that) filling a position.

    At your job, you have many relationships. But ultimately, you are a person with a certain skill set in a certain slot (IT). Your company as far as I know is pretty small, so this may not apply AS MUCH but still.... if someone could fill that slot you hold (IT) with greater skill for less money - your job would be in jeopardy. Your bond to the company is organic, it's merely based on contract and an exchange of labor/productivity for money. If someone would do your job better for half the cost, your bond would be severed in an instant. I can give more examples/explanation but am trying to keep this short.

    As to the last question.... I can't give a yes or no answer because it's a HUGE question with a ton of implications.... but IF you are asking me, "would you rather live in a pre-industrial agrarian society or a post-industrial capitalistic society" I would say I am largely on the fence.... but if your pre-industrial agrarian society was anything like the village in the Last Samurai.... I would lean heavily in the direction of pre-industrial agrarian society (unless we are talking about like Salem during the Puritan years.... there are a lot of variables there).

    To briefly address those variables.... I think if your last name was Rockefeller or Gaylord, capitalistic society wouldn't seem so terrible at all :-). But I am assuming you are asking me if I wanted to be lower/middle class in a post-industrial society. I sure as heck wouldn't want to be lower class in a post-industrial society in a place like New York in the early 1900s or lower class in a post-industrial society like Detroit today.

    I think I left The Last Samurai movie at your house BTW. It's a good flick.

    Before talking about capitalism over coffee, you have to watch at least part of Slum Dog Millionaire (super fantastic movie). I think Amanda would like it as well. It wouldn't hurt to see The Last Samurai because it's a pretty strong critique of industrialization and the industrial-military complex. I know you hate fiction (in general), but really, it's one of the best mediums to deal with philosophical issues....

    Oh and if my brain doesn't explode I will finish Ross this weekend. 5 hours of Spanish a day is making my head hurt.

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  6. "I agree that Capitalism is not the only factor. But, since you say that it is a large factor, would you be willing to give Capitalism up to undo the damage to the nuclear family that it is responsible for?"

    Huxley tackles this problem in "A Brave New World." Another fantastic novel. In the end, it's basically a dystopian novel but the pre-industrial society seems slightly more preferable to me.... I don't know depends, do you want to experience God or soma?

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  7. "Just as divorce trends have increased, I am sure if one gathered the data one could show that migration amongst churches has increased. In other words, people don't go to one church their whole life but fluctuate much more than in a homogenous pre-industrial society."

    I'm not quite sure what your point behind this statement is. It doesn't negate what I said. Remember, I said that the bond can be formed "if people choose". The people who tend to "church hop" or constantly change clubs or groups of friends have either chosen to not develop the relationships or has chosen a life-style (job or hobby) that has that consequence.

    My point in all this is that developing a relationship in the sense that you are discussing is not only possible, but more opportunities to do so exist. Granted, it may be more difficult to build those bonds, but the bonds that are built may be stronger because of the extra effort required and the perceived large amount of instability in the world outside that established bond.

    Also, keep in mind that anyone has the option to choose to build a strong relationship with the produce guy in Wal-Mart.

    What do you have to say about my idea that building strong bonds is the choice of the people involved? Specifically, do you think that it is possible to choose to build strong bonds under a capitalistic, industrial culture, and if you think that it is possible, would you recognize that it takes more effort to establish and maintain said bond than it did in the pre-industrial, pre-capitalist era?

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