Thriving together through vibrant connections.


Family Responsibility and Time-Out

I have the most generous parents in the history of humanity.  They provide my home, my food and clothing, and even my entertainment.  They provide all my inspiration, and even the most amazing, beautiful retreats for contemplation and rest.

I know my parents are unlike any other with regard to wisdom and generosity.  An expression of their wisdom, their gifts come with the condition that I am grateful and care for the things they provide.  After all, I’m not a princess.  I’m not simply entitled to all this generosity without some skin in the game.

Sometimes caring for this abundance is tiring, time-consuming, and expensive.  I have to help care for my home, keeping it clean, tidy, and in good working condition.  I want to keep it beautiful, healthy, and fresh, so that my family can enjoy good health and thrive.   I am responsible for managing the food and other resources because my family believes in generosity, not waste.  We know that there can only be generosity over the long term when we are wise with our assets.

With privilege comes responsibility, and sometimes I just want to be carefree, lazy, and wasteful.  Sometimes I don’t want to care for my home and to just be fed without having to worry about stewarding resources.  Sometimes these gifts feel like a burden, and I wonder sometimes whether life would be easier if I were free of these responsibilities (as if I could be).

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this.  You might think that I’m ridiculously spoiled and privileged to be taking all this generosity for granted.

Maybe you’re right.

After all, if you were in my shoes, you wouldn’t take all this for granted, would you?

Well you are in my shoes.

So is everyone else, for the generosity I’m referring to comes from Earth, not my trust fund.  My home is Earth, my food and all my resources also come from my Mother, Earth.  Some believe that the Creator is our Father, and together they would be my parents.

Some who believe the Creator is our Father also believe that our Father created Earth to serve humanity, though it seems we may equate that service with enslavement.  We take from Earth endlessly without her input or permission, regardless of the cost to her, and with nothing in return.  If that’s not slavery, what is?

I believe Earth is here to serve us, just as a mother serves her children.  She loves us and wants to care for us.  But as children we also have responsibility to be grateful, considerate, and to contribute to her care too (she needs our care as well).  She wants us to care for the home that we share with Earth’s other children, and to care for our siblings as well. Being stronger and more clever (and having opposable thumbs) does not release us from this responsibility, and we should not use our gifts to take advantage of our siblings.

The metaphor of the family and the family home as a parallel to our Earthly existence helps me to consider some interesting analogies.  If Earth is our home, and also our mother, and the other people and species are our siblings and/or family members, what does that make us?

It seems we have become the child-tyrant that destroys everything in his path, family members and home included. We’ve overrun the home, polluted and/or destroyed the most beautiful parts of our habitat.  We’ve killed our family members, companion animals, farm animals, and vegetation on our property.   We contaminate our living areas, air and water, destroying the health of our whole family.

A casual observer would think we’ve lost our mind, and that our parents have indulged us for so long that we’re out of control and endangering the entire family unit.

They would be right.

If the family metaphor holds true, at some point ol’ Mom and Dad are going to put their foot down and establish and enforce boundaries.  The spoiled child will be relegated to the corner where he can do no more damage, and he will lose his cell phone, car keys, allowance, and supper until he knows how to be a respectful family citizen once again.

Gosh, it kind of sounds like where we are now, doesn’t it?

Our parents may continue to take away our toys until we learn our lesson.  Though we’re improving somewhat, there’s still a defiance present that will not go unnoticed or ignored.

Mom and Dad are not doing it to be cruel.  They’re doing it to save us.  After all, we wouldn’t want to raise our own children to be psychopaths.  It’s not a formula for a good life for it will lead to only the behavioral health hospital or jail.

I don’t think we should doubt Mom and Dad’s resolve.  After all, they are on the timeline of millennia and geological eras.  I only have maybe 30 more years here and their resolve will outlast my lifetime, I’m quite sure.

I don’t mind my time-out.  Those extravagances that I thought would make me happy only made me feel like I needed something bigger and better each time.  There’s no end to the yearning for something better, and what I’ve learned is that the best is here right now, and always has been: Mom, Dad, and all my beloved human and non-human siblings.

Family is all that ever mattered, and I was wrong to believe the goodies mattered more than the basic joy of family time.   In doing so, I’ve learned that the time-out is really more of a time-in:  time in the bosom of the family that has always, and will always, be all that I ever need.