Stopping the Left is Not Enough

If you look at all the crazy things going on in our country you would be excused for thinking that all that is necessary to fix our problems is removing all of the leftists from power.  You might think that if we had fifty Governor DeSantises and people like him running our cities and in Congress that everything would go back to normal.  I think I used to believe that either consciously or unconsciously.  All we needed was good leaders and everything would revert to a normal world.  I no longer believe that to be the case.

Our world has drifted very far from a healthy pattern.  We could probably spend eternity debating what were the causes of this drift.  Some people would point all the way back to the Enlightenment and the dethroning of religion as the center of human life in the West.  Maybe that’s true.  Other people point to the emancipation of women as the spark that destroyed the family and led us to the place we are now.  I think cases could be made for a number of causes for what has happened to our world.

The point I want to make is that some kind of change is going to have to happen.  And either we are going to make these changes ourselves or nature will fix them for us.  An example of what happens when you let your society degenerate would be the end of the classical world.  The Western Roman Empire was toppled by German tribesmen who realized just how feeble the Roman state had become.  And a few hundred years later the Eastern Roman Empire was almost completely swept away by the armies of Arabia galvanized by a fundamentalist religion that gave meaning and order to their lives.

Something very similar will happen to our world unless we step back and restore sanity to the way we live.  Our institutions have to stop propagandizing our youth as to the value and desirability of living a secularized and sterile existence that eschews marriage and children.  The idea that it is acceptable and even preferred to adopt an identity that puts you at odds with biological reality is madness.  And all the other LGBTQ lifestyles must also be identified as deviancy that doesn’t merit celebration but at most pity and possibly tolerance if it isn’t allowed to corrupt the youth.

And these are just the negative aspects of our society that must be addressed.  At the same time, changes must be enacted to amplify society’s effect on the positive behaviors we want to encourage.  Our government must support the formation and flourishing of families.  If a man and a woman are raising up children the government should be doing everything it can to maximize the odds that they will create good, well-adjusted and productive people.  The tax laws and the social safety net should be primarily focused on these people.  Everything should be done to allow young women to stay home with their children during those formative years.  And this shouldn’t be done just because it is helpful to the child-rearing task but also because raising a family is the most fulfilling occupation that two people can hope to have.  And a young mother at home with her young children is the necessary center of such a family.  Without her it is an incomplete and confused fragment of what a family should be.  A poor family with a mother at home has its struggles.  But even a rich family without a mother at home is unbalanced and often unhappy.  The children feel the lack but don’t know what they’re missing.

And there are so many things about our society that are unhealthy and dangerous.  The complete disappearance of religion from our daily life and the normalizing of unhealthy obsessions like drugs and pornography have destroyed countless young lives.  All of these things are justified by our fetish with freedom.  A re-evaluation on the limits of freedom is painfully overdue.

And if society doesn’t start making these changes very soon, then as I said at the beginning of this rant, nature will do it for us.  Or more accurately, do it for our successors that live in healthier cultures.

Normalcy Restored

That lying sack of crap, Anthony Fauci M.D., stole a year from us.  And more than a year.  He smashed millions of small businesses that took lifetimes to build up.  He drained away the life savings of a generation of hard-working people.  He interrupted and marred the education of tens of millions of children.  He imprisoned a nation of 330 million and delayed marriages, births and every hope and dream of a nation.  And the most horrible thing is that it was for no benefit whatsoever.  The same people who would have died from COVID did die and are dying despite all of the useless torture that was inflicted on the healthy population of our country.  He is a tin-pot Pol Pot.  May he roast in Hell.

But yesterday was a renewal.  Almost all the descendants of my parents were gathered together in one place and time and enjoyed a party that included all the familiar and life-affirming rituals of a summer get together.  And even the weather blessed us with perfection.  Eighty-two degrees, bright sun with just a few wispy clouds, bone dry air and a refreshing breeze.  Just warm enough for some people to go in the pool and just cool enough to let the young at heart toss around a baseball or play a few lawn games with their kids and grandkids and even let one person watch her great-grand-children play.

Camera Girl in her culinary wisdom decided that instead of a barbecue she would cook the traditional Southern Italian peasant feast.  Ziti baked with cheese, eggplant parmigiana, meatballs, sausage and to start with, our version of an antipasto.  Huge portions were devoured with zeal and fueled loud and animated shouting about amusing and nonsensical things.  And in my earshot, there was not a moment of political discussion or anger.  Spirits were higher than high.  The highlight of the day for me was a four-way catch with two of my grandsons and a nephew.  I haven’t really had a good long baseball catch since forever.  Even the afternoon sun that was directly in my eyes I found enjoyable.  I actually felt young again.  Maybe today my shoulder is a little sore but it felt fine while we were out in that golden sun.

When my younger daughter showed up with her little 2 ½ year old girl the baby was terrified by all of the old fat strange-looking men shouting to be heard over each other in the meal hall I set up with folding tables and chairs.  After all, she has spent her entire conscious life in lockdown and hardly saw anyone but her parents and grandparents.  A cacophony of sound and strange faces truly frightened her.  But her mother was smart.  She took the baby outside on the deck and then into the swimming pool that she loves and there she was able to meet and play with the other children and slowly by degrees bring her back to the crowded areas where even the loudest old men were, at this point, too gorged with food to make much noise or even move.  So even that residue of the Fauci curse was lifted.  From two to ninety-two everyone was partaking in an old-fashioned family get together.

And I will be honest when I say that the relief to finally all get together made this the most enjoyable, least stressful gathering I can ever remember.  By the time the pie and ice cream and coffee were finished and sun was long below the horizon everyone was satisfied and ready to gather their children and say their goodbyes and head back on the road to home.  But promises were made to get together at the other homes for other occasions and other holidays.  Labor Day and Thanksgiving and Christmas lie ahead.  And we have broken the ice and hopefully we won’t allow that creepy little man to steal anymore of our lives away again.  It’s over and normal life has returned.

24JUL2021 – OCF Update – Summer Event

Ah, the great day has arrived.  The cleaning (by me!) and the cooking is all done.  An armada of tables and chairs have been arrayed with plates and silverware.  Glaciers of ice have been procured and cold beverages are resting on them.  The grass is manicured (sort of) and the hounds have been sent away for the day.  All that is needed are the guests and their appetites.  Frivolity and bom homme will abound and never will be heard a discouraging word.  But that means this will be a very slow day on the site until much later.  So my faithful readers I leave you to your own devices.  Enjoy what is touted to be an ideal summer day.

 

 

 

An Interview with Victor Orban

Victor Orban is the Prime Minister of Hungary and a staunch Hungarian nationalist.  He is trying his best to push his country back in a direction that aligns with Family, God and Country.  And because of this he is despised by his EU neighbors.  The openly gay EU leaders have been triggered by his recent passing of a law that forbids proselytizing the LGBTQ lifestyles to minors.  But he is indifferent to their hysteria.  The fact that Hungary elected this man four times speaks volumes about their superiority to our own with respect to survival instinct

Recently he was interviewed by a religious publication from Croatia.  Here are some excepts.  Note:  This is a machine translation from a Croat publication and therefore not particularly polished.

 

How much does it cost you to swim against the dominant European political current?

Whoever swims with the multicultural fashion of this time loses everything that matters in life. True, everyone who goes against the current causes themselves a lot of problems. We pay a high price. Hungary pays a high price for not signing the Istanbul Convention, then refusing to support any Cold War policy; we pay a high price for not kicking the Russian president every day together with Westerners, but giving him the respect he deserves as president; we pay a high price for protecting the Christian model of the family; that LGBT madness has no place here; then we pay a high price for our position on migration and we pay a high price for not accepting the Brussels bureaucracy, but first and foremost as a counterweight to building Central European cooperation. So, we really pay a high price. But if we don’t pay that price, and if we don’t represent our interests, we may live more comfortably, but we will end up losing a lot more. We do better if we fight. I think Zrinski would understand that too.

 

How strong are the influences of pre-democratic structures in Hungary today?

In the Hungarian soul there is generally a desire for what is more important than personal life, which transcends it. Hungarians usually look for it in three directions: in the direction of family, nation and God. Usually, conversion also occurs when these three worlds are connected. It is a process that is progressing and I would not say that we are hindered by pre-democratic structures, no one else is responsible, it is our responsibility. Clearly, there are atheists in Hungary as well, there are opponents of the Church, there are liberals who do everything to stop the spread of Christian values. They have their own media, they are organized, they have strong civic associations. However, we have them on the conservative side as well – there are at least as many Christian media as there are anti-Christian ones, our civil associations are at least as strong as theirs, maybe even stronger; and we hold political positions because we have a Christian government. Therefore, the lack of spiritual renewal cannot be attributed to our opponents. The fault is not in others, but in ourselves.

 

You mention the soul of Europe, the spiritual struggle. Is the current political struggle actually the materialization of a spiritual struggle waged in the background?

Politics takes place on three levels simultaneously. The first level is practical: it deals with issues related to power, the acceptance of the budget, the appointment of persons, the maintenance of order. I would call the second level a vision, because all national communities must have a vision. What will happen to the Hungarians, not tomorrow morning, but in five, 10, 20 years? However, behind everything there is another broader dimension, the world of transcendence. We live in that dimension as well, and it is a part of life. In Hungarian political thought, this is called the problem of majority and truth. It could be said like this: if someone has a majority, but does not strive for the truth with that majority, what will the majority do for him? It’s just profanation. If, on the other hand, one advocates the truth but cannot move the majority, how will he act in the interest of that truth? It is a key challenge of Christian politics that emerges in democratic conditions. To simplify, we no longer have sacral kings anointed by God, so we must exist in a democracy, connecting the majority and the truth. It is not easy, but it is possible. Demo-Christian politics also has its mandate in relation to Christian culture. Christianity, first of all, created a free man. Therefore, we must first and foremost protect human dignity. Then, Christianity created a Christian family. We must protect the concept of the Christian family. Furthermore, Christianity has created nations in this part of the world. If we, the Hungarians, had not followed Christianity for a thousand years, we would have disappeared, so we must also protect the nation. But we must also protect religious communities and the Church. To summarize, our task is not to protect theological principles, it is the mission of the Church, but the great Christian achievements of civilization. And when I protect them, I fight not only with the sword, I use not only power, but also arguments.

My Definition of the Right

We talk a lot about the Right and the Left and who is on the Right and who is on the Left.  For instance, a large part of the 2016 fireworks was over people who said Donald Trump was not a Republican.  And a large contingent of these people were neoconservatives and libertarians.  To them Trump was just an opportunist who had seized on nativist talking points to appeal to the worst instincts of the working-class White Americans and would lead the Republicans to disaster in the general election because his policy priorities would be rejected by the wider American electorate.  As it turned out they were dead wrong.  “Making America Great Again,” and putting America first resonated with the majority of voters.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since 2016 and the neocons have become the NeverTrumpers and have self-ejected from the Republican party and the Right in general.  They are now indistinguishable from Woke Leftists except in their enhanced emphasis on all things anti-Trump.

And this is the crux of the point of this post.  The Neocons were never conservatives.  And it should have been obvious from the beginning that if you are not socially conservative then you are not of the Right.  And that goes for others “on the Right.”  Being in favor of market capitalism makes you a capitalist.  It doesn’t make you a conservative.  You can be an enthusiastic capitalist and compete ferociously in the free market and still be in favor of deconstructing the United States of America, the Family and Western Civilization all at the same time.  So, the former dichotomy of Right and Left being capitalists versus communists doesn’t really apply to today.  The Woke Left is spearheaded by Silicon Valley billionaires who print money by the metric ton but want to turn America into a digital gulag.  So, defining the Right isn’t what we thought it was back in Reagan’s day and never was.  Somehow Donald Trump knew that the Right wasn’t the Right and he was able to seize the high ground and overturn the establishment Republican’s narrative.  He became the Right.  But Donald Trump will not always be around and we need a definition of what the Right is or represents so that we can measure other leaders and other policies to see if they align with our interests.

So, what is the Right, what is conservatism?  As far as I can tell, conservatism is the Right and what it means is conserving the things in life that have value, things that give life meaning.  And so, it comes down to individual judgement.  But I think if the “normal” opinion on what gives life meaning is assumed then what we are talking about are the rock-bottom requirements to making life human.  And I don’t think you can get any more fundamental than the preservation of the family.  A man and a woman raising kids is just about as basic as it gets.  All that needs to be added is the framework for raising them which we call religion.  So, God and Family.  And because this is America, we add in the Constitution of the United States to allow all the families to interact without having to kill each other.  In fact it’s probably one of the finer blueprints for running a country.  God, Family and Country.  That’s it.

For the most part what we have to do is see where a particular policy or leader aligns with or hampers these things and we’ll know whether it’s of the Right or not.  For instance, the Supreme Court has declared gay marriage a Constitutional right.  This makes it very difficult for a politician to do anything about eliminating it.  But if a politician says he’s a conservative and he also espouses gay marriage or transgender rights then you know that he’s a Leftist.

There, that’s easy.  Look at what politicians say they agree with and you’ll know what side they are on.  If a politician says he’s anti-communist but his idea of capitalism means sending all the jobs overseas and importing low wage laborers into this country then guess what?  He’s a Leftist.  He may claim he just believes in free markets and capitalism but what he really believes in is globalism and therefore he doesn’t believe in the United States of America.  If a politician says he believes in God but says that you aren’t allowed to object to sexual deviancy being taught to your children then guess what?  He’s a Leftist.

Now how easy is that?  Try it on any politician who waxes poetic about conservatism but never seems to get any results.  Find out what he’s actually said about specific policy points like illegal immigration or bringing jobs back to this country or tariffs or “free trade” or transgender rights or freedom of religion.  It should be pretty easy to sort the wolves from the sheep dogs.

I’ll try to put together some further examples to try to refine my thoughts on the definition of the Right and the various groups like libertarians and social conservatives and socialists but I hope this makes clear what I think conservative means.  It means pro-family, pro-religion, pro-America.  In other words pro-normal.

Joys of the Patriarchy – Rituals of the Summer Season – The Basement

As the days reach their maximum length and when the mercury passes 90°F in what my old engineering boss would jokingly refer to as “white man’s units,” the dominant male, of the Italic strain at least, would shift his base of operations to the basement level.  Here he would gain a two-fold advantage.  The obvious one is a 15°F – 30°F reduction in ambient temperature as compared to the upper floors but equally as important is the freedom from female annoyance.  The lower level is the male domain.  It contains a pool table, a floor that needn’t be kept swept clean of minute amounts of honest dirt and vast storage space crammed full of valuable possessions that do not pass muster from Camera Girl for inclusion in the various bric-a-brac that she favors for décor.  Hundreds of old books, trophies of past campaigns, tools, and hobby, exercise and sports equipment of all sorts.  A veritable treasure house.

I learned this paradigm from Camera Girl’s father, the Old Fisherman of the Sea himself.  He would inhabit the basement in the summer almost exclusively and it was there that he was happiest.  He had his wine making operation, which encouraged at various times of the year quite a healthy throng of fruit flies, his fishing lure manufacturing space, his tool workshop, his own bath and shower and his favorite old padded chair.  He even had his own freezer and refrigerator to store the endless blue fish and striped bass that were the usual prizes from his frequent fishing trips.  Here he would retreat from the cares of work and family and reign unchallenged by female frippery and the demands for ever higher standards of particle free existence.  And in this environment, he lived to be ninety-five.  And if he hadn’t taken it upon himself to increase his gout medicine dosage to unheard of levels to compensate for his love of wine and beef, he probably would be alive today and well over a hundred years old.  God rest his soul.

Well, anyway in my version of the basement kingdom the lower level has direct access to the swimming pool and since the floor there is tiled there is no need to dry off after swimming.  Drip dry in flip-flops is acceptable.  If someone is exceedingly fastidious there is a bathroom and shower available here along with towels and changing area.  Also, the spare refrigerator from which hidden food items can be stored and retrieved without any note.  And the overstuffed recliner is available for periods of quiet reflection and deep thoughts.  And finally, the lower porch is equipped with a propane grill to handle any meat related cooking that may become necessary.  After all Camera Girl’s kitchen can be monstrously hot at this time of year.  It’s only decent that I pitch in and save her the discomfort of summer cooking as much as I am able.

There used to be a television on the wall but we removed it almost ten years ago.  There is so little worth watching that it never got used.  The only thing it lacks is a full kitchen sink and stove.  I say this with shame.  Because every good Italian American basement had a kitchen built in.  It was a point of pride and a practical feature.  This allowed the holidays with the extended family to be cooked and served in the basement which is always the largest room in the house.  Well, someday I’ll make the time and put the money aside to build this in.  For now, it is my secret shame.

Now the point of this essay is not to regale you with the lies about my basement.  The point is that in the hot weather (and to a lesser extent during all the other seasons of the year) a man can find peace and enjoyment hidden away from his loved ones in the dark and gritty comforts of the basement.  Here he can retreat from his wife and the demands of our hectic world.  Leave your phone and your computer off.  Get your hands dirty and drink a beer or whatever you like to drink and forget your troubles for an hour or even longer if they won’t come digging you out.  It is an amazing thing how they’ll leave you alone down there.  Possibly the castle that a man is king of is really only the dungeon.  But I’ll settle.

King of the Castle

“The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose.”

Edward Coke

Well the Memorial Day Family Barbecue Day dawns wet, freezing cold and gray.

Perfect for New England!  The land of cold and mildew.

But all is well.  I got up and cleaned the grill on the lowest deck and moved it so that the smoke will get blown out to the sky but will leave me under the overhang, snug and dry.  I walked the property in the rain and saw all the flowers and weeds swelling in the rain.  One of the ponds had cold bull frogs and leopard frogs that were too chilled to care that I was walking by.  I dropped the level on the swimming pool and backwashed it to get rid of all the pollen and tree debris that the wind and rain brought down.  We won’t be using it today.  That’s for sure.

23JUN2018 Photo of the Day, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens, flower

The hellebore flowers are fading out now and the rhododendrons are at peak bloom and one of the earlier blooming bushes is already shedding its flowers.  Have to get a few photos soon.  The cone flowers and the roses are starting to bud and the irises are just about done.  Boy they don’t last long.  And miracle of miracles the deer haven’t eaten the daylilies or the hostas like they usually do.  They did pick off one bunch of Solomon’s Seal bunches but I’ve got plenty to spare.  As Camera Girl says everybody’s got to eat.  Well, I wish someone would eat the deer but that another story.

It’s too cold for us to eat outside so I’ve made a big table in the dining room from four folding tables and we’ll all sit together and feast on Camera Girl’s fixings and my barbecue skills.  Today is restricted to burgers, dogs, and sausage on the meat side.  We’ll complement that with homemade potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, washed down with lemonade and followed up with watermelon, Italian cheese cake, apple pie, strawberry shortcake, vanilla ice cream and by popular demand Klondike Bars.  All of that dessert will be washed down with good coffee and lots of good talk and laughter as the grandchildren get spoiled their grandmother and I tell lies about the good old days.

Afterwards we’ll talk about school and what they want to do this summer and their vacation plans.  I’ll make a point of leaving out politics and COVID since that will just upset everyone on a happy day.  We’ll talk about inflation and education costs and whatever else is on their minds.  Maybe we’ll watch some old kids’ movies.  Maybe not.  Maybe I’ll just put on some music.  Should be a lot of fun.

What else can I ask for.  Healthy kids, productive adults and functional families.  That’s as good as it gets.  So at least for this year I’m still king of my castle and the secret police aren’t supposed to make an appearance at the castle gate.  I can make believe that Memorial Day still means we live in the United States of America.  Enjoy your holiday.

The COVID Curse is Over

Today I spent the day with my family.  No masks, no outdoor seating, no nothing.  I spent the day with my children and their families.  I spent hours with my grandchildren and I caught up with them about school and their hobbies and other things like what they were reading.  And with the two youngest I played a game of catch that went on for a couple of hours.  It was exhausting and wonderful.  And then we had a grand meal.  My son in law let my daughter relax for Mother’s Day and went outside and grilled steaks and salmon and we had a feast.  And then we had some excellent Italian pastries and coffee.

And I sat down after dinner and talked to my oldest grandson who is a junior in high school and asked him about his math classes and he said he is doing well in calculus.  He is much like me and I think he will end up in engineering or computer science.  And we discussed some of his other activities.  He has a 3D printer that I funded and I was glad to hear that he has learned how to replace the parts that wear out and make the adjustments needed to keep it working well.  Later I spoke with my daughter and she told me about the straight A’s her son has been getting in math.  And that made me happier than anything.  I guessed that he would have academic abilities but I was afraid he would also have inherited from me a disregard for studying.  I always depended on just raw ability to barely squeak by without doing anything but last-minute cramming.  Hearing that he had picked up some discipline was music to my ears.

And I spoke with my next oldest grandson.  He had grown a lot over the last year and now was almost as tall as his older brother.  And we talked about his school sports.  He loves playing soccer and basketball and now he’s added tennis to his games.  He was happy about being able to play again now that school was returning to normal.  I’ve seen him play and he has great enthusiasm and talent.  And he was so personable and cheerful.  That was personal growth and great to see.

The other two boys, the little guys were live wires and played and bickered with each other and gave me the chance to chide them about their outlaw behavior.  We talked about dinosaurs and giant ants and ninjas.  Of course.

I knew I missed all these things during this insane lockdown but now I remembered exactly what they felt like.  Camera Girl and I were smiling all the way home and we went on and on about how good it was to see everyone and how we would have a pool party for the kids with a barbecue very soon.

And I think how much we were robbed of in the last year.  Our children were cheated out of a year of their education.  Our neighbors were cheated out of the businesses they had built up over the course of a lifetime.  Our country was cheated out of the freedoms that have been the birthright of this country for centuries.  And all of us were cheated out of the government we voted for.

All of this was done under the false pretense that COVID was a deadly plague that threatened everyone.  We were lied to and bullied into giving up all these things and then humiliated into walking around with a pathetic mask that was supposedly keeping away the invisible invader.  We had to forego human contact with those we cared for the most.  Even those who actually did die from the virus had to die alone in a hospital surrounded by masked strangers.

But now we see that the masks did nothing and all the same people lived or died regardless of these useless gestures.  In Florida the people were freed from the masks and other restrictions and they had lower death rates than New York where everyone remained locked down for a year.  And now maybe people will start to wake up from this charade and hold responsible those who perpetrated this fraud on us.  Newsom and Cuomo and Fauci are the names that stand out.  But there are dozens of governors and mayors who locked up their people and enjoyed their little reign of terror.  They locked up innocent people but let the BLM gangsters have free rein to form mobs of people and terrorize the hard-working people of their states.

So, the nonsense about COVID has stopped scaring people.  Now we have to decide if we are going to get our lives back the way they were.  If we can’t do that then we’re slaves here and should look around for a better place to live.

09MAY2021 – OCF Update – Happy Mother’s Day

It’s going to be quiet on the site today because I’ll be gone for a chunk of the day eating delicious unhealthy food with the most important people in the universe, my descendants.  After all their relationship to that strangest of all human beings, me, ensures that I find them infinitely fascinating.  I will impose myself on them and assume the role of “one of the boys.”  Whatever they want to do I’ll join in.

And I’ll be a charming guest for their parents too.  But it is a well known fact that grandchildren are much more fun than children, especially after they become parents.  So that won’t be as fruitful an activity to my mind.  And I’ll be nice to Camera Girl.  But really that’s her children’s job today.  It’s right there in the title of the day.  But I’ll still be nice to her.  She deserves it.

The day has dawned and it is sunny, butterflies were fluttering by and the stupid blue birds are complaining that once again they were dispossessed of the houses I built for them by birds with more grit and verve.  I intend to go out now and perambulate in the Fields of the Lord and restore my faith in creation as a whole if not in the so-called pinnacle of it.

I hope all of you have a good day with your families and I’ll contribute something today when I can.

Reclaiming the Family – Part 7 – Team Work

I have a very close relative who was in Iraq.  Well, actually, I have several close relatives who were in Iraq but in particular there is one who runs his family using the Army’s manual on discipline and unit cohesion.  And I have to say that has a lot to be said for it.

Full disclosure I never served in anything more regimented than the Boy Scouts.  I was too young for Vietnam and too old for 9-11.  But my father and my grandfather served and they always talked about military discipline and unit cohesion as traits that were sadly lacking in civilian life.  Well, when I was a kid, we gave all that talk very short shrift.  We were way too smart and savvy for all that regimentation.  At least that’s what we said back then.

But it recently occurred to me that discipline and unit cohesion were the answers to a lot of the problems we see in the world today and also a source of satisfaction in a world that is drifting apart into chaos.  Even within close family there is a tendency to become strangers.  I don’t mean that literally but rather compared to the closeness that existed when people didn’t move away from each other every other year.  We see each other once or twice a year.  We talk on the phone every few months and we lose track of what’s going on in each other’s lives.

But then when something goes wrong, we’re all alone.  And that’s even considering the old days when families had a passel of kids and everyone had plenty of brothers and sisters.  Imagine now where every family has at most two kids.  You start out almost alone and then by the time you head off to college your family is just a forgotten period in your life that is only revisited at Christmas and the Fourth of July.

The alternative to this is feeling responsible for your family.  If your brother has a problem.  Maybe he’s having trouble in school.  Make it your problem.  Help him out.  Tutor him.  Or maybe you notice that he’s not making friends very easily.  Include him in some activity or ask one of your friends to have a younger brother include him in some activity.

And of course, parents have to lift up their kids.  We take that for granted but you’d be surprised.  With two parents working often the kids get lost in the shuffle.  Spending time on kids’ homework and paying attention to teacher’s reports and what your kids tell you about school is critical.  Instead of the extra toy at Christmas, the weekend camping trip or the vacation in the mountains or at the shore is a much smarter investment.  You build the memories and you build a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself.

And just as important is having the kids do their part around the house.  Chores and responsibilities are vital to keeping kids engaged.  Even if mom is home every day, she is swamped with things that have to be done.  Enforcing discipline and teaching the value of work is probably the most important activity a father can have with his sons. And when kids become teens a first job is the transition from childhood to responsible adult behavior.

Grandparents have their place too.  Having get togethers that bring together your children and their children allows the cousins to know each other and stay close.  With the smaller family sizes today, this is even more important to maintain some sense of familial closeness.  Let the grandkids know they are part of a bigger and older family than just their parents and siblings.  There is magic in that for children of all ages.

I’ll be the first to admit that I came from a family where all of this was woefully missing.  We were a large family and my poor parents were outnumbered and unprepared for the insanity that we inflicted on them.  We ran amok.  Somehow, we all survived but sometimes it was a close thing.  But I have since seen it handled better and I attribute it to discipline and unit cohesion.  Give the kids plenty of love and attention but also expect family loyalty and responsibility for themselves and for each other.  Drill it into them that families don’t disband when the kids turn eighteen.  Family is a multi-generational structure where we support each other and make life better for those who came before us and those who are coming after.

Family is the closest relationship you should have.  But friends don’t have to be disposable.  It’s possible to have friends that are almost like family.  They’re rare but they can happen.  Probably for servicemen it’s less rare.  I have friends whose service buddies are lifelong pals who are there when they need them.  I envy them the camaraderie they have.

And finally, we have the wider community.  These are folks who share the same values.  With them we can share stories and good wishes and strategies.  Maybe sometime, something we say to somebody, may provide a morale boost or a bit of information that gets him over the hump.  At least that’s how I like to look at it.  But the same idea applies in each case.  Show a sense of solidarity with those you are related to.  Take responsibility to do your part and maintain your place in the family or community or even movement.  Feel like you belong and let the next guy know it’s not every man for himself.  And who knows, someday you might say something to someone who’s feeling very alone and it might give him a reason not to give up.  That’s not nothing.