The basic myth of the American Dream, and most other dreams too, is “the family” – and in particular, its most recent reincarnation as the nuclear family: Mum, Dad, and the resulting 2.4 kids who live together in a house with a garden…. As advertised on TV.
The reality of course is very different.
According to Psychology Today, only about 20% of households in the US now conform to this conventional picture, although like most contemporary opinions on these changes, they are doing their best to prop up the basic idea of the family.
By contrast, Osho has long been clear that the family itself is out of date.
At last, even such stalwarts of the establishment like David Brooks are coming around to the same view. In an article in the Atlantic, “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake,” he “considers a better way to live together.”
“An unlikely cause of our bitterness: The nuclear family ” says the Washington Post headline, in support of David Brooks. They write, ”When the history of our era is written, scholars will search for larger causes to explain its bitterness and contradictions, despite so much wealth. Was it globalization? Populism? Economic inequality? Polarization? Greed? To this list you can now add an unlikely candidate: the nuclear family.”
Now the Huffington Post weighs in with an article, “Can Marriage Ruin A Perfectly Good Relationship? Therapists Weigh In.” Where they explain how, “Many single millennials are apprehensive about getting married. This might be why.”
For the coup de grace, The New York Times tosses in a hand grenade in the shape of ”Unmarried, Happily Ever After” which explains how the writer has discovered, “Being single isn’t a bad thing. In fact, many women prefer it.”
They quote the actress Emma Watson, “I’m very happy. I call it being self-partnered.” She compares her approach with the “incredible amount of anxiety” caused by the endless pressure from society to conform to this dying institution: “There is suddenly this bloody influx of subliminal messaging around. If you have not built a home, if you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby, and you are turning 30, and you’re not in some incredibly secure, stable place in your career, or you’re still figuring things out.…”
It seems she is not alone! The article also points out, “In 2016, 110.6 million U.S. residents 18 years and older were unmarried. Women accounted for 53.2 percent of these individuals, according to the United States Census Bureau.”
Ceri Radford continues the onslaught on the currently accepted values by taking a swipe at what our obsession with what the nuclear family has done with motherhood. In her article in the Independent, “At last, it’s OK to write about what an infuriating slog motherhood can be,” she reviews what she describes as “a powerful anthology,” The Best Most Awful Job: Twenty Writers Talk Honestly About Motherhood. As she explains, “A society where women are generally still raised to be more self-sacrificing while men are permitted to be more selfish, and where the average family is overloaded and undersupported, creates a toxic mix.”
Toxic mix? As Gloria Steinen revealed: “If you added up all the women who have been murdered by their husbands or boyfriends since 9/11, and then you add up all the Americans who were killed by 9/11 or in Afghanistan and Iraq, more women were killed by their husbands or boyfriends.”
Wow! Come back Frederik Engels, all is forgiven. His “Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” – a seminal piece from way back – that may finally receive the attention it deserves.
The way people talk about the family, it sounds like this institution comes directly from God. Particularly people who believe in belief, people who believe that nature, including of course human nature, is some unruly chaos – no disrespect of course to whoever created all this chaos – that needs the human mind (actually the male human mind) to really sort it out. A weird contradiction.
At its root the whole story of marriage is about monogamy.
When did this God guy get this idea of monogamy by the way? If we look at our nearest relatives, the Chimps, and the Bonobos, they definitely didn’t get the message. Chimps are famous for their handsome testicles – and from the photo in the linked article, the gentleman seems pretty comfortable with both of them. Big enough to give the vicar, not to mention his proverbial wife, a life-threatening paroxysm! As for the Bonobos…. There is a good reason we don’t mention them in polite society. Anyway, unlike humans, these people don’t get a choice in the matter.
And what about our direct ancestors? For most of the past seven million years, we didn’t even connect sex with procreation. Apparently, only in the last 10,000 years did we discover that what Fred Flintstone was doing on that night out in the other cave nine months earlier was why there is a new baby born today! So, for only a tiny fraction of our history did we even understand paternity.
That coincided with the beginning of the end of the roaming life of the foraging cultures and the start of agriculture, domestication of animals, including turning bulls into bullocks – no wonder the chimps keep their distance – manipulation of plants for food…. Then villages, towns, cities – basically a place to store your stuff!
At some point in this whole saga, the necessary cooperative atmosphere of foraging cultures is replaced by the rule of muscle power.
The matrilineal Bonobo-style life is long gone, and the Greek Goddesses are replaced by Gods: Me Tarzan You Jane, all the way to Donald Trump.
Without the need to be continuously moving in search of food, the boys are now thumping their chests and have a place to store their ill-gotten gains. They grab whatever they can. Jeff Bezos can’t be far away.
Enter Engels. The male ego is in full flight and even wants to dominate after death. He wants to make sure that his goodies are passed on to his sons, so he doesn’t want any hanky-panky by his female partner. He wants to make sure those kids are HIS!
Of course, he passes some of his goodies onto the other men who have also found doorways to power, the priests and the politicians.
The scene is set. The priests claim that sex can only happen within marriage, the politicians make laws to enforce this…. Hey presto: here we are.
Osho has always maintained that humans are not naturally monogamous.
He explains that for the first time in the evolution of the residents of Planet Earth, sex has taken on a new function beyond the basic process of procreation. In his view, the reason humans can mate any time – and don’t have mating seasons – indicates that sex has a significance beyond the needs of creating more offspring.
He concludes that the early in-searchers of the ancient East realized that the experience of orgasm was accompanied by bliss, by the mind stopping and by time stopping. Then they naturally wondered if such an experience was possible without depending on the other.
Meditation was born.
With the arrival of contraception, sex and procreation can be permanently uncoupled and humanity can be freed from the constraints of biology and the tyranny of the priests and the politicians in general, and the male ego in particular.
At last, as the articles mentioned above indicate, the problems with the monogamous nuclear family are now being exposed. Just as Osho has long explained.
Now human beings can decide for themselves how they want to live, and with whom. Human ingenuity will soon discover how to create intelligent ways of living. Some people may want to live on their own. Others may want to live with other people. Some may want a mixture of both. Whatever options we come up with, one thing is for sure: the current nuclear option won’t be one of them! Those 2.4 children, not to mention their harassed caregiver(s) will then have a chance to breathe!
You can enjoy reading Osho’s specific suggestions on why the current obsession with marriage and the family is so destructive, and how easily we can live in a much more intelligent, conscious way:
The family is certainly the cause of all kinds of neurosis, psychosis, schizophrenia. “The whole sickness of man’s mind is created by the family.
“The family is the basic unit of the old society; unless the family disappears, the old society will continue, because its basic unit is intact.” 1
You can read the complete talk and view all the available formats here:
1 Osho, From Death to Deathlessness, Talk #33 — This Nonsense of Nations