When I divorced and began socializing and dating, I began to develop some red flags. By red flags, I mean full-stop deal breakers. I didn’t allow friends or family to “introduce” me to any prospect who was a father with children living at home or even with shared custody. I had chosen not to give birth or even adopt. I wasn’t going to take responsibility for his children, even an equal share. I absolutely refused to take over their upbringing, becoming their caretaker while their actual parent used my presence to his advantage … whether that advantage was just splitting his responsibility or abdicating fully. Since I’m a decent human being and tend to accept that no person is either all one thing or the other, I knew that developing a relationship might evolve into major life changes than I neither intended nor wanted. And that intention is the key. I had intentions and I made choices based on those that I felt supported both myself and avoided failing others.
Blended families are becoming the “norm” in modern societies. They’ve been present in every society, but treating the children equally is an ideal and not a reality. Having the children treat their parents (whatever their actual title or legal relationship) badly is almost expected, accepted if not acceptable. People are no longer amazed when grandparents become parents again as families break up and reform … or not … as commitment becomes optional for just about everything. The the most easily broken commitments have become those between individuals.
As the social bonds break down, abuse and addiction increase. Most studies not authored or sponsored by commercial interests have shown that drug abuse is a symptom and not the disease. Tribalism, racism and bigotry are symptoms of people looking for connection and taking the easy route, failing to parse their decisions through a humanitarian and ethical lens. Self-awareness has become self-interest rather than a balance of the two. Success becomes getting ahead personally, leading to celebrating cheaters (like megalomaniac Trump), scorning compromise and denigrating weakness. Everything is competition resulting in either winners or losers. Compassion and life itself are devalued. I am afraid of a world controlled by a powerful wealthy minority dividing everyone else into easily manipulated hate groups.
We can only lose this fight if we stop trying … if we give up the struggle. I might not have the energy or strength to fight every day or every time, but I pledge to always come back and try to be my better self in service to a better world. Humanity and life are not reducible to “us” against “them.”