On Easter Sunday, I had brunch with a large group of my immediate and extended family members, during which I posted this on Facebook:
Monday morning, I received an irate phone call from a different member of my family who expressed severe displeasure over the fact that I shared anything that happened at a private family event with the Internet, especially something that paints my family in a bad light.
It wasn’t my intention to make a universal declaration of intolerance. I was frustrated with a conversation that I had with a family member who was shortsighted, intolerant on an almost absolute level, and at such odds with my own worldview that I vented about it in a public forum. And I won’t apologize for that. I can understand that many older generations and even many people in my generation can’t grasp my need to share the things that I do, but it doesn’t change the fact that I will continue to thrust my life, and any interactions that are a part of my life, into the public spotlight as I see fit.
“What happens with the family should stay with the family” was the mantra told me on the phone yesterday morning. I think that if there’s some belief or maxim or thought that you have that you wouldn’t want to defend in a public forum, maybe you should reassess the thought process behind that belief. I’m not saying that the relative who called me has any beliefs like that, but I am saying that as a general rule. And in the end, I didn’t air any dirty family laundry. I didn’t use names, I didn’t identify gender – I didn’t even say whether or not the person who said the statement above was related to me by blood or through some tenuous connection. I think that the fear that my post somehow cast my family in a bad light was all that mattered, and that wasn’t my intent.
The point of this post is two-fold: firstly, to talk about everything above. Secondly, to talk about something else I was told yesterday: “Your friends will come and go, but your family is forever.” This is not the first time I’ve been told this -my mother has said this to me many times over the last few decades. It’s a variation of the old phrase “blood is thicker than water”, and it’s one that I don’t necessarily agree with.
I disagree with this notion that we have to give an additional benefit of the doubt, additional credence, and additional weight to the statements and actions of those who are related to us by blood. Do my parents get more consideration from me because they raised me? Yes. But once you get beyond parents and maybe grandparents, how far do you go? Does a second cousin deserve special treatment over a best friend you’ve known for your entire life? Does an uncle or aunt get chance after chance to demonstrate that he or she is a good person when you know that if it wasn’t for the bloodline, you wouldn’t give that person the time of day? Everything has to be done in moderation, and the philosophy of blood being thicker than water is no different.
With a public Facebook profile, a blog that shares a large percentage of my life, and a discernible lack of shame, I am aware that my actions and words may cause my family some consternation. While I regret the fact that what I choose to write may occasionally frustrate or infuriate those I know, I stand by my words and my choices. In the end, I would just say to any friend or family member who takes issue with what I say that only I am responsible for my words and actions – the simple fact that you are related to or associated with me does not mean you agree with what I say or even support anything that I do. My decisions and discussions are not a reflection on you – they are only a reflection on me, and it’s a reflection with which I’m perfectly content.