Opinions Expressed in "Rants," while informed by Catholic doctrine, are merely the opinions of the author.

Attacks on the Family Pt. 5 - Suburban Complacency

There are those among us that remember a time when families were tighter, when communities worked together more, when people took care of each other, when people watched their neighbors kids, when neighbors could borrow from each other without hesitation, when people brought food to each other when times were tough. What was special about these times, that caused people to count on and depend on each other so much more than they do today?

Easy answer - the Great Depression - that was what was going on - people counted on their neighbors FOR SURVIVAL. That or it was World War II - with husbands and sons away, or bombs dropping overhead, people got pretty close, huddled together in the subways.

That's the thing about when times get really REALLY tough - in addition to bringing out the worst in some, it also brings out the BEST in some, in fact I would say it brings out the best in MOST.

Of course war and poverty happen today too, but we aren't taking care of each other now like then, we aren't uniting because of it, because our society has very carefully insulated us from it - by hiding us in the tranquility of the suburbs.

This is a reality, that different neighborhoods allow for certain income levels and housing costs, so that the poor live in poor neighborhoods, the lower-middle class live in lower-middle class neighborhoods, upper-middle class in upper-middle class neighborhoods, and so on. As long as we aren't exposed to those who aren't as well off as we are, we don't have to do anything about it. Works great if we have enough. Not so great if we don't.

There's another word for this class-determined segregation; its called ghettoization. We practice it on a city level, and we practice it on a global level.

So the poor stay poor. But what happens in the suburbs, where everyone has enough, and they don't need to take care of each other? Well, there we see dads competing for that raise, moms cliquing up and bullying each other by using their children's birthday party invitations as weapons, and teenagers with nothing to do on the weekend but drink, smoke weed, and get laid. Take the lesson from DULOC, the town in the movie "Shrek." This is the "good life" that we set up as the ideal to which we aspire.

Give me a break.

If life were a little bit tougher, if we weren't so comfortable in our suburban, complacent existence, we wouldn't be making trouble for ourselves for lack of excitement. If life were a little more REAL, we wouldn't need to create drama for ourselves and each other, because we'd be too occupied with surviving.

This is why when I hear news of economic downturn, environmental catastrophe, terrorist attacks, I don't get worried. When I see them, I get hopeful.