Monday, May 4, 2009

New Century Nurturing

While April may’ve popped out of March’s Spring box like a Fool, May Day ushered in a new month filled with ancient traditions celebrating motherhood, fertility, and some light-hearted dancing around a Maypole.

Since history’s beginning, the Mother archetype has been recognized as the creator and sustainer of life, the nurturer, the caregiver, and even the soft heart of humanity. Although science has attempted to create and grow human life within the confines of a sterile laboratory, the hard-wired role of suckling and socialization belongs to the Mother and the nurturer’s influence has few limitations.

Today’s challenging economic times and shriveling job markets have revealed an interesting paradigm shift where we've begun to see men outnumbering women in the loss of high paying jobs. This has resulted in women steadily becoming the household’s primary breadwinner while more men remain at home to care for the family.

Familial units pulling together through troubled times is an admirable approach, yet with men increasingly playing a more substantial role on the home front, the country is beginning to rumble with the outcries of indignant male nurturers. The men who’ve dared to step into the important role of caretaker are now experiencing firsthand how thankless and invisible our society tends to perceive the function, so much so that many have even formed their own support groups.

To discount this paradigmatic transition as merely a movement toward the feminization of men would be unsound, since nurturing is gender neutral and essential for all humans, male and female, to flourish. Nurturing is the glue of any thriving civilization, and its existence-or non-existence, defines what that society will look like.

A culture that values the health and balanced well-being of its community finds it incumbent upon itself to recognize and support those who perform the necessary communal role of nurturer for it views nurturing as a form of preventative medicine. In contrast is the culture that believes nurturing to be a “give me”, requiring little or no investment…an approach that fosters nurturer burnout and outright neglect, with consequences most easily observed in an overflowing prison system.

We got a fleeting glimpse in the rear view mirror of Marion Robinson quietly moving in to the White House after The Big BOPR’s (see definition below) inauguration. There were those who loudly argued the unnecessary expense to the nation of supporting a grandmother in the White House. The arguments unfortunately gave no consideration to the possibility that the hard costs of supporting Ms. Robinson in caring for her grandchildren could save us far more than the costs of a First Family neglected

Sadly, in the red and black world of dollars and cents - coupled with the myopic belief that if it’s invisible and intangible, it has little or no value and should therefore be free – the hue and cry about "letting Ms. Robinson move in" offered little mention of the great personal sacrifices this mother and grandmother has had to make in order to provide a loving, stable environment for her family, as undervalued as that may seem in our bipolar American society.

With today’s paradigm shift, the systemic adjustments now in progress are by no means limited to the overhaul of our economic and financial structures, but reverberate to include a significant realignment of our value systems as well. So what really costs society more: the true cost of nurturing or the true cost of neglect?

For community outreach American-style, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ March 31, 2008 posting "The American Myth".

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