Some examples of questions that used to be pretty straightforward but now, for some reason, have become controversial:
1. “Is it better for children to be raised in a home with both their mother and father; or for them to be raised in a single-parent household?”
2. “Is it better for a baby to be breastfed; or for it to be given baby formula?”
3. “Is it better for a mother to stay at home and raise her own children; or for the children to be raised by strangers outside of the home?”
Modern “answers” to these questions that are actually non-answers:
1. “It depends.”
2. “Everything is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong.”
3. “Everything you are doing is good and right! All choices are equally valid!”
The answers to these kinds of questions used to be a simple yes-or-no binary. Despite the existence of some gray areas, some things used to be plain black and white. This was before the modern obsession with rendering everything into a gray issue; the incessant fixation on feelings; fragile hyper-sensitivity; and the “feels before reals,” “don’t judge” culture.
It used to be understood that there are two levels: the level of the principle or rule that applies to the general public or to most cases; and the level of the various lived realities on the ground pertaining to each individual’s own particular, unique situation.
The ideal versus the real. The rule versus the exception. The general versus the specific.
People used to understand that the rule is the rule, even if I myself cannot adhere to and follow it due to my own personal situation. It used to be common knowledge that the standards of good and bad continue to exist and apply, even if I can’t uphold them due to my own personal circumstances.
But now, as modern people, we’ve reached a state where we can no longer provide simple answers to simple questions, for fear of offending someone.
We hesitate to state, very clearly, that any one thing is the ideal or the best course of action, when we know it to be the case. We refrain from asserting, in a simple and straightforward manner, that something is objectively better than the alternative, when it most certainly is.
To spare people’s feelings.
So, now, we find ourselves in a situation where nobody ever feels bad about anything they do or don’t do. The modern demand is:
“I need to feel good regardless of what I do!”
If there is no clear distinction between right and wrong, then nothing you do (or don’t do) can ever be wrong, immoral or unethical.
If there is no definitive and clear line, distinguishing what is good from what is bad, then nothing you do can ever be deemed bad!
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People are, of course, different from one another. Everyone, of course, has a different set of circumstances and life situations. Everyone, of course, has things transpire in their lives that are unforeseen and which are not within their control. Of course. These are realities. And in these cases, we do what we have to in order to make things work.
Some marriages fall apart and end in divorce, out of necessity.
Some mothers must leave the home to work at a paid job, out of necessity.
Some mothers have problems producing breastmilk or have supply issues, so they are forced to give formula milk to their baby, out of necessity.
Yes, all of these things can and do happen. This is life.
BUT this does not mean that there is no archetype, no ideal scenario and no standard.
The general rule is not negated by exceptions to the rule.
For various reasons, some people cannot meet the standard of the ideal.
In the past, people would most certainly sympathize with such individuals, yet the bar still remained in its place, even if some people were unable to meet it.
Now, however, we’ve moved the bar so unbelievably low or we’ve chosen to discard it altogether, just so that nobody has to even worry about ever trying to meet any kind of standard.
Now, what people want everyone to say is:
“Since you can’t personally follow the rule, for whatever personal circumstance you happen to have, there IS no longer any need for the rule!”
In our modern times, where the feelings of some are prioritized over objective reality, we find ourselves using exceptions to eradicate the rule entirely. We pretend that all things are equally good, equally right and equally valid.
If all choices are equally valid, then it’s not possible for you to make a bad choice!
The right thing to do is now a mere “choice” that has been placed on an equal footing with all other choices.
This is a childish, immature way to frame things—an inability to handle any sort of pressure and to have no accountability. It is a juvenile rejection of any responsibility that rests on our delicate, fragile little shoulders just so there’s no need for us to feel bad if we make poor or selfish decisions.
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As mature, sane adults, it is entirely possible for us to simultaneously acknowledge the existence of the objective archetype AND also admit that we have diverged from it due to circumstance outside our control.
So we can say things such as:
“The ideal would be for the mother to stay home to raise her children, but unfortunately I cannot personally do so myself due to X, Y or Z necessity.”
“The ideal would be for children to live with both parents, but unfortunately, in my personal case, my children are being raised in a single-parent household due to A, B or C necessity.”
Instead though, we simply disregard and withhold all the data, research and statistics pertaining to the outcomes faced by children hailing from single-mother households; the benefits of breastmilk versus formula milk for babies; and the effects on children raised at home by their mothers versus those raised elsewhere by paid strangers. Instead, we go to great and exaggerated lengths to create ridiculous loopholes; to render all options as somehow being equally valid; to praise and celebrate any and all possible choices as wonderful; and to ultimately erase the rule:
“But what if the mother is a psychopath who should not be around children?? Should she stay at home in order to raise her children then? No! See, there is NO defined answer to this question!”
“But what if the mother is a drunk, a pothead or an addict of crack, cocaine, heroine, meth and other drugs? Should she breastfeed her baby then? Ha! So breastfeeding is NOT always the better option!”
“But what if both parents are violent criminals who try to maim each other when they’re together in a marriage? Or what if the father is an abusive murderer? You see? The children would be better off after divorce and living in a single-parent household! See, living with the mother and the father ISN’T always better!”
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It’s time we collectively matured; abandoned these elaborate verbal gymnastics; and simply accepted the reality of things. Not everyone gets to live out their dream life. We all experience different tests and trials in this dunya (worldly life).
But this does not, in any way, mean that we get to do away with all the rules based on our own exceptional circumstances. This doesn’t at all mean that we can go around pretending that there is no objective good or bad.
I mean, if enough of us keep doing this for long enough, there will be people who grow up not knowing the difference between the ideal goal which we ought to aim for and the less-than-ideal scenarios that life sometimes reveals. And these people will be confused in their very aspirations, not even knowing what they should be aiming for.
Due to a lack of awareness, they will not be able to make the correct decisions even when it is fully within their capacity to actually do so.
I understand wanting to encourage and support individual moms about their own unfortunate situations, but it’s also important for us not to delude ourselves or others regarding what is best for children, families and society as a whole.
Nobody is blaming individuals for things that are outside their control. But people most certainly SHOULD be accountable for the things that they CAN control.
“We relativize everything so that there is no pressure on women and so that there’s no set standard for women to meet as wives or mothers.”
But we don’t seem to do this for men though.
Questions like, “Is it better for a man to be a provider?” still have a straightforward answer which isn’t relative. It’s a resounding “Yes!”
We still know how to have set standards, baseline expectations and objective archetypes. It’s just that these are reserved only for men and not for women.
Women’s feelings are the new standard, the current bar, the modern goal. The objective must become subjective, the truth must be relativized, and we as a society must pretend that all the choices women make are good ones, just to safeguard their feelings. Babies and children will just have to put up with getting worse care, but grown women cannot handle or endure feeling the burden of the slightest amount of pressure.
And I, as a woman, am simply tired of it.
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