My previous blog, “ON OWNING ONE’S LIFE” raised the question as to when in one’s life does the Right of ownership become an inalienable Right. After all a mind matured out of infancy and childhood may understand all about that subject and can act accordingly, but at birth and the following years of infancy and childhood, no such ability exits.
If Life is an inalienable Right that we are created with – then it must be with us when life begins – when we are born. (without getting into a discussion of when life begins). These truths and Rights must have been ours at the moment of our births.
But how can this be? How can we, being the hapless individuals we are at birth, who cannot see clearly for the first months, cannot walk for the first year, cannot entirely feed ourselves until 18 months and most certainly know nothing about responsibility, ownership or concepts – own our lives?
Well, we as babies may have the Right to own our lives; we just don’t have the ability to exercise those Rights. Which is why we have parents.
So it is, that our parents don’t own us as little infants – they are our Guardians of our inherent rights. And as Guardians and parents, as carriers of the Human Spirit, they would provide us from birth with all those things necessary: love, care, support, guidance, discipline, and – a sense of self-worth – to ensure our readiness of Mind, Heart and Soul, so that, when we are of such an age, we can assume operative ownership of our birthright – our Life.
I thought this was a rather original idea, until I came across an interesting historical figure. His name is Jean-Jacque Burlamaqui, who lived from 1694 to 1749. He was a Swiss philosopher who popularized many ideas formulated by other thinkers, but possibly the first philosopher to articulate that the quest for happiness is a natural human right. A thought, no doubt, which influenced Jefferson, some 39 years later, in writing that the Pursuit of Happiness is an inalienable Right.
However, regarding birth weakness and parental guidance, Burlamaqui preceded me in that thought by 268 years! (So much for Sollisch’s original idea! And it was also a great lesson for me in ego deflation.) Here then, in his book, The Principles of Natural and Politic Law (circa 1747), are his words, written so much more eloquently than I could ever have conceived.
“Man considered in his birth is weakness and impotency itself, in regard as well to the body as to the soul. It is even remarkable, that the state of weakness and infancy lasts longer in man than in any other animal. He is beset and pressed on all sides by a thousand wants, and destitute of knowledge, as well as strength, find himself in an absolute incapacity of relieving them: he is therefore under a particular necessity of recurring to external assistance.
“Providence for this reason has inspired parents with that instinct or natural tenderness, which prompts them so eagerly to delight in the most troublesome cares, for the preservation and good of those whom they have brought into the world. It is likewise in consequence of this state of weakness and ignorance in which children are born, that they are naturally subject to their parents; whom nature has invested with all the authority and power necessary for governing those, whose advantage they are to study and procure.”
That’s a beautiful way he writes about infants and parenting. Although I prefer the Human Spirit, not Providence, as the reason parents are inspired to delight in the natural tenderness, preservation and good of those whom they have brought into the world. When it is the Human Spirit as the reason, then, fittingly, it becomes a conscious choice of the parents to so act – as an expression of, and as an extension of Love for each other and for the Life of the child. After all, as I wrote in the earlier blog:
“A Human Life is a very complex being. Body, Mind, Heart & Soul (the sum of which I call the Human Spirit) are the four parts conventionally used to describe us. All working together in what we would call Harmony. Or not so – if conflicted about one or more of those parts – in Disharmony.”
And what could be more in Harmony than loving parents providing their offspring with all the things necessary to ensure that their Minds, Hearts and Human Souls – their Human Spirits – are prepared, when ready, to assume ownership of their Natural Birthright – their Lives.
Now the above may read as the supposed ideal of parenthood. And it may well be. It’s not offered as such. As I said earlier, a Human Life is a very complex being. There are few Human Lives with more complexities than that of parenthood. To narrow any discussion of parenthood to a single idealized one, would not be acknowledging those complexities in the relationship between parent and child.
In the Human condition, life is a journey (That is almost a cliché, but I will say it anyway). It is a journey of realizations and discoveries of within the self (some good, some false) and all the wonders and beauty of without. And that same journey can be one of hardship, and obstacles placed in our way by just the vagaries of life, or by others, or even self inflicted.
One of those hardships in the relationship between some Parents and their Children is – abuse. It may be physical, or mental, or emotional, or sexual. Unintentional or not. It’s an issue of deep, broad and long lasting consequences for both sides of the parental / child relationship.
It’s an issue I want very much to discuss – just not now. I think two consecutive blogs on “Owning One’s Life” is enough for the moment – if for no one else, certainly for me. But I needed to at least acknowledge – here and now – the issue of abuse . However, it really deserves a blog for itself – which it will get at some future point.