Yesterday and for the next three days family will be arriving to participate in work weekend. By now, generations along, in familial diaspora, familial culture has mostly changed. Returning to an ancestral home provides cultural challenges and assurances. Some see the farm as dear to the family culture. Others wouldn’t care if it were sold off. This farm has been in the same family for 250 years, which is unusual for this landed entity, properly call a plantation rather than a farm. At its peak, a small city of 60 or so people.
Families that have dynastic tendencies provide means of holding bonds across time and place. Families that divide into individual units eventually lose track of each other and no bonds form or remain. The culture of the one group becomes very different than the other. Using religion as an example of cultural unity this dynastic family centers around an Episcopalian type of faith which is useful because of its greater inclusiveness. For the second type of family even Episcopalianism isn’t sufficiently inclusive as common ground, irregardless of whether they are more or less conservative.
Neither a strict biblical literalist nor a holy book hater are going to find much sympathy or condolences in their politics supported by faith. Respect only works until one side or the others needs to act to maintain integrity.
But even in the first group, over time, alliances change and the more liberal types may become buddhist, belief in belief types, or secular. Others may become more conservative insisting that really a strong Christian belief is most acceptable and conservative politics are necessary.
It’s a hard balance because you want everyone to enjoy and respect each other to keep the land and family together on its trajectory of good care, a sense of land, history, and shared value with support. But it’s hard to listen to prejudice and bigotry when it casually comes up.
I can see how tasks and entertainment provide a distraction from too deep discussion of sensitive topics that have a danger of division when unity is more helpful. This tension is relieved but broken when unity loses value over principle and departure is the only relief.
As an in-law I find these dynamics fascinating and scary because I can’t help but be involved in them.
Jim Newman, www.frontiersofreason.com