Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4 Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
It is always tiresome, and increasingly discouraging, to witness the depraved squandering of human intelligence in the so-called “family values” debate and social-political campaign. From the looks of it, it all began in the United States among the conservative political establishment and its Christian right supporters, and sadly has turned into a kind of contagion. Nowadays, even such a virulently antifamily creature as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher squawks about “family values’ from her forced retirement.
It has always been more than boring to hear such advocates blabber on and on as if they were talking about something actual, as if there had been a once-upon-a-time codex, or written account, of the authorized “family values” from which the modern world has deviated. And, if one listens to the American Christian right, one might be led to believe that traditional family values came straight out of the comfortable affluent complacency of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s America, as if the Bible was written by Robert Young or somebody like him, and peopled by the likes of Ozzie and Harriet.
It seems to me, however, that“family values,” properly speaking, are whatever values are nurtured and held by a family more than they are the values that Jerry Falwell bruits about. If the values of my particular family happen to be kidnapping, rape, sexual torture, murder, genocide and cannibalism, who are conservative politicians and their conservative Christian supporters to tell me differently? The question is, then, that when we hear politicians and other social leaders talking about“family values,” we must immediately ask “Whose values?” and “What’s it to you?”
Published on Wednesday, November 11, 1998 as “Family values not carved in stone.”
The conservative right and politically active conservative, fundamentalist and evangelical Christians in America get a lot more publicity than they warrant, and that by itself bothers me. But it also concerns me because what happens in America reverberates throughout the world due to the impact of its popular culture.
This was an election year in America and lots of rhetoric was lobbed back-and-forth. We got an earful about the conservative social agenda, headed by “family values.” But that means little to me since my perspective is that whatever values a family has, those are its family values. The point is that the idea of traditional family values is a totally fabricated concept, and we know it.