Count yourself lucky to have 7.9 billion family members!
Family isn’t always blood — or is it? If family is blood, let me congratulate you on being blessed with the biggest family in human history. According to the latest U.S Census Bureau statistics, the world population currently stands at 7.9 billion. If your patriotism feels uneasy with too much family blood, the number will shrink to a mere 332 million, the current population of the the U.S.
We can break the number down even further, but you get the idea.
Most of us interact with our family members on a daily basis. Yet, how close are we to them? Do we really know everything about them? Are they really family in every sense of the word, or did they betray our expectations every time they didn’t act like family? What makes family family? Should they be family after they stop acting like one? If they do, what do they become? Where can we find family after we lose the only one we have known? Is it even possible?
It absolutely is.
In this article, we are going to examine the common understanding of family, why family isn’t always blood, and how we systematically arrive to the truth of the saying: ”Blood makes you related, loyalty makes you family.”
Let’s get right into it!
How society sees it: blood family vs water family
Let me introduce you to blood family..
The blood card
”Blood is thicker than water,” society says. Family matters more than anyone else you know, including friends and sometimes even partners. Family reigns supreme because at the end of the day, they are just thicker — making them harder to swallow.
Seriously, when you think of family, you believe they are going to be the heroes and heroines saving your day as life starts falling apart because you are not good enough to take care of yourself. They know better, and they act like it. In most cases, they are older than you and it follows as a logical conclusion that they are wiser than you. They ask you embarrasing questions and expect you to answer them; borrow money from you and expect you to forget about it; they crush your bones shaking your hand and expect you to smile. All in the name of blood.
Family can make a lot of demands on you. It can be draining and tiring, sometimes downright ridiculous.
One-way blood donations
Sure, you can do nice things for your family, but do you do this just because they are family? That is the sad logic behind the common understanding of family. You do it because that is what you do for family. It is what people do. It is what everyone does. Blood is thicker than water. Who do you think you are to even dare talk about family in this way! How dare you expect similar treatment!
That’s the problem with blood family. One-sided expectations. You share their blood, but they don’t share yours.
As you can tell, I feel strongly about this. Who doesn’t? Most of us live with family for a quarter of our lives. In some parts of the world, some of us live their entire lives with family. With such a long history comes many a realization, an awkward scenario, a betrayal, an epiphany about how the blood family concept is devoid of any substance.
If you donate your blood when they need you, why don’t they donate back?
There is only so much blood you can donate before you realize they are planning to wring the entirety of your life out of you unless you shout ‘’STOP!’’
What is water family?
According to the family-is-always-blood verdict, water family isn’t family because you don’t share blood ties with it. Water family includes your friends as well as romantic partners. Blood is thicker than water, so family comes first, friendships and relationships second. I am not sure about you, but the feelings of entitlement behind such blood-vs-water statements make my stomach turn. How do you expect someone to put you first while you are undeserving of it? How do you expect to be treated better than someone who earned it?
In most cases, especially when you are part of an entitled blood family, family isn’t always blood, and blood isn’t thicker than water — after all, where there is water, there is life; and blood, no matter how arrogant it gets, is the product of water.
When water is thicker than blood
Sometimes, friends and partners can mean more to us than any blood family member. We share feelings, experiences and secrets with them that we can’t share with family. On the contrary, blood family can often be quite judgemental and would probably crucify you before the rest of Familyville for sharing something personal.
The internet is not short on stories about family betrayals, but I have a friend whose parents refused to help him finance his wedding simply because they wanted him to marry someone else. In the end, it was the contributions of his “water family” that materialized the most important event of his life. This is just the tip of a nasty iceberg, and I don’t want to delve into details about more extreme examples like parents performing exorcisms on their homosexual teenage kids.
It’s not always doom and gloom, though. Blood family is not evil in and of itself. If you are lucky enough, you will be blessed to be raised by a good blood family, which is what we are going to talk about in the next section.
Credit still goes to good blood family
No one has a say in the family lottery, but if you win it, consider yourself lucky. To have a good blood family beside you; fighting your wars as soldiers; protecting your well-being as guardian angels; showing you the way of wisdom as guides; ensuring your proper education as teachers; offering relationship advice as councillors and; most importantly, treating you like family is more than you could ever wish for.
Such families are the best of both worlds, family and friends – that is why they are rare. You never feel alone because you have friends at home, and you never stop nurturing the love that you will pass on to others (your friends, partner and, if you make the decision, your own little family), making the world a better place to live and love.
Good blood families are an example for all of us who are hopeful of a better world where love, not blood, runs deep. Blood will always be running anyway, but we have to keep fighting to help love trap hate back in the jar of evil.
Blood isn’t always family, but blood can be family.
Why blood doesn’t make you family
In the previous section, we focused on society’s description, understanding, and expectations of ”family”. In this section, we will focus exclusively on why you should challenge such an understanding of the concept by exposing its shaky foundations.
Shaky foundations: dismantling the family concept
The primal logic
What is it that makes us human, blood or mind? Instinct or morality? As you already know, we share both blood and instinct with other primates. Do our standards of the near and dear have to be so basic? We are certainly not looking down on animals, our distant cousins, but is that all we really are – blood?
In this article’s introduction, we talked about how big your family really is and how we can break this down even further, and now is the opportunity to do so. if we are to believe that blood is everything, won’t this imply that all we should care for are people who share the same ‘’ethnic group’’?
Should this be the basis of love? If so, why do we need to be human anyway? Would we have known what love was if we had been blessed only with instinct? Would we have been able to invent the heart symbol, the universal representation of love? How many loved ones do you know who do not share your blood? How many of them have you fallen in love with? Have had memories with? How many of them, despite their blue blood, have stuck out their necks for you in times of need?
If blood is good enough to be family, we should all undergo a lobotomy because we can do without the human part of our brains.
A bizarre loophole in blood and family: marriage
Another loophole in the common definition of ”family” is how our spouses are considered as such while they should not really be according to blood-is-family logic.
Spouses are certainly not our blood, and if they are not, what reason do we have left to care for them? How different are they from a complete, un-blood related stranger? The offspring of a couple can certainly claim that their mother and father are blood, and so, family; but how can their father make the same claim about their mother? Do we have a different family within a family? Should the father reconsider his entire existence and marry his cousin instead to make the family blood-perfect?
Maybe we should marry everyone we care about to convince the world that blood doesn’t make you family.
Actions, not words
Actions speaker louder than words, and you are what you do, not what you say. Anyone, literally, can call you ”father”, ”mother”, ”brother”, or ”sister”; and since we did away with blood-is-always-family logic, this includes your biological family, too. Any member of your family can tell you how they are related to you, but will any of them act like they are related to you? What’s the point of having a family that doesn’t act like one? Doesn’t family have a role to fulfil and doesn’t its existence become meaningless as soon as it stops fulfilling that role?
You can have the best intentions in the world; you can believe in good, kindness and compassion, but what good are they if you don’t act them out to materialize their impact on people worthy of their reception? Aren’t your actions, not your intentions, what inspire others to do good?
Family that claims to be family but doesn’t act like one is a ceremonial family. It’s not family, it’s tradition. A bad tradition because it is devoid of all the good values tradition is supposed to enshrine. Ceremonial family has no positive impact whatsoever and so should not matter whether it exists or not. Just like ceremonial monarchies in liberal democracies, they are there just for show; just like Christmas holidays, devoid of any spiritual awakeness; an empty shell.
Words do not make you family, actions do.
Choice, not chance
Blood family is the product of chance, not choice. We are not meant to be with our families because we are like them or because they are naturally closer to who we are. We do not choose who we are born to, where we are born, how tall or short we are; the list goes on. Such circumstances are beyond our control and have no trace of our personal touch and feelings. Does chance sound intimate to you? Does it click with the real you, or has any connection to who you are? Can you relate it to your esssence; what makes you you?
Choice, on the other hand, is all about your essence. Your heart is in every decision you take. Your decisions about whose humour you like, whose company you appreciate and who you want to spend the rest of your life with are the closest cousins of that unique element that sets you apart from the rest of the world.
So, which one do you think is worthier of family, Choice or Chance? Do you want to choose your family, or tolerate that you are born to one?
I will let your heart answer the question.
Democracy, not favouritism
If you really believe in democracy, you will not discriminate against others in deciding whether they are family or not based on their blood type. Democracy is not just a political system, it is a firm belief in the principle of justice. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to win seats in your heart. Even better, you get to depose anyone who is unworthy of your love without having to wait several years for the next election.
The seats in our hearts should not be hereditary, but based on merit. It’s bad enough that we were born into families we did not choose, so let us reverse Chance’s unsolicited favouritism and choose the right family now that we are in control.
Favouritism does not make you family, democracy does.
In this article, we have demonstrated why family isn’t always blood and why blood doesn’t make you family. We have also acknowledged that blood family can be family when it is worthy of the title, and how any person should have an equal opportunity to earn it. However, I would like to remind all of us that we must be worthy of the family title, too.
Reciprocality is a universal law, and we must uphold the same standards we require of others . We must act like family to others as well. Otherwise, we risk falling into the trap of hypocrisy.
What do you think? Do you believe that family is always blood? Is blood really thicker than water? Is chance more powerful than choice?
Please share what you think in the comments below! Thanks for reading!