Friday, January 05, 2007

Mandatory socialization?


I was one of those boys who had trouble with the “guy things” – the team sports, the manual chores done to precision. I felt that I was being forced to play the game of life by other people’s rules to suit their purposes. I did learn to enjoy softball in time, but I would manipulate the rules in my own backyard so that I could “win.”

Being “different” I spent a lot of energy focusing on my own performance and needs (yup, as an only child). You get the picture. The whole point of family socialization is to make someone like more emotionally responsive to others when they need the response (sometimes to the point of pampering, fitting notions of gender complementarity). This gets into the heavy old fashioned moralizing. You can’t take your freedom for granted, sometimes you have to live in a way not of your choosing (because of adverse exogenous circumstances or because of the “will of God”) and accept the goals of others as if they were your own. It gets very personal. This gets into the psychology of what ex-gay advocates mean when they talk about “changing” people. Take the most personal part of one’s being, and make it responsive to the demands of others.

Then, I ask, why do others have a right to make me respond to their needs? I know you can interpret a question like this in various ways. Defining one’s own purposes seems like the heart of freedom, and has come to be accept as the heart of libertarian philosophy.

The best way to help others is to be able to help yourself first, and follow the path in life that you decide is right for you first. Sometimes others will not let you, and this is what so many political struggles are about.

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