Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Family Values," by Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay on, “Family Values,” I thought was extremely well written. Her points were explored about family values, patriotism, and proven throughout the piece. This essay resonated with me, due to the fact I grew up with similar types of family values, during the 1960-70’s.
Our family consisted of my Father, the truck driver and union guy, through and through. My Mother was a stay at home mom, raising two children, and juggling the household budget. During this time the United States Presidents were John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon. Many upheavals during this period of time, war and impeachment were what we were exposed to.
My father was under the same impression as the authors father about, “phonies and decent people,” and that phonies, “could be found clustered especially thick in the vicinity of money and power” (Ehrenreich 284). My father would stress to us kids that we needed to get an education, make a honest living, and be proud of being an American, then everything else would fall into place.
I have to admit, I snickered quite a bit about the part of the authors Great Grandfather, John Howes, when he was an altar boy. The part when he was found out by the priest that he had urinated in the Holy Water at Easter time. I can see why the church had gotten so upset with him, but being condemned to eternal damnation was taking it way too far. The recollection brought back memories of  stories my father-in-law has told us about being an altar boy and all the things they use to do. So, this story of John Howe does not shock me in the least. I think these types of incidents happen more often then we think.
The why and why not way of thinking I would have to thank my mother for implanting this into my way of thinking. She instilled in us to ask questions and pursue the answers if we so desired. I think my father was not delighted about this, but never the less my mother was the one that was around us most of the time and her defiance was channeled through us. Because at this time, she was just a woman, which you were expected to stay at home and not ask questions.
I love the last sentence to this essay, “Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots” (Ehrenreich 287). Truly, this kind of passion for freedom comes from people that are not afraid to ask the hard questions, to investigate the truths’, to fight for what they believe is true. I would like to believe that I have become a freer thinker than what I was even ten years ago and that I have the strength to stand up for my beliefs and  be able to articulate them in such as manner that people will listen even if they are not the most popular ones.

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