Relationships matter, a lot. We are formed by relationships with other people: parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, spouses, children, business associates, and more. The impact of relationships in our lives is profound.
But there is a factor in most of our relationships that sullies them – that warps and dirties them: the peremptory intrusion by enforcers and mediators.
The most vulgar images we have of this are the prima nocte stories – the ruler’s right of the first night with any bride – as seen in Braveheart and other pieces of fiction. (There is little or no evidence that such things ever really happened in the West.)
On a less vulgar and far more widespread scale, however, violations of our relationships are not fiction; they are all too real.
Who do you think has a right to take over your relationships with your children? What about your relationships with your spouse?
In fact, your government claims precisely those rights. They have forcibly set themselves as the arbiter of your marriage; they have the right to steal your children and to force you to do business (or not do business) with whomever they specify.
This may not be as horrific as prima nocte, but it functions on precisely the same principles of dominance and force. The claim of the intruders that “We’re doing this for your own good” in no way changes the fact that they are taking over your relationships by force.
Familiarity Breeds Slavery
Before I get to the heart of this issue, I should probably devote a section to the internal issues that it triggers.
It’s crazy to imagine that outsiders have any right to control our relationships with our families, yet that is precisely what is done to us. The reason we allow this is familiarity. Once people see abuse as normal, their examination of it ceases. Everyone around them accepts the crime, so they do too.
Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery then made dozens of trips back into slave territory and freed hundreds more, wrote this:
If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.
So, if it was hard to convince slaves in the old American South that they were indeed enslaved, this problem is significant. People can come to see nearly any type of abuse as normal. And once they do, they tend to defend their previous choices.
The way out is to examine the morality of these things, then to accept the conclusions of that examination. Agents of the status quo always resort to intimidation and confusion. The answer to these abuses is moral clarity.
The other problem with a discussion like this isn’t whether or not it is true – it is perfectly clear that the state inserts itself into our relationships by force. What holds people back from facing this obvious conclusion is fear. Not so much fear of punishment, but a fear of facing the truth within ourselves.
We’ve Been Robbed of Intimacy
It’s easy (and correct) to take offense at these intrusions, but, as I say, that’s not really my point. The far more important issue is this:
Our relationships have been stripped of their intimacy and purity.
Neither our marriages nor our families (not to mention business relationships) are really our own. An armed mediator stands above them, carrying a permanent threat of force.
How well could you raise your children with an armed neighbor following you around and enforcing their will?
This is not a wild example, by the way. It differs from reality only in that the enforcer’s presence is in your mind, rather than in physical form. And if the enforcer is notified, he will show up in physical form.
Children are stolen from parents nearly every day, and not just when the parents are monsters. We all know this, and fear of the enforcer is very real to us.
We have not known real, unmediated marriages. Nor have we enjoyed unmediated relationships with our children.
There are dozens of ways of excusing these intrusions; we’ve been surrounded by them all our lives. We all know the long lists of “Well, what if…?”
What follows those lists, however – what is excused by those fears – are permanent intrusions into our most intimate relationships.
We’ve been robbed of pure, unmediated relationships. We have been trained to see this as normal, but it isn’t, and it has both cheapened and degraded all of those relationships. How could it not?
Our most intimate relationships have been prima notced. It’s time to face that fact and to start doing something about it.