The Subjectivity of Family

by Matthew Rivera 12 months ago in humanity

Defining “blood is thicker than water” in detail.

The Subjectivity of Family

Many people define “family” as blood, and that being so, many people feel ethically trapped within the concept of choosing family over everything. As a rational-thinking human being, I'd like to disagree with this entirely on the premise that “family” means nothing more than blood. A metaphor to best reword this would be to compare family to a mass of cancer cells in your body; they are still a part of your body, despite their usually detrimental and even lethal qualities. Cancer cells to your body are as family is to your wellbeing; just because something is connected to you, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy or even necessary to keep around you.

To me, family comes down to a few simple traits. How someone treats you, shows that they care and makes you feel important. In my years, I’ve learned that a lot of your family can actually be terrible people, influence terrible things, and even be terrible to you. Being “family” doesn’t justify one's potential toxicity or negative traits, but for a lot of people, it gives an excuse to not strive for greater treatment. A lot of people feel that their family will always be there for them, and although that may be true sometimes, it could be harmful to reward love and respect to those who don’t provide the same to you, despite you sharing the same name and even the same lineage. Throughout our lives, we will meet many people who share the same interest or goals or even same emotional/mental complexities. These people, at some point, may become good acquaintances or even the best of friends. To me, these people are more deserving of being called family as opposed to someone who was born with you or related to you. To me, this is rational.

This brings us now to the literal defining of the expression, “blood is thicker than water.” People initially think that this phrase means that if you share the same blood, or if you’re “family,” that it means that that alone should be enough to distinguish who is worth being important in your life. In the actual meaning of the expression, the “blood” is referring to the blood shed on the battlefield (emotional/physical trauma and support through life, provided by the individual) as opposed to the “water,” which refers to the water of the womb (meaning blood relatives, who may not always provide such support). I am sure we have all experienced bad people in our lives, some of us unfortunate enough to see someone we thought loved us unconditionally treat us as they don’t care. Who is more family to you, your best friend who has been there for you for over ten years, or your brother or sister who doesn’t even speak with you in your adult life, despite being raised with you?

My point is, the concept of “family” is very subjective, and those who fail to realize that may find themselves being hurt by people who they thought they could trust by default based on the notion that family will always be there for you. We grow up thinking that this means that those who we are born with, who share our genetics, are always going to be good to us and always be there for us. Within my own family, I pick and choose who is worth being relevant to my life, and I’ve found that I can be indifferent to those who are not. While I am always open for a new connection, when one does not exist, I find my way out as best as I can, whether they are related to me or not. That is how family is subjective.

Matthew Rivera
Matthew Rivera
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Matthew Rivera

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