I spent some time with my parents this weekend. My father has Alzheimer's, and my mother has the enormous burden of caring for him. She probably wouldn't state it like that, but it is what it is. We had a long chat late at night as we often do when I visit. It's the best time for her to think of other things that matter. It's important. One of the things that made me think, was this idea of being better companions to the old. I never gave that much thought, really. My family, like many, is splintered in various ways for various reasons--some of them are admittedly stupid reasons and other reasons are damn good ones. That's how it is for a lot of families, I'm sure. And that's why I was thinking about how much of a disservice this is in general. Younger people being separated from old people erases a good third of a human being's life experience. Getting old becomes this terrifying mystery. On one hand, we expect to live forever. On the other, we don't expect to age. Somehow, there's this expectation that we'll always be the same physically if we "take good care of ourselves." Women aren't supposed to get fat, get wrinkles, or sag. Men aren't supposed to loose their power or their marbles. But we're human beings. We do all of these things--if we're lucky.
Isn't that an odd thing to think? Yet, there it is.
I remember having these types of conversations--about the splintering of families and/or the separateness of suburbia--when I was much younger and studying architecture. And it's only been just now that I've come to understand that these things are pretty new. We're much more mobile than we used to be in the US. We live greater distances from our relatives than my mom's generation did. The same is true of immigrants. All the family information that is lost. You know what? I've no idea how many brothers and sisters my mother's mother had. I don't know their names. And there are so many things that are so much more important than a list of names--lessons learned, lives lived, and loves loved. All lost because there is no closeness. In some cases, there is no forgiveness either. (And SF story brain is putting together how this works in regards to space travel. Heh.)
Another thing that came up was abortion. My mother is anti-choice. I'm pro-choice. And as we were talking about family and all the huge numbers of siblings came up...I thought about how much has radically changed for women in such a short period of time. My mother kept phrasing her beliefs in terms of being pro-life, and I feel that's inaccurate. Again, I brought up the fact that men make life and death decisions for example in war, and they are not punished for it. In fact, they're treated as heroes. Yet, women have this choice--the responsibility too, and they're treated as murderers. My mother said it isn't the same. I say it very much is. Pregnancy is dangerous. It was once the number one cause of death among women. I say that if all life is equally important then all life must be equally important--even the potential mother's. And if all life is not equally important then something is very wrong. Never mind the fact that miscarriage is a natural part of the process too, and the numbers are far more frequent than your average person knows. (This is why the custom is that we don't speak openly of a pregnancy until after the first trimester.) Ultimately, an outsider cannot make the decision. The choice must be made on an individual basis by the individuals involved. There is no rubber stamp answer--and don't kid yourself. Taking the choice away from women is an attempt at a rubber stamp solution. And if all of that doesn't convince you take a good hard look at this: when women have power over their own bodies it positively effects the economy and the quality of life for everyone. Women can more easily contribute their talents to civilization. This last item is key. As much as women's contributions are erased from history. It would be a very different world if they never existed in the first place. For example, you should take a moment--if you're reading this via a wireless connection or using a cell phone--and thank Hedy Lamarr.
 Ah, privilege. Hello. How're you doing? ;)
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.