By LARRY M. JONES
One of the things that separate humans from most other species of animals is our necessity to teach requisite life skills to our young.
Unlike many of God’s creatures, our progeny are extremely vulnerable for years and may require nurturing for decades. Other animals such as fish or insects enter this world completely on their own, never knowing any parental influence. They are born/hatched with all the instincts necessary to survive.
They are equipped knowing how to seek food, shelter, and grow to adulthood in order to perpetuate the species.
Despite being at the top of the world’s food chain, we humans are perhaps the most vulnerable of all. In fact, the entire mammalian class is normally quite helpless at birth and requires parental nurturing to survive. Many require only the mother’s love and care, but it seems the most successful species have learned to flourish in family groups, with each member being responsible for certain aspects of providing for each other. Humans learned early in our evolutionary development that this was ideal.
The family unit has been the mainstay of civilized man since earliest time, yet in recent decades we Americans seem to have minimized its value. With all the modern conveniences for making life easier, with government childcare programs, independent attitudes and feelings by many of greater self-entitlement, the need for the family unit is greatly underestimated. Hillary Clinton purportedly wrote a book in 1996 called, “It Takes A Village,” about raising children. At the Republican National Convention that year, nominee Bob Dole jumped on the bandwagon and said: “... with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.” They were both right, but I think the good senator from Kansas was a bit closer to the mark.
I grew up in an era when elderly parents routinely lived with their children when they could no longer care for themselves. Before the days of nursing homes and assisted living centers, it was necessary to look after the elderly. As a side bonus, the older generation could provide valuable insight to family history, assist in childcare and nurturing, and contribute to family income, all the while enjoying family and feeling as a valued asset to the family unit.
This past week, I was able to enjoy such time with my own daughter and grandsons. Having been planned for weeks in advance, my wife Helen was out of town just as the tomatoes in my garden all ripened, seemingly, on the very day Helen left. Not to be deterred, the troops arrived, picked several baskets of juicy ripe tomatoes, and proceeded to process them. We washed the Mason jars, scalded the tomatoes, peeled and cored them, and packed them in quart jars. A few hours later, we were all tired, sweaty and quite pleased to have canned 26 quarts of the freshest, tastiest tomatoes in Parker County.
This winter we can enjoy the delicious flavor of the garden fresh tomatoes when nothing to match can be found in local stores. Yet, perhaps more important than preserving our food was the aspect of teaching the younger generation an ethic and a skill that they will remember for the remainder of their lives.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.