Do You Recognize the Meaning of What You See?
NO NATURAL AFFECTION
DO YOU not consider it quite natural for people to have affection for persons close to them—for their brothers and sisters, their parents, their marriage mate and their children? In fact, small children find it quite natural to be affectionate toward everyone, relatives and nonrelatives alike.
Today’s world, however, is not one overly blessed with love and affection. Neighbors are viewed with indifference, strangers are treated with an “I couldn’t care less” attitude, and the natural affection we should expect to find within the realm of the family is all too often missing. Why?
Natural Affection for Children
In centuries past most little girls enjoyed playing with dolls and looked forward to growing up to have “real live ones” of their own. Motherhood was natural. Women were viewed as having a certain “maternal instinct.” A book recently published in France, however, attacks this view, claiming it is simply a myth invented by men to ensure female subjugation.
Apparently many women today agree. Other interests easily override any affection they might have for children—both before and after birth. And although these women may get quite upset when they see people mistreating children, yet they find it not at all upsetting that in many countries abortions are permitted almost on demand. But is abortion not child abuse at its very worst?
Our 20th century has seen such a decrease in natural affection for children that a Swiss newspaper, Weltwoche-Report, recently stated: “What 79 years ago Ellen Key* proclaimed would be the century of the child may well end up being the century of the abused child. An appalling increase in physical abuse of children is to be observed worldwide . . . Besides physical there is also mental abuse, which can be no less cruel.”
The harm such child abuse causes, be it physical or mental, may later come back to haunt the parents who inflict it. Imagine how a father, little inclined to show his children any natural affection, must have felt when his college-bound son told him “that if he had to live his life over again, he would like to try it as a Teddy bear—so he could be hugged.”
What has happened to natural affection?
Natural Affection Between Marriage Mates
When young people fail to receive at home the natural affection they crave—and deserve—they may try to find it elsewhere. This may explain in part why in some countries teenage marriages, or those living together without marriage, are on the increase.
But after coming together, do these young people find the natural affection they missed at home? Some do. The fact that hundreds of thousands of them later divorce or separate, however, is an obvious proof that affection between them is not always as natural as expected.
Think, too, of the many examples of husband or wife abuse. A newsmagazine recently said: “To the 19th century composer John Howard Payne, it was Home Sweet Home. In today’s America it is all too often an arena for shoving, pushing, punching, kicking, screaming, torture and death . . . as many as 8 million Americans are assaulted each year by members of their own families.”
Statistics from England reveal that every eighth murder committed involves husbands or wives killing their own mate.
So again the question: What has happened to natural affection?
Natural Affection for Aged Parents
As small children grow older, the natural affection most of them had for their parents and grandparents may cool off. Suddenly, oldsters are “out of touch” and “hopelessly old-fashioned”; yes, they even tend “to get in the way.” Too frequently they are banished to old-age homes or institutions, not always out of necessity, but for reasons of convenience.
About this practice, a Swiss newspaper stated: “Old people’s homes are not chiefly social institutions, but an expression of our social thinking and behavior. The way we esteem our aged—or perhaps fail to esteem them—reveals to what extent we exercise practical humanitarianism. In the so-called ‘underdeveloped’ nations old people enjoy the highest respect. In these countries we find no old people’s homes, at least not in those not yet overwhelmed by our civilization. In this respect we still have something to learn. Quite a bit in fact.”
Once again, how appropriate the question: What has happened to natural affection?
Why the Decline in Natural Affection?
God’s original purpose was for all men to belong to a single, united human family, in which affection for him and for one’s fellowman would have been nothing but natural. God’s adversary, Satan the Devil, however, broke up this unity back in the garden of Eden and is presently making use of every means to thwart God’s purpose to restore it through his kingdom.
Particularly since World War I, society has been disrupted by political and social unrest. In many countries material possessions are rated above human relationships in importance. Often, moral and religious standards have declined almost to the point of nonexistence. “ME” is increasingly being written in capital letters; “you” in lowercase. All these factors have had a profound influence on today’s families.
A decline in natural affection, particularly within the family, is, as the Bible explains at 2 Timothy 3:1-5, one of the clear evidences that we are living in the “last days” of this system of things. A new world society of God’s making will soon replace today’s society of people that is marked by its “having no natural affection.”
Learn what God requires of those desiring to be a part of that new world society. Heed his admonition at Proverbs 4:4: “Keep my commandments and continue living.” Then you will continue living and will be able to enjoy life at a time when showing affection for persons close to you will be the most natural thing in the world.
“You, though, keep you senses in all things.”—2 Tim. 4:5.
Ellen Key was a Swedish essayist and educationalist whose book The Century of the Child (published in 1900 and translated into English in 1909) made her world famous.