August 21, 2009
By now we have all seen this picture. The Duggar family... They have eighteen or so children. Think about that for a second... Eighteen children to guide through life let alone feed and clothe. When we go out for a nice lunch, catch a movie, then maybe take in a stroll that includes our favorite candy shop, followed by a cup of coffee, that's about one hundred dollars spent. There's only four of us.
Time... How do you find the time to do it? A frequently brought up issue here is that each child requires understanding, and teaching, a calm force of guidance in life. I agree with that, I see the point. Children should be exposed to the finer things, like classical music. Lessons about responsibility and how it ties in with things like honor and character should be taught at all times. Each difficult situation that arises should be met with a stern calmness that teaches your children the correct ways to react and behave. They should be reading things like Tom Sawyer and Tarzan. Playing outside using their imaginations should be the order of the day.
Yeah, right... I'm sure there are people who have lived like this, I just haven't met any of them. I grew up in a house with four siblings, a mother that tells it like it is, and a father who had a propensity for explosions and loud noises... Mealtimes at our home were loud and argumentative. Play time was when my parents ran us outside and away from Gilligan's island. We would wander around a bit then find something to occupy our time that usually ended in some sort of painful or expensive corrective process. Like everyone else we did things that we weren't supposed to and we paid the price for these offenses, with a swift and sure hand. And like everyone else, we toed the line when we had to.
I have read several blogs and articles on line about the Duggar family. Ninety nine percent of what I have read is negative, rabidly so. I have misgivings about this family myself. During this time in history I can see how it doesn't make sense to have a family that large. This isn't a time when an army of a family can come in handy on the farm. So, I decided to do what I usually do in these situations... Stop listening to other people's opinions about something and check it out for myself.
I had read enough about them on line to know that they are viewed as "cult like" in many circles. They seek corporate sponsorship for many things to pay for a good bit of what they do, they are very religious, sticking to a strict belief system and enforcing it with their children. I know too that when it comes to reality television, we are given a polished product to view that has been put together with the utmost of care. So I avoided any sort of "Duggar information" for a while and put them out of my mind. Until I saw the program was on television, and watched it.
I put aside all opinions deciding to let the product the family and sponsors put together speak for itself. This program had been on before, but I simply never paid any attention to it other than to periodically shake my head as I glanced up to see the group getting on a bus to travel somewhere, or lining up at a bathroom. While I didn't really enjoy the show, I have to admit, I didn't see what all the fuss was about. Putting aside the fact that we all know it's heavily edited, what I saw was a family doing what they enjoy. They were spending time with each other and undertaking tasks that helped others. In the episode I watched they were helping another huge family build an addition onto their home. There were something like fifty six people on the scene and only one working bathroom for the entire visit. A parent on the show said that there was someone on the bathroom twenty four hours a day. Yet what I saw seemed to be a bunch of happy people. They were enjoying all the noise and camaraderie of the job and visit. I was reminded of an Amish barn raising. The odd thing was.. after the show, I found that I was confounded by the vitriol that I had been exposed to about this family while reading articles and blogs concerning them.
I mean, yeah.. I found them to be a bit creepy in a Stepford Wives sort of way, but they seemed happy. I follow a live and let live sort of philosophy, the "take nothing from anyone through force or fraud" mindset is firmly ensconced in my psyche... I like to believe it is anyway... So I began to wonder about the people that seem driven to rip these folks apart and make fun of them.
I went back around and read several things about them again and came to the usual conclusion that people are just plain ass unhappy unless they are being mean to someone or tearing something down in order to make themselves feel better about their own lives. This prompts the question, what is so lacking in your life that you feel it's constructive to be this damn mean about a bunch people who snookered a network into paying them money to be filmed. The complaint most often spewed about this, and most reality television, is that it's bad for the children. Everyone seems convinced that all of the underage females will inevitably be employed in the porn industry, while all of the male kids will be strung out on drugs and one day featured on an episode of VH1's behind the scenes. And they all seem to be poised to watch the crash during the race while calmly stating that they have no interest in the family at all...
It feels like the people that make fun of the twilight series of books to me. If you like them, I say enjoy them and be damned what people think about it. We all have things that we enjoy which will make a large group laugh at us. I get the strangest looks from people at intersections when I have my car windows down and I'm singing along with a Tom Waits cd, or belting out a loud rendition of "Happiest girl in the whole USA" in tune with Donna Fargo... But damn.. I like the music. If the Duggars are happy in their lives, and find purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in adhering to their beliefs.. Then good for them... If there are people that are willing to kill an hour during the week watching a group of people helping someone out on a project, or going on vacation, or playing softball... Then, meh.. why the hell not....
Like all things involving other people, it doesn't really have any effect on you as an individual unless you allow it to. I wasn't converted to some far out religious cult by watching it, or had no desire to approach my wife and discuss having a litter of children. I just enjoyed watching a group of smiling people doing things together. Was I brainwashed by the subliminal messages hidden by the family and producers in the background scenes? Sure, probably... But somehow I really don't think so. Besides.. come on.. it's just tv.. turn the damn thing off.. Enjoy yourself for a while... let the smug suffer in their useless hatred.. as usual...