I am all for online debates, and all for stroppy females — one of the happiest moments of the Blair years was seeing the Women’s Institute give him the bird, and the naked panic on the old fraud’s face.
In the grip of extreme parenthood you may, of course, care about other people’s children — and indeed grandparents, maiden aunts and gay brothers-in-law — and offer lip service and a few sponsored walks to assist suffering humanity at home and abroad. But, slice it how you like, your own family remains your top priority. So even if it makes moral and economic sense for government to dock your child benefit because you’re earning 60k, close your Sure Start centre because others need it more, and refuse you IVF to produce a sibling for your child, then you will howl in majestic, mother-wolf rage. You guard the cave. It’s what you do.
There\’s nothing very new about this of course. Haldane\’s* laying down his life for two brothers or 8 cousins is an expression of much the same point.
We aren\’t all members of a happy clappy society which regards all as equal. We really do work from self to direct family to tribe to the extended society. Which is why attempts to make us consider that wider society over our own more immediate concerns so often fail.
*Haldane\’s best comment is of course:
When asked \”What has the study of biology taught you about the Creator, Dr. Haldane?\”, he replied
\”I\’m not sure, but He seems to be inordinately fond of beetles.\”