Should family come first?

Today is Thanksgiving day.  Thanksgiving is a time of family, both for enjoying the company of your family, and for reflecting on its importance in your life.  It makes me ponder the apparently obvious question of whether family should come first?

For me family always has. My children hold an importance in my life I think they will only begin to comprehend when they have children of their own in their lives.

So, yes. Family comes first.

However that is only a partial bit of a greater truth. Another partial bit of truth is how we place the ones we love ahead of ourselves. And yet another bit of strictly personal truth {When is truth ever not personal?} is how I am biased against “first”, which is what this post is really about. Now be warned  I’m going to explore this matter at some length, so feel free to stop reading as soon as you get bored.

The initial thoughts that pop into my mind are that first requires there be a last. First turns things into a competition, and love should never be a competition. Not for children, who should never need to compete for their parents love. Not for parents, who should never love one child more than another. And not for people in love, who should never think their love is greater than that of those who love them.

Sadly, we often fail in all these instances.

Time for an admission – I really don’t like competition. Sure, when I was growing up competition was everywhere. I competed to gain an entry place into the High School I attended. I competed with every other student in my grade level for placement in the top class. I competed in sports, both team, and individual. The day scholars competed against the boarders. My school competed against others, both academically and in sports. I constantly competed against my own siblings, then we’d team together and compete against the neighbors. When I entered military service, I competed against other conscripts for officer selection training. In the School of Infantry we were split into teams that competed against each other. We also competed against the members of our own team, in order to remain in officer training. After our basic training we competed for the military units we wanted to serve in. Some competed for secure headquarters postings, and some competed to gain an active duty posting in the field of combat. I fell into the latter category.

And then shit hit the fan.

We started competing for our lives.

I am still alive.

So why do I not feel like a winner for surviving?  During the war I felt like I was, and yet my side lost.  To my first-hand knowledge, the Rhodesian Military never lost a battle, yet the insurgents won the war.  The victors write history, and the losers are soon forgotten. Years later might have been when I finally realized that in war the soldiers who do the fighting are never winners, regardless of the side on which they fight. The aftermath of war is not victorious soldiers and vanquished, faceless foes, it is victims, some of whom were once soldiers, who were once people.

Are there no winners in war?

Yes, there are winners in war.  They are the unscrupulous politicians.  They are the financiers who profit from other peoples’ deaths.  They are the manipulators calling the shots, while cowering behind the scenes. They are those who never lift a weapon in combat, yet speak loudest of Defense, Justice, and Liberty.  The winners in war are the liars and the thieves.

Mortal combat is the final competition.  Don’t mistakenly believe that combat is the ultimate competition, for ultimate has connotations of good, and there has never been, nor ever will there ever be, a good war.  Not ever, and nor ever.  Strong words?  Yes, but obviously not strong enough, since wars still ravage a humanity foolish enough to be easily manipulated by those who profit from death and misery.

Perhaps this post gives clues as to why I am so biased against “first”, even in the case of family.  You see, for me,  first connotates competition.


Competition should for be for the joy of competing, not for mere survival.

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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