We take care of our own, we say. Family is family. Blood is thicker than water. These are noble sentiments that have encouraged beautiful sacrifice, forgiveness, and accomplishments. One problem with it though is that it too easily justifies provincialism and nepotism.
A recent social critic observed that not long ago when people talked about getting together to do something “for our kids,” whether it was build a swimming pool or invest in education, it was obvious that they meant everybody’s kids. Or, at least, they meant more than just their biological kids.
But unfortunately, that’s changed. When we say “our own” we don’t think Americans or whatever country we live in, we think race. Or we think our blood relatives. That’s awful. This system we live in demands that we think of ourselves as more than just parents to our own kids. We have to think generationally. We can’t just think about getting ours, or protecting ours. We have to think like a village, like a group.
The Stoics remind us that we are “made for each other.” Marcus Aurelius spoke dozens of times about the “common good.” He didn’t just care about his kids. He cared about everybody’s kids. Because that’s what justice—what doing the right thing—demands of us.
It’s better to think of “our kids” as everybody. We’re all in this together, every single dad. We’re all better if we’re doing better, together.