Human Emotions, Family Responsibility and the “Loveless Society”?


Suzanne Fields brazen column on Mon. Jan. 23  2006 “Must technology tell us what it means to be human?” as well as Mr. Imbody’s (Tues. Jan. 24 2996) reply about the “loveless society” hit my solar plexus. One obvious and immediate unmentioned question is a third-rail issue: filial responsibility laws. In a society that produces fewer children (at least in higher income households) and can keep people alive longer, we have to face it now.


Older gay and lesbian people may find this a life-changing problem, particularly those who have lived with cultural and economic independence for three decades in a separate, previously unreconciled dominion that has its own emotional values and that is not particularly deferential to producing the next generation. Obviously, when people do not have children at all they could find themselves at the end of the line. I know that this begs the question about gay adoptions and custody.


I think both writers are recalling a notion called “aesthetic realism.”  But people from older generations tend to confuse “love” with cultural loyalty from their children. People really can be forced to change their own chosen personal priorities and goals because of the needs of blood family members around them. The burdens have not been shared equitably.  


Ms. Fields makes one other point, that technology is giving us knew ways to define ourselves individually, without family. What is scary is how fragile our society of “independent” people has become – to terrorism, pandemics, and other catastrophes that we are careless in planning for.


Bill Boushka

4201 Wilson Blvd #110-688

Arlington VA 22203-1859