PART 1: THE PROBLEM
One of the moral dilemmas of modern times has been how to effectively discharge one’s functions in his/her calling or profession and yet not ignore one’s family responsibilities. This moral dilemma is probably as old as human history but is definitely pronounced and accentuated by the modern economy and technology. Until the development of complex means of production, family and career duties were inseparable; husbands being helped by their wives in the farm or any other place of work while the children learning how to master the family vocation from their fathers and helping to feed the family. In such times the professional responsibilities were discharged side by side with family responsibilities and modern day exclusivity of career and family did not exist. However, even in such times some degree of conflict between the two types of responsibilities definitely existed.
The gradual collapse of the traditional family in Western societies is a testament to this fact. The demand that family provide affection, love and intimacy is one way humans attempt to save the traditional family by inventing a new purpose for its existence. Another attempt at this salvage is the society’s gradual permission and encouragement of wives to seek education, skills and jobs so that the traditional family maintains its original purpose as an economic entity [is it not amazing to recognize that the emancipation of women, feminism and women rights movements were modern society’s attempts, led by women, to save the traditional family?].
Careerists hold that family obligations are below career obligations in urgency and significance. They consider their career as an avenue for personal growth and the realization of their God-given potentials. A sense of independence, personal initiative, self-esteem, and self-love characterize a careerist; a careerist strives for personal growth, individual achievement and self-actualization. Realization of one’s inner potentials and nurturing one’s inner self is considered by a careerist a top priority in life.
Careerists come from both genders and all subscribe to the same general principles. However, there are slight differences between careerists from the two genders.
Male careerists in particular believe their family to be no more than a potentially dangerous distraction and see themselves no more than providers to the family. They often accuse family issues such as spending time together, discipline of the children as well as feeding and bathing them and taking care of their other physiological needs as mundane activities better left to women. They have this idea that women should be in charge of the house while they take care of the outside. The ultimate result of such an attitude is that the family takes a backseat in the lives of such men and their career remains their primary concern and their occupation often turns into a preoccupation.
Female careerists subscribe to the same general principles as their male counterparts but also see their career as an opportunity for freedom and an avenue to work and compete on equal footing with men. Female careerists see the family in its traditional sense as a prison in which women were locked by men for ages and thus share together with men contempt for family, although for a different reason. This dangerous combination of male careerists’ disdain of family as a mundane distraction and female careerists’ contempt of it as a prison that blocks their growth, this dangerous combination threatens the very existence of traditional family as described above.
As the name suggests, anti-careerism is a reaction against the collapse of the traditional family and the spreading wildfire of individualism and high need of achievement. Anti-careerists hold that the tendency of male careerists to be far away from home or absent most of the times deny the children a strong presence of male figure in their lives. This leads to a deterioration of emotional and moral development of children.
Anti-careerists stress that it is not only the children that pay the price in careerist families but the adults too. The wife of a male careerist often feel isolated and left out. She is forced to suspend her own career and ambition to raise children as she painfully and with jealousy watches her husband’s career skyrockets. The wife may not even care much about her career but yet lives in misery because her contributions and sacrifices are never noticed or acknowledged by her careerist husband. Anti-careerists maintain that it is almost a rule that male careerists consider family issues as mundane and insignificant compared to the more pressing issues of their profession. Such males are not aware that family issues mean everything to their wives; for most wives these family issues provide a sense of purpose, order and meaning in their lives and are not willing to tolerate husbands who treat this treasure of theirs with contempt. According to Anti-careerists, the same story holds where a man is married to a female careerist. They claim that in such a union, the man often feels neglected or ignored and second to his wife’s career. He is also tormented by the fact that his wife has ignored the welfare and well-being of her children in the pursuit of her selfish ambitions.
Now the reader might ask: what if careerists marry themselves?
We’ll discuss that in the second part of this article.