It’s good to be redundant

Last week, I wrote about my guys’ weekend in Big Bend. At the time, I thought we were roughing it. Three days in the mountains. Three nights in tents. No showers or home-cooked meals. Only freeze dried food and compostable toilets. Oh, and wild bears within fifty feet of camp.

Only later did this occur to me: The four of us had left four wives to care for a combined fourteen kids for four straight days. Some kids are still in diapers. All are under eleven. Now, who was “roughing” it?

The term “redundancy” has seen a resurgence in recent years. In general, it means backup. If one Internet line goes down or gets busy, another is available to carry data. If one hard drive goes bad, another has the files backed up. Service without interruption.

But redundancy wasn’t man’s idea. In the natural world, we see many examples. We have not one eye, but two. Not one arm, but two. Not one lung, but two. If one part goes down, we often can still function.

Plants get their nutrients from the sun and the soil. Like the omnivorous bears we saw in Big Bend, most of us get our nutrients from both plants and meat.

We see the concept of redundancy in government. If you live in the city and the police won’t respond to your concern, you can call the sheriff. If you live in the county and the sheriff refuses to heed to your need, you can call the constable.

On a national level, if Congress makes a law that infringes on our rights, the Supreme Court can throw it out. If the President thinks a law is a bad idea, he sends it back to Congress for reworking.

The framers wanted checks and balances. They required redundancy.

Transatlantic telegraphs didn’t become useful when the first line was laid in 1858. They only became viable when multiple cables were submerged in the 1860s. With redundancy came efficacy.

Without redundancy, life goes haywire. Information stops. Bodies become disabled. Dictators take over. Needs go unmet.

Which brings me to my realization about who really roughed it last weekend. Clearly, our wives did. I can think of no more challenging task than single-parenting. My heart goes out to single mothers and fathers. They need our encouragement. I wish their situations weren’t so common.

Some people single-parent by choice, others do it through no fault of their own. Some do it well. None would say it’s easy.

Remarkably, our culture still largely views single-parenting as an equal means to raise children.

I tend to think that many ails of our time harken back to this issue. Some will call my views old-fashioned or based on “family values”. That’s fine.

But my views are also based on the understanding that two parents create redundancy. Parental redundancy keeps balls from being dropped, kids from being neglected, teachable moments from being missed.

Of the four guys who went camping last weekend, two had come from divorced homes and two had come from intact marriages. The national divorce rate played out in our midst.

But, to a man, we are trying to create homes built on vibrant marriages, homes that offer our kids two sources of love and backup sources of care. In other words, we’re trying to be redundant.


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