(Not the luxurious suburban homes featured on American TV shows, but very standard houses.)
When I was in around fifth grade, a new family moved to my street. The mother worked—maybe she was even divorced or widowed—and her two boys came home to an empty house after school until she arrived.
This was par-for-the course in the Eighties.
Good childcare was neither widely available nor affordable, and working mothers were often stuck. The kids coming home to an empty house after school were coined “latchkey kids” for the house key many kept on a chain around their neck under their clothes.
"Help...My Big Brother Beats Me Up!"
Some of the women in the neighborhood worked themselves, so they weren’t available and their own children said no. But shockingly, the mothers at home refused to let the poor boy in!
My heart went out to this defenseless little kid. I didn’t even like boys much at that time. They seemed aggressive, loud, cruel to animals, taunting and mean, and I pitied all my friends with younger brothers (I only had younger sisters), sometimes musing whether it worse to have an older brother or a younger brother? But I thought that having such a pitiable little brother for a few hours a day wouldn’t be so bad, actually.
“We could just give him a snack and then let him watch TV until his mom comes home!” I enthused.
But no one let him in even one time. (Except one family, whom I'll get to in a minute.)
Instead, all the mothers on the block told him that it was a “family problem” (as opposed to a neighborhood or social problem, I suppose) and that he needed to go back and try to work things out with his brother.
(And now you know why my generation tended to consider adults stupid, out-of-it, and uncaring.)
Charitable Christians to the Rescue!
Songs, especially around December, mourned children who were hungry, abused, neglected, or suffering, pleading with the world to care and to act.
Despite all this positive exhortation and easily accessible help and advice at people’s fingertips, no one lifted a finger to help this boy.
(In fact, these very nice, decent people often "stood idly by" any situation, no matter how easy and quick intervention could be.)
During his daily rounds, he always found refuge in one home: the Wallaces (not their real name).
The Wallaces were a committed Christian family and it was only the charitable Christian thing to do to offer their home as refuge to this sojourning victim of sibling bullying.
It was also the Christian thing to unspare "the rod." (Proverbs 13:24!) They felt it was their Christian duty to spank children with a wooden spatula (after all, it does specify “ROD”!, even though the Pele Yoetz quoting the Gemara, says it means “shoelaces”—i.e., a light non-traumatic discipline—but who cares what those Jews say about their own Books, right?) and that included any children under their care. I remember their daughter around my age, Kristy, laughing about how her parents actually broke a wooden spoon over her older brother. Oh, ha-ha, Kristy! So funny! How warm, charitable, and Christian of you!
Anyway, that was probably why the poor boy didn’t go straight to the Wallace house since that first time they had mercy on him and kept canvassing the neighborhood for another afterschool refuge.
Finally, he just ended up at the Wallaces daily. I believe they contacted his mother and offered to babysit him until she came home. It didn’t go on for a long time because then that family moved.
The Wallaces ended up caring for another child, a fifth-grade girl named Heather, whose mother worked. I can’t remember whether her mother was a single parent or not, but again, she was stuck for childcare and the Wallaces, being charitable Christians, offered their home. Heather was an unattractive ungainly girl who had no friends at school, partly because she could be a bully herself.
(I remember her at recess yelling at and even slapping the face of my younger sister for no reason until I put a stop to it.)
But really, I think she wasn’t given a chance nor taught basic coping and social skills.
Anyway, Kristy wasn’t happy about Heather coming home with her after school, but that was okay because Heather sometimes got spanked with a wooden spoon, much to Kristy’s charitable Christian delight.
I hated Heather for having bullied my sister, but another part of me felt sorry for the kind of life she was having.
Getting Some of that Much-Lauded Christian "Love"
I hesitantly explained to her that we’d had a holiday called Purim, which was taken from “the, uh, Scroll of Esther…which is a story in the Jewish Bible about, uh, a Jewish queen…”
My voice trailed off under her increasingly hostile stare.
“Oh, I know that story,” she snapped.
Chastened, yet confused— in my 12-year-old experience, non-Jews had never heard of Purim and never seemed familiar with Megillat Esther. So how was I supposed to know I wasn’t supposed to start explaining things to her? I was so used to explaining things to people because despite my own lack of knowledge, non-Jews—including Christians—seemed to know even less.
“I’m sorry,” I stuttered. “I didn’t know you knew. Um, most people who aren’t Jewish don’t know, so…sorry.”
Her eyes flashed. “Well, I do know. It’s part of our Bible too.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” I said.
“All of your Bible is in our Bible,” she said, wrinkling her nose and curling her lip. “And a lot of people do know about Queen Esther, not just Jews. Christians know about Queen Esther.”
“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t know that.”
She contemplated me a moment, then said, “Well, it’s not your fault. You didn’t know. But now you do.”
Yet despite her being a loving, charitable Christian with her heart full of Yishke, I felt like she despised me and I didn’t know why.
(Well, Yishke didn’t much like the Torah either, so if you have him in your heart, you probably don’t like the Torah much either.)
It's All Fake
We've Got Hotlines, Organizations, & Unearned Moral Superiority!
Nobody really cares about human suffering or people going through a hard time. When I was growing up, you saw problems all around you, and hardly anyone cared. Hardly anyone ever did anything to EVER help, despite the vast myriad of resources available and constantly being promoted.
The first time I ever saw real chessed in action was in the frum community.
Sorry, I know that's not PC.
Even frum people complain that the frum community doesn't have all the resources that the oh-so caring and wonderful non-Jewish world has!
(Yet they never ask why the non-Jewish world needs such a vast amount of these social and therapeutic resources...the need for which is only increasing. If the resources were as effective as everyone liked to think, wouldn't the need for them decrease? And also, just because the resources are there doesn't mean that people bother to use them...)
The Conservative and Reform communities in which I grew up would be floored to hear me say that because they always thought of themselves as sooooo caring and proactive and wonderful social justice warriors, but most of it was feel-good stuff comprised of token acts.
It would have been so easy to take in that quiet little boy for 2 or 3 hours and let him watch TV or something or to at least contact his mother and see if she knew what was going on and if there was some other way to help. Neighbors could have done a rotation once a week or even every 2 weeks, depending on how many involved. They could’ve called one of those hotlines or organizations to hear about some advice or options. But no one cared. People had their novels, their TVs, and their telephones, and nothing must get in the way of American relaxation!
Love to Help and Love Hypocrisy!
The Christians you see in the media do not represent your average American Christian. The Christians you see or read are high-income, highly intelligent possessors of advanced degrees with a flair for style and verbal skills.
Your average American Christian is middle- to lower-class and a bundle of contradictions. Yes, they lead the fight for certain morals, like the fight for the unborn and traditional marriage. Yes, they staff homeless shelters, soup kitchens, provide foster homes, adopt disabled and hard-to-place children, donate their hard-earned money to charity, and many other charitable endeavors. But they also have a lot of wacky stuff going on in their communities and families, with a lot of skeletons in their closets.
I'm not saying there are no truly kind-hearted and courageous Christians. But there aren't as many as they'd have you believe.
Rather than being a Religion of Love, Christianity has always been a Religion of Adaptability, and such a fluid system cannot stand up to the onslaught of decadent Leftist culture.
Polytheism masquerading as monotheism really isn’t the way to a sound mind.
Narcissism Masquerading as Feminism
Because Feminism is essentially a fascist movement and not a human rights movement, it was always wreaking havoc right out of the box. Its aim actually wasn't the equality of women or the improvement of society, but the indulgent of humanity's worst vices.
In reality, quality affordable childcare should have run parallel to equality in the workforce. Initially, women were married mothers by their early twenties. So the vast majority of working women over the age of 18 would've been a married with children.
But feminists weren't interested in marriage or motherhood.
They wanted to be raunchy, patronizing, materialists who pursued casual "relationships"...just like how they thought men were.
Now, most men weren't.
Most men desired marriage and children and valued responsibility. There was a certain amount of male condescension toward women, but that was induced by Hollywood movies. Acting like a condescending sneering lewd jerk isn't the male default.
(Seriously. Read memoirs from the 1900s.)
But because feminists couldn't give a hoot about anyone but themselves, real women and children were often left in the dust.
Because American culture has become so shiny and sparkly, it’s hard to see behind and even harder to reject all the dark gunk clinging to the back of the shimmering facade.
Just do your best and Hashem will help you with the rest.