Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On the Balance of Risk, Freedom and Choice: a Response to the Rebel Heart Controversy (April 2014)

Such a fascinating media flurry around the Rebel Heart story -- a  family rescued some 900 miles offshore from Mexico. In the last 36 hours we've read hundreds of blog comments attacking the Kaufmans for being irresponsible sailors and parents. I don't know how well prepared they were for this voyage -- I do not know this family, and I have not followed their journey. But I do know they've been sailing for a year to prepare for the first offshore leg of their circumnavigation, and I give them credit for at least leaving the dock in the first place.  

I keep wondering why people feel the need to judge this family for doing something they believe is the right path for them, for creating a life that is exceptional and full of love and life, for teaching their children about the world in a hands-on way. All the things I value. 
All I can come up with is that there is something else going on here. This is not about the rights and wrongs of sailing with small children or the decisions we make as parents -- it's about larger fears that permeate our society.

So when I was approached to write about this storm, I felt a strong urge to respond. I am not dogmatic or particularly preachy about 'our' way of life. But it rankles that others are about their own set of values, and this issue seems about much more than sailors or offshore adventuring. I think it's important to look at the way we balance our lives between risk and perceived notions of safety. 
This link will take you to a blog post I wrote for the parenting journal, What To Expect
-Michelle Elvy, in Bali, Indonesia