I HAVE reason to be grateful to Senator Cory Bernardi.
The South Australian politician has upset people on the left, people on the right and everyone in between with his comments regarding "traditional" families in his newly released book, The Conservative Revolution.
See, the thing is, people won't often speak up till they have to defend themselves.
It's an intrinsic part of human nature.
So I could bang on all day about how children don't end up in prison from growing up in single-parent or blended families, but that would just go by the wayside, or maybe even attract a wave of criticism.
But with Bernardi's comments that non-traditional families are breeding grounds for debauchery and criminal behaviour, people who were raised in these environments are stepping up and speaking out.
Mr Bernardi has paved the way for celebrities and politicians living in blended or non-traditional families, or who were raised in them, to put their hands up and be proud.
See, a family is one of those things. It's like a collection of priceless, precious china cups.
It doesn't matter if that collection does or does not contain a mum cup and a dad cup, or an aunty or an uncle cup, or a brother or a friend cup.
They're all precious, beautiful cups, and they all give me something special.
They all make my life richer by being in it.
The beauty of family is that it transcends so many things.
Families make it through wars, tragedies, disagreements and the best of times too.
And what is a traditional family anyway? Depending on culture and geography, there are many definitions.
For someone who puts themselves forward as a guardian of the "traditional" family, Cory Bernardi is actually showing a lack of faith in the very thing he claims to admire.
Families are not just something that explodes and fails to function the second you change things up from the "norm".
The essence of a family is at its core.
A traditional structure alone does not make a family.
I could pluck a random man, woman, boy and girl out of a crowd and get them to pose together for a beautiful photo that would serve as the very metonym for society that Cory would like us all to rely on, but it would be missing something, wouldn't it?
It would be a lovely picture, but it would all just be for show, and real families are not showroom displays.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with families where there is a mum, a dad, 2.5 kids and a dog named Fido, far from it.
But you won't, Mr Bernardi, cheapen the worth of families by claiming they need to cling to something as asinine as a traditional structure to be worth anything.
And as someone who grew up raised to be a happy, content individual by a single mother, I am personally insulted by your assumptions.
Growing up as a child in a single-parent family didn't hurt me.
What did hurt, was watching the way society would cast judgement on us as a family because so many people assumed there was something lacking... that somehow, we weren't a real family because there wasn't a man around.
That somehow, we were something that could be disrespected and discriminated against because we were lacking some kind of vital element to make us worthy of being human.
It can really darken your view of the world.
But, Mr Bernardi, you've shown me that bigoted opinions are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and that more and more people now have the chance to prove you, and others like you, wrong.
That's why, Mr Bernardi, I am grateful that right now, you're the odd guy out.
Crystal Jones is the digital producer for the Bundaberg NewsMail.
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