OPINION – Few things bring a person’s introspection into deeper focus like witnessing the commencement of a new chapter of family history.
Watching my newlywed daughter and her husband start the foundation for their new family was an eye-opener. Looking around at the faces of family and friends, I saw generation after generation of proof that the family is as essential ever.
I quickly realized that for all the purse swinging and angry words flying back and forth across the airwaves and online, there are few things in life that matter as much as family.
This is contrary to what many of the various “isms” and ideologies out there would have us believe. But some truths are easier to recognize when viewed through a multi-generational lens.
Marxism, in particular, sought to do away with traditional family roles to better assimilate the individual into the party collective. Germany, in the throes of national Socialism, tried to reduce family to the soldier and his mother who were unquestioningly obedient to their national “father.”
Even John Stuart Mill once famously described the family as “a school of despotism.”
In more recent times, various ideologies have sprung up seeking to convince us that family is nothing more than a social construct to facilitate companionship.
However, mere companionship is a lesser concern when compared to the qualities of duty, honor, obligation, mutual aid and protection that exist within the family structure.
It’s when the family is liberated from these ideals that bind children, parents and kin that we see a corresponding decline in society and rise of dependence upon the state.
It’s not by accident that the most violent and hopeless streets in America have a corresponding lack of stable families. Material poverty alone isn’t to blame.
A family that lacks material wealth can still be happy, healthy and functional. We see this when survivors of destructive storms have lost their homes and belongings but rejoice that their family is safe.
The kind of poverty that is most destructive at a societal level is a poverty of character.
There is a stewardship that accompanies parenthood that can either make or break societies. The ability to create new life carries serious moral and ethical responsibilities.
American sociologist Robert Nisbet once wrote:
We can use the family as an almost infallible touchstone of the material and cultural prosperity of a people. When it is strong, closely linked with private property, treated as the essential context of education in society, and its sanctity recognized by law and custom, the probability is extremely high that we shall find the rest of social order characterized by that subtle but puissant fusion of stability and individual mobility which is the hallmark of the great ages.
This is why the family has formed the most basic institution of society throughout all ages of human history. Exceptions to the rule have been few. A generation that cannot create offspring is committing a form of generational suicide.
Billions of minds, thinking and striving for thousands of years have embraced the family as the form most likely to produce stable, productive and prosperous societies.
Dysfunctional individuals often argue that broken homes are indicative of a universal failure on the part of the family. In the same way that people point to philandering individuals as “proof” that fidelity is a myth, they are appealing to the exception rather than the rule.
The truth is, those who practice fidelity in their marriages find happiness and contentment and those who work to build strong family ties will find that their families remain intact.
The generations that preceded us followed the same natural pattern that we still do – a father and a mother raising their offspring together. The model is perfect even if the human beings who follow it are not.
Those who place their focus on family understand this. They don’t need the various scholarly studies conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics or the National Institute of Child Health and Natural Development to convince them that family matters.
Social, economic and cultural unrest are intensifying all around us. The strongest storm shelter we can invest in today is our family relationships.
Though each family is made up of imperfect individuals, through common goals, teamwork and unqualified love for one another, they can overcome incredible trials and crises.
A functional family is not only a refuge from the gathering storm but also an inexhaustible source of peace and happiness.
Bryan Hyde is a radio commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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