Perspectives: Family, the best storm shelter of all

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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Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • anybody home September 14, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Bryan, you finally made me laugh with your “purse swinging” image. I can’t get it out of my head and it’s quite perfect for what’s been going on. Thanks for that one.

  • fun bag September 14, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    someone else read it and let us know how many times it mentions ‘liberty’ and/or ‘freedom’. im done with mr. perspectives junk reads

    • NotSoFast September 14, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Fun Bag Fun Bag, May I take the liberty to make a suggestion to you?
      Don’t let the door hit you in the backside as you return to reading the funnies.

  • BIG GUY September 14, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Wonderful essay, Bryan. Some may take issue with you but you are right on target here. We are all imperfect to one extent or another leading to imperfect family relationships, but that doesn’t negate the family as the cornerstone of happy, productive living and of society.

  • mesaman September 14, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Written with as much insight as any graduate marriage and family therapist, Bryan. Your empirical study of family dynamics is most impressive.

  • voice of reason September 14, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    I, for one, am grateful to live in a time when the majority of people, courts and governments have recognized the good that comes from families, no matter what shape or size they may be.

  • Simone September 14, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    “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.””

    You just compared a family without a male and female mother and father to Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist party. How dare you.

    You know I could say the EXACT same thing about Mormonism right? It would go something like this “Mormons, in the throes of a theocratic state, tried to reduce family to the priesthood holder and his wife who were unquestioningly obedient to their divine “prophet.”

    Something tells me that you don’t see that and that is fine. You can call me a hypocrite if you want to based on what I have said on other forums but my statement here is not intended to be taken that way. And no, I’m not here to rant about the hypocrisy of your statement.

    I’m here to tell you the truth as I see it. A family is a family regardless of who leads it. I don’t care if they are one parent, two parents, grandparents. I don’t care if the family has one mother, one father, two mothers, two fathers, or one of each. The ONLY thing that matters is that they LOVE one another and that they love their kids (if they choose to have them) and raise them to be decent, respectful human beings who are kind and considerate to others.

    The non=”traditional” family is not a sign of impending doom, it’s a family led by human beings with all the foibles that come from being HUMAN BEINGS. At the end of the day, that is all we are; human being trying to make ity in this world, doing the best we can. ALL OF US.

    “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”.

    The only thing holding us back from being what the tv family of the 50s says we should be is people who don’t think others should be treated equally because of some antiquated belief that is unfounded everywhere but their own mind.

  • eddantes56 September 14, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Well done Bryan. Articulated succinctly and whether we experience the ideal famiily or something less than the ideal, the timeless principles you articulate resonate deeply.

    Kierkegaard’s quote adds to the conversation.

    Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
    Soren Kierkegaard

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