Thursday, February 5, 2015

Recovery Of Family Life

Families are the basic unit of society. When families are healthy society is healthy. The role the family had as producer and consumer has now been reduced to being where members sleep. The intensity of competition in our society prevents families from being places of security and rest; the influence of religion on the family has weakened.  These are the words a university professor, with experience in the field, uses in his article on the family, in the Kyeongyang Magazine.

The extended family in the past was able to respond to our needs, both essential and non-essential.    With the change to the nuclear family this has become difficult. We find not only the non-essential needs are filled outside the family, but also the essential ones. Even the nuclear family is beginning to wobble. We have both husband and wife needing to work, the pressure on children to study, and even the living apart of husband and wife for the sake of the children's schooling. In the last 25 years we have a fourfold increase in divorces, and two times the number of unmarried families.

Because of the lack of communication within the family we have the breakdown of family bonds. We do hear: "Have you eaten? Where are you? Are you home? "Can we call this communication?  According to the mass media the face to face communication  has given way, in many instances, to the use of the smart phone. Part of the reason is not only the lack of time but the lack of matter to talk about; not only the generational gap but also the  lack of a common culture: without some commonality in life we have little to talk about. 

So what can we do? He asks. Most know the present family reality is not conducive to happiness, and are looking to bring joy back to the family. The professor does not consider the solution as impossible or difficult: get rid of competition, and work to build up community. We need an attitude which sees the value of working together; work against the coldness of materialism which denigrates our human dignity, and find the values of community. These are the values that we as Catholics have  stressed and have tried to practice.

These are not the values of our society so we have to work to change the foundational system of our society. Egotism and the policy of development at all costs has to  change. The government has to guarantee the right to a human life for all the citizens. This is not the reality in our present society.  

He concludes the article by presenting us with the countries of Northern Europe  and their welfare state, as examples to follow. Instead of efficiency and competition, the emphasis is on equality and care for all the citizens. Once we start looking at where the families live and the process of education comes under the  blanket of public welfare the original understanding of family community and its function will recover.                                     

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