The family is the tree from which all members of society have blossomed. The communist, the socialist, the dictator, the conservative, the liberal, the democrat, and the republican came from within families. The judge, the lawyer, the law officer, the delinquent, and the offender all are the products of families. The scientist, the engineer, the doctor, the nurse, the principal, the teacher, and the student all have their roots in the family foundation. The family then becomes the first place to look when something goes wrong in society.
Patterns of behavior within the family are similar to the family genetic structure, though families can modify their behaviors. When something goes wrong in our society, some people look to governments for answers, because they have the expressed accountability and responsibility, and the macro–administrative mechanisms to address the broader infrastructure problems of society. We also ought to look within our homes, our religious organizations, our churches, our corporations, and our educational institutions for answers to family instability. A viable society is a mutual inclusive endeavor between family and governments.
Enlightened leaders know that the Gross Social Progress (GSP) of nations is a function of family social and economic stability. Equitable opportunities for educational development and meaningful employment are essential to attain and sustain family stability. Notwithstanding; a ‘new individualism’ has invaded the modern family. Parents’ preoccupation with work (the economics of survival) and careers create inadvertent opportunities for children and young adults to gain early independence before they are fully equipped to make ‘life-changing’ decisions regarding their safety and futures. The socialization process begins with our childhood nurturing and development. From the moment a child is born, he or she begins to experience the effects of his or her first social environment – the home.
The traditional and cardinal rules for raising children are good manners, personal discipline, responsibility, and respect for others who are directly or indirectly responsible for their care. Family love and care for each other are the hallmark of family relations, particularly in caring for infants and elder family members.
Respect for family elders and people in uniform were, at one time, customary within families. In other words, social behavior was once and is today, paramount to the stability of the family and society. Parents that care for their children promote early understanding of God’s counsel (Romans 12:16).
In generations past, the family offered its members a more crowded centralized unit, which operated within a framework of moral and social principles and values. The many hours in school allowed for teachers to be significant influences on his or her behavior. Peer pressure was less significant, and the influence of schoolmates was positive. In our modern era, youth are susceptible to, and often engage in, social behaviors that society labels as delinquent. Society may label the behavior of some youths as adult criminal behavior, which exacts a high cost to society in its attempt to reform or correct, by process of incarceration and rehabilitation.
Youths are more susceptible, mainly during the teenage years because of the more significant influence of their peers compared to that of their parents? Negative social behavior is a concern in modern societies, despite great moral efforts by parents and family members to train and discipline children. The decline in youth behaviors may have links to a need to escape from family violence, abuse, loneliness, despair, depression, and boredom. Our ‘materially driven life’ may also have an impact on the value system of our youths. Paradoxically, the family unit ought to provide the most stable and nurturing environment within which to grow.
This stability within the family is important because it translates to stability in society as well. Families in our highly mobile era may not view themselves as integral building blocks of communities, but they are the building blocks of society, with children at the nucleus. This intrinsic link between family and society is evident by observing the decline of the community and the breakdown of the family. Problems affecting the modern family result from a shift from family cohesion, as a unit in society, to the nuclear family, in which its members strive for greater independence as opposed to interdependence.
Modern enlightenment seems to take us further apart from our responsibility toward each other, as our first and foremost ‘spiritual duty.’ Our family responsibilities begin with marriage bonds, which are the central obligations of the family unit (Matthew 19:5–6). When we can break the bonds of marriage, which are spiritual bonds, the breaking of all other obligations becomes second nature to us. If our ultimate social goal is to develop stable societies, we should begin with a fundamental understanding of the bonds we break and develop strategies to overcome our failings, because we cannot engender highly socialized societies apart from highly socialized families.
Many of us encounter difficulties in maintaining family bonds, such as love, marriage, loyalty, trust, friendship, and unity that enable family and society cohesion, but the breaking of bonds is rarely intentional. The integrity of these obligations provides the foundation for successful marriages, raising children and building healthy families in society. As we mature, we begin to understand the consequences of broken bonds, not just for ourselves, but for others as well.
We then become acutely aware of the impact on our children, our friends, our employers, our employees, our neighbors, our nations, the environment, and the international community as we strive to elevate ourselves in the light of God. The need for Spiritual enlightenment will increase in our modern era as families struggle to meet the demands of volatile careers, work, to care for children and older parents, and building an economic base for the future.
This brief treatise is our contribution to awakening the world to the significant benefits to humankind when we acknowledge the noticeable and the inconspicuous attributes of women that hold their families, communities, and nations together. Some may attempt to distinguish “mothers” from the generic term “women,” but years of empirical observation teach that biology is not essentially the main ingredient. The main ingredient that constitutes “womanhood” is the “heart” of the woman. A woman can nurture children whether she is a mother or has never tasted motherhood. A woman is neither jealous nor envious of her counterpart with children. Instead, she embraces them with her “heart” and “arms” as though they are the “fruit of her womb.”
Women have a boundless capacity to imbue happiness in the lives of their partners, their children, their communities, and the world. When future generations examine the “flight recorder” from the wreckage of human history, the most important piece of evidence they will find is a male-dominated leadership. Where are our nurturing and caring “mothers of civilization”? Where are our “keepers of compassion”? Where are our “prayer worriers”? Has our male-dominated leadership relegated (theoretically) fifty percent of the world’s population to silence? Can civilization progress without the “heart” of our “mothers of civilization?”
The current state of our world demands that we begin to make new history that should include women at every level of leadership in every sphere of human development (spiritual, moral, social, intellectual, and physical). The six thousand years of historical records testify to great leadership on the one hand and significant failure on the other. Have we denied the legacy of great women of the past, though, not without some controversy as well?
The legacies of the great women of yesteryear live on in a new generation of women in every profession, even those occupations that were once the domain of men. From science and engineering to medicine to law, women now dominate the campuses of many prominent universities. Women are finding their place in the media as reporters and news anchors, and war correspondents, and in every level of government and private corporations from the ground floor to board chairpersons, including directors and chief executive officers (CEOs). Empowering women empowers the whole of humanity.
Women have agitated for change in various movements, including (but not limited to) the suffrage movement of the early 1800s to the mid-1900s (www.britannica.com/topic/woman-suffrage), feminism, the women’s rights movement, feminist rebellion, social feminism, and gender equality legislation. Over one hundred years ago, in 1909, the recognition of women’s place in society began through National Women’s Day. March 8, 2017, marked another historic day for women, International Women’s Day (first celebrated in 1911). Notwithstanding, the corporate boardrooms where leaders pen life-saving and life-threatening decisions women are not wholly representation.
Women are the “lanterns” that shine through the darkness of the modern church and other religious institutions. In times of family turmoil, women stand between fathers and sons. In periods of international conflict, they heal the felled soldier in battle. When the child cries at midnight, the mother awakens to attend to him or her. Women cry not for themselves but humanity. Women endure when their mate leaves for another. Without the love of “women” and “mothers” in the world, the entire world would plunge catastrophically into a sea of UNHAPPINESS. Conversely, the very presence of “women” and “mothers” in the world imbues HAPPINESS.
“A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies; husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands. But a mother’s love endures through all.”
― Washington Irving (1783–1859)
Our responsibility to God and neighbor (Mark 12:32) given for the unity of the human family then becomes the first obligation of human existence. Therefore, we must preoccupy ourselves, and imbue our minds with the pursuit of our accountability and responsibility to God, family, community, and nation, but it must begin with children. We must grow beyond the divisions between parents and children, husband and wife, and among family members, friends, neighbors, societies, nations, and most importantly, the division between God and humankind.
In 2002, Errol Gibbs relinquished his technical career to research, study, and write about the betterment of humanity, enabled by spiritual, moral, social, intellectual, and physical growth and development. Errol hopes that this article will shed light on another path that will better inform the mutual survival of humankind as a viable species.