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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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LIFE MATTERS: Family

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By Dr. Dennis Acop

The family is the basic unit of society. It is definitely the most important organization in the human structure of life. Depending upon the kind of upbringing a person gets while a young member of the family unit, that family member is impacted the rest of his or her life for better or worse. Depending upon the quality of its citizens (more than its quantity) who come from families, society is either developed, developing, or underdeveloped. And whether a person likes it or not, this piece argues that the family, more than anything else including career, is an indispensable determinant of a person’s fulfillment in the journey called life.

The kind of upbringing an individual receives will affect him for the rest of his life. Every person is born into a family initially composed of a man and woman bonded into the union. If that offspring is reared with love and care, that child will grow up to become an adult who recognizes and values the same for the people in his life. The basic values of a person begin at home depending upon the kind of character and behavior modeled by his parents. The quality of that life is enhanced further outside the home from the cultures introduced by the parents in terms of education, faith, universal values, and other impactful facets of secular life. Even the career a child eventually pursues is significantly influenced by the professional life of a parent. When the child becomes a husband or wife, that child will exhibit the behavior and values modeled by a parent. If the child soon becomes a parent himself, he will draw from what he has in his tank learned from parents to love and nurture his child. Where else can he draw from? If he learned hard work, determination, and patience from his father it is not doubtful that he will exhibit the same in whatever career he chooses. If she experienced nurturing love and care from her mother, she will manifest the same to a future husband and children. And vice-versa if things were different. If he saw unity and loyalty from family through the challenges of life, he is bound to do the same with not only his own core family but other associations as well. Then when the journey takes him to being a grandparent, he indeed is a happy person who would see his family core values extend to his children’s children. Fortunate is he who lives through the Thanksgivings and Christmases of life with family in tow. And even more fortunate is she who departs from this world knowing that her family was by her side before she went home.

The state of a society is determined by the quality (more than quantity) of its families. If every family member is reared with moral values by moral parents it is not illogical to see entire societies guided by selfless, egalitarian public codes designed to uplift all to decent standards of living. Because such logic points to a societal structure where the more endowed use their talents and resources to uplift the less endowed and less empowered to middle-class standards of living. Where the number of so many poor in the same society is viewed as an outrage by those who live by the surpluses meant for these poor. The structures are already there in terms of the mechanisms needed to process public policy formulation and execution into full fruition. All that is needed is a change in men’s hearts beginning with the most powerful and richly blessed. To take care of those who cannot fend for themselves or know not what they do. But it is hardly conceivable, much more doable if we see more families being broken than made whole in any state polity.

Nothing is more fulfilling in a person’s life than his family. Not a career. Certainly not wealth. Nor even so-called greatness. Reading a person’s life backward reveals this truism. The utterances of a dying man on his deathbed paradoxically deal with this fundamentally serene choice of love in a family over the greatest worldly treasures. Didn’t Alexander the Great, Steve Jobs, and Jim Carrey say as much? My grandfather-in-law before he died regretted how he abandoned his first wife and family. When I was in the army I realized that although the service marginalized family in favor of career, it was family that took care of a broken soldier once the fighting was done. When career disappointed a loyal servant who put in most of his life into that career, it was family that welcomed him back with loving, open arms. When a former head of state and career man neglected and betrayed his family due to public service, it was still family that took care of him in his eventual brokenness. A man’s innermost affectations of love and joy in his life are drawn from the moments and memories of family. Meeting a spouse. The cry of a first-born. Birthdays and Christmases. Movies and dinners together. Travels. Sports. Worship. School drop-offs and pick-ups. Graduations. Weddings. Passings. Grandfather-hood. Grandmother hood. Happiness. Enduring, unconditional love. Pure and simple. A man’s greatest fulfillment. Purpose. Reason for being.

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