We enter this world, seemingly alone, and during our brief transit on this planet, we establish deep bonds with those around us, once again to leave alone. Our families are the first collective unit that we come into contact with, our mothers and fathers shaping our archetypal perceptions of our ideal women and men, in some ways. As modern society casts its gaze squarely on the individual, it’s important to spend time introspecting about this fundamental unit of society, which is starting to face an existential crisis, especially in the western world.
We spend a large proportion of our productive life interfacing with others, and therefore it's vitally important that we have a good grounding in cultivating human relationships, underpinned by values such as trust and integrity. Our families provide that safe space to understand dynamics of human relationships and an education in how we connect with new arrivals like our siblings, whilst still maintaining a healthy sense of competition, egging each other on to do better.
We have all been through nights when on account of being ill, our mothers and fathers spent sleepless nights looking after us, and still managing to go into work, teaching us valuable lessons in sacrifice. Or despite a disagreement, our parents manage to find the middle path to keep the family together, and deepen the trust and togetherness in the relationship. Relationships are seldom perfect, they take work, despite what movies or reels would have us believe, and an apprenticeship in this art of building them is vital for raising mentally and physically healthy children, who will be tomorrow’s citizens.
Rampant consumerism means shorter replacement cycles and lesser tolerance for small inconveniences, and this in some ways also percolates into our relationships. We are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental consequences of disposable plastics, and it's equally important that we become conscious of the societal impacts of disposable relationships. It’s almost impossible to build a healthy relationship without some flexibility, and an appreciation of the trust and time invested into building one. Now this certainly isn’t about tolerating toxicity or abuse, but rather about building resilience, which is the cornerstone of a progressive society.
We are the inheritors of a culture which believes in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbaka, and we saw the recently concluded G20 Summit champion the slogan of One Family, One Earth, One Future. This thought found global resonance, at a time when the pandemic amply demonstrated how intertwined our present and our futures are. And in order that we are able to build a healthy global village, it’s vital that we preserve and persevere with this building block of modern society, the humble family.