By Frances Ewherido
Thursday, May 15, is World Family Day, a global initiative by the United Nations General Assembly to draw attention to the various problems facing the family. While I commend UN for this initiative, conservatives and religious institutions will continue to view the UN with suspicion because of its stand on the family as an “institution with no relatively fixed definition.”
Nothing can be further from the truth. In its blind pursuits and redefinitions of human rights, freedom, liberty, gay rights, feminism, marriage, etc., the UN, aided by the West, will stop at nothing, including crushing traditional family values and understanding, to push through its new-found paradigms.
The fact remains that in the beginning God created man and woman. A man leaves his parents and clings to his wife and they are no longer two but one. This nucleus is the foundation of a family. Put in non-religious terms, “the human record… shows that the family is a natural, universal, and irreplaceable community, rooted in human nature.
The family in all ages and in all corners of the globe can be defined as a man and woman bonded together through a socially-approved covenant of marriage to regulate sexuality, to bear, raise, and protect children, to provide mutual care and protection, to create a small home economy, and to maintain continuity between the generations, those going before and those coming after.
It is out of the reciprocal, naturally recreating relations of the family that broader communities grow, such as tribes, villages, peoples, and nations.”(Allan C. Carlson, Ph.D.).
Times have changed drastically. Time was when the definition of family, like marriage, was firm and uniform universally, and was taken for granted. Not anymore. Today you redefine these terms when using them, so your readers or listeners do not get confused.
Today’s family is under siege; the onslaught is vicious, multifaceted and unrelenting. Unemployment and underemployment, poverty and hunger, negative effects of modern technology, shrinking family time, new sexual tendencies, alcoholism, drug addiction, cultism, increasing rate of divorce, grass widowhood, kidnapping, abductions, child trafficking and baby factories are just a few of the problems confronting the family.
In spite of the trailer-load of challenges today’s families face, we cannot give up. If we do, mankind is doomed. The family remains mankind’s best chance of perpetuation and the first gatekeeper of morality. Parents must therefore learn to live by example.
In spite of our human failings, we must set good examples for our children. Bringing up children is much easier when you match words with action because action teaches them better than words. Our children know we are human and not perfect, but there is a certain level of expectation. Let us not let them down.
The World Family Day is a wakeup call to all who constitute the family, not only parents. While parents fulfill their responsibility to their children and strive to bring them up to be responsible and God-fearing, children must be responsible and be obedient. As spouses we must also fulfill our responsibilities to each other.
For us in Africa, family means nuclear and extended family. In fact, before the invasion of western culture, there was no dividing line between the two. As we celebrate, we should also remember our responsibility to the extended family, especially our aged parents.
As we grapple with today’s challenges facing the family, we should look up to the biblical model and holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for inspiration. Jesus was obedient to his earthly parents and submitted to them in spite of his divinity.
Mary was a virtuous woman and full of grace. She surrendered totally to the will of God the father and cooperated fully with her husband, Joseph; that was how she became the vessel of salvation. Joseph was a perfect gentleman, holy, obedient to God and patient with Mary. Many men today, including me, would have thrown out Mary even before God had the opportunity to explain the circumstances of her pregnancy.
May 15 is also the birthday of my son, Oghenemine (meaning I look up to God). At times like this when our government looks confused and helpless; we are compelled to look up to God.
The fate of the over 200 students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, still hangs in the balance. It is over three weeks since the abduction, but we still do not know their whereabouts (at the time of writing). Government was slow off the mark on this matter, but like Usain Bolt I hope it can recover from its poor start, overtake and conquer the adversary. I look up to God
I am encouraged by the global dimension the efforts to free the girls has assumed. It does not matter if the attention casts Nigeria in a bad light.
What matter are the lives of these girls. Sometimes you need to wash your dirty linen in the public if that is the only way to get it cleaned up. America will bring the world to a standstill to save one American life; we are talking of over 200 lives here; over 200 traumatised families.
You do not need to personally experience it; you just need to empathise to have an idea what it will be like. I have a daughter the age of these girls and the mere thought of it leaves me cold.
The nation needs to do better in protecting its young citizens. They did not participate in creating our nation’s problems. Governments, religious organizations, parents and all concerned need to wake up to their responsibilities. We are not doing enough.