The Role Of The Family In Nation-BuildingThe family is the bedrock of our society. Strong families build strong communities which in turn can build a strong nation. It is in the family that our young people first learn moral and spiritual values which give meaning to their lives. Blessed John Paul II reminded us years ago that: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” He referred to the family as “a society in its own original right”, and the “first and vital cell of society.”
At the beginning of June, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a speech inMilanwhen he opened the 7th World Meeting of Families. Inter alia, he said that the family is humanity’s “principal asset.” He highlighted the importance of faith and the family in today’s society; “the importance of legislation and the work of state institutions being ordered to the service and protection of the person in his various aspects, beginning with the right to life, the deliberate suppression of which can never be allowed, and the acknowledgement of the proper identity of the family, founded on marriage between one man and one woman.” He called for a defense of family time. He said we should make time for God, work and for family. He appealed for Church communities that are more and more family oriented.
In spite of all our challenges we have much to be thankful for in TT. Let us pay tribute to the thousands of families that have helped to build our blessed nation – from whichever part of the world they originated. I agree with His Excellency, Prof George Maxwell Richards, though, that “we are not all that we can be.” He warned that “we ignore family values and customs at our peril.”
Sustainable development must be people-centred. Today, many youths are growing up without any guidance, mentors or role models; without knowing, as the Bishop of London said recently, “a stable, loving, secure family life.”
Family life is under constant attack today from various social ills. There are many families in TT that are hurting and need healing. Archbishop Edward Gilbert said in his New Year’s Eve homily a couple of years ago: “The nature of the family is to form people, to train them to learn values, help them to learn virtues so they know how to live their lives…I ask the grandparents to teach the grandchildren if you see the parents not teaching them. Parent, teach your children, if you do not teach them how are they going to learn?”