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Family in an age of individual as the citizen

And being with the other and the other being with myself is the core of a family and whenever a Christian recites the Lord’s prayer calling God “Our Father” he must be reminded of the family because “Our” and “Father” both connote family.

Family in an age of individual as the citizen

By Joe Palathunkal
There is a concerted effort all over the world to keep the basic human entity as a group. Politicians come to the picture provided keeping as a group will assure them power and influence. As a result this effort to make group and maintain it often turns violent. Family needs to be seen in this context.

Biblically speaking human being was created as an individual and it is very obvious from the book of Genesis but family was created when Adam and Eve were sent out of the Paradise because they violated what had forbidden. But as the world progressed family was formed and as its essential corollary marriage was established as a sacrament sanctified and sanctioned by what Jesus said that man and woman would become one body. The sacrosanct goal of the marriage became procreation and protection of children.



But with Renaissance and Reformation individualism began to grow which loudly proclaimed that individual is paramount and his rights are inviolable and many thinkers and scientists advocated it vehemently.

Individual pursuits in art, science and other fields produced marvellous results and more and more people began to give up marriage and started living as individuals, and welfare states created systems that would take care of these individuals. This trend has become a serious challenge to family as an essential and basic unit of society.



Is there any need to be alarmed about the future of family? Catholic Church presents before us as the model the family of Nazareth and tells us that it was mutual love that united Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Today family is threatened not because of individual’s freedom and independence but because of the declining trend of love and this happens because of the slow death of heart where everything tends to be mechanical and impersonal. Perhaps this is what Stephen Hawking was worried about when he spoke of an inward-looking and divided world.

In the political sphere it is citizen who matters and the citizen makes basic political unit an individual and the universal adult franchise makes the individual vote too valuable. This trend will progressively go ahead but that in no way means family has become irrelevant.

Catholic Church has to advocate the sanctity of family as the sanctuary of human life and love; it is from family we learn to love others and ourselves. Love your neighbour as yourself begins in the family because it is here an individual from birth confronts self and the other as someone with him or her.

And being with the other and the other being with myself is the core of a family and whenever a Christian recites the Lord’s prayer calling God “Our Father” he must be reminded of the family because “Our” and “Father” both connote family.

(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)

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