As I tried to come up with a good topic, the only thought that kept coming to mind was all the ferment over a struggling economy, advertisements for gold, advice to store up food, and stock-pile amunition that seems to be sweeping our airwaves and water cooler conversations. In all of this doomsday talk I have witnessed a popular notion: that the family is most important. Damn everyone else... and if "it" hits the fan, it seems like many families are poised to barricade themselves in tiny little bunkers (called homes) while they do everything they can to keep everyone else out no matter the cost. "Family is the most important," some are saying. So this is the occasion for this short, inadequate, and flawed piece, but I hope you enjoy it anyway:
“A man can never be a real man unless he spends time with his family.” Don Vito Corleone said these words, and in my opinion, they are true. But is there ever a time when family becomes too important? For many who are worried about our current economic and ecological problems, threats of destruction are often followed with proclamations such as “all I have to do is take care of me and my own!”
And it’s not just ethics, either; the “family-only-ethic” does not measure up practically. Plainly, it cannot help us forward in the cause of human life. Consider this, what would happen if we did not care for others and merely reduced society down to family against family? The answer: chaos, violence, suspicion, hoarding and a cadre of other harmful activities. What if instead of competition, we saw others as brothers and sisters? If this were our ethic, then we could withstand the gravest societal upheaval!
If, indeed, we ever face such severe catastrophe that multitudes were homeless, hungry, nomadic, wouldn’t society do better to heed Jesus’ command from Mark 12:33, “love your neighbor as yourself?” It seems to me that if we practice this ethic, then we would be poised to confront whatever crisis we face without mortgaging our families in the process. Is this not a better strategy for a society that seems on the verge of so many different, but, interrelated crises?
This ideal, built on Jesus’ command to love, is richer than all of the gold in with world. It is beyond all acres of land, store rooms of seed, pantries of food, and safes filled with ammunition. Jesus’ command is founded upon love beyond mere emotion. It calls for us to treat others through charity and with compassion. It is rich, because when obeyed we receive the world, rather than alienate it in the process of self-protection. Frankly, is a world without charity worth living in? Is a world of family against family really worth enduring? Well, Jesus didn’t think so anyway, and neither should we.