Do you see the world as family? Last week, a Facebook memory popped up on my feed. It was something I posted 7 years ago, something my then 5 year-old-son said to me as I drove him home from kindergarten one day. He was talking to me about a family that we often carpooled with and had been friends with for some time. He told me that they were part of our family. I responded “Oh really?” To which he replied, “Yes, because the whole world is our family.” And he was right, the whole world is family, and what a difference it would make if we would all remember that.
What Is Family?
There are all sorts of families, and, ideally, a family is a place of love, support, forgiveness, and safety. I am not naive enough to think that all families meet these standards, but it is something most families strive to be. I know people sometimes grow up in abusive families, broken families, or with no family at all. But that is not what a family is supposed to be.
Traditionally, a family consists of parents, children, and sometimes, extended family members. But that description just scratches the surface of what a family is. If your family doesn’t look traditional, so what. What matters more than looking like a traditional family is how we behave in our family. If you grew up with just your mom, but she loved and supported you in everything she could, isn’t that a better family than having two parents who treated you like an accessory or, even worse, a problem?
The Beauty of Families
The beauty of families is that they grow and develop and, as such, can heal and recover from all sorts of things. And if we didn’t grow up in an ideal family, we can always rebuild one of our own. The key is to set standards of how we want our family to be and live accordingly. I want my family to be a place of love, support, forgiveness, and safety. To create this environment, I have to make choices that support it. It’s not always easy, and I sometimes fail, but I’m working on it.
What if we strove to treat the world more like family? Can you imagine a world where love, support, forgiveness and safety were our biggest goals? What a different place it would be.
Faith and Family
In case you didn’t know, I am a person of faith. I attend church regularly, pray daily, and try to live a Christlike life. I’m pretty sure my son’s comments came from something he learned in his Sunday School class. I am glad to see he took it to heart. My personal religious belief is that we are all children of a Heavenly Father who loves every one of us the same. We are of equal value to Him, regardless of race, creed, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic level, educational level, or any other standard that we, as humans, use to divide and categorize one another. The other thing I believe is that He wants us to treat one another as fellow children of God. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34)
I have studied a bit about most of the world’s major religions and it seems to me that they all promote love and forgiveness and caring for others. The Hindu phrase Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam translates to “the world is one family.” The Koran teaches that “being a servant of God means being in service to other people.” Sounds a bit like “When you are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” which is found in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 2:17) The Talmud teaches “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor.” Sounds a lot like the Golden Rule to me. Sure, different religions may teach these values in different ways, but the ultimate goal is peace, love, and happiness.
Science and Family
Another way we are all family is through our DNA. Maybe you’re not religious. Perhaps you like to rely more on scientific facts than spiritual beliefs. Well, it turns out that we’re all family members in body as well as spirit. We are all related through our genetic codes. Have you sent your DNA in to discover more about your family tree? I currently have over 20,000 names of relatives in my tree on Ancestry.com. Of course, some of them are relative through marriage, but most are related through DNA. And I only go back to 4th cousins. It would get to large if I included all those 5th-8th cousins out there. (Sorry, cousins, you’re still family).
For a fun read about this, try It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs. This is a new book that looks at the author’s adventures as he looks closer at his genetic family tree. Ultimately, Jacobs is searching for what it means to be family. If you purchase through my link, I may get a finder’s fee, but it won’t cost you any extra. See my disclosure page for details.
We are all more alike than we are different. Isn’t that true of not just our families, but also of our larger community, and even our world population? When we get together over the holidays, our families have disagreements, share laughter, and offer encouragement and support. When we face tragedies, our families offer emotional and even financial assistance. We do this despite our differences and disagreements. Why? Because we’re family. and it’s what we should do with every member of our family, child, parent, great uncle, grandparents,or 8th cousin twice removed. That is how we make the world a better place.
New Theme Song?
I heard a song on the radio that I love (Thank you, Ed Sheeran). Every time I hear it I smile and sing along. The chorus includes these words: “Sing, love could change the world in a moment, but what do I know? Love can change the world in a moment.” I heard it again this morning after dropping my son off at school. I danced in my car seat all the way home. Give it a listen. It’s a good one with a great message. Sheeran sings about “love, understanding, positivity.” It could be my new theme song. I believe that love has the power to change the world.
In researching this post, I found a few resources that I think may be of help to those interested in this topic.
- Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice – This site focuses on promoting social welfare and international peace. They participate in many areas including world hunger, climate change issues, immigrant and refugee status, and racial and economic justice.
- One World Family – This site focuses mainly on world hunger, but strives to build cross-cultural understanding.
- World Family Organization – This organization was developed in the aftermath of World War II. It originally was created to reunite and support families after the war. Now, it’s focus is fighting poverty, addressing health issues, and supporting families in need around the world.
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