The family - basic unit of society


Like the world as a whole, the family is in transition. In every culture, families are disintegrating, fragmenting under pressure of economic and political upheavals and weakening in the face of moral and spiritual confusion.

These disturbances are signs of humanity's struggle toward a new age in its collective development, an age of maturity. The family, as the most basic unit of society, must in this process be remolded and revitalised according to the same principles that are reshaping civilisation as a whole.

The central principle for this new day is the oneness of humanity. "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established." Acceptance of the interrelatedness and interdependence of all people implies the renewal of every social institution, including the family.

Unity in the family
“If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual.”

The Bahá'í approach to family unity combines elements of traditional wisdom with progressive principles and practical tools. Adherence to these teachings offers a bulwark against the forces of disintegration and a framework for the creation of strong, healthy, unified families.

The foundation and precondition for a family is the loving relationship of husband and wife. Marriage, a divine creation, is intended to unite a couple both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other.

One purpose of marriage is the creation of a new generation who will love God and serve humanity. The task of the family is, therefore, to establish a loving, respectful and harmonious relationship among parents and children.

Harmony and cooperation in the family, as in the world, are maintained in the balance of rights and responsibilities. All family members "have duties and responsibilities towards one another and to the family as a whole, which vary from member to member because of their natural relationships."

Children, for instance, have the duty to obey their parents. They also have the corresponding right to be cared for, educated and protected. Parent, as bearers and first educators of children, are responsible for their formal and spiritual education, and the creation of a loving nurturing home.

Education and the Family
Although the child receives formal education at school, it is at home that character is developed and moral and spiritual attitudes are formed. Therefore, all the virtues must be taught in the family. Patience, loyalty, trustworthiness, justice, honesty -- such virtues as these constitute the building blocks of character. The virtues named by all sacred traditions as the common elements of spirituality are the reflection of the Divinity in each person. While nurturing the highest qualities and values in each member of the family, parents must also provide for the integrated development of all their children's capacities -- spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional, and physical. Therefore, girls and boys are to be formally educated according to the same basic curriculum. Should limited resources force a choice, daughters, as the potential trainers of the next generation, are to be granted a "prior right to education over sons."

The family as a microcosm
As the foregoing principles are gradually put into practice around the world, families are being created which are able to play a part in building a unified world society. For the link between the family, the nation, and a world civilisation, destined to come in time is inescapable:

 “Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members, fighting, pillaging each other, jealous and revengeful of injury, seeking selfish advantage? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families. Therefore as strife and dissension destroy a family and prevent its progress, so nations are destroyed and advancement hindered.”

*All quotes are from the Bahá’í writings

Contributed by the Bahá’í Faith- Seychelles