A little boy in kindergarten seemed very worried. âWhat are you worried about?â his teacher asked. He replied, âMy parents. Daddy works hard to earn money and buys whatever I want. And mummy spends all day cooking, cleaning, feeding and washing clothes.â The teacher asked: âWhy, then, are you worried?â The child replied, âIâm afraid they might escape!â Thankfully, our parents havenât escaped from shouldering familial responsibilities. But what about us?
Today, celebrating International Day of Families with the UNâs avowed aim of âcelebrating the importance of families, people, societies and cultures around the worldâ, letâs set aside a little time to rejoice over each member of our nuclear family. Furthermore, we could also consider widening our âfamily circleâ.
A child normally considers itself as the centre of the world. Rather than any thought about giving of itself to others, the child happily receives â toys, food, attention and total satisfaction of all its needs. Later, as one matures through to oneâs teenage years, one begins to realise that thereâs also immense joy in giving of oneself not only to oneâs family members, but also to others and to nobler causes.
Family life fosters happiness and joy. Thereâs a difference between being happy and being joyful. Being happy is good. Being joyful is better. Happiness is âfeeling goodâ â with oneâs own success, achievements and being loved and accepted by others. Joy, by contrast, transcends the confines of the self, by thinking about others â delighting in othersâ growth, success and achievements.
Rather than seek their own happiness, most parents sacrifice their utmost and experience joy when their children imbibe virtues and emerge victorious in life. They are joyful despite suffering deprivation and hardships. Their familyâs well-being is cause enough for their rejoicing. Â
Beyond our nuclear families, the UN seeks to create a world family â Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam â embracing not only all people but also mother earth. Christianity promotes the ideal of each and every person being a member of Godâs family â uniquely loved by God, and equally entitled to enjoy the fruits of mother earth. Sadly, we seem far from this ideal since so many worldwide struggle for even the basic necessities of life. Jesus called these: âthe least of my sisters and brothers.â
Charity begins at home. Today, letâs first be joyful and grateful about ordinary things â dadâs disciplining, mummyâs delicious dishes, grandmaâs pampering, love shared, family outings, table-talk, the siblingâs successes, childhood adventures that backfired â for these have fostered family ties.
Secondly, transcending the ânatural familyâ letâs reflect on our âfamily of natureâ â mother earth and those âleastâ of our people. Lest they worry that we might escape being a father, mother, sister or brother to them, letâs serve them too. The Bible says: âItâs more blessed to give than to receive.â