The Value of the Family School of Love
May 11, 2001
If we are not animals, chaotically evolved in the midst of a meaningless universe, but are instead people created by a parental God who had the clear goal of establishing a harmonious world of unselfish love, then humanity's responsibilities toward marriage, parenting and family should be clear and easily understood by everyone.
Although the world has diverse opinions about God and the purpose of existence, doesn't it make logical sense that God either does or doesn't exist? Both cannot be true. Humans have conflicting views about the matter, just as they argued about the world being flat or round. In the end, the world's shape wasn't decided by people's opinions, but by reality. In the same way, questions about the relevance of God to human affairs will become clear as history reveals spiritual realities as well as physical ones.
In the meantime, we are left with philosophy, religion, logic, and common sense to guide us through the morass of so-called truth. I feel that logic, based on heart and love, is one method that will allow us to meet and find ways to improve ourselves and society. Many people feel that religion ultimately has the most comprehensive answers, but heartistic logic can help people of varying faiths reach a common ground.
One common ground is the universal cycle of marriage, parenting and family. Another common ground is the huge litany of problems that our different societies face today. Drugs, teen-pregnancy, family breakdown, divorce, crime, war -- the list is gigantic and overwhelming. What relationship does marriage, parenting and family have to such critical problems?
Cutting through the multitudinous explanations of why Johnny just slashed his teacher's car tires, or why the supposedly justified terrorist just bombed another school bus, let's get to the bottom line. Isn't it true that every single problem in today's world is the result of one person acting or speaking in a way that brought harm to another person? Narrow every incident down to the bone, and you've got one person, who made the decision to do something which hurt someone else. Of course, many incidents and problems involve more than one person -- but in the final sense, each individual plays a specific and unique part in the equation of human suffering.
Johnny doesn't have to slash his teacher's car tires. Nobody can make him do it. No one else is responsible for his selfish actions. It's his decision, and his alone. Therefore, isn't it true that nothing could be more powerful than the ability to change Johnny's mind and heart so that he would find it utterly abhorrent to commit such a deed? His own individual transformation will be the solution to his contribution to the crime problem.
How can his mind and heart be transformed? What has the most impact on his mind and heart? Since we are not random animals, but are created to become unselfish people of true love, it is in the family that we have to look for a solution. If we were just animals, then perhaps some horrific sci-fi type of electrical device could be used to corral us into obedience. Luckily, most of us will say that we are indeed more than "dumb" animals.
Our perception of the family has been unhappily tainted by our own bitter experience that families have often not been the central creative source of true love. It is a testament to the enduring power of true love itself that we, after countless generations of broken families, still seek to build families centered on love. Yet it is an indictment of our own ignorance that we nevertheless fail so drastically, much of the time.
Now that the world has become so much smaller, and now that science is revealing more and more of our global reality, shouldn't we systematically analyze the value and impact of the family on world affairs? Shouldn't we clarify the goals of marriage, parenting and family? Is the joy of marriage for the sake of the husband and wife alone? Does the primary obligation of parents toward their children go beyond getting them out of the nest and marrying them off? Should each family care for the needs of society and the world, and go beyond their own family realm to do so?
Let's make it simple, and get back to Johnny and the car tires. If his father and mother had loved him so much that he felt unbridled joy to be alive, and if they had taught him to love other people with unconditional care and concern, Johnny wouldn't have any desire to slash his teacher's tires, because he would know how much his teacher would be hurt or inconvenienced. His own heart of love would prevent him from hurting others.
Our dilemma is that broken and damaged children grow up, get married, and have children without personally experiencing what has often been called "the family school of love." It's miserably obvious that millions of parents are doing a really bad job of parenting. From parents who sell their daughters into prostitution in Thailand, to western parents who express only "external" things to their children, it's clear that none of us can say that we are getting an A+ in parenting. We may be trying, but we're still deficient.
I believe that one of the problems with this situation is that there isn't yet a worldwide, or even a national-level consensus that the overriding, absolutely most important responsibility of parents is to raise children to become men and women of unconditional, true, unselfish love. It's not that people would object to this goal. The problem is that it's not a clear, constantly thought of priority in the minds of parents. Parents' goals for their children cover wide ranging ground -- some very honorable, such as the attainment of a decent career or finding a happy marriage. But are these goals adequate? For the world to change, parents are going to have to do better than that.
When our children are born, they're fresh and have a wide-open acceptance of the value of true love. They are eager to receive their parents' love, and are completely responsive during their younger years to the idea that becoming children of true love is the best thing that they could do. Yes, they're immature. They fight and squabble. But their hearts are open and innocent and hopeful about love. It's then that the parents need to imbue in them a sense that love is the most wonderful thing in the world -- and that the worst possible thing they could do is make another person suffer in any way.
It takes a tremendous outpouring of love on the part of the parents for this to become even a possibility. That requires a personal reformation on the part of the parents -- for aren't we all still inadequate in our capacity to give parental love to others?
The family school of true love won't get very far without the elements of experience, example, concept and practice. Children must experience being loved by their parents. They must see their parents love other people, outside of their family, to know that loving others is the best way to live. They need to hear their parents talk about love, and understand the concepts behind unselfish love, intellectually as well as emotionally. Finally, children need to be given the chance to practice unselfish love toward their brothers and sisters, parents and relatives, and non-family members in order to deeply understand the value of true love, and the joy that is produced by loving others.
When parents successfully graduate their children from family schools of true love, then the world really will have hope -- because these children will become multipliers and purveyors of unselfish love to all whom they meet. These are the schools and the children that will revolutionize the world.
Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”
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