It’s so easy to fall into the trap of wholeheartedly believing two opposite statements, cleverly presented, simultaneously.
Take the concept of family, for example.
For years, the government and mass media systems have been promoting the message that “family is dysfunctional,” which is why there are public agencies purporting to protect children, doing so primarily do by removing children from their homes.
And while it is argued that these children are in danger, and must be kept safe, the reality is that these agencies operate without any meaningful oversight, resulting in some children being removed from bad situations, but many other children being removed from decent ones.
Families are dysfunctional, is the mantra, chanted so loudly and persistently that it isn’t unreasonable for people to throw up their hands and say, “The family is toast. It’s gone. It just doesn’t work anymore.”
And then, these same agencies — government and mass media — pull the string and yank the listeners by turning completely around and saying,
“Family is the most meaningful thing there is.”
This counter message is emphasized by politicians, “successful” businessmen (success, in our country, by the way, means making lots and lots of money, not being loved by people who accept you as you are), and mass media celebrities who weepingly and haltingly speak of how much their family means to them, so much more so than their money, their position, their fame, and their power.
(The impression is given that provided one is smart enough, one can have it all — money, power, fame, name, and family, in equal measure. The reality that most ordinary people find is that we frequently work hard for little, and we’d all like a little bit more, but nothing compensates for the people in our lives: our parents, children, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents and grandchildren and friends.)
Yes, in every family there is some element of dysfunctionality, but this is not so much a family matter as it is a human one. For all that we discuss dysfunctional families, how often do we converse about (or even admit the existence of) the dysfunctionality of our government, our workplaces, our corporate society, our entertainment industry, our schools, our medical system, and our insurance agencies?
And in that latter list, is it possible to find an agent, a representative, an associate, a manager, or a civil servant who would love us, speak up for us, and sacrifice anything at all for us? And yet, somewhere within any family or circle of friends, there is someone who will do so.
Family and friends matter. It is something to keep in mind in a society that promotes consumerism, a constant dissatisfaction that we are not good enough without the newest phone, a bigger car, a house in a better neighborhood.
Tune out the white noise. Turn off the media voices. Look at the people in your life whom you were given, and recognize that you are the only person in the world with this specific set of family and friends.
As the charge card commercials say (but don’t believe) — this is priceless.
To read more about family and friends, and their true worth in our lives, please follow the link my my Commonsense Christianity blog article at BeliefNet, Family and Friends Are Not Dysfunctional.