The family is the basic unit or cell of the social organism. For this reason, when the family deteriorates or becomes corrupted, the whole society suffers the consequences.

The family is the first human institution

«A permanent institution»[1], as López-Barajas rightly claims, the family is a common and universal institution in all peoples and cultures, past and present, despite the fact that, depending on civilizations, the family institution shows certain differentiated cultural characteristics, or has evolved and changed in some ways throughout history.

The family is the basic structure of human existence

The family is a quasi-natural unit, in the sense that it has some immutable natural aspects and other variable cultural aspects.

Animals also form families, but only for the purpose of multiplication and preservation of the species, and their family ties are usually temporary and based on innate biological instincts.

However, human family ties are permanent and eternal affective bonds based mainly on voluntary and responsible relationships based on reciprocal exchanges of love, affections, ideals, goods and services.

Family is a microcosm of the universe

The family is a microcosm that is governed by natural laws and unchanging moral laws. In fact, in the universe, all beings and things exist in the form of pairs of masculine and feminine entities, and the most simple and general law of the cosmos is the universality of reciprocal interactions between pairs of complementary entities, or law of giving and receiving. These interactions are the ones that guarantee the existence, movement, stability and cohesion of all the systems of the universe.

Similarly, the harmonious union between husband and wife is governed by that same general law that governs the universe, that is to say, it is realized through relationships of mutual exchanges of love, care and services, which are the ones that guarantee the existence, multiplication, stability and happiness of the family.

Universal and invariable family rules and conventional and variable rules

For this reason, there are universal family norms, which are invariable moral laws, such as the universal precepts of filial piety, conjugal fidelity, fraternity and paternal and maternal sacrificial love, as well as the prohibitions of incest and adultery.

Proof of this is that the violation of these rules causes the deterioration or disruption of the give and take circuit between family members and the destruction of harmony and family happiness.

In addition to these unchanging moral laws, in the family there are other less important or secondary rules or norms that are conventional and variable, such as the particular division of tasks or social roles.

All historical attempts to abolish or radically distort the family ended in resounding failure

The reason for this is that the family is a vital, essential and irreplaceable element so that society and the world can exist and function.

Lopez-Barajas reaches this same conclusion:

My thesis is... that: man has no other way to humanity but through the family. And the family must be placed as the very foundation of the request for the good of man and all efforts to make our human world more and more human.

No one can escape this request: no society, no people, no system; Neither the State, nor the Church, nor even the individual. The family is the primary cell of the social fabric.[2]

Overcoming the current crisis of the family and avoiding the collapse of family unity is a priority task that is the responsibility of all societies, peoples and cultures of the world if we want to guarantee social and global peace.

The recovery of family stability and harmony is the most effective solution to:

  1. The problems of self-destructive, antisocial and compulsive behaviors of youth.
  2. School failure and lack of identity and self-esteem.
  3. The isolation, depression and loneliness suffered by both young and adults.

That would also be the solution to social plagues such as crime, rape, sexual abuse of minors, and the proliferation of mafias that enrich themselves at the expense of human vices and degradations, such as prostitution and adult pornography and, much worse, child pornography.

The reconstruction of the family unity and harmony could also help to:

  1. Contribute to strengthening neighborhood, community and social ties.
  2. Encouraging citizen solidarity.
  3. Prevent the corruption of professionals, entrepreneurs and public servants.
  4. Improve family and national economy.
  5. Raise the quality of life of all citizens.
  6. Solve environmental problems.
  7. Encourage people to do voluntary work for the well-being of other disadvantaged ethnic groups or cultures of the world.

American educators such as Charmaine Crouse Yoest and John and Paula Sandford reaffirm our theses:

From the point of view of society, the family is important because of its role in the formation of good citizens. Fundamentally, the state needs stability, individual achievements or initiatives and loyalty on the part of its citizens, and the family promotes these three qualities. (...)

History has shown the bankruptcy of the opposition to the family. The only way open for individuals and for the nation is the reconstruction and revaluation of the family. The society that does this, will become the strongest.[3]

The stability of a society can be measured by the unity and health of its families, since the foundations of character and basic attitudes towards life of the persons are built on relationships with father, mother, and others close one in the early stages of life.

Societies become unstable and crime rates increase when the institution of the family begins to fall apart.[4]

Miguel Angel Cano Jiménez

Author: Miguel Angel Cano Jiménez

Philosopher, teacher and author of numerous books about peace education

Dr Miguel Cano has a PhD in Philosophy and Educational Sciences and has taught philosophy for 15 years in a Senior High School in Spain. He has published 3 Books in Spanish language: “Science and Values”, “Global Ethics Consensus”  and “Ethics and Peace”. He is currently in the process of translating them into the English language. He also organizes meetings with professors and educators in Spain to teach them the contents of his books.

[1]Emilio López-Barajas Zayas, « La familia es una institución permanente », en  La familia en el tercer milenio, UNED, Madrid, 1995, p. 11. (English translation: Emilio López-Barajas Zayas, "The family is a permanent institution", in The family in the third millennium, UNED, Madrid, 1995, p. 11.)

[2] Ibid., p. 20.

[3] Charmaine Crouse Yoest, «Fount of Virtue, Spring of Wealth, How the Strong Family Sustains a Prosperous Society», en The World and I, August, 1994, Washington, pp. 359, 375.

[4] John and Paula Sandford, «Covenant, not Contract», en The World and I, November, 1997, Washington, p. 40.

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