Words are incredibly powerful. Even small nuances and phrases can unconsciously influence the way someone acts or thinks.
One of the recent refrains heard by religious establishments these days is some form or another of “Families are being threatened by the world.”
Us vs. Them
Without even realizing it, by using the phrase “the world” one sets themselves apart from everyone else – thereby absolving themselves of their own involvement in the world’s issues, while simultaneously propping up the idea that if everyone just did what they did it would fix everything.
This also reinforces the belief that it is unnecessary – and even counterproductive or dangerous – to let others live differently in the way that is best for them, to reach across the aisle, or to think outside the box to help tackle and solve the world’s problems.
Nevermind the fact that there are people the world over who have had families or relationships strained and complicated due to a religious dynamic (whether it be lack of religion, losing religion, or finding religion).
Family: Isn’t it about time?
That’s not to say that religions don’t have some great ideas about keeping families and community strong. Notions of togetherness such as family dinner, a day of rest from work and investing in family members are fantastic and necessary.
But even those are only good if they’re practiced, yet…
…too many people wait outside temple doors during a family member’s wedding simply because of a difference of belief.
…Sundays, a day of rest and family togetherness, are often one of the busiest days of the week – splitting up families for hours on end as they attend to different meetings and church duties. Weekdays are often a mad scramble between work/school and church activities and responsibilities with serious family time often getting pushed to the side or discarded.
…too many people have disowned or shamed family members who walk a less religious path for their own health – or have tried to coerce them into a religious way of life rather than loving them and encouraging them on the path that makes them happy.
…couples who would make great parents and want to start families, and could help alleviate the overcrowding in foster care and adoption systems, are unable to do so because they can’t legally marry or adopt children.
Us and Us
There are a lot of things that threaten families and we’re all to blame for the state of the world today. And while religion certainly holds some good ideas about how to run a family, it’s going to take a world full of different ideas, compassion and fearlessness to find solutions to the world’s problems. We can’t separate ourselves or close ourselves off in fear or prejudice.