Turning the Hearts: Re-valu-ing Our Families
by Richard and Linda Eyre
“. . . turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers . . . less the earth be cursed.”-Malachi 4:6 (the last verse of the Old Testament) What does this mean? . . . Where are our hearts? . . . What is the curse?
Scripture tells us that unless hearts are turned to families (children to parents and grownups to ancestors, but also parents to their children and to the priority of their homes), the earth will be “cursed” (Malachi) or “wasted” (D&C).
We have come to believe that unless our hearts (feelings, attention, priorities) are turned toward and centered more on families (marriage, children, commitments), we will continue to face the individual and societal curse of the expanding social problems that are crushing America. Centering with the young, and ranging from teen pregnancy to drugs and alcohol and from crime to violence and abuse, this curse produces poverty and isolation, bloats our welfare and justice systems, and imposes oppressive taxes to pay for ineffective “finger-in-the-dike” government “solutions.”
Our burgeoning social problems result directly from the deteriorization of families. The vacuum created by disappearing families sucks in everything from gangs to excess government. Our public and private sectors — from local government and public education to big business and electronic media — which should be supporting, supplementing, and protecting families, instead seem to be trying either to substitute for them or to undermine them. Our newest, largest institutions from giant corporations to information and entertainment systems are creating misplaced loyalties and false paradigms that are destroying the oldest, smallest institution of family. And parents, hot in pursuit of professional and financial success, can find neither the time nor the inclination to put family first.
Social problems today threaten our future as much as economic problems threaten the former Soviet Union. So great are these curses, and so turned away are our hearts, that as we enter the new millennium, there is serious question whether America as we know it will survive.
“Survive,” “Demise.” These are extreme and desperate words — words we don’t use much when talking about America. Especially since bomb shelters and the cold war have slipped away. But D’ Tocqueville predicted our destruction from within. Illness rather than injury. Not threats moving in . . . but rot spreading out. Subtle rather than sudden.
We face a sickness benignly and academically called “social problems” . . . so malignant that fathers rape daughters, so violent that children kill children, so epidemic that no one escapes.
The shiny surface of America is pock-marked by poverty, riddled by racism, gouged by gangs and guns. The greatest, richest land paradoxically contains the most dangerous and terrifying places on the planet, places where life is cheaper, joy scarcer than in any third or fourth world.
And more subtle but just as sure, the sickness spreads through suburb and supposed stability, incredibly expensive, seemingly incurable, unfixable by courts or welfare . . . enlarged, expanding, spreading. Preventable and curable only at the smallest stage in the smallest organization: family.
Individual lives can teeter for quite a while on the edge, bereft of the ties of family and the anchor of faith and values. A whole society can do the same thing. By revaluing the family, we mean three things: 1. Once again recognizing the transcending societal value of families; 2. Personal reprioritizing of our families; 3. Putting values back into our families.
Values are best defined as what matters, what counts, what we care about. What’s right, what’s important, what’s real. Values are more than philosophy or a pleasant placebo of belief. They are practical, practiced personal principles. And family values (and family value) are anything but a right-wing conspiracy and a political football. They are the truest and most time-tested way to live, the single constant requirement of safe and stable society, and the key underpinning of real happiness.
Most people know, intuitively and instinctively, what real values are and what family values are. Our goal is to rekindle them in our society and inside of individual parents, thus turning our hearts and saving our families.
Here in this weekly column, progressively over the next sixteen weeks, we are going to explore with you why it is harder than ever before to be a good parent and to raise value-based and gospel-centered families. As we come to better understand the forces that are working against our families and at the peril of our children, we put ourselves in a better position to battle the problems and to find the saving solutions.
In this progressive column, we will work our way through:
1. The crux (why family is the foundation for everything, including happiness).
2. The curse (the social problems that plague our society today).
3. The crisis (the breakdown and breakup of families that allows and leads to the social problems).
4. The cause (the reasons our families are failing).
5. The culprits (how our new, large institutions are destroying the small, most basic institution of family.
6. The Cure (what you as a parent can do about it).
7. The “Case” (a case for government and big corporations to pay more positive attention and give more support to families.
We hope you’ll join us here each week starting in September and send your responses and questions to us through valuesparenting.com.
All the best,
Richard and Linda Eyre
2001 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.