Today, 15 May, World Day of the Family, we would like to invite you to reflect on a more humane, broad and convergent proposal.
The family, historically, has been part of a “social fabric” of support and containment. Community networks: schools, families, friends, neighbours, governments, religions, voluntary organisations, as well as tribes in the past, have been part of this great social network that is essential for human beings.
Various studies point to the fact that the family, as a significant representation of society, has entered into crisis. Until a few decades ago, it maintained its relevance driven by industrialisation and religious values, developing a model that was functional to the social and economic conditions of the time. But with the rapid evolution of society, whether due to demographic and economic transformations, globalisation, the increase in single-parent households or the incorporation of new technologies, this ideal model with which several generations have identified themselves has been forced to adopt new forms of structuring.
Nowadays, we can find a nuclear family that is transformed by welcoming members from other cultures due to wars, migrations, emigrations or environmental catastrophes as an act of humanity; as well as the phenomenon of the “dogchildren” or “gathchildren” who are taking root as a family model and who can inherit large fortunes; unmarried couples who have rights, or a family formed in the metaverse that proposes a digital, uncomplicated and anti-human offspring.
While there are many different types of family ties, however different in structure, each poses its own set of challenges and questions. From responsibilities, changes in habits and organisation, to the climate crisis and the falling birth rate, among others, are some of the factors that could affect the decision to have offspring, but this could change with this artificial intelligence proposal.
These situations invite us to reflect on why we understand family. This may be the irreducible unity of society, but do we really need to have blood ties to become family members? From a humanist look that believes in change, there can be as many varieties of family as there are styles of relationships that we want to consider. It is not necessary to live under the same roof to be a family, since even when our children become independent, they are still part of it. And if we think back to the time of the pandemic, restrictions only allowed meetings with those who could prove a formal administrative link. What was the situation for widowed parents with children out of town, or those who voluntarily or involuntarily lived far away from their relatives?
The demands of today’s life drive us to build networks around us, and they become our support, playing roles that are expected of a “relative”.
We may have an even more powerful bond with them, as we respect and care for them, without any legal obligation or responsibility to do so. Companionship, protection, value sharing and socialisation are delivered as a mutual and selfless exchange.
The traditional family has changed
A large number of models appear today that alter the understanding of family life; however, the laws of different countries continue to operate with an old model, which is nowadays less and less frequent and functional to the needs of everyday life.
When changes affect the system, the way to survive is to adapt to the environment, the challenge we can set ourselves could be even wider: to converge in a family without borders and with a sensitivity that accepts the different from the other, generating a sensitivity that represents the best of the human being, thus forming a “Universal Human Nation”.
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