Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday's Op-Ed: Families & Relationships Part 1

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the state of relationships and families a lot. Relationships and families are the building blocks of our communities, and of society as a whole. I believe that the state of the world is a macrocosmic reflection of our family structure and the functionality of our relationships. In my opinion, there are few things that are more powerful than a strong family unit.

All politics aside, that is one of the things that I appreciate about the current President of The United States. The photos of the first family, and the President and the First Lady, that continue to grace all forms of media is a powerful image of a loving family and a loving couple. America has been missing this image for so long.

Most of the families in the American media seem to be celebrated and highlighted for their disfunction. Examples of this are: Magazines whose front covers consistently highlight celebrity family dramas; “Reality” television shows that show how low someone will go to “win” a date; Movies, tv shows, songs, and music videos that depict disrespectful dealings between the sexes and a dearth of dignity. The proliferation of these images seem to feed on themselves, thus creating a disfunctional society. [SIDEBAR: This is also why I say turn the tv and mainstream radio off.] However, the media is only part of the problem.

Societal ills that attack a community from every angle breaks the family structure apart. This is especially true for the African American community from which I hail. How can a person- more less, a family- survive under the onslaught of poverty, drug abuse, psychological and spiritual warfare, and grossly corrupt political and educational systems? [SIDEBAR: I do have faith that we as a community and a people can figure this out, and begin to: heal, grow, and thrive together.]

The stress-levels and confusion-levels have been so high, and our confusion has been so great that we seemed to have turned on each other. This seems to be especially true of the generation that I come from. We are the babies of the crack era, and arguably suffered greater than most.

Some members of society are unconscionably preying on each other: men vs. women, young vs old, and child vs. parent. It seems to be turning into a vicious cycle. If the victim never has an  opportunity to encounter examples of positive living, deeply internalizes the abuse they receive, or begins to view the abuse they receive as normal behavior due to prolonged exposure to it- the victim will very likely become a victimizer.

I thought about this a few days ago when I saw a young mother bullying and cursing her hysterically crying, toddler-aged son from A to Z. I thought about the likelihood of that young child growing into an young man who hates women. Then I thought about what could have happened, or is currently happening, to that young mother that makes her mother her son in such a heart breaking manner.

There’s a quote by Martin Luther King Jr., in which he states: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.” Even a self-sustaining person like myself knows the veracity of this statement. This is especially true when it comes to relationships and family units. The truth of the matter is that we will be each other’s strength or each other’s weakness; but we will definitely thrive or perish together- in one way or another.

To be continued...

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