Monday, September 8, 2008

Families and government

Yesterday Roly and I and our two eldest attended the Family Forum, organised by Bob McCoskrie of Family First. We were treated to a smorgasboard of policy from the leaders of NZ political parties (Helen, Winston and Jim were all notable by their absence), related to family issues. Personally I think family should be every parties central policy - after all family is the one thing all NZers have in common. We were all born into one, spent all of our founding years in one, and remain connected, or in reaction to, that particular institution, for better or for worse, for the rest of our lives. School passes, careers change, friends move on, but families remain. So why don't we pay them more attention? And why dont they get more recognition from our politicians and policy makers?

Let me explain, right at the beginning, that I think family superceeds government. I believe family is the grassroots of life. As the spawning pool and the nurturing estuary shore of humanity, it is the primary and most important institution of society. This is a radical position now. It once wasn't even questioned. Every other institution exists (or should exist) to serve family. Communities are groups of families organised for their common good. NGO's exist in order to support families and family goals. Government exists to provide a framework for families to successfully live together as nations in the world collectively. It's goal should be to serve and develop families. Not to control and manipulate them for it's own agenda and ends. Parents and Grandparents are to recieve the greatest honour as leaders and visionaries. It comes as no surprise that most of our political parties don't see things this way. And neither do most of our churches, or our schools. Families seem to exist only to be patronised, criticised, and rescued from their collective evil violence and poverty.

We need to paint a picture of family that is different. Families as nests of nurture and love. Families as places of friendship and companionship. Families as places of vision, encouragement and support. Families as cauldrons of culture and identity. Families as places of safety and security. Families as strong economic units. Let's be honest - that is family for a lot of us. And for those for whom it is not, wouldn't it be great if you could give that gift to the next generation?

We need to go public with the greatness that families can be. We do not need to favour our own flavour. We celebrate the fact that all families are different. There is no 'one size fits all'. There is no 'one education fits all'. There is no 'one culture fits all'. This is the beauty of family. There is room for innovation, freedom and self-expression. Let us be encouraged to keep building our families according to what is in our own spirits, and let us do it with confidence and courage. Let us make NZ a better, safer and less lonely place to be, because we value the primary relationships of life. And let us let the politicians know this is how we want it to be.