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Family life

Mar 07, 1994 00:52 AM
by Andrew Rooke

1994 is the International Year of the Family so I thought perhaps a
few thoughts on the pressures on family life in the 1990s from a
theosophical angle might be of interest. The following comments are
based on the Australian experience but they could equally hold for
any Western country these days:

Any society is built on the nobility of family life. Unfortunately
the last 20 years have witnessed an accelerated disintegration of
family life in Australia which will have a powerful influence on the
future of this country. Over the past 15 years there has been a silent
shift in the nation's wealth so that we have approx 30% of the
population poor , compared to 10% in 1979. High bank interest rates
in the 1980s forced both parents to work to pay unrealistically
inflated home morgages with consequently wide reaching affects on the
development of children. An extreme barometer of these changes was
reported by The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in
1989. The Commission found that there were between 20,000 and 25,000
homeless children in Australia some of them suffering horrific abuses
and others dying of malnutrition , drug abuse, and AIDS. These are
"nobody's children" of the 1990s who have left home due mostly to
intolerable stresses, yet who do not have the skills and attitudes
necessary for "success" in today's comptetive world. They will
eventually have a major impact on the whole country due to the
increasing crime rate related to homelessness and drug addiction, and
in the future burden the community with the possible one in five kids
who will be permanently unemployable.

What on earth has caused this situation in a comparitively wealthy
country like Australia? Sociologists and economists cite statistics
illustrating the decline in family life and the rise of domestic
abuses such as incest and violence. Social workers and criminologists
speak of loss of respect and trust mutually between the parents and
children of many stressed families where kids have not had the
opportunity to develop the capacity to love. In the case of the
"street kids" who leave home, social workers say that a more apt
description would be to say that home left them!

Of course, the majority of Australian families provide a warm and
stable environment for children, but these trends are alarming. They
point to the importance of nuturing love and respect within
individuals, towards family members of our immediate family, and
outwards to the community - no matter how hard this may be given
today's social problems. Such positive attitudes could be built upon
and acknowledgement that there are greater dimensions and
responsibilities in life than the material values of our popular
culture. Our churches used to supply this needed balance between the
demands of the inner and outer life and to provide simple and
commonly accepted rules for social behaviour. This is no longer the
case for many people as they reach, often blindly, towards new
explanations for ancient questions or simply ignore the fact that
human beings have one foot in the subconscious realm, and go on
living as many do absorbed in the values of the outer world.
Theosophical teachers have always taught the practical value of the
Ancient Wisdom in all aspects of human life. An appreciation of the
fudamental truths of brotherhood, karma and reincarnation expressed
in the mythology and religions the world over, is basic to the
structure of the longest lived societies such as our Australian
aboriginal culture. They have helped to build the great civilizations
of the past, and must do so again in the future. Today, practical
help in the form of food, shelter, medical and financial assistance
is needed urgently for the children of the street. We all owe a great
debt of gratitude to the courageous individuals of many philanthropic
organizations who provide such help unrelentingly. Beyond these
physical measures, the pervasive power of a loving environment built
on mutual respect between parents and children and ultimately upon
knowledge of the responsibilities of the different stages and
stations in life based on Universal Law, is needed in our society.
Theosophicts as latter day guardians of the Ancient Wisdom, carry a
responsibility to cast forth these powerful seed ideas into the
consciousness of our nations. Katherine Tingley, founder of the Point
Loma theosophical community and mentor of Dr G de Purucker,
concentrated much of her work on the practical value of theosophy to
home life and social problems. Her words prophetically echo the
challenges of the changing family structures of the 1990s:
"The question naturally arises: What remedies must be applied to
bring about a change for the better in the home life? What factors
can be introduced to adjust it and bring it nearer to perfection?
Theosophy answers that the parents should begin to study the science
of life, self-evolution, and the greater responsibilities of
fatherhood and motherhood even before marriage. Home should be
acclaimed as the centre from which the higher life of nations should
spring." - Katherine Tingley interviewed by Claire Merton in 1921.

Perhaps others, particularly with experience in the Theosophical
Order of Service or other philanthropic endeavours which attempt to
apply theosophic ideals, may wish to comment on this subject.

With good wishes to all,


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