Leading the family beyond financial security to fulfilment

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The thought of journeying to a desirable but far destination can be terrifying if you are going alone. If you find and connect with someone going towards your destination, you assist each other and enjoy your trip companion, whether trekking or driving. But, if you do not have a destination, you either remain stagnant or continue challenging and competing in other people’s destination. When you seek companions without having a compelling destination, they abandon or remain stagnant with you if you are stagnant, or they abandon or join your aimless competitions. Without identifying their life’s purposes and seeking compatible companions to their purpose, people create either stagnant or reckless families or relationships.

 

Presently, there is high level of marriage and family crisis in different parts of the world. The wave of infidelity, discontentment, emotional, verbal and physical abuse, selfishness, bitterness and multiple divorce scare many unmarried people from marriage. Feminists complain about women’s abuse in the “institutionalized prison” called marriage, even after second, third or fourth divorce and remarriage. Some people now prefer being single, having uncommitted sexual partners and adopting children or animals as pets. Marriage and family life now appear scary to the upcoming generation, heralding an oncoming wave of extreme individualism. However, marriage and relationships are not the problems; our reasons for marriage and relationships are the problem.

 

All humans seek happiness, and every human activity, quality or possession is valued according to its capacity to provide happiness.[1] Due to their varied influences and understandings of happiness, various people seek happiness through different contradictory sources. Happiness can be classified into two: material and internal happiness.

 

  • Material happiness is the pleasant feeling derived from possessing and using nonmaterial and material things. They include feelings from food, sexual intimacy, companions, entertainment, skills, power, beauty, comfort, social recognition, praise and other material and nonmaterial possessions. Material happiness is the feeling which humans share with animals for gathering, protecting and using resources for their material satisfaction. Despite having material satisfaction, man always finds himself unfulfilled, never satisfied on the throne of conquered material success,[2] therefore he seeks a supernatural happiness.[3]

 

  • Internal happiness or fulfilment is a surge of peaceful satisfaction which we experience by discovering, developing and utilizing our potentials for common good. This feeling rises inside us because of our supernatural side which makes us responsible for harmonizing growth in the world. For humans are the only natural beings with rationality, moral responsibility and creativity for implementing harmonious development in the world. When we respond to our supernatural side by using our potentials or resources for harmonious growth, we feel happy internally. After helping someone in real need, solving social problems or saving a situation, we feel internally happy as if our heart says: “this is how I am supposed to be”. Internal happiness does not come from what we have, but from the rational, creative and moral things we do with what we have. Our hearts appreciates us for developing and using our potentials and resources according to our supernatural side.

 

Family provides the foundation to launch into our destiny. It provides the first direction for seeking happiness, whether aiming solely at material happiness or advancing toward internal happiness.

 

When family is primarily seen as foundation for internal happiness, people who have discovered their potentials choose life-partners that accompany and motivate them towards developing and utilizing their potentials for common good. This type of marriage or relationship exemplifies travelling to a desirable destination with like-minded companions for mutual encouragement and assistance. Then, their love becomes a readiness to make sacrifices for the other person to attain full measure of internal happiness through discovering, developing and utilizing their potentials for common good and self-sustenance. Being committed to their destination, they direct eventual associates like their children, friends and relatives towards internal happiness. Then their ambition for social and material possession is moderated by their need to discover, develop and utilize their potentials for common good and sustenance.

 

Families founded for internal happiness require knowledge about their social destination and strong will to attain that destiny. Though some women can be strong-willed, men have more natural strong-will for directing the family toward their social destination. Despite recent political emasculation and feminist agitations against masculinity, men’s physical and emotional strengths are the major factors for creating, providing, protecting, motivating and leading the family to internal happiness. Even with moderate resources, the masculine ability to direct the family to internal happiness keeps the family focused, contented, together and happy. Thus, apart from having physical strength, men require more wisdom[4] to direct their families to internal happiness and relevance.

 

If a partner dies, we continue on our mission for positive social impact in order to honour the memories of our deceased partners. And if a partner abandons our initial journey to the common good for internal happiness, we humbly remind them of the goal, continue on our journey and hope they come back.

 

On the contrary, when we primarily see family as a foundation for material happiness, we choose life-partners based on their ability to produce, sustain or increase our material happiness. Then, qualities like money, power, fame, social status, ambition, beauty, sexual prowess and possessions become primary standards for marriage. Since human’s material desires are insatiable, we keep competing with other people for more pleasure. But as these qualities do not directly satisfy our ignored but active hunger for internal happiness, they soon become boring and start diminishing in our partners. Then, we begin losing interest in them until we seek separation, and look for younger or better sources of material happiness. This type of relationship or marriage exemplifies seeking a companion to enjoy a comfortable car, without having a destination in mind. After initial pleasure in wandering aimlessly and competing with other cars on their peculiar race, you get bored and seek new companions.

 

The love professed in such relationships or marriage is a brief captivation by beauty, demand to satisfy material desires or experimenting how long they satisfy our desires. It aims at gaining from the other person’s beauty, naivety, power, status, money, etc. for as long as possible, not at direction to internal happiness. Therefore, the person with higher access to material resources often become controlling, while others become passive or rebellious. Then the family floats or crumbles depending on who gets more access to resources at each time. And when the targeted resources of material happiness depreciate, the relationship begins to die.

 

Since they solely seek material happiness, and rely on others for it, if their partners die or abandon them, they become depressed, suicidal or vindictive.

 

Social factor for disorganizing the family

Some recent socio-political structures undermine the masculine role in the provision and protection of the family. It seizes from all and allocates to few, the ownership of the stable factors of production, which are land, mineral resources and their financial derivatives. Therefore, many dispossessed males desperately provide rationed cheap production or distribution labour for a life of debts. With the dispossession, many men spend most time providing labour just to obtain current resources for their family’s upkeep. In such an overactive lifestyle, they forget to provide resources for internal happiness in pursuit of their families’ material happiness. And when they do not meet up with current demands of material happiness, they psychologically lose their authority for family leadership.

 

In conclusion, apart from material happiness from owning and using wealth for pleasure, humans necessarily need internal happiness according to their supernatural nature. This internal happiness comes from discovering, developing and utilizing our potentials and resources for common good and sustenance. The family provides the foundation from which individuals launch into this journey of self-actualization and social relevance. And men’s emotional and physical strength obliges them to create, provide, protect and lead himself and every member of his family to internal happiness. So, a father is primarily an educator, a mental, spiritual and physical guide to the family, not just a sponsor. Despite modern technological advances, the deficiency of productivity in modern times is traceable to the diminishing masculine roles of discipline in the society.

 

Material idea of love implies being captivated by someone’s beauty, making demands on others to satisfy your desires and trying to taste whether the other suits me. But the internal idea of love is ‘readiness to sacrifice for others to attain internal happiness by discovering, developing and utilizing their potentials. Internal happiness requires contentment, which is not the absence of ambition, hatred of wealth or love of mediocrity, but the readiness to acquire skills and possessions according to a desire for making positive social impacts.

[1] Cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, p.1

[2] Battista Mondin, Philosophical anthropology (Rome: Urbaniana University press: 1985) p.196

[3] Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae Ia IIae question Part 2. Q1, a7-8.

[4] Knowledge of fundamental causes