An alchemist searches, combines, tests, experiments, to formulate the combination that will produce the greatest magic. In the human experience, family serves as a necessary ingredient. Necessary is too mild a word—vital, essential, imperative. I say this after contemplating the meaning of family—rather how family has shaped my growth, my life. I pose the question: What would have happened to you without your family? What if you had your family, but you were put through trials and tribulations too unfair for anyone to endure?
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
Today, on the International Day of Families, I am writing to explore the phenomenon that is the family structure. And instantly, I think of what is happening in our world today. I think of young children separated at the border from the safety they know only in their mother’s and father’s arms—what would have happened to me if I had endured that as a young child?
“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”
I think of migrants on boats, with just the clothes on their backs drenched in ice cold water, trembling and clutching to the family members they have with them—trying not to think of the ones they’ve left behind.
I think of the families that have survived, but that have endured far too much. What must it be like for the refugee families, the ones who have grown up with their aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents? What happens when they’re forced to live in a country foreign to them, knowing the extended family that once fulfilled a huge part of their lives is an ocean away? Knowing they may never see them again?
“Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold.”
Out of curiosity, I began researching family patterns in the animal kingdom. The first thing I came across was the lion pride. I was in awe at the intricacies of the way the pride thrives, from the responsibilities of the male lions, to the hunting patterns of the female lionesses, and the way they work in unison to protect their cubs.
And that is where my final thoughts take form.
There is nothing more natural than family.
From the animal kingdom, to small families living in the remote crevices of the world, to large, extended families living in sandstone buildings in bustling cities, families look and feel different.
The unifying factor is that families are a natural lifeline. Without this lifeline, whatever the lifeline may look like, we are alone, going against the natural patterns our hearts are accustomed to.
For anyone to be forced to unnecessarily separate from their family is cruel and unnatural. Perhaps something that can unify many of us, despite the divisiveness of the world, is the remembrance that the need for a family unifies us all.
It is this remembrance that forfeits apathy for empathy.
With that empathy, perhaps we can build a world where families staying together is granted, as it should be.