Society's Healing Charter – The FAMILY Worldview
Shortly before 1970, when photographs of Planet Earth first appeared, beautiful and whole, we were thrilled by this gift of a new way to see the world. From the perspective of outer space, we were able to see continents as mankind had never seen them before, and notably, we could not see the boundaries that separate nations. Though unable to discern Earth's inhabitants (3.7 billion at that time), we knew that the planet was teeming with life, interacting in complex and dynamic systems, and we knew that human societies were directing many of these interactions.
We also knew that all was not well on Earth. At the time that these photographs were taken, with the backdrop of the "Cold War" against communism and the world's great threat of nuclear annihilation, Arnold Toynbee, the historian of world civilizations, warned: "Mankind is surely going to destroy itself unless it succeeds in growing together into something like a single family."
Today, while the backdrops have changed with the times, we believe that these photographs of Planet Earth are emblematic. They call to mind two vital truths: (1) We are one family; and (2) we all share the stunningly beautiful Planet Earth as our home.
When we view the world from outer space, as in these photographs, we can imagine the interconnection of all the seemingly separated people, things, and events in our world. But up close, when we look around us on earth, we can see clearly that many people are disconnected – left behind! We are one family biologically, but we have not yet learned how to live as one family.
Life on earth revolves around relationships – our relationship to each other, to our world, and to the universe beyond. We live in a nested universe: systems within systems, some natural and some created. All of the systems that we develop should function in harmony with each other, much as the systems of our bodies. Each of us is healthy when all of our interdependent organ systems – nervous system, circulatory, digestive, and all the others – are interacting in harmony for our well being. Much like our bodies, society is also organized into mutually-dependent systems by which we organize our relationships to each other. Mankind has been developing and evolving them throughout history, and we are continually moving in and out of these massive systems – political, religious, education, health care, economic, human services, justice, defense, and countless other systems and subsystems. Their continuing interactions with each other and with the environment should be harmonious, with one shared purpose: the common good. By those standards, it’s clear that society has a very serious systemic illness. Although America is the most powerful nation on earth, not one of its social systems is functioning as it should. Why? They are not working together for the common good.
There is only one way to bring society's discordant systems into harmony with each other. They must all be tuned to nature’s most delicate and responsive system – the developing nervous system of infants and children. Because of the significant advances in science's understanding of the development of a child’s brain we now know that the architecture of a child's developing brain accommodates to its environment and is exquisitely sensitive to it. "When their primary relationships provide love and stability, children thrive." So, too, with society! We believe that society will be healed only when we reorganize around the common purpose of creating a nurturing and secure environment in which all children and families can thrive. Society will be secure and whole only when all children are nurtured and secure.
Project Head Start applied this progressive principal on a limited scale in the United States in 1965. Its stated goal was "to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs." Head Start has been very effective for some children, but many more children need a head start. In fact, all of society needs a fresh start! During these dangerous days, we must begin the life-long healing process of reorganizing all of society into networks of mutual support that will remain tuned to the wholesome development of its members throughout their entire lifespan. In spite of our differences of race, religion, nationality, economic status, and culture, we will have to learn how to interact like a healthy family!
FAMILY – The Organizing System for a Healthy and Whole Society
A society that is becoming healthy and whole will have distinguishing features. Individuals and groups with diverse religious systems and social support systems will finally stand on common ground when communities of different cultures and faiths accept each other as members of one family; and bonds will join us as we work together for peace and social justice. The child care and education systems will be responsive to the evolving needs of children throughout the spectrum of development, preparing them intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually for fruitful lives as nurturers of future generations. The health care systems will promote health, and care will be organized as an effective and efficient system, providing affordable and accessible care for all. The economic systems of mutual benefit (not profiteering) will provide meaningful employment opportunity and economic security, recognizing the opportunities and responsibilities presented by the emerging global economy. The political systems will be purged of hypocrisy and the corrupting power of polluted money, and disenfranchised citizens will take their places as responsible, voting citizens. The justice systems will be just for all. As the world population continues to increase, we will not think of ourselves as an "ownership society," but as stewards of a priceless environment, to be shared and enjoyed by the present generation and conserved for future generations. Development must be sustainable. Society's goal-- the common good.
The FAMILY Worldview is not a utopian dream, but a vision of the healthy society to which we should strive. FAMILY is the organizing system for all healthy families, communities, and societies – the fundamental truth that can bring wholeness to our world that is now perilously divided. FAMILY is society’s connective tissue. Understanding that we are one family, connected in a profound and interdependent web with all of humanity, we will view one another in a new light. In spite of our differences, we must strive together to meet our central responsibility: to create an environment in which all children and families of this and of future generations can thrive. We will find that this soft power, not violence, is the only force that can heal the contagious virulence of terrorism and the scourge of poverty, binding us together as we cope with natural and man-made disasters that will surely come in the future. What other choice do we have?
FAMILY Partnership Values: As with each individual, the world is not perfect, but it should be whole.
- Every person is valued: from the youngest to the oldest, from the richest to the poorest;
- For healthy development, all children need to be nurtured through intergenerational relationships;
- Harmonious support systems enhance the lives of children and families within the community;
- Society’s systems should be in harmony with nature’s systems;
- We must think globally and act locally – FAMILY must start at the local level and develop sustainably;