KVE301/KVE401 Universal Human Values and Professional Ethics
Chapter 8: Harmony in Family – Understanding Values in Human Relationships
Family, as defined by a 1970s Long Island, New York Housing Code (upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1974): “One or more persons related by blood, adoption or marriage, living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit, exclusive of household servants.”
Oxford English dictionary defines family as “a group of persons consisting of the parents and their children, whether actually living together or not.” Family is a group of people or animals (many species form the equivalent of a human family wherein the adults care for the young) affiliated by consanguinity (Relationship by blood or by a common ancestor), affinity or co-residence. Although the concept of consanguinity originally referred to relations by “blood”, anthropologists have argued that one must understand the idea of “blood” metaphorically and that many societies understand family through other concepts rather than through genetic distance.
Family as a basic unit of interaction
The family is a natural laboratory and learning ground:
- To understand the harmony in relationship with human beings and
- To practice it in terms of its fulfillment, evaluation, and ensuring mutual happiness before we extend this to every unit in the society and then to nature.
Harmony in the family
The family is the basic unit of human interaction, it is the anchor that roots us, it gives us both roots to hold and wings to fly. It is not surprising that children who grow up in happy families are more successful and well-adjusted in life.
Family relations can give us the strength to face the world. How wonderful it feels to return to a happy home after a hard day at work? Our family can be our sounding board to bounce off creative ideas, our greatest supporter during adversity, and the source of unconditional love. Now imagine a situation where there are very unpleasant relations at home – bitter fights, jealousies, and the blame game being played out! A person would actually hate going home in such an oppressive atmosphere.
Family feuds can cause depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, sadness, confusion, and rage. No one wants to live like that! Here are some simple rules for turning family feuds into family fun.
- Parents are very important element of the family. The prime responsibility to run smooth family relation lies on the shoulder of parents so they need to extra cautious. Parents are the real role models for the kids. They look at them with great hope. Their well-being depends largely on parents’ conduct.
- Children need strong emotional support along with adequate monetary support. The wording like – “don’t worry my son, work hard we are with you” can bring wonderful results. Healthy family environment is essential requirement for a well-knit family.
- Old generation like grandfather and mother are the real assets to the family. Complete respect can be translated to very good guidance for every member of the family. Remember they carry a very rich experience with them that one can only get after spending so much time in life.
- The problem with relations is that even if we do not like we have to live with them. The best way is to avoid any kind of disconnect and establish dialogue.
- Family harmony is the basic foundation on which the entire edifice of social harmony is built.
There is a set of proposals about the families for us to verify:
- Relationship IS and it exists between the self (‘I’) and the other-self (‘I’).
- The self (‘I’) has FEELINGS in a relationship. These feelings are between ‘I’ and ‘I’.
- These feelings in the self (‘I’) are DEFINITE. i.e. they can be identified with definiteness.
- RECOGNIZING and FULFILLING these feelings leads to MUTUAL HAPPINESS in a relationship.
Now, we will explore each of the above in detail.
1. Relationship IS and it exists between the self (‘I’) and the other-self (‘I’).
Once we have recognized the existence of human relationships, we are subsequently able to identify the feelings (values). When we work and behave according to these feelings, it leads to the fulfillment of both sides in the relationship, i.e. it leads to mutual fulfillment. Evaluation is a natural process when we live in relationships and we constantly evaluating our and the other’s feelings in the relationship. For example, trust is wanted in a relationship and if there is a mutual feeling of trust, then it leads to mutual fulfillment and there are no complaints. But if there is doubt on the other, the happiness in a relationship is missing.
It is not possible to create the relationships that are existent in a family. We are naturally born into this. In a similar way, the family has not invented the social dependencies in which it exists. The family exists naturally as a part of this social web of interdependency. So, we are embedded in relationships, they are there and all that we need to do is to recognize them and understand.
2. The self (‘I’) has feelings in a relationship. These feelings are between ‘I’ and ‘I’.
There are feelings in relations naturally. They do not have to be created, nor can we remove them. We may try to suppress them, or argue against them, or undermine them, but they are very much there. These feelings are fundamental to the relationship and can be recognized. Let’s ask some questions:
Question: Who has these feelings? ‘I’ or body?
Question: With whom does ‘I’ have these feelings? With the order ‘I’ or the other body?
Answer: With the other ‘I’.
Question: Who wants trust in a relationship? Our Self or body?
Answer: Self wants trust.
Question: From whom we want this trust? The other ‘I’ or Body?
Answer: From the other ‘I’.
This is something we can easily verify ourself, that it is ‘I’ that wants trust. There is no part of the body that wants trust, no part of the body that wants respect. When we respect someone, we respect the person’s ‘I’, and not their body organs. When we ‘trust’ someone, it is the person and not the body. Trust is something to do with the person, the self (‘I’). That is to say, the feelings in a relationship are between ‘I’ and ‘I’.
3. These feelings in the self (‘I’) are definite. i.e. they can be identified with definiteness.
4. Recognizing and fulfilling these feelings leads to mutual happiness in a relationship.
Once we have recognized the existence of human relationships, we are subsequently able to identify the feelings (values). When we work and behave according to these feelings, it leads to fulfillment of both sides in the relationship, i.e. it leads to mutual fulfillment. Evaluation is a natural process when we live in relationships and we are constantly evaluating ours’ and the other’s feelings in the relationship. For example, trust is wanted in a relationship and if there is a mutual feeling of trust, them it leads to mutual fulfillment and there are no complaints. But if there is doubt on the other, the happiness in relationship is missing.
To summarize – relationships in a family or in a society are not created, they just are. We can understand these relationships and based upon this understanding, it will be natural to have right feelings (values) in these relationships. These feelings are definite and can be recognized with certainty. We have also seen that recognizing the relationship and having the feelings in relationship is an activity of the self (‘I’) and not the body. It becomes clear that relationship is between the self (‘I’) and other self (‘I’) and the feelings are also between ‘I’ and ‘I’. Mutual fulfillment is the natural outcome of a relation correctly recognized and lived.