In my previous post, the one below that addresses the national health care reform debate now taking place in the United States, I made a fairly sweeping attack against what I see as the degradation of American values. What are values? Those ideals that we hold dear. Values that Americans, Singaporeans, Vietnamese, Chinese and others the world over consider important include friendship, work, nation, education, technology and material gain, just to name a few. This is not to say that all citizens of our respective countries, or that you and I, or that my brothers and I have exactly the same views of these areas, but we do generally see the worth of each.
Similarly, "family" is a core value in all societies. However, the way family is defined and value that family is given by different individuals, and within different societies, can and does differ. Here are some "funneling questions" I have on the matter of family:
What exactly is meant by the term family? How does one's family differ from, say, one's tribe? Where are the boundaries of our family? In short, are we all brothers and sisters or not?
There are related issues and questions:
Most of the so-called "great" religions of the world espouse the view that we should extend a helping hand to others, not just to family members. But does that happen? To whom and in what way do we typically extend help? Am I or am I not my mother's, sister's, brother's, son's and/or neighbor's "keeper"?
And just how powerful can the love of family -- be that nuclear or planetary -- be?
In that previous post, I made the claim that for many Americans (not all, of course), individual material gain is more important than social equality/justice. I also wrote that this translates into the widespread belief that it's a dog-eat-dog world where only the fittest survive, and that the government should stay out of the fray.
That is one of my worries about American society (and any society, for that matter). That while we are often far too familial, tribal, national (in short, in-group) focused, the even bigger problem is that we are too individualistic or self-serving, and that we don't envision ourselves sharing this planet and facing challenges together enough.
An e-mail from a friend made me think about this on a different level. She sent a link to a video that, upon viewing, made me reflect on my own ideas of family, support and togetherness (or teamwork) again. It also forced me to reevaluate my sweeping generalization about Americans.
Check out this inspiring Youtube video about Dick and Rick Hoyt, an American father and son team with an exceptional bond, and see what I mean.
If you'd like to see another 10-minute documentary (with audio) about Rick and Dick Hoyt, click here.
There are real heroes in this world after all.