An Interfaith View of the Family

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“An Interfaith View of the Family,” Ensign, June 2001, 75

An Interfaith View of the Family

“The family has no beginning, no end. In the family reside the deeds of the past, the breath of the present, and the yearning of the future. The family is the constant of the human universe—it is like the sky, something that has been and will always be. …

“… Our capacity to overcome obstacles is strengthened by the realization that we labor for something greater than the alpha and omega of our individual existence. I have learned that what I do today is not only for me, but it also shapes the future.

“People say to remember the past. But it is equally important to remember and then protect the future by the quality of what you do today. …

“… If you can honor those who have gone before and respect the potential of those yet to come, how much more should you love and nurture those who reside with you in the here and now? …

“The family is the initial ‘center of learning’ attended by each of us. The question is not whether we learn within the familial context but what we learn. Is it enough of the right stuff, too much of the wrong, or not enough of anything? The formative experience can either be good or bad. If good, the family tree flourishes, and the individual, his community, and his nation benefit. If instruction is toxic, the tree is blighted, and the individual and society suffer. …

“… We spend precious little time understanding each other. Too many families are strangers residing under one roof. The Internet and other devices offer virtual reality, virtual affection, and virtual fulfillment. All these claims are virtually untrue. Technology is a friend, but this friend has placed some unintended heavy pressure on us.

“In this vastly developed society, we are in danger of being drowned by the amenities intended to benefit us. Our ancestors worked in order to survive, to eat and drink. We would do well to learn a few lessons from them. First and foremost is to cherish each other. …

“… The family is both marathon and relay race. It is like a marathon in that the distance is vast. From where we are, we see neither the starting line nor the finish line. It is like a relay in that we inherit the baton from a family member, only to bequeath it to another member after our paces have been run.

“We must be prudent stewards of that baton, for it is the connection between our ancestors and our progeny. Your affinity for the past and future should intensify your love for family members of the present.”

George W. Haley, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Gambia, “Roots—the Challenge,” address given at the Oakland California Stake Center, 13 May 2000.