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Vanishing family values are our greatest threat

Like a slow-burning forest fire taking a heavy toll on wildlife through heat and smoke, societies today are wrestling with a range of issues that affect life, especially for the family unit.

It should be the family where decency and respect are taught early as guideposts for how we should treat one another.

No society is totally free from various forms of negative activity that has an impact on the family unit, resulting in reduced communication between parents and children.

Troubled young minds can be easily confused over what constitutes proper life values. A lack of communication could become critical when a young person yearns for guidance in an atmosphere where so much emphasis is often placed on material gain.

Parents struggling in a highly competitive economic world to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table could unintentionally miss early signs of a troubled young mind. Major forest fires usually begin with that first undetected spark.

A good example is the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, which has not only shattered economic and community life around the world, but has also had a devastating effect on the family.

Even before the deadly pandemic, the family unit as we once knew it was under attack from the high-tech world of communications gadgets, which have sliced into the family and have made communication difficult. Face-to-face conversation these days is almost a lost art.

The march of progress in the modern world has produced wonderful elements, which include an operating space station circling the globe daily, significant strides in medicine, plus numerous household comforts that enhance life for millions.

Modern communication devices are very much a part of that progress. In fact, it was one of those devices that captured the tragic incident in the United States recently, involving a police officer taking the life of a man in custody.

There is nothing wrong with these devices, but they need proper management within the home. In recent years in many countries, parents and children have become strangers in the night when it comes to engagement. Instead of uninterrupted dinner-table communication, too often individuals use that “quality time” in their little corner tapping away as though nothing else really matters. This type of electronic social-distancing is not positive for family life.

Apart from daily challenges for families in today's world, along came the pandemic still sweeping much of the globe and inviting many questions over the raising of children, and how to explain different life patterns that restrict normal activity to protect each other from a disease that has altered life throughout the world.

When adults and children are stressed out together, it is a great strain on the family unit because when families weaken, society itself is under threat. The pandemic is a threat not only to life, but every single family.

The Bermuda Government did something many large countries failed to do the moment word reached us that the coronavirus would eventually touch our shores. To avoid what had the potential of being medical disaster would require measures never experienced before.

The plan outlined by the Premier, David Burt, involved a lockdown with curfews to halt as much as possible the spreading of a disease that is transmitted easily when people mingle. With the lockdown, officials knew the family would be tested in adjusting to conditions where the good, the bad, and the ugly, could impact children. However, there was little choice because the lives of all Bermudians were at risk without tough decisions.

It will be a while before we are totally out of the woods in dealing with the effects of the pandemic, with much of our economic activity almost at a standstill. Beneath the surface, there are children in need of strength and affection after a period where even many adults were tested in trying to cope. No one has all the answers to many emotional problems that existed even without the pandemic.

While reopening schools is important, world health officials warn that without meticulous planning for safety, transmission issues could continue, affecting not only teachers, but vulnerable relatives of the children. Careful planning must be involved in this process, or there will be further problems, creating greater challenges for the family.

Bermudian families many decades ago had so little, yet in a strange way they had everything. Perhaps the family back then had no choice but to create joy, despite no radio or television, and in some cases no electricity. Everything was far from perfect, but they knew how to share and find ways to keep family life special.

The inner Bermuda character was to believe tomorrow would be better, despite terribly unjust social conditions of that period in Bermudian history.

Bermuda, along with the rest of the world, is in a new age in seeking solutions to build a safer and better world. With much of the old-fashioned discipline of previous decades all but vanished, it is going to be a challenge.

There was a time when a child answering a parent in a rude manner had painful results. It may seem harsh these days, but the objective was teaching how behaving badly resulted in consequences.

Many of our finest successful citizens, told many stories of how no-nonsense discipline, along with guidance, helped them through tough situations in life.

Bermuda is facing tough times, and while things have changed in the discipline area of life, the family is still crucial in making Bermuda safe for all. There are many wonderful people on this beautiful island, and our mandate should be to keep it that way for future generations. We can do it if we protect great family values, and this can be achieved only by working together.

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Published July 20, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated July 20, 2020 at 8:58 am)

Vanishing family values are our greatest threat

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