Since childhood, I found the concept of ‘family’ pretty strange. I always wondered why anybody outside the four walls of my home has to be treated differently. The whole “this is yours” and “this is not yours” thing never quite made sense to me. Why do ‘home’ and ‘family’ end once I leave my home? These physical and mental divisions were weird for me. As I grew up, I of course understood the practical importance of these concepts but sometimes I feel that this mentality, when taken to the extreme, is responsible for everything that we think is wrong with the world.

Family is a beautiful concept and if we understand it correctly, it can make the world a better place. In fact, what we need today IS a family..a sense of belonging. It is of course nice and rational to take care of your loved ones and make them your highest priority. We cannot know the needs of the strangers and so, we cannot take care of them. But some people take it too seriously to the point that they will justify ANYTHING (even rape, abuse, murder ,bribe) in the name of family. Don’t we see people who are extremely biased towards their family members?

What we forget is that even the strangers from the other part of the world whom we have never met can influence and affect the lives of our loved ones. Sounds stupid, right? Well, what about the bomb blasts by terrorists? What about the people who donate and volunteer for causes that involve complete strangers? What about the scientist who invented the cure for the disease that your grandpa is suffering from? You can throw that waste on the road instead of the dustbin because you will never visit that place again, but guess what? Mosquitoes can travel and spread diseases. So, you only love your country and hate the rest? What will happen if that country stops trading with you? You think that you have helped your family by ‘buying’ a medical seat for someone who has no interest in medicine? But imagine a scenario where your loved one is suffering and an incompetent doctor is operating on him/her!

My grandmother often says that neighbors are more important than relatives because in case of emergency, only your neighbors can help you..your relatives cannot rush from other city to take you to the hospital. No, you don’t have to be nice so that others will help you in the future but if you are going to be calculative, atleast calculate intelligently!

Once you teach your children that everybody in the world and the universe (including other species besides human beings) is connected to them, they will think twice before harming others. Right now, we use all kind of stories about God, heaven and hell to make them ethical. So ethics and compassion have become a competitive sport.

The irony is that all families begin with two strangers coming together for a common purpose!

We need a family..but maybe it is time for us to let go of all the mental boundaries and expand our vision and definition!


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