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Good Families Make Good Nations (1)


It is a great honour and privilege for me to be here today to talk to such a distinguished audience on the subject, “Good Families make Good Nations.” When I received the mail from Rev. Fr Raphael Madu, inviting me to give a lecture on the topic, I said ‘yes’ with very little reflection, because ever since I started the Institute for Work and Family Integration in 2005, I have had the privilege of addressing conferences, members of the business community and government officials among others on issues of the family; particularly issues of work life balance, but never to a distinguished audience as this. But before I start, let me make a confession. Shortly after accepting the invitation, I suddenly felt challenged by the fact that I was going to talk to the Bishop’s Conference! The question was, what can I tell the Bishops; the moral authorities on the family? I am used to listening to Bishops and not lecturing them, but this was the explicit request in the mail! Hoping there was a mistake, I called Fr. Madu. And I was told that the Bishops want “inclusiveness” in the family discourse, of which you are ably qualified! This was quite helpful, but I still had some nerves.

My second challenge is the topic itself: “Good Families make Good Nations.” This is a statement of fact; and in my profession, facts are constant and not usually subject to discussion. The challenge, therefore, was, how can I discuss a statement of fact with Bishops for 45 minutes? Faced with this challenge, I had to make further consultations, then I was told, “Charles, you have a vocation to marriage, the foundation of the family; you have your experience and your friends and others. Share it, give the Bishops some feedback on their teachings.” Your Excellencies, my Lord Bishops, Ladies and Gentlemen, in discussing the topic “Good Families make Good Nations,” what I intend to do is to share some experience with you.

In doing so, I will draw inference from my experience or experiences of others, which I have gathered over the years. I will draw examples from my professional experience in business in an effort to explain things better. Specifically, in discussing the topic, I will first attempt to provide some common references and understanding to guide our discussions, by defining the key words of the topic, namely:
• Good, and the Concept of Good as a Mission
• The Mission of the Family and the Nation.

With this background, I will attempt to present the family today, as the seedbed of nations, and its two images. I will then discuss the making of good families and the making of good nations and what we could do to achieve it.
Concept Of Good

Simply put, “GOOD”, the key adjective in our topic today, is the ultimate desire of all of us. Consciously or unconsciously, we all desire what is good. All our choices, decisions and judgments are guided by our inner sense of what is good. From a definitional point of view, the Oxford dictionary tells us, “good is high quality or an acceptable standard of actions or behaviour that are normally right.”

Now, applied to the family as an Institution and the Nation as an organisation of families and people, good takes on the additional meaning of a mission, the purpose for being. May be I can explain this better from a business point of view. The purpose of a corporate institution, as set up by their founder(s) or shareholders, is to make profit, delivering the services or products to customers, guided by the values or principles of actions established for the company. This mission is usually delegated to the Board of Directors. Very often, when people ask, how is business? Usually reflecting on the key performance indicators, we would say, ‘good,’ if we are achieving the desired goals and making profit. These same principles can be applied to the family as an institution and the nation as a corporate organisation of families.
The Mission Of The Family

The family, like business, has the mission to educate and prepare its members to fulfill the purpose of creation, which as we learnt in Penny Catechism, “To know God, love Him, serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in heaven.” This mission is best understood in the context of marriage, which is the foundation of the family. Marriage, as an institution, is a school, where we learn to love and prepare family members to achieve the purpose of life.

Genesis story tells us, God said: “it is not good for man to be alone, let us make him a “helpmate.” And that done, we saw the excited man cleave to the woman, saying, “This one at last, is the bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Then God blessed them and said, “Increase and multiply and dominate the earth.”

From the foregoing, we see the key objectives of marriage and the family, as follows:
• Helpmate. Companionship.
• Cleave, this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Unity, Love.
• Procreation and education of the offspring.
• Dominate the earth; meaning to work.

These objective areas of the family offer man and woman the opportunity of fulfilling their mission by knowing, loving and serving God through their spouse, children (if God blesses the marriage with some) and neighbour for God’s sake, so they can be happy with Him forever in heaven.
Key Performance Indicators

This knowing of God occurs in the loving sacrifice and serving of each other in the ordinary daily circumstances of family life. Marriage as an institution, a community brought together by love, teaches the same subjects and tests couples on the same subject in their varied circumstances of family life. In my 38 years of marriage and over 15 years of preparing engaged couples for marriage and counseling some, my wife and I have had to prescribe the same solutions for couples, though different strategies, as appropriate to their circumstances in order to succeed and build good families. Like the great professions of science such as medicine and engineering among others, which are guided by set principles and procedures to ensure the same result all the time, marriages and families are also expected to conform to set principles and values in their daily circumstances of family life to become good families! These habitual decisions, whether good or bad, define a family. The good habits are called virtues, while the bad habits are called vices.

Thus, the performance of these families can be measured and are evidenced at the individual or family level daily, as they do their examination of conscience every evening like the balancing of books by the accountants at the end of the business day.
Good families are virtuous families, those that conform to the principles, while bad families are those that do not, but live with vices.
• Rt. Hon. Osezua (KSG, O0) presented this paper at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, during Its First Plenary, 2015 at the Daughters Of Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre (DRACC), Abuja on Saturday, February 21, 2015.

The Mission Of The Nation

Nations, like the families, have a mission to serve the common good and protect their common heritage, which is often enshrined in the constitution and Bills of rights of the people. To achieve this purpose, nations may define structures and instructions for delivering services to the people. Thus, the goodness of a nation is measured by the quality of service delivery by the various organs and institutions of government, which depend on leadership. Leaders are not born, but made in the families, where they develop virtues.

These virtues manifest in the ability of leaders to deliver quality service to the people all the time. Thus, nations depend on the families, which are the seedbeds of the nations, for development of leaders, who may be good or bad depending on the formation received in the family. Consequently, good families make good nations because they produce good leaders, who build good institutions for the delivery of good services to the people, to the glory of God.
The Family Today

From the above, it is clear that families and nations are interdependent for the good of each other. But today, what do we see? With rapidly changing technology and demographic shifts, man and woman have become more “alone”. They are thus more exposed to lies and deceptions, as they were in the Garden of Eden, in loneliness and just as vulnerable to the seduction of the devil. Consequently, couples are less loving and less caring even of their offspring. They are more self-centered and materialistic among others.
Dual Income Family

In Lagos and most developed countries, majority of families are now dual income families. Indications from the US shows that about 67 percent of families are dual income families; that is, husband and wife are working.

In Lagos, an analysis of the middle class families shows that:
• Today’s children almost never see their parents.
• Dad leaves in the morning and arrives in the evening tired and often quite late. Therefore, the children lack their father’s model of character or virtue.
• Mom is almost like Dad; outgoing and very busy.

And when they do see Dad and Mom, it is usually during leisure time, watching TV, entertaining and vacations among others. This a time when their character, so to speak, is on idle. Thus, children lack their father’s and sometimes, their mother’s model of character or virtues.
To fill the gap, they find:

• New character models: nannies, drivers, gardeners and TV personalities among others.
Consequently, children are more likely to exhibit weakness of character, immaturity, irresponsibility, greed and materialism among others.
New Media

To compound the problem of loneliness, we have the “New Media.” With modern technology, distant companionship has taken over real companionship. What has become prevalent in most families is a situation where couples keep each other company from a distance through Telephone, Texting, Pinging, and now, Video conferencing or Skyping. The unfortunate thing is that the primary purpose of marriage, which is companionship, is almost defeated. Most unfortunate is that, while couples may be together at home, instead of spending quality time with their children or themselves, they are on the Internet or watching TV, or sending text messages, thus keeping other people company.

And though they are together, but alone. Alone like in the garden, they are seduced, and we see lots of marriages/families crumbling.
• In the U.S., 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.
• 40 percent of the balance stays in marriage for reasons other than love.
• In Lagos, indications are that 50 percent of marriages are in crisis. This does not make for the building of good nations.
• Rt. Hon. Osezua (KSG, O0) presented this paper at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, during Its First Plenary, 2015 at the Daughters Of Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre (DRACC), Abuja on Saturday, February 21, 2015.

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