Family Makes You Rich Or Poor — What About Good?
A little reflection on the impact family has on all of us. I know what mine has given me above all else: goodness.
It has been over a decade that I have been extremely aware of the impact family has on one’s life. I know that may sound silly to most, since the importance of family is celebrated all the time. I don’t mean exactly that, though. I mean how the person we are depends — for better or worse — on how we were raised by those who raised us. It’s not just values and principles; it’s something bigger, something essential, something I believe we frequently confuse with instinct and genetics.
I think something as essential and existentially defining as our demeanour, as our personality, as our inclinations, has its origin right after birth. How your father reacts to bad news and to good news, how your mother behaves when she praises or scolds you, how your parents treat each other… how violent or peaceful they are, how happy or angry… all of this determines how we will turn out in life.
Of course, there is more. With our family, come social status and geographical privilege, or lack thereof. Our worldview depends greatly on how we’ve been brought up. For instance, I grew up in a working class family that never lacked food or comfort, so while I knew we couldn’t have everything we wanted, we always had much more than enough. I never witnessed unemployment or alcohol abuse. I never witnessed domestic violence. In fact, I never even witnessed sexism at home! I am extremely grateful for growing up in such a non-toxic environment, and it’s only recently that I’ve realised just how blind I have been to certain issues I had simply never experienced myself and therefore I couldn’t detect.
When I think about the biggest treasure I have received from my family, it isn’t wealth or protection, but something else that I have always taken from granted: beneficence. When I look at my family, I only see good people. I grew up among good people. Some more special, some more mundane, but all good. I am inclined to doing good deeds because that’s what I have always perceived as normal, as essential to my human condition.