Man is a social animal which is against the concept of individualism. He cannot live alone in the society. He has numerous needs and wants and in order to get them fulfilled has to depend on others in the society. This is invariable of others having to depend on him to get their individual needs and wants fulfilled. This means that all the individuals are interdependent. Individualism, so conceived, starts indeed with the individual personality and from the inherent title of each individual person to enjoy the conditions necessary for the development of his or her capacities. However, because it starts from this basis it cannot end in any conclusion of Laissez faire or any doctrine. Individuals are not left alone.
People have to be assembled through a collective effort. This is the only way forward for an organized group. These get-togethers are organized for the sake of the individual, but the individual cannot assemble them alone. People use devices to communicate. Communication is a collective effort and helps to provide for others as well as for himself.
A society, in which an individual is a member, is made up of a large number of social groups, the smallest of which is the family. The family comprises a group of people who are related to each other.
There are close knit families whose members care about each other a lot. Most often nuclear families consist only of parents and their children without grandparents, aunts and uncles etc. There are also single parent families and they comprise either the mother or the father.
In such families the widow or a widower looks after the children single handed. Such families are confined to the parent and the children. There are families with a single child and others with a dozen or more.
A society, in which an individual is a member, is made up of a large number of social groups, the smallest of which is the family. The family comprises a group of people who are related to each other
Further there are extended families. Sometimes the parent of the householder or those of his wife continue to live together with the householder. Similarly children continue to live with their parents even after their marriages and bear their own children. In such cases families consist of members belonging to three generations.
Family background relates to the family and the social class in which one has grown up in. It is judged according to prosperity and the social status of the respective family. Here the locality is considered and also aspects like whether urban or rural, the level of education of the members of the family. There are other various criteria including customs, qualities such as arrogance and jealousy, traits and skills of family members, diseases such as asthma and rheumatism or types of behaviour that’s considered. Religious and cultural differences are also considered.
The family background often affects the progress or the retrogression of individual members. In extended families there are member get-togethers that are consequent to a member or members getting married to outsiders.
Fathers-in law and mothers-in law join a particular family in that manner. Step-mothers and step- fathers join families when a father or a mother remarries. A child born to a step- father or a step-mother is called a half brother or a half sister of the children born from the first marriage.
Ancestors and descendants
Persons related to the family, who lived long time ago, especially those who had been important, are called ancestors. Those who will be born to the family many years after the present generation are expected to avoid the mistakes done by their ancestors.
All members of the family have needs and wants. Certain members of the family are too young to get their needs and wants fulfilled. Babies need care and protection. Children depend on their parents for guidance, protection, education health etc. until they are old enough to manage on their own. As heads of the family parents occupy pivotal positions in the family and are the lynch pin in the family.
Buddhist view of the family
Buddha has given the honorary title ‘Pubbacariya’ original instructors or teachers to the parents. This title is given to the parents because it is from the parents that children learn everything until they commence education. Parents teach their children all virtues in life and find them employment opportunities. They also find partners in life and give them as gifts whatever property they have. In view of the fact that the above [i] services and treatments are provided by the parents the children are expected to look after the parents when they are old.
Charity, donation or offering gifts
‘Dana’ means charity, donation or offering gifts. Breast feeding by the mother, provision of household needs by the father and giving advice by the learned persons are needed to fulfill essential needs. These donations are treated as execution of duties and responsibilities by members of a family
Use of pleasing words
‘Priyavacana’ means the use of pleasing words in communication among the members of the family and the society at large. Words are used by mothers to calm their children and make them sleep
Beneficence-’Arthacarya’- is doing good to others in a manner that provides advantages economically, socially or otherwise. This is done for the well-being of individuals and the society.
Treating others as equals
‘Samannattata’ is to treat others as equals without any differentiation on the basis of wealth, caste, race, power, literacy and external appearances.
Under Brahmin culture a system of offering was followed to seek the blessings of deities and demons. The offerings were known as ‘Bali’. Gautama Buddha gave a new meaning to the concept of ‘Bali’ and introduced the Panca Bali concept. According to this concept Bali or donations are to be offered by family members to five social groups.
Today under globalization the family is being extended not only to the level of the village and the nation, but also to the whole world; embracing the entire international community. If the members of the global village cooperate for their own sake peace and harmony will prevail throughout the world.