For many of us, our first reaction to the word "family" is understandably personal. We think of our own families, those we have grown up in and those we are now part of. While this personal focus is important, what we have learned as we’ve put this issue together is that it is not broad enough. We must learn to care about families not only as individuals, but also as a society and as a world.
For like it or not, humanity has become the crew of spaceship Earth and the fate of the Earth depends on the quality of this crew. Families are our primary social group, the place where most of us learn and teach others how to be human beings. In a way that is new in history, the Earth now needs good families producing, educating, and nurturing good human beings who can help make a humane sustainable culture a reality.
In this issue we look not only at how individual families can become more effective caretakers of themselves and the planet, but more crucially at how society as a whole must change to nurture families better. In sum, we need to:
- Recognize the new realities. The notions about family enshrined in our laws, policies, and media images are antiquated and often quite at odds with the world as it is. Recognizing this is the first step in empowerment for change.
- Value other people’s children as our own. This comes from understanding that children – all children, everywhere, regardless of race, nationality, or economic class – are the next generation of planetary stewards.
- Move from self-interest to planetary interest. This guiding vision will help us to develop policies that address the needs of families while being more in sync with the very pressing needs of our era.
Our crowded Earth needs not necessarily fewer people, but better people – people more capable of addressing challenges and evolving increasingly more enlightened ways of living. By caring for families we care for ourselves, our future, and the future of our planet.