IN TIMES PAST, and even now in some parts
of the world, each member of a family had their fate tied up
with the other members of the family. They all had to pull together
or the survival of all of them was in danger. They shared
a purpose. They all shared a very concrete, in-your-face-from-dawn-to-dusk
purpose: Survival. And they shared the purpose with each other
but not with "outsiders" because the family was husband,
wife and kids, and maybe also parents of husband or wife. Sometimes
siblings. They all lived together and relied on each other and
so shared the same fate.
There were things to do. Urgent, necessary
things. And of course, while human beings are accomplishing necessary
things, they will also talk to each other and form relationships.
This historical reality is where we get
our reverence for "family." Why is family so sacred?
The reverence we have for family is a remnant from the
past when conditions were different. The realities have changed,
but our underlying belief system hasn't been updated.
You'll often see two people who went through
boot camp together forty years ago still treat each other like
good friends. For a short time they shared a real purpose, and
that experience is so rare in our modern world, it shines like
a beacon through the years, brighter and clearer than all the
comparatively superficial relationships those men have had in
the last forty years.
Purpose is essential. It is the core of
a relationship. Without it, there is no real bond. There may
be superficial interaction, there may be social interaction,
there may be mutual entertainment. But that is nowhere near a
real relationship a relationship based on, centered around,
and springing from a shared purpose.
Times have changed. Most families don't
have to pull together to survive. In fact, most families couldn't
think of a unifying purpose if they had to. I don't mean "carrying
on the family name." That's not a real purpose. A purpose
is something you have to strive for. It isn't something that
happens as a matter of course. These days, the purposes of the
individual members of families are all diverse and unrelated.
Their purposes are unrelated.
A relationship with someone means your
purposes are related.
Politicians and preachers are always complaining
gravely about the "disintegration of the family" in
America. Probably the greatest cause is our affluence, which
hardly seems like something to whine about. There are no necessities
that bind us with our blood relations. No urgent, concrete things
that need to be accomplished together. That's what relationships
are made of at the root, and so we don't really have relationships
with our relatives. We go through the motions of relating, but
it is empty. We can tell there's something wrong with it, but
can't quite put our finger on it.
During the depression, many families were
put back into a survival situation, and they bonded closely.
Their fates were tied together.
When a group of people put out effort for
the day and it all adds together to make mutual survival, you
can eat dinner together and socialize and there will be relationships,
because your purposes are related. But when you just eat together
without the tied-together purpose, something is missing. Something
is lacking: No joined effort toward a shared purpose. What's
missing is the real basis of true relationship.
Often in today's world, people sometimes
feel closer to the people they work with than they do
their own spouses. They share purpose with their workmates.
If a married couple aren't working together to accomplish a shared
goal they both feel is important, they don't really have much
of a relationship, and they don't know what's wrong. The relationship
itself, its health, its well-being, cannot be the shared purpose,
because its health and well-being depend on a purpose outside
If you want to feel close to someone, family
member or not, then, you have to find a common purpose and make
it the central focus of your relationship.
Make your relationship center
on a shared purpose.