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The E-Journal of
Solidarity, Sustainability, and Nonviolence

Vol. 5, No. 4, April 2009
Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor

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SSNV INVITED ARTICLE

EDITOR'S NOTE

The article in this page, also by Professor Soodursun Jugessur of the University of Mauritius, is a new article that deals with the practical implementation of the fundamental concepts explained in A New Development Paradigm. It should not be surprising that such practical implementation ought to start early in the life of every human being, and this means that it must start while the value system of each person is being formed in the "domestic school" that is family life. And this "domestic education" is most effective if it happens in a sukhi parivar, i.e., a happy family. The current devaluation of family life, which leads to lack of perseverance in sharing the nuptial "gift of love" and the nuptial "gift of life," has very negative impacts on children and their human development; and this in turn eventually leads to negative social impacts that cannot be compensated by high living standards or anything else. How many families have dinner together, let alone pray together? And if they don't, how can they be a "happy family" that sticks together when difficulties come up, often including some form of traumatic experience? If the children never see family members acting for the common good of the family (which inevitably includes sacrificing individual preferences and activities) how can we expect them to grow "in wisdom and stature" (Luke 2:52) and become men and women who are willing to balance self-interest and the common good?


Sukhi Parivar (Happy Family)

Soodursun Jugessur

Pro-Chancellor, University of Mauritius
Quatre Bornes, Mauritius

Introduction

‘Sukhi Parivar’ or the ‘Happy Family’ as the name suggests, is a program that aims to bring happiness and peace in family life, and hence the society in general. Today, there is widespread consensus that there is something seriously wrong in the society. After careful thought, it is seen that it has to do something with the proper functioning of the family.

Our lives start in our home, amidst our kiths and kins, and it is in this home that the seeds of peace and happiness are sown. After the seeds are sown, if the nurturing is faulty, unhappiness caused by mistrust, violence, injustice, greed, oppression, insecurity, alcoholism, drug addiction, disease, divorce, suicide, etc. take root. The home is the real nursery for bringing a happy society. Then only schools, socio-cultural organizations, religious bodies and the Government can have a supplementary and complementary positive role.

Where wealth accumulates and humans decay

We may have tons of money, big house with all amenities, bungalow and yacht by the sea-side, limousines and everything that brings material comfort, but if there is no peace and harmony in the home, life is like in a hell! On the other hand, we may be materially poor, earning just enough to live from hand to mouth, but if our wife and children are loving and caring and there is complete harmony and understanding between all the members, happiness is visible. True, happiness is a state of the mind, but this state is only possible if we are at peace within ourselves and we share our joys and sorrows as one family unit. Such peace and happiness then radiate from us and touch all members of the society, ending in global peace and happiness.

‘Ill fares the land where wealth accumulates and men decay’, so said Oliver Goldsmith years ago. Today we see this trend in so-called developed societies where there is every material comfort, but where there is greed, disharmony, constant violence both within and outside the home. Families are being dismantled with single parent homes, increasing divorces, young adolescents on sex rampage, adults not willing to take the risk of marriage and have children. Many believe they have only one life to live, and it is their life. Why should they bother about others? This disease is spreading like wild fire with the impact of modern communication, and if responsible people do not face it and make necessary changes to their living and thinking, the future of humanity is at risk. Many countries and societies already crave for a morsel of such happiness often lost in fairy tales!

The main foundation and objective

It is in the minds of people that violence and wars are born. As per this UNESCO edict, it is in the minds of people that the seeds of peace and harmony have to be sown.

Education, supported by mutual love, understanding and empathy, sharing of common bonds, adequate communication among members, becomes the main foundation for any society that aims at evolving into a model nation, and a torchbearer of peace and harmony in the world.

The program for ‘Sukhi Parivar’ or Happy Family aims at awakening all of us to our duties and responsibilities, starting in our own family units, and thus enable us to take necessary actions pro-actively. We are responsible for what we see around us, and if we play our roles properly, we can stem the tide of violence and make our home, our community, our country and the world a better place. We have to assume our primary responsibility.

Hence, the campaign has as objective to transform the society so that we can eliminate the evils that plague us in our world. Transformation has to start in the primary unit that is the family. And this involves the participation of all members of the family, from the oldest grandparents to the youngest children. Everyone is a stakeholder, as the happiness of every member is intricately linked with the happiness of the other, and eventually that of the society.

Passing the buck

In modern times we tend to delegate and often relegate this task to schools, (pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary), and to socio-cultural, socio-religious, and socio-economic organizations, and when things fail, we blame the Government or the politicians of the day! Our schools and colleges have their own program, mostly centred on career orientation, with little value-education. Our socio-religious leaders are often concerned with increasing their followings and building ‘empires’ of their own. Our governments are busy promoting economic growth and ensuring living standards. And our politicians, perpetuating their powers. What are our family members doing? What we ignore is the fact that it is the family that has to play the crucial role; for it is there that everything takes root, and is nurtured.

With the advent of radio and television, computers and multimedia gadgets, coupled with a misguided formal educational system, the pressure of time is creating undue havocs on our mutual relationships at home. We have little time for the others. The family as a cohesive unit is being dismantled. People are becoming more self-centred, thinking that they have one life and it is theirs. Marriages are not lasting. Young adults are no more interested in marriages and having children, who are looked at as liabilities! And we take it as a matter of fact. What we forget is that it is up to us to shape our destiny, and take the necessary steps that can transform our lives. We are responsible for our own happiness or destruction! Blaming others for what we experience is just escapism. Modern civilization is our own creation!

The Central Idea

The central idea about ‘Sukhi Parivar’ or Happy Family is that we must devote at least half an hour daily, in the evening, sitting together and communicating with one another in the family. This is like a time for communion with the family spirit. It includes a few minutes of common prayer, followed by sharing one another’s achievements and problems, joys and sorrows. This is the only way to strengthen bonds, and impart family values within. Communication, frank communication, polite communication is all that is missing! Devoting half an hour daily is not much to ask from responsible people, concerned with the welfare of the family members.

The daily exercise consists of the following aspects:

Parenting in practice

1. Resolve to meet daily for HALF HOUR, before or during meals.
2. Turn off TV, radio, mobile phone.
3. Say a prayer in a language all understand.
4. Father relates his day’s experience.
5. Mother relates her day’s experience.
6. Each child relates his/her day’s experience.
7. Polite exchange of views on current topics.
8. Continue conversation at dinner table.
9. Involve children in buying groceries, planning meals, and once weekly in cooking together.
10. Speak openly on social evils and our responsibility.

Transferring Values

Where grandparents are alive and share the common roof, they can learn about the problems of their children, and offer whatever advice they can. They can tell stories of the lives of heroes from the epics to the grandchildren, and inculcate eternal values at an early age. They can transfer such values with love and understanding, so that when children grow up, they already have the seeds of these values to germinate and shape their lives. Absence of values, ethical, moral, and spiritual, in our educational system is the main cause of conflict and violence in society.

In nuclear families, parents, through such half hour sessions, can know more about their children’s lives at school, and cultivate mutual love, trust and friendship with the kids. They can take appropriate decisions on how to help the children in their homework and provide them with proper guidance. In the absence of grandparents, they can themselves inculcate values that will mark the lives of the children. As children grow into adolescence, trust and love imbibed at home are critical for their future development.

A Daily Event

Such daily communion demands self-discipline on the part of all. Parents cannot advise their children not to smoke or take alcohol when they are themselves victim of these weaknesses. They cannot cheat or lie to the children for they will soon be caught. They cannot shout and ill-behave, as that will badly affect the young ones. They cannot fight between themselves, as husband and wife for that will be setting the wrong example. Their lives will be like an open book that their children will read and digest. Hence the concept of ‘Sukhi Parivar’ demands self-reform for it to succeed.

Some people claim that they do communicate at dinner table! This is not the type of communication we need. At dinner we have to concentrate on the food, relish it so that digestion is expedited, and exchange some pleasant small talks. On the other hand, during the half hour communion we aim at in the Sukhi Parivaar concept, this half hour before dinner is a sacred time when we really hope to open our hearts and share our joys and sorrows of the day, with the hope that such communication will bind us all the more.

The Program

The program starts, in the spirit of Jaagran (Awakening), with public gatherings during which we awaken the interests of parents, social leaders, teachers and religious preachers, and make them aware of the campaign, in the presence of important personalities. It is directed by a specialised social worker, and followed in subsequent months by a series of seminars and workshops in different parts of the country, involving the stakeholders, like in schools, community centres, parent teacher associations, socio-cultural organizations. In the seminars and workshops different tools like group therapy, family counselling, audiovisuals, role-model presentations, pamphlets, dramas, etc. are used for changing the way we think and act. Changing mind-sets is not easy but not impossible! One has to be convinced of the idea and follow it up against all odds.

Conclusion

Today we see deterioration of family values, followed by the series of crimes, family violence, suicides, alcoholism, drug abuse and what not in the society. Tomorrow it will knock at our own doors, unless it has already done so, and we have to act now. The more we delay, the more the cancer will devour our lives. It is the sacred duty of each of us to take up the challenge and launch the ‘Sukhi Parivar’ Happy Family campaign in our own circles.

At the global level, greed and excessive consumerism are leading to social and ethnic inequities, and the crave for power and pelf is corrupting minds. These in turn are leading to local and regional conflicts that often use religion as a banner. True religion is one in which the spirit of love and sharing is the guiding principle. And this principle is inherent in the concept of the Sukhi Parivar and its strategy for family and social reform. Once every family reaches a state of peace and harmony in the spirit of sharing and loving one another, the society will be different. Only dialogue and open heart communication will open the lock to this ideal. The work starts in the home of each and everyone of us!

"We ourselves feel
that what we are doing
is just a drop in the ocean.
But the ocean would be less
because of that missing drop."


Mother Theresa

Copyright © 2009 by Soodursun Jugessur


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Soodursun Jugessur is a scientist and engineer who has served the United Nations as the Chief of the Science and Technology Section of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). At the University of Mauritius, he has been Professor of Industrial Technology, Head of the School of Technology, and Pro-Vice Chancellor.

He is now Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the University of Mauritius, and Chairman of the Mauritius Research Council. He has worked for over three decades promoting social and economic development through better application of science and technology to economic development while, at the same time, fostering human development and the common good of the community at large.

Professor Jugessur is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, a past member of the Steering Committee of the African Technology Policy Studies Network, past Chairman of the African Regional Accreditation Committee on Standards, and present Fellow and President of the Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology (MAST).

Feedback may be sent to
Soodursun Jugessur

QUESTIONS FOR MEDITATION

What have I done to foster solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence?

What am I doing to foster solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence?

What shall I do to foster solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence?

"It is dangerous to be right in matters on which
the established authorities are wrong."

Voltaire (France, 1694-1778)


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CALL FOR PAPERS

Both subscribers and nonsubscribers are cordially invited to submit a paper to be considered for publication in the SSNV e-journal as an "invited paper." It should be related to the journal's theme about solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence as the three pillars of sustainable development. Some suggested themes:

  • Gender equality as a positive factor for sustainable development.
  • Successful initiatives to foster solidarity, sustainability, and nonviolence.
  • Removal of obstacles for progress toward any or all the UN MDGs.
  • Management of technologies for social and environmental justice.
  • How to foster changes in human behavior that are conducive to SSNV.

Invited papers will be published in a separate web page (i.e., page 2 of a given issue). If you have friends who could submit a good paper, please invite them to do so. Papers from educators and students are highly desired.

Please email your papers to the SSNV Editor.