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*** SOCIAL INTEGRATION
Statement to the thirtieth session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development
Item 4: Trends and strategies for social integration through popular participation and policies for the advancement of specific social groups
23 February-4 March 1987
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The Baha'i International Community welcomes the increasing concern of the United Nations for the family, as evidenced in the 30th session of the Commission for Social Development by the circulation of document E/1987/6, and the proposed inclusion of a section on the family in the third part of the 1989 World Social Situation report (E/CN.5/1987/2, P.22, para. 111). The interest in the issue by non-governmental organizations working closely with the United Nations has been most recently evidenced by two successful events, an International Workshop on the Family -- A Marginal Group as the Basis for Society? held a few days ago at the Vienna International Centre, and a Consultation on the Family as the First Community, held last month at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
If one considers the family as the basic unit of society, and by inference, of a world society, strengthening the family by providing its members with appropriate vision, values, and virtues, that is, an adequate spiritual/moral as well as social/cultural/economic dimension, would represent, in the view of the Baha'i International Community, strengthening international security at the root level by forging harmonious ties between members of the human race, and contributing decisively towards the building of world peace.
For, the family is a microcosm. To cite a passage from the Baha'i Writings:
"Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members, fighting, pillaging each other, jealous and revengeful of injury, seeking selfish advantage? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families."
"Consider the harmful effect of discord and dissension in a family; then reflect upon the favors and blessings which descend upon that family when unity exists among its various members. What incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human family if unity and brotherhood were established!"
If the vision held by a family is a global one and one of unity -- education for a unified world view must begin in the family, where children from the earliest age learn the principle, and the reality, of the organic oneness of humanity. They will accordingly be trained to rid themselves of all kinds of prejudice, whether based on race, religion, sex, class, or nationality. Further, the spiritual and social values they learn will apply not only in the context of the family, but outside in the local and national community, as well as in the world community itself.
In the view -- and experience -- of the Baha'i International Community, representing a cross-section of humanity, with members in over 100,000 localities, in 166 independent nations, unity in the family demands also careful nurturing of basic human qualities such as justice, compassion, honesty, trustfulness, and, especially trustworthiness -- qualities taught humanity by the Founders of the Great Religions.
We feel, therefore, that the family is a most important institution of a world society, and a key instrument for world peace [A more detailed discussion of the Baha'i view can be found in the Baha'i International Community statement to the NGO Consultation on the Family in New York, mentioned earlier].
Since the family includes individuals from many of the specific social groups that are the concern of this Commission and very much so of the Baha'i International Community, we most welcome paragraph 64 of Section III -- entitled Implications for the Formulation of Family Policies -- of the document E/1987/6, which proposes that family policy should, "foster wider recognition that the family is a critical source of emotional and material support for its members, particularly children, youth, the aging and the disabled."
Furthermore, we are especially pleased to note the recognition of the importance of factors leading to crucial unity in the family, when in paragraph 67, the document proposes that family policy should reflect, "the value of an equitable relationship between family members and the specific goals of a more equitable relationship between men and women, within and outside the context of the family."
In the light of the proposal that has been made for the United Nations to proclaim an International Year of the Family -- a suggestion which the Baha'i International Community is most happy to support -- we would hope that the 1989 World Social Situation report might give high prominence to the issue of the family, drawing widely on the expertise of non-governmental organizations, who have already shown themselves deeply concerned about the family and more than willing to cooperate with the United Nations.
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