As the United Nations celebrate the 23rd International Day of Families, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unity (FFWPU) held a special forum on the theme “The Family and the Sustainable Future of St Lucia” on Sunday the 22nd of May 2016 at 4:00PM at the UPF office in Sunny Acres, Castries.
Mr. Remy Taupier, Secretary General of UPF-St Lucia introduced the International Day of Families and spoke about the importance for a nation to have good, strong families to assure a stable, thriving and sustainable future. Many foreign consultants in St Lucia have remarked that generally we are a very religious minded people. The attendance in churches is high. Why is this God-loving attitude not translating into forming good, thriving families?
Ms Fortuna Anthony, Chairman of the SALCC Board of Directors, gave a clear and straightforward overview of the situation of families in St Lucia. She said:
“Even if the nuclear family is what everybody wants, unfortunately in the world we live in it is not the reality. Research shows that in St Lucia, the majority of families are headed by a single mother. We lack the role models who embody this ideal of a good family. Education is not enough, we need to practice it; it is practicing what we know that is important.”
The participants then divided into 2 groups and discussed this question:
“People have many different motivations for going to church. What are these motivations?”
The groups listed all the various motivations and then proceeded to classify them by degree of concern for God.
Here are some of the enumerated motivations classified:
- “To show off new outfits (shoes, clothes, jewellery)”, “to gain respect”, “to find a girlfriend”, etc . The people with these motivations are only concerned about themselves.
- “It’s mandatory for my church”, “to obey the Bible”, “it’s the tradition”, “by routine”, “for confession”, etc. These motivations don’t express much personal enthusiasm!
- “To go to Heaven”, “not to go to Hell”, “to ask for God’s help”. These seemed to be of a higher degree but when the groups examined them more closely, they realized that these people think that in order to go to heaven, efforts to become better are not required, just going to church is sufficient.
- “To hear and learn about God and Jesus“, “to praise and worship God“, “to learn about the Bible”, etc …These are motivations worthy of praise, but once again the group pointed out that unless there is a sincere motivation to put into practice what they read and learn, people do not make the effort to become genuinely better persons.
- “To become a person of good character”, “to be able to better contribute to society”, “to become a good person that God can use.” The groups decided that these motivations were the highest and that they require more personal effort. Unfortunately, they also remarked that these people are a minority.
The second group activity was: “What practical lessons can we learn from this Bible verse:“If a man says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
Both groups agreed that this verse clearly outlines that if we love God, we should practice it in our daily lives with our families and the people around us. It means a God-loving person should strive to become a person of good character as these two things are linked and cannot be dissociated.
Through this moment of reflection, the participants could better understand how strong church attendance does not automatically result in forming people of good character, people who can become good spouses and parents who form good families.
The participants felt challenged to reevaluate their own motivations and felt empowered to become more pro-active in being better people in their everyday lives.