Friends vs Life Companion, Family, Kinsmen, Relatives
one of the things that has greatly changed in recent times in humans is the kind of relationships they establish as they grow.
today we can see the phenomenon of a person whereby his/her relationships are chiefly family and friends as he/she grows up and subsequently its purely only friends. amongst this group of friends, he/she establishes special relationship/s that substitute the traditional relationship of life companion as a matrimonial partner. this is typical to the west but also is fast becoming a reality in some westernized eastern countries.
the traditional way of establishing the below mentioned relationships as we grow holds much wisdom and guidance for us versus the contemporary western methods mentioned above.
1) life companion... in today's world marriage is either increasingly postponed. the concept of same sex marriages is increasingly institutionalized contrary to the tradition by which man and woman united. there is also a growing phenomenon of cohabitating for a limited period with one person though this is common in the west. though its rare in the east, its increasing in incidence. these alternatives that the modern man finds to replace the traditional institution of marriage unfortunately do not yeild the same level of benefit, utility and outcomes. Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said marriage is half of one's religion.when imam mahdi a.s. comes the first thing that will happen will be to have everyone who is not married to go into marriage. a good life companion is also far better than any alternative that can be imagined. the significance of marriage is indeed greatly overlooked, underestimated with a sense of cynicism. interestingly many cousins or relatives or friends of mine who dismissed marriage a decade ago are increasingly going into it after they realize the importance of it.
2) kinship.... we need to establish or renew kinship with kinsmen who truely are more valuable than friends. this concept of kinship has blurred in singapore like in every country in the east. its only through kinship that one develops many faculties within him or herself. i know one family that is absolutely removed from its kins and its so dysfunctional despite its material wealth. in fact for every family, the greater the distance between it and its kins, the more dysfunctional it is. the connection between kins and a family can be symbolized using two rocks in a river bed. the more they brush and braze against each other, the smoother they get. if that one rock remains isolated it will remain crude and unrefined. so the role kinsmen play in our lives is to refine our character. in singapore the chinese for over hundred years till two decades ago gave kinship utmost importance by forming clan associations and being actively involved in it. it kept the clans very closely knit. they helped each other prosper and when in need. this same dynamism was seen amongst the various ethnic groups amongst indian singaporeans, muslims, etc. today its almost non-existent as everyone is too preoccupied with his/her work, kids, home, shopping, nightlife and bills.
3) relatives.... sometimes as immigrants and other reasons we may not have kinsmen around us. then we need to establish relations amongst acquaintances and strangers.... we need to connect with them as relatives not friends. this also has the same effect as (2)....
unfortunately today we see how far removed are we from the tradition of establishing and reviving and holding together bonds with our family, kinsmen and relatives. instead we are so occupied with making friends. yet again can friends give us the same benefit as these? the answer is no if we sincerely ponder. friends can give us more fun and joy, mirth and laughter. they greatly benefit and serve our capitalist culture. marrital spouse, family , kinsmen and relatives if we are to measure in capitalist terms are liabilities. as i mentioned in one of my earlier posts, money relations will replace all these relations. friends however are able to survive within our money relations.
when i was living in canada, i remember how there was a implicit and benign shift in recognition of this amongst white communities in rural regions. there were increasingly attempts to re-establish these traditions. the east today however is only going into the slumber that the west went into a century ago. perhaps the east will wake up a century later to discover the truth and reality of their shift today.