Public Square Magazine Primary White, Gold & Black Logo | PublicSquareMag | What is Public Square | Politics, Faith & Family | Home | Public Square Magazine
A family shares a warm, intimate moment at home, epitomizing the essence of the International Year of the Family.

Redefining Wealth for the 21st-Century Family

What really defines the wealth of nations? Is it GDP or the strength and stability of its family units?

As the world grapples with pressing issues of economic and social development, the United Nations convened a council dedicated to these very challenges. Recently, delegates gathered to deliberate on policies aimed at elevating social development globally. Amidst the discussions, Sha Zukang, the under-secretary for economic and social affairs, said, “The real wealth of nations occurs when each and every individual has access to a decent job and educational opportunity, quality and affordable healthcare, adequate and nutritious food, secure shelter, and social protection.” His words resonate deeply, highlighting the fundamental importance of addressing basic human needs for the betterment of society. 

However, the basics of human flourishing and development go beyond supplying the necessities of life. Indeed, we would posit that the lack of these essentials reflects a deeper problem within our contemporary times. If we want to treat social development at its core, we must go beyond treating the symptom-like manifestations of a deeper problem. This idea is reflected in what Elder D. Todd Christofferson said in a recent conference address, “The concept of sustainable development is an interesting and important one. Even more urgent, however, is the broader question of sustainable societies.” The Family: A Proclamation to the World gives further insight into sustainable societies through the promotion of the family. It reads:

 We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. …We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society. 

The Doha International Family Institute, DIFI, supports these statements in its own declaration, “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society.” From prophetic revelation, in addition to the pro-family stances of various other organizations, it is possible to trace some of the degradation and poverty in society to the disintegration of the basic and fundamental unit of society—the family.

The lack of these essentials reflects a deeper problem within our contemporary times.

In discussing sustainability more in-depth, Elder Christofferson shares, “Sustainability is not guaranteed, and a thriving society can fail in time if it abandons the cardinal virtues that uphold its peace and prosperity.” Here, he is, of course, referring to the virtues that come through gospel truth, including the truth found in the doctrine of the family. Based on his assertions, while it is important to create a society that promotes the general welfare and equal opportunity, it may not have the lasting effects that we want it to if we do not uphold the basic foundational strength and security that comes from families. Patrick Fagan, former William H.G. Fitzgerald fellow in family and cultural issues at The Heritage Foundation, notes, “Studies show that income disparity in America is affected most by the stability of a child’s home environment—primarily, whether that child has married parents or is part of a broken family.”

With this general understanding in mind on a worldwide scale, The United Nations established “The International Year of the Family” in 1989 to help in creating sustainable societies, with their first conference in 1994. The UN designated May 15th as the annual day to celebrate the family, and every 10 years on this date a larger memoration takes place, usually in the form of a conference. As part of the purpose of this celebration, they note, “The family constitutes the basic unit of society and therefore warrants special attention. The Doha International Family Institute, DIFI, hosted the global conference in 2014 and is again hosting in 2024. In DIFI’s declaration they affirm their mission by stating: “Strengthening the family presents a unique opportunity to address societal problems in a holistic manner.” Here at Public Square Magazine, we want to join in the celebration of the International Year of the Family by creating a series completely dedicated to the family.

A thriving society can fail in time if it abandons the cardinal virtues.

Over the course of the next several months, we will be releasing an article once a month which explores different aspects and issues within family life, including the nature of marriage, discussions of gender, the eternal nature of families, the law of chastity, the sanctity of life, and other topics. After publishing this series, we will also compile these writings into an accessible PDF formatted book available for your personal download. With the creation of this family series, we aim to enrich dialogue and highlight the family as a cornerstone of social development.

About the author

Public Square Staff

Our core team, including our Editor, Managing Editor, Communications and Media Directors, Visual Display Director and Copy Editor.
On Key

You Might Also Like

The Deceptively Boring Adamant Notecard

Why is General Conference the way it is? Maybe because “the inner change that makes the outer Zion possible depends, first and finally, on our ability to accept and to apply the simple, basic principles of the gospel.”

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Stay up to date on the intersection of faith in the public square.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This