WHEN we think of an "ideal family, we don't think about street children. But family life is what I found a movie causing me to think about when I watched Salaam Bombay, a film that follows a street child and his companions through the gritty details of their lives. One of the most remarkable aspects of the film was that it was shot from the child's point of view. As a result the film was compelling, often sad, but when I left the theater I didn't leave with the heavy heart I thought I might. While my childhood hadn't been like the harsh experiences of the children in this film, I recognized that the film had reminded me how I could see things from a child's point of view. The feeling of understanding and mutual interest was remarkable in how it could bring together an adult--me--living in a Western world and children who in so many ways were living a very different experience.
I could see through this film that there is a larger family that we need to consider when we ponder what our ideals of family life are. To see in others a connection to our own lives and affections is to begin to sense faintly something of the enduring relationship that we have to one another as members of a larger human family. But even more than this, as we begin to understand that God is the true Parent of man, and that we are brothers and sisters as a result, we will begin to sense that we can't s i
mply take the view that the "family is a mortal, material grouping.
Once when Christ Jesus' disciples came to a man who had been blind from birth, they immediately thought of some family failure or weakness as the explanation for his disability. Perhaps Jesus' response was a surprise to them. The Gospel of John records the Master's answer: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. As a result Jesus healed the man of his blindness.
What a response! Jesus responded to the man not as an outcast from God's care and love but as one who was never outside of God's love. If we understand Jesus to be the Son of God, then we can reasonably say that the healing power of the Master's prayer lay in his recognition of the spiritual identity of his fellowman as also children of God, divine Spirit. For Jesus this relationship meant that man is spiritual now. We might even say that Jesus recognized his fellowman in the deepest, spiritual sens e
as his brother or sister in God's universal family.
What makes an ideal family is not flawless human parents or flawless human children but rather the deeper understanding of man as the spiritual image and likeness of God. Such recognition opens wellsprings of love and regard that lead up to the truth that evil, disease, and sin aren't a part of man or of the family of man--God's spiritual ideas, or children.
Speaking of man's true nature as God's expression, or reflection, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Miscellaneous Writings of the necessity of recognizing man as "God's spiritual child only. Then she goes on to say, "With this recognition man could never separate himself from good, God; and he would necessarily entertain habitual love for his fellow-man. This is what makes the ideal family --not a certain number of people, so much wealth, or all the other conv e
nient measurements of success. But rather it is an understanding of man's true nature as God's child. Such understanding widens the family circle until God and all His children really are known as our family.
This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the April 1 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.