Family is a word that is often said but not often considered. With seemingly half of America freaking out about the “destruction” of the nuclear family, with more families eating dinner separately or from the microwave, with our parents calling us at least five days a week, and with our aunts and uncles friending us on Facebook, family is a constant presence in all our lives. We can’t get away from it. But what does it mean, exactly—family?
Of course it is something that moves beyond “I have a mom, a dad, a brother.” With globalization quickly becoming the zeitgeist of our lives, people around the planet are having to re-conceptualize what it means to be connected to one another. Not only are literal families joined in a way they never have been before, but global and national initiatives like climate change prevention, human rights, economic recovery and health care are forcing people to think of each other in a more collective way.
Kasey Deamer’s article “Spiritual Bonds” explores the unique familial relationships of the Namgyal monastery in Ithaca. While most people pigeon-hole family as a mother, father and two kids, much of the Tibetan community here is able to move to past these conventions of American family.
Likewise, we as college students have a particular vantage from which to consider family as we are disconnected from our nuclear families for the first times in our lives, often coming to consider our roommates, friends and co-workers sorts of surrogate families. In Megan Blarr’s article, “Home is Where the Dorm Is,” she follows the many adjustments freshmen go through to come to view Ithaca as their home.
The definition of family is something that is in constant flux and as such, should be re-examined and re-evaluated for what it is, was and will become. As we build all of our multiple families, we need to keep the varied definitions in our heads. In the words of Sister Sledge, “We are family. I got all my sisters with me. Get up everybody and sing.”
– The Editors