Across the desert plains of East Africa, straddling the man-made border between Tanzania and Kenya lives the proud and fierce Maasai tribe. Despite their proficiency as warriors, they welcome each other with a greeting that displays a surprising focus. Instead of asking “How are you today,” the Maasai people’s traditional greeting is “Keserian ingera” which translated means “How are the children?” The traditional response to the greeting is, “The children are well.”
Although technologically, some would view the Maasai as lagging behind other world cultures, the Maasai have grasped the critical fact that their children are an indispensable societal resource.
As the Christian leaders in communities around the world and, in particular Oklahoma City, focuses on making our cities ones of salt and light, we have much to learn from the Maasai. We know that if we were to honestly answer the question “How are the children?” the answer could not be, “The children are well.”
Numerous social and behavioral indicators verify this fact. From physical safety and well-being, to emotional and behavioral instability, our children face a host of challenges that obstruct their opportunity to grow into successful and productive citizens.
Yet numerous sociological studies reveal one common denominator for how to markedly improve the status of our children: children have a far better chance to be physically well and safe, emotionally and behaviorally stable, and generally successful when they grow up in a stable home where their father and mother are married.
Economic studies support these sociological findings. A recent Institute for Family Studies report found that “higher levels of marriage, and especially higher levels of married-parent families, are strongly associated with more economic growth, more economic mobility, less child poverty, and higher median family income” among states.
Although our local state supports marriage, we struggle under a chronic burden of family disintegration. Such family disintegration has reached the tipping point as more than 55% of our children are not being raised by their birth father and mother. Left in the wake of the statistics are broken relationships and wounded souls.
To be a city of salt and light, our community and faith leaders need to again celebrate the good that is marriage and family while also discovering pathways toward healing and restoration for those hurt by family fragmentation. Then, we will not shy away from the question, “How are our children?”, because we will know they are truly well.
Timothy Tardibono, M.A., J.D. (S8),
President of the Family Policy Institute of Oklahoma
FPIO is a non-profit, non-partisan research and education organization focused on protecting families and strengthening communities.
To learn more about attending an upcoming discussion on “Strong Families, Prosperous States” as well as a discussion on the impact faith has on strengthening minority families on Wednesday, February 9 in Oklahoma City. Visit here: www.okfamily.org/events for more information.
New Heavens, New Earth
(written as a gift to SALLT)
Music and Lyrics by:
©2015 Kyle Dillingham, LLC