Transcending Family Boundaries
In traditional Aboriginal society, the extended family system worked in ways that supported and improved people’s lives on all levels, tribally, socially, individually. The family bond remains very powerful in all Aboriginal people, and is probably even more intense in traditional people.
This is a great asset, but needs careful maintenance when exposed to non-traditional pressures. Mainstream society encourages and practices selfishness and exploitation as the way to make the wheels turn. This contrasts with traditional society, which requires sharing, caring and integrity to make it work. As this exploitative ethic intrudes upon traditional families, it can compromise and corrupt the impeccability that traditional relationships require, and in small bureaucratic settlements, this creates serious dysfunctional problems.
- One is nepotism, the practice of giving favourable treatment to family members in ways that make it unfair to other community members.
- Another is emotional blackmail, obliging family members to give favourable treatment in ways that make it unfair to other community members. This reduces honouring to down to loyalty.
- Yet another is family chauvinism or treating non-family members as an out-group or “them”, as against “us”. This creates factions within communities that seriously impair good overall functioning.
All of the above dysfunctional behaviours will usually arise together as a syndrome. They are intensified by difficult, painful, traumatic and stressful circumstances, where people tend to withdraw into secure, familiar family settings. The dysfunctional left-brain notion of “no pain-no gain”, should not be belligerently imposed on predominantly right-brain people, who are able to learn and grow and develop with sensitivity, and in favourable circumstances. Two hundred years of mistreatment has thoroughly disproven and discredited the ‘pain theory’ of learning and change. What they need is conditions favourable to harmony and healing.
Transcending family values is necessary for proper community functioning, and represents the next step for many people’s personal growth.