Friday, February 12, 2010

Priorities?

"Любовь к родине начинается с семьи."

"Love for one's country begins with the family."

-seen in apparent public service announcements all over Moscow

At first I thought it was some sort of Russian "motherland" pride campaign, but then I noticed that it was attributed to Francis Bacon. Has anyone run across the original? I just translated it back into English.

What does it mean exactly?

I take it to suggest that the overall good of one's country is the end goal and having a happy family life is one of the factors that will contribute to a better atmosphere in society. That is what I can deduct from the wording of the quote, but I'm open to other interpretations.

Or maybe the idea is something like this: cultivate a happy family, so that your country will be a better place, so that your children and grandchildren will have a nice place to live... continue/-

But honestly, it still doesn't make any sense to me. Maybe I'm just cynical and the idea of an idyllic Russia or America or whatever doesn't sound realistic to me. Maybe I'm self-centered and care more about how my family and friends are doing than about society as a whole.

When Jesus asks us to love our neighbor, he doesn't ask us to form charts and diagrams with different categories and prioritize them. We are just to love whomever crosses our path in life. Well, that's my approach, anyway. In fact, this might mean that we have to abandon our own family in order to follow Christ.

On the other hand, there is definitely something about one's family life that is a witness about who we are as a person, and an indication of what we may be able to contribute to society.

As for Russian citizens, I wonder what specific strategies are recommended for pursuing a happy family life?

4 comments:

  1. Liz, this may be the full quote, but even it is so old English that it is not that clear and seems to say that one is best for the culture if he does not marry; what do you think? "He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works and of greatest merit for the public have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men, which both in affection and means have married and endowed the public. He was reputed one of the wise men that made answer to the question, when a man should marry A young man not yet, an elder man not at all.

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  2. Found it. It is a piece by Bacon in which he contrast two different thoughts. part VII. It will not allow me to copy and paste, so here is the link: http://books.google.com/books?id=JojJDJr9tP4C&pg=PA131&lpg=PA131&dq=%22Francis+Bacon%22+Love+for+one%27s+country+begins+with+the+family&source=bl&ots=mjXMMP4O5u&sig=0lbsVd9_hqON-imIVOZl-bkK8K0&hl=en&ei=nyB2S6z1GoWWtgeo45C7Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CB8Q6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=&f=false

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  3. Thanks, Hosea. Google Books to the rescue!

    Francis Bacon has some interesting views on marriage. Somehow I doubt the Russian government is telling people to be celibate.

    Maybe they want people to protect their marriages and promote familial harmony? Or to procreate?

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