Dorothy was right

Published 12:28 pm Saturday, September 26, 2015

There is within our society an institution whose influence is of such magnitude it has no rival. Neither Google nor Apple, as prevailing a force as they seem to be, can match this that has been in existence since mankind itself. This institution, of course, is the family unit. I shall go a step further. At its best, it is the two-parent, engaged family.

It is within the sphere of this unit, the first community one encounters, that individuals capture the value system they retain through life. It is here young hearts are set on a trajectory, a pathway, a course towards the meaning of life itself. Here they retain, not so much by what is said, but rather by observation what it means to be human, what is worthy of pursuit and what is to be avoided. This unit, when rightly understood, provides the security and safeness essential for the maturation of the young and frees fresh minds to explore and inquire about the world around them.

The reverse is also revealing. In direct proportion to the breakup of this unit is the increase in societal challenges. Single-parent homes are in direct proportion to poverty rates. Though we in Isle of Wight experience a rate of 10.5 percent compared to 11.1 percent in Virginia and 14.9 percent nationwide, it still cannot be divorced from the percent of single parent homes. It has huge ramifications in our educational system. Ask any teacher about the tremendous challenges they face as a result, including discipline, learning abilities and graduation rates. It has grand repercussions in terms of unemployment, crime rate and incarceration. In effect, the breakup of the family leaves our communities to deal with the symptoms. It is not only extremely costly, but more importantly it hinders individuals from being and achieving their highest.

This is not to say that there are not many courageous single parents doing an outstanding job in raising children on their own, but it is often not their choice. I applaud their efforts and commend them. But whenever possible, a child is better served with two loving parents providing a nurturing environment, a springboard towards the ocean of the world.

There are many valuable institutions within our communities that serve to strengthen our families. Churches provide an invaluable resource in their ability, and I believe responsibility, to establish such value systems to enhance families, keeping before us both the origin and purpose that was instituted outside ourselves. It is unique in that regard, informing the conscience and arousing the noble in us all towards that which is good and true and beautiful.

A nation is made of states. States are only as strong as their communities. Communities are only as strong as their families. And families are only as strong as their individual members.

I encourage you to change the world. You do that by starting with your own world. There is no community more powerful, more influential or has more capacity to revolutionize this world in which we live than the family.

Dorothy was right: “There’s no place like home.”

Rex Alphin is chairman of the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors. You may contact him at 562-6156 or