Being a Family in a Liquid Society

23 January 2017

Zygmunt Bauman, the recently deceased Polish Sociologist and Philosopher, highlighted two characteristic aspects of our society: the first is linked to precariousness: “liquid life is a precarious life and is lived in conditions of constant incertitude. The most pressing and persistent worries that trouble this life are those deriving from the fear of being taken by surprise, of not being able to keep the pace with events that move at great speed, and of remaining behind”.

The second aspect is the phenomenon of “throwability”, i.e. nothing can take more than due or, better, more than allowed. “The perseverance, stickiness and viscosity of things (both animate and inanimate) constitute the most sinister and lethal dangers and are the font of the most frightening fears and the target of the most violent attacks”.

These are the intuitions of one of the most brilliant persons of our time; both precariousness and throwability concern our deepest fears, the ones of not being significant, of remaining outside and in the end of disappearing, the sensation of profound solitude and of belonging to an anonymous group.

The theme of the Family, as theme of reflection proposed by the Rector Major in the Strenna 2017, invites to reflect on being a family, on meaningfulness, on belonging, on being part of a community based on perennial links such as Love.

The fundamental experience of each person is their being desired even before birth. “Children are loved before being born. And this is gratuitousness, this is love,” Pope Francis reminds. This is a fundamental aspect of being a family. Another important aspect is the bond of fraternity which forms in the family among children and which, if it arises in an educational atmosphere of openness to others, is the great school of freedom and peace. “In the family, among siblings, human coexistence is learned, how one must live in society. Perhaps we are not always aware of it, but the family itself introduces fraternity into the world! Beginning with this first experience of fraternity, nourished by affection and education at home, the style of fraternity radiates like a promise upon the whole of society and on its relations among peoples”, the Pope continues.

Having a brother or a sister who loves you is a strong, invaluable, irreplaceable experience. This is true also for Christian fraternity.

Today it is imperative for us to return and place fraternity at the centre of our society, because it is the most efficacious antidote against anxiety, precariousness and the sensation of “throwability” that corrodes the life of many people. Our families are the space in which these existential fears are overcome; this is why the family is called by God to contrast the existential and communal solitude that characterizes the modern city.

We are Family! Every home, a school of Life and Love!


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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