The business of the family
By Basil Springer

„Progression of the animal man into divine man depends upon man's becoming human; Every man and woman carries within the soul certain innate ideas, one of which is related to the rearing of the Family and the building of the Home- <>

Last week my mother‚s advent into her tenth decade on earth inspired me to write about arresting a degenerating culture‚. I received many responses not only with congratulations and references to her Caribbean Cookbook‚ but also expansions of the concept that Culture is the morals and habits a mother strives to instill in her children‚. Please permit me to share some of these with you.

Dev from Malaysia: Greetings from the East. Congratulations to your Mom on her 90th birthday and I am delighted that you had a great celebration to rejoice the occasion. She will have been very pleased with your collective efforts. I see that you are continuing to be busy in so many ways, which is good‚.

Jerry from United Kingdom: I have just read about your mother's 90th birthday in your latest Barbados Advocate column. I am a happy owner of her "Caribbean Cookbook" in the Pan Books 1979 edition and it has had a lot of use, but I never made the connection. So may I, albeit belatedly and though regrettably I can't remember ever having met your mother, offer through you also my congratulations‚.

Annie from Montserrat: Congratulations Basil and also to the entire family. I feel I have known Rites for many years as she possesses the qualities that could only be found in citizens of her generation throughout the Caribbean. How we long for those days. Sad to say, but our culture is slowing dying. We have a lot of work to do from where we sit to improve the current trend‚.

Kevyn from Virginia: Greetings, along with my congratulations and best birthday wishes to your mother, particularly since my own mother Iris, who would have been 90 on June 3, died four years ago. As you fully appreciate, you are all lucky to have such an important and irreplaceable family member still among you.

I still have my cloth-bound Rita Springer cookbook - jacket and all - purchased when I was the only West Indian among 20,000 students at Ohio University 35 years ago, and refer to it (or my newer paperback edition) regularly - I made callaloo and pound-plantain from it last week.

As a student, desperate for West Indian food in the boonies of the mid-west, I would invite myself to dinner at some of the administrators', or my professors', homes on the promise of preparing them an authentic West Indian meal, do my research in the cookbook, and whip them up something wonderful a la Rita Springer. I once prepared a multi-course W.I. meal for about 30 people out of the cookbook for the monthly meeting of a friend's Gourmet Club. That cookbook contributed greatly to helping me preserve a sense of cultural identity during my years in the foothills of Appalachia‚.

Eddie from Republic of Ireland: ... your analysis of cultural degeneration was excellent. Might I add another element: the prevalence and vitality of voluntary and community organisations. Here in Ireland we are undergoing a similar transformation but I think one of the more hopeful trends lies in the strength of the voluntary sector. Last year we hosted the Special Olympics and there were 30,000 volunteers involved.

James from Trinidad & Tobago: Œ∑Thoughtful provoking piece. One wonders if in any era one were to choose to look at, if one would not find concerns about degenerating culture in the editorials of the day. But having said that, I do agree with you: There are a lot of objective indicators of the degeneration in our physical and cultural environment, and the need for regeneration. HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug use, marital divorce rates, increasing injuries and violence especially, the kidnap culture, the haves and have nots, the types of crimes we are seeing.... even as there are simultaneous places and streams of goodness and amazing achievement in our culture, and family life is happening as God planned. I am glad you started with the habits a Mom strives to instill in her kids. we have to pay a lot more attention to the culture that our mothers instill in their children, as every year a new generation is born that we have the opportunity to do better. We have to do as you suggest and more.a fundamental worry to me, is the degenerating situation of males.. but maybe the overarching issue is the family, which is the first and only organisation I believe God made on this world. So maybe, our best Organisational Development thinking and efforts should be directed to helping strengthen the institution of the family in our societies... as much as we strive to help e.g. companies and NGOs‚.

Let us focus on the business of family and home. Then, extend this to communities, nations and the world.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) -