1. A formal assembly of representatives, as of various nations, to discuss problems.
2. The national legislative body of a nation, especially a republic.
As most everyone knows, the United States Congress (definition #2) meets fairly regularly (not counting holidays). It is extensively covered with the proceedings of each day hashed and rehashed on news stories via any media platform you choose. The debates, discussions, and votes that occur there affect the lives of everyone in the USA, and sometimes many people outside of it's borders.
Did you know that Congress is meeting? No, not the US Congress or even your state legislature, but the World Congress of Families (definition #1). Never heard of it? Me either, until last week. It is a group of scholars, educators, religious leaders, pro-family organizations, and basically anyone interested in preserving natural families as the fundamental unit of society. They meet to discuss ways to strengthen families and thus society as a whole. This is the 7th meeting of this Congress since it was started in 1997. It's proceedings are rarely, if ever, mentioned in the news, but the topics discussed there affect every person in the world- not because they form laws or dispense money, but because every person on this earth is part of a family.
(I'd love to be there, especially since this one is in Sydney, Australia- only a few hours from my parents in Melbourne. It would be fitting to visit family and the Family Congress at the same time, don't you think?! But, I digress.)
I've read a little about the proceedings on a couple of blogs (Middle-aged Mormon Man, We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ and WBMW) but haven't heard a thing about it otherwise. From what I've read, it sounds like an amazing gathering. Some days I feel like there are only isolated little pockets of people around the world who have even the remotest interest in maintaining healthy families. Almost everything I read or see in the news media seems to be pointing readers/viewers in the opposite direction. How refreshing it is to see that good people from all over the world and from all kinds of religious backgrounds can gather, discuss, and agree on the fact that healthy families are what this world needs more than anything else. I honestly believe that no real community change (neighborhood or world wide) can occur until we stabilize the families that form them. It's like trying to build a tower with blocks of jello verses knox blox or jello jigglers. It just won't hold up unless every part has enough gelatin to hold it's own.
So, I'm not at the Congress (either definition 1 or 2!), but I can spread the word about the World Congress of Families and I can look for ways to strengthen families in my own little corner of the world- maybe start with the one that lives in my own home. The more we know, the better we can act and lots of little acts can combine to make a world of difference. Let's follow the example of those meeting in Sydney and find ways to affect change on scales large and small. Be kind. Be there. Be aware. Almost every family I know could use at least a little more gelatin.
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
― Mother Teresa