William M. Hutcheson, 33
S.G.I.G. in Georgia
First Grand Equerry of The Supreme Council, 33
Smyrna, Georgia

Through the example of our own Scottish Rite families,
we can help others build stable, loving homes.

Maybe it was because I was a boy during the same time period portrayed by the wonderful television series, The Waltons. I reached boyhood during the Great Depression, and Iím sure it was an experience that is more romantic in my memory than it actually was for most Americans. And Iím also sure that today will seem like the ďgood old daysĒ fifty years from now.

Each week, the Walton family on television gave us a glimpse of a time when every member of the family was central to life itself and everything each family member did was embraced by everyone in the house.

Of course, thatís because everyone lived in the same house. Three generations sharing living space together was a common occurrence. We worked together, played together, entertained each other. We even wept together and, sometimes, we fought together. We spent long summer evenings on the front porch, did the chores, read good books, shared the bath water, slept two, three, sometimes four in the same bed--every aspect of life was a shared event.

We were together.

And thatís the point. America was together then because its families were together. So, with their warm and simple episodes, the Waltonís reminded us each week that perhaps there is no stronger bond possible than that of a family whose members take the time to really know and love each other. When we are in each otherís heart, we can stay together across the generations.

Of all the things which make America strong, both then and now, nothing exceeds the fundamental truth that we are, first and foremost, a nation of families.

But that most basic of all institutions is facing an awesome challenge of survival today. The pressures of work, the choices we have with leisure time, the mobility of people, the outmigration of our young from the homes of their childhood, the diversity of our culture--all these things make raising and sustaining a family a difficult task at best. Parents are spending much less time with their children. Mothers are working outside the home. Many children spend their preschool years in daycare centers away from home. Families are spread all over the country. Grandparents seldom live in the same town with their children or grandchildren. Close family friends move to other communities. Many cities (and some employers) are not family friendly.

The result is that the family is beginning to crumble. Thatís why The Supreme Council has established a Subcommittee on the Family Life Program. We must do something now if we are to help save the family as the vital basis of our life.

Fortunately, there is much that can be done by the Scottish Rite. We have the manpower and the experience to make a difference. We represent every generation. We offer some of the best role models for family life available anywhere.

The subcommittee is working hard on creating a Family Life Program which will establish a variety of approaches to reinforcing the family unit around todayís definitions of family. We will begin by accepting what is in place and working toward enhancing the role of family at home, in school or daycare, in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the community, in places of worship--in our society generally. The Rite is also identifying worthy partners who are concerned with the plight of the American family so that a true consortium of expertise and enthusiasm can be brought together to focus on a healthy family.

It is an exciting venture. It will place the Rite as the center of one of the most important issues facing our country today. It will give us a new kind of credibility. Making the American family strong again is truly a lofty goal, one that begins with us. It is essential that we do the best we can for our own Scottish Rite families because, through our own example, we can help others.

And thatís what the Scottish Rite is all about.