This past New Years I traveled with my brother and friends to Cambodia and saw something unexpected. I saw terribly poor families without clothing and without much shelter. Children played in the dirt streets without shoes because their feet grow too fast. They don’t require helmets for children under 16 because it’s too expensive to buy the new equipment.

I saw another thing, strong families. I saw the mother and father together with the children and the grandparents in the same room. It was clear that the society we’ve created today lacks these strong survival bonds because economic power lets us transcend the shackles of responsibility to family. We can pay for the nurse for our ailing relative; we can have a nurse stop by to take care of mom or dad. In Cambodia, that’s not an option for these poor rural people; the family is the safety net.

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