Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Individual

In the wake of the Nation's birthday, I pause to reflect on what exactly American Independence has come to mean. What used to be the strength of our nationality, our individuality and independence, now seems to be tearing at the very social fabric of which we are all a part. The current American social fabric is becoming one where people would rather stand on their own, relish in their own independence and put their individuality above the united body, rather than contribute to the strength of the collective whole. It doesn't take a genius to tell you that fabrics don't fair well when the pieces refuse to hold together.

What is causing this societal fraying? Last September, David Brooks wrote an article entitled, "The Social Animal," in which he states:
The problem is, this individualist description of human nature seems to be wrong. Over the past 30 years, there has been a tide of research in many fields, all underlining one old truth — that we are intensely social creatures, deeply interconnected with one another and the idea of the lone individual rationally and willfully steering his own life course is often an illusion.
There's the key. We are "deeply interconnected with one another," and hard facts are starting to prove that a mere sociality can't replace the integral, underlying structure of society: the family. It's the basics folks. If we want things to stop feeling shaky, we need to fortify the foundation. And that means getting back to creating a concrete family structure.

While running in the so-called, "Mommy circles" back East, I have been surprised at the number of women who regretted their initial distaste for family, placing every priority in front of settling down with a husband and having kids. One woman mentioned that she was raised by a feminist mother and as a result grew up with an attitude that family comes last because it's all about me, my individuality, my wants and my needs as a woman. Now she wishes she had known the truth. She told me that she has found an incredible amount of satisfaction in motherhood, even though as a 43-year-old, she's only been at it for 6 years. She said her children often "put things in perspective" and help her understand what society really needs: a band of determined and stalwart mothers. Determined to make marriages last and raise their children to want families of their own.

The sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin said that what is significant about contemporary American families, compared with those of other nations, is their combination of "frequent marriage, frequent divorce" and the high number of "short-term co-habiting relationships." Taken together, these forces "create a great turbulence in American family life, a family flux, a coming and going of partners on a scale seen nowhere else. There are more partners in the personal lives of Americans than in the lives of people of any other Western country." In short, it's what he termed, "the Marriage-Go-Round" and it's ruining America.

Time Magazine's most recent issue is featuring the topic of American marriage failure and highlighting societal consequences (read the full article here). An excerpt reads:
"An increasingly fragile construct depending less and less on notions of sacrifice and obligation than on the ephemera of romance and happiness as defined by and for its adult principals, the intact, two-parent family remains our cultural ideal, but it exists under constant assault."
Sound familiar? The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Kimball, was saying the exact same thing in the 70's. The family is under attack. And marriage is at the center of that attack.

Time Magazine goes on:
"How much does this matter? More than words can say. There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage."
Government is on board now, trying to combat the attack on family and the decay of our social structure. From Clinton's welfare-to-work programs, to Obama's statement that, "We need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one," the call is beginning to echo from sources beyond the church.

Marriages need not fail so frequently, and we can't let them if we have any hope in repairing the tattered social fabric that exists in the United States.

Elder Ballard may have said it best when he wrote, "The family is not just the basic unit of society; it is the basic unit of eternity."



3 comments:

Anderson., M.N. said...

Great post Mrs! It's funny because I just saw a children's book that was a rally cry to save the environment. Sure, stopping the buildup of greenhouse gas molecules is important, but is it more important than stopping the breakup of the nuclear family?


I would love to see a children's book about that. (And word is that you will write them someday.)

Tess said...

Love your posts! I'm glad we're friends in the blog-world too!
That's so awesome that Naomi is in your ward! I've actually been following her blog for a long time - it's great.

Bus Gillespie said...

Great comments Paige, I had heard from others what a great writer you are, now I'm a fan as well. You speak the sad truth about our society.

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