Tuesday, October 30, 2012
It seems that everybody and their kin have a theory regarding the almost complete breakdown of morality and family life, so, please indulge me in mine.
To me, it’s perfectly clear!
In my opinion, two fundamental elements provide the principal reasons for the regrettable decline of efforts to maintain a civilized, family-based society. They are:
1. Abdication of family functions.
2. Two-income necessity.
As the cohesiveness of an extended family started to dissipate a couple of generations ago and most folks decided at the same time to live on top of each other in an urban setting, it became clear that this new inter-dependence with others outside of the family circle would lead to an almost complete destruction of what we once accepted as moral standards and civilized principles.
To be sure, societal problems have always been with us, but they were more manageable in a compact family and community setting.
The general demise of the family started with the Industrial Revolution. As our traditional agrarian society faded, family members became less dependent on each other as people moved to the “city” to find work in the shops, mills and factories.
In early America, beginning with the fiercely independent original colonists, the family was the center of – well – everything!
The family served all of the functions of society that we now relegate to those outside the family circle. The family was once the arbiter of morality, justice, sex, religion, banking, nourishment, nursing, medical treatment, teaching, care, concern and every other function fundamental to a stable society. The mother prepared food, nursed, taught, sewed, nurtured the family, ran the household, etc. The father was the cobbler, provider of food, banker, moral authority, teacher, etc., in addition to presiding over the judicial affairs and religious instruction within the family.
This all changed with the “Division of Labor” — birthed by the Industrial Revolution. Society transported us toward a completely different slant on life in which it was no longer economically feasible for one person to attempt many duties. It became more economically practical for the family to depend on the efforts of specialized trades, thereby, instituting the “professions” — baker, physician, launderer, lawyer, preacher, teacher, etc., while leaving the mother and father tending to more mundane matters of family life as they placed their primary efforts on their own new-found “professions”. To use a modern term, family functions were “outsourced.”
In short, the family abdicated their long-held responsibilities and turned these responsibilities over to others – namely, government. Before the family relinquished primary familial functions, the depravities of society we see running rampant today were much better contained within family authority.
The division of labor brought about far less dependence on family life and function.
Were there good advantages to the Industrial Revolution and the Division of Labor? Of course, but why did we have to give up the traditions of family to serve the god of modernity? Why did we have to throw the baby out with the bath-water?
The increasing dependence on a “Two-income family.”
We created a monster with our gluttony for more and more material things made cheaper and more readily available by mass production. It appears to most Americans that if we are to keep up with the Jones, it requires two incomes. And just when we are about to catch up with the Jones, they “refinance” and the cycle starts all over again.
In the process, the family has been flung apart and we wonder, “Where are the values of old?”
Once grandmothers stepped in; took responsibility and helped raise out-of-wedlock children. Many still do but for the most part, that is a time gone by. Many grandmothers today are 30-somethings who haven’t figured out yet what causes pregnancy or else are so wrapped up in their own selfish physical yearnings that even they are producing illegitimate children, who most often become the financial responsibility of the rest of us by way of tax-supported government programs.
We made a big, big mistake when society decided to legitimize illegitimacy but that practice is not limited to childbearing only. A lot of things thought of as illegitimate in the past are now main-stream.
This whole absurd notion of allowing people of the same sex to “marry” is not a step in the right direction toward restoring legitimacy to the family circle. But, yet, too many folks remain uninvolved or insist on the supposed “civil rights” for just about any human practice.
As I have pointed out, this disestablishment of the family unit was hastened along by the massive movement from an agrarian society toward an urban one.
Folks in more rural settings were not immune to immorality but they were certainly inoculated against the epidemic onset of decadence for two basic reasons – one, they were so busy surviving — there was little time left for mischief. And, two, in a crowded urban setting, this whole business of it takes-a-village-to-raise-a-child myth has spun far out of control. In too many cases, if children get any concept of role models at all, it comes from other children, sports or entertainment figures, movies and television or ill-equipped parents. Some village! Children are also thrown into a massive multitude of humanity ranging from child-care facilities; latch-key kids; mega-schools with enormous numbers of students; and congested neighborhoods thriving on Political Correctness – an “anything goes” attitude – and hardly a constructive approach toward the high moral ground.
And we wonder how things got so out of control.
So where do we go from here? Nowhere except further down the tube, unless the family once again regains control of life. Government supervision of our lives and kids; “village” maintenance of teaching our children and the absurd idea that Political Correctness is the mainspring of humanity will get us nowhere except further down the road to perdition.
I am not concerned so much with my own life. I came from a far different background. I am, however, concerned for my children’s children and, subsequently, their progeny.
You should be too.
John Brock lives in Georgetown County and can be reached by mail at this newspaper or via Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org