Saturday, June 30, 2012

Selfishness as Virtue?

From The American Interest (via Joshua Snyder):
Klinenberg is rarely explicit about his convictions, which saves him the trouble of seriously assaying their implications, but he finally gets to the point directly in his conclusion, asserting that “living alone is an individual choice that’s as valid as the choice to get married or live with a domestic partner. . . . [I]t’s a collective achievement—which is why it’s common in developed nations but not in poor ones.” Klinenberg cites Sweden as a model to be emulated.

This is a novel position, to be sure, considering that no known civilization in human history has lauded solitary living as a social ideal. Either the extended family or, since the Industrial Revolution, the nuclear family variant of it, has been a universal social norm for at least the past 10,000 years and arguably much longer than that. And you don’t need data to see why: Society needs children and children need families.
What the Founders knew, but so many contemporaries seem to have forgotten, is that the well-being of any society turns not just on its capacity to procreate but on its ability to transmit a tradition of moral reasoning, and the values that attend it, to future generations. Drawing from the Hebrew prophets and the Greek philosophers, they recognized that values are in flux as virtuous or venal cycles reverberate across generations. Not that moral development is to be feared, or that change is in principle to be disparaged, but development and change has to be carefully nurtured by sentries on the lookout for indulgence, corrosion and selfishness. The Founders understood that the good life can only be safeguarded by a good society, and that this indelible connection bestows obligations on individuals to invest in the acculturation of future generations. (Read entire article.)


MadMonarchist said...

I'm not married and I never will be. I wanted to in my early to mid-20's but since then I have determined to avoid it at all costs. Am I being selfish? Maybe so but I hope not because I can summon no regret over it. If you're going to have children you should certainly be married but I honestly cannot understand for the life of me why any man in this country would ever want to get married. The way things are now, women don't need to get married (it seems) and I think any man would be nuts to get married.

elena maria vidal said...

It's ultimately a matter of vocation. Not everyone is called to be married. Those who are called must trust that they will be given the grace of the sacrament.

julygirl said...

I feel that the increased tendancy of narcissism in individuals have wreaked havoc upon the unity of the husband and wife in their role of nurturing one another,as well as seeing to each other's needs and desires rather than one's own. This 'me first' attitude and sense of entitlement has also spilled over into the behavior of today's young people.

MadMonarchist said...

Marriage never has been easy but it just seems to me that nowadays society and even the state are working against you (especially the husbands and fathers) to the extent that the odds are too stacked against you. What do marriage vows really mean when either party can, at any time and for any reason, call the whole thing off?

elena maria vidal said...

Love is, and always has been, a risk. Even in the olden times, a spouse could be taken away by death or alienated by infidelity. Babies died right and left. Marriage has never been trouble-free.