Friday, November 1, 2019

All the Lonely People

From Touchstone:
In a healthier time, when young people were expected to live up to a virtue, and not merely to keep themselves sanitary, there were plenty of venues for bringing boys and girls and young men and young women together, in fairly innocent fun. What made this possible was the tacit rule of virtue. 
It is really not hard to understand. Imagine a culture of liars and cheats. In such a place, when once you attempt to join someone else in business, even if it is of very modest scope, your actions are shot through with danger. You may feel it to be too momentous a thing to join a partner in buying a small parcel of land, or in cooperating to fill a contract to provide a builder with beams. The lying and cheating hurts the liars and cheaters, most obviously and profoundly; but it does its evil work to keep good people apart, too, or people who in better circumstances would be good. 
When the expectation of virtue ruled, it was not a momentous thing for a boy to ask a girl to a dance, or to go watch a ballgame, or to accompany him to the ice cream social, or to a big party. That meant, if we consider the matter for a moment, that there would be many such events for him to choose. Since a promise to go have some fun at a square dance was just that and no more, boys and girls enjoyed the mutual trust that the virtue provided—a great free field of social activity, some of it no doubt youthfully romantic, between staying at home alone or hopping in bed. That was more than space and time for the individual to grow. It was space and time for the sociality of boys as boys and girls as girls. 
That's long gone. It was already becoming a thing of the past when I was young. The Lonely Revolution might have given a Get Out of Jail Free card to the really few young people who would choose licentiousness for its own sake, but it hurt everyone else. Even if there isn't quite as much bedding down as our youth suppose, the expectation of it, or rather the implicit promise of it, or the veiled threat of it, looms nevertheless. And that is enough to prevent all kinds of young people from getting together in healthy ways. Those who can imagine that a girl might go ice-skating with them, but never anything more, shy away from asking even about the ice-skating. Those who try to remain faithful to the natural law, their consciences, and the teachings of the Christian faith must be content to stand aside. (Read more.)

No comments: