January 30, 2008

State of the Family

Wouldn't it have been interesting if President George Bush, for his last State of the Union address the other night, said he was going to talk about the State of the Family?

Yes, it would have been a major downer of a speech but what a way to be remembered! After all, he's probably spending many of the final days of his tenure thinking about his legacy.

The state IS the family.

41%-43% of marriages will probably end in divorce. 43.7% of custodial mothers and 56.2% of custodial fathers are divorced. 23% of children under 18 are living in a mother only household (5% live with father only). In 2002, 7.8 million Americans paid spousal child support in the amount of $40 billion dollars (84% of the payors were male).

When a divorce occurs, doesn't the state usually have to get involved to either handle the legality of the divorce but also to make sure support is paid? In some cases, they have to step in and garnish wages or go after the non-paying parent. The state may have to pay for temporary or permanent care for the children during, or permanently following, the divorce.

If you want to have children or don't want to have children, the state will pay you for all or part of the reproductive technologies, or contraception, or abortion, or adoption, whichever the case may be. You can have children created for you, or destroyed for you, in a petri dish. In some countries, the state will pay you to have, or to not, have children. Italy and Russia are two countries that are giving cash to people who actually have children. China will issue penalties, in some cases, if you have more than one child. The Europe, as we've known it, is facing extinction. Decades of war, genocide, licentiousness, contraception, and abortion are destroying them. Russia lost millions in the Great Patriotic War. I wonder if they lost a comparable number of souls in the decades of abortion that followed?

In the U.S., we are starting to realize that our birth replacement rate is not high enough to maintain our Social Security system in the future. We probably shouldn't be worried, we have immigrant labor to help. But, we are probably going to have to adjust to the fact that Spanish could be a state recognized official language some day. What can we do to complain? We need the young workers. They have us over a barrel. If they want to speak Spanish rather than English, oh, well. We may have to step aside.

Thanks to low birthrates and the family breakdowns, who exactly cares for our elderly and infirm? Increasingly, it ends up being the state. The state has to fund all or part of the nursing facility bill. There may not be enough family members to care for them. It's also a tragedy that a lot of people have the time but just don't want to bother. Who is going to make sure that Mildred Smith is treated with dignity in her nursing home room? The state will have to. Seems like a rather cold and remote entity to bank on in the caring department.

We have no one to blame for this state of affairs but ourselves. We have created a society of artificially created children, disrespect for life at all stages, seperated families, disdain for the commitment inherent in marriage. It's hard to get people to emotionally engage unless they are connected to people by blood or some type of direct contact. Yes, people care, but only in the most abstract sense, if they don't have some direct bond with people. We've transferred our procreative, familial and compassionate responses and responsibilities to the state.

In all this separation and disengagement with the family, in all this loss of sexual expression in the appropriate ways that Christ gave us, we have lost our connections with each other. Some say: We are family. Really, none of us are family. We are becoming a society of unrelated strangers just muddling thru. Can this last? Can anything be done? Should anything be done?


Blogger Our Word said...


I think you hit it on the head in your last paragraph. We are becoming more and more fragmented, a society that has little in common.

Look at top 40 radio. Look at the most watched television shows. In both cases, as in so many more, we see that there is very little of what I have referred to in the past as the "shared experience." Huey Long said, "Every man a king;" in our culture, it's more like, "Every man (or woman) a programmer, an editor, a news gatherer." We plug in our iPods, we sit at our computers, we make our personal lives as impersonal as we can.

This is obviously a more complex situation than I've made it, but I think you can take things like this as indications of a deeper situation. We are growing farther and father apart from each other, living in our own separate worlds, with very little connection to each other. Not everyone, of course, but society as a whole.

You ask if anything can be done. I wish I had an answer. Nothing is impossible, obviously, and yet - we just continue to drift, aimlessly.


January 30, 2008 1:56 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Mitchell: It is a complex situation-much more so then a brief blog post can convey. Your comments are straight on.

I believe the answer is with Christ, unfortunately, not everyone agrees.

January 30, 2008 3:08 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Good post, as usual, Cathy.

As a pragmatic kind of guy, I think one of the biggest chores facing the next generation will be how to design a family history sheet for genealogists to account for the step-mothers and step-fathers that this generation has been creating.

Of course the words mother and father won't be used in the next generation as they will be classified as "hate-speech."

Then too, acknowledged and un-acknowledged "naturally-conceived" children by professional athletes (Wilt Chamberlain, etc.) and others will need to have a category if children will still be a permitted word.

Also, in-vitro-fertilization and cloning, just in its infancy, will make "un-naturally-conceived" children who will need to have a category.

Organ transplants will be another factor that will be dealt with in the 21st century genealogy chart. Already eyes, hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, and who knows what else are regularly donated to friends and relatives who are a good DNA match.

And what with adult stem cell technology modifications, probably, people will be able to keep renewing themselves, maybe for hundreds of years. No longer will 110 years be considered to be the maximum life span of an individual.

What is that going to do to the Social Security retirement age and benefits?

If we can prolong our lives forever, will that become a "human right?" Or will only rich people be able to keep prolonging their lives?

Will a business have to keep employing people for hundreds of years to avoid being penalized with stiff fines for being "agist?"

Dan Rather is suing CBS for being agist. Will we have to watch him and Katie and Mike Wallace and the others for the rest of our extremely long lives? Maybe Walter will come back.

The tiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmesss, they are a-changingggggggggg!

January 30, 2008 5:16 PM  
Blogger Tom in Vegas said...

"41%-43% of marriages will probably end in divorce."

Can you blame me for having the marriage jitters?


January 30, 2008 7:17 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ray: I'm glad you brought the issue of same-sex marriage and the terms "mother" and "father" being removed from society. I meant to but ran out of space.

Tom: At least you are in play. I'm not even at the stadium.

January 30, 2008 7:37 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I must have unconsciously taken this idea and turned it into a post about my family on Abbey1 - isn't that weird?

January 31, 2008 4:46 PM  
Blogger Ma Beck said...

Most marriages today are entered into as potential temporary situations between two people, not as a permanent covenant between two people and God.
THAT'S why many marriages end in divorce - because they didn't begin right.
A faithful Catholic marriage is, trust me, the best thing ever.
(Okay, the best thing next to being a parent, but ya can't have one without the othhhhhhhher!)

January 31, 2008 9:21 PM  
Blogger gemoftheocean said...

"If they want to speak Spanish rather than English, oh, well."

Why? Nobody invited them to break our laws and demand everyone speak THEIR damn language.

The very least they can do is learn the freakin' language. THE HELL WITH THEM.

"Oh, well" my $$$

February 02, 2008 10:06 AM  

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