A Fox News article this morning entitled Is Marriage Doomed? It is a lengthy treatise by Ralph Richard Banks, a Black law professor at Stanford University. It is one of those articles that contains so many salient, pertinent points that are to be found in much of what I read in this blogosector that to attempt posting about it would essentially regurgitate, in my dumber form, what the author did more concisely and lucidly.
Suffice to say, Banks writes about the state of marriage in 2012. He observes what we all know: as a traditional institution, marriage is deteriorating, crumbling slowly into an archaic rubble of institutionalized obligations very few feel indebted to in our modern, “enlightened” era. The message that must be taken, if we are open to it, is not that marriage per se has changed. It’s that marriage is a gauge of our society’s cohesiveness. Marriage is our thermometer of morals and humility and traditional gender roles. As society is usurped by technology and social equality, dysfunction settles in because we are clamoring ambitiously to erect a culture that is at odds with our inherent learning. We are overturning thousands of years of social evolution in a few generations, how can things not go wrong? How can social strife and disorder not be far behind when we try to rewrite human nature in such a short span of time? We are social engineers and we have it in our power now to imbue the commercial masses with beliefs and values we worship. How is it we find it so easy to snub the past, our legacy, in such a heartless, thoughtless manner?
Though I call this blog “An Unmarried Man,” I am constantly feeling the need to reiterate and justify that I am not anti-marriage (what I mean by this). Rather, I am anti-modernity in the socially evolved sense. I don’t care for the state of social evolution and where it has brought us, to this point in which we have so miserably failed marriage. Marriage has not failed anyone. Marriage is what it is and always has been. It is us, as a culture, who have failed marriage. We are unable to live the concept of wedded union with another. We are cynical and mean. We are selfish and revoltingly narcissistic. I often wonder when we decided that we were Gods? That’s what happened. We became Gods, beholden to no one but ourselves. As a narcissist God, what reason do I have to share my life and relinquish my sense of self to another mere mortal? I was telling my mom and brother last night that as each successive generation separates us from the World Wars and Great Depression of the early 20th Century, the weaker and softer and more spoiled we become. Entitled as a race and unwilling to submit and contribute to the fullness of society. Individualism is heralded by conservatives, the same conservatives who celebrate marriage. I believe marriage serves society as well. Marriage is an embrace of the human commune. Marriage is an ingredient in the group effort toward stabilizing a distracted collective human nature. Marriage and selfish capitalist individualism are at odds, I say!
Here are some points I feel bear repeating from Banks’ excellent article:
-More than 2 out of every 3 black women, and a majority of black men, are unmarried.
More than half of college educated black wives have husbands who did not go to college.
-As women have excelled educationally and, in turn, professionally, they have felt less need to look to marriage as a source of economic support.
Women are a majority of college graduates now, and consequently are poised to surpass men economically.
-Among African Americans, nearly twice as many women as men graduate from college. As a result, women enjoy an unprecedented freedom to structure their lives as they choose, to marry only when they desire, or not at all.
-Roughly 40% of children in the United States are born to unmarried parents. Among African Americans the percentage is higher still: 70%.
Whites now have children without being married at rates—25% overall, 60% for women who have their first child in their early 20s—that seemed unimaginable half a century ago, when so-called “illegitimacy” was viewed as a problem that would remain confined to African Americans.
-Whereas men work to fulfill an obligation to provide for their family, including their spouse, many women work for a different reason: for self-fulfillment and so that they never become dependent on a man.
-As much as relationships embody love and care, they also form within a market. The scarcer desirable men become in that market, the more power they wield.
-These problems are less severe among white Americans largely because white men are not nearly as disadvantaged as black men. But just as the childbearing, work, and relationship patterns of white women have followed those of their black counterparts, the situation of white men may in the years ahead come to resemble more that of black men.
What strikes me is the sad state of affairs of the Black man. In today’s world he stands precariously poised on the edge of a razor’s sharp edge. On one side, a life of crime and poverty awaits, on the other, prosperity. But no matter which way he falls, the prospects for marriage are doomed. Blacks, for a multitude of reasons, are the parakeet in the coal mine of American society, and its plight strikes them first. They are hit earliest with the looming dysfunctions of society. But the Black predicament does not end with them. The moral lethargy that strikes the Black man today will find the White man tomorrow. Once it filters down into the White population, it might be dressed up more nicely, and perhaps a bit culturally dampened and decorated to be more socially acceptable, but it is still the same crap. We can put lipstick on it and laud it as a concerted effort on the part of strong, enabled, modern woman, but it’s just the same thing that has wreaked havoc on the black community.
On edit, I feel impelled to apologize to all canaries