Skip to comments.This I Believe: A Farewell to Optimism
Posted on 01/03/2013 8:06:48 AM PST by Kaslin
A few days ago, going through some memorabilia of my mother's, I found the original promotional material for this syndicated column, launched in 1993. I was billed as "A New Conservative Voice for Young Women!"
More than 17 years ago, I set out to explain how a Yale-educated young woman from a secular Oregon family could become a social conservative:
Every life is precious. It is better to care for your children than to kill them. Divorce hurts children; it also breaks apart life's most precious commitment -- a family.
Men and women are different. A society that pretends otherwise is not going to raise boys to be loving, reliable family men. Marriage is about settling for less but raising up an ideal much bigger and more important even than the most urgent whispered promises of romantic love.
Sex makes babies. Society needs babies. Babies need their mother and their father. Men and women need each other. We all need a strong marriage culture, whether we choose to marry or not.
If it is true that sex makes babies, then that is clearly the most important thing about sex, the thing around which a decent person or society will organize sexual values, behavior and norms.
If they saw clearly. If they were only told the truth. For of all the ways adult society can abandon the young, one of the worst is to ignore the key adult task of creating and sustaining a larger meaning for sex and sexual desire for young people.
My own baby -- the one who was born about the time my syndicated column launched -- will graduate from high school this June and go off to college in the fall.
As I lay down this syndicated column after 17 years, I do not plan to stop writing (readers can find me at MaggieGallagher.com). It is a good time though to reflect on the trends:
On every key measure, marriage is weaker. The consequences are more obviously unsustainable, yet culturally powerful voices are less willing to engage, and the power of porn and Hollywood to create our norms for family life is more triumphant than ever.
Since 1993, the proportion of children born out of wedlock has jumped from 31 percent to 41 percent -- mostly since about 2003. For women with only a high school degree or less, nonmarital childbearing is the new normal. Divorce has declined for the privileged; for everyone else, stable marriage has gotten to be even further out of reach.
Without a powerful ideal of masculinity that points men toward marriage and fatherhood, more and more young men are deciding the hard work of becoming marriageable is not worth it: Porn, beer, video games with the guys, freedom and fleeting sexual encounters are good enough.
The most urgent overlooked need is the deep need of boys for masculine ideals. If civilization refuses to provide any, porn and video-game makers will step in to fill the gap.
Why should young men work hard to become protectors and defenders of women and children when American culture -- and women -- tells them they are not needed in either role?
So in this, my final column, I say my farewell to optimism and my hello to hope.
What is the difference? Optimism is a prediction; hope is a virtue.
My hope rests on this: The truths to which I've dedicated my life, both professionally and personally, are too important to ignore, too foundational to be abandoned, too much a part of reality to be lost forever.
Do not abandon politics. It is one important means to create culture -- to name our shared reality.
But we need, as well, a next generation of culture creators, of storytellers, with the credentials to name reality: empirical social scientists, novelists, poets, preachers and filmmakers.
We need donors to invest in building the networks and communities through which such voices are born, flourish and give meaning to the lives of millions.
The future belongs to those of us with enough hope to rebuild on the ashes of optimism, a new American civilization -- uniting sex, love, babies, mothers and fathers in this thing called marriage.
Lots of conservatives seem to be abandoning “politics”.
OUTSTANDING post, Thank You.
Believe me, those novelists, filmmakers, etc. are out there, but they need support from fellow conservatives if they're even going to make a living, let alone affect the culture. Conversely, conservatives need to stop supporting novelists, filmmakers, businesses, etc. that support leftists. In other words, we need to do what the Left has been doing for decades.
“Courage is the foundation of all other virtues.”
Without courage, there are no other virtues.
Using recreational drugs to escape reality is cowardice. We have become a nation of cowards, bleating about how hard life is and arguing that cowardice is OK.
We lost by allowing every nasty, hateful, anti-American group receive endless tax money (OUR money) for their execrable products. We will continue to lose until that is stopped.
“Hope” is not a plan.
“the power of porn and Hollywood to create our norms for family life is more triumphant than ever.”
So true. A communist goal, take the media, and they have.
We continue to send American jobs overseas.
What else to you expect?
Bring back US jobs.
I believe this will be an element in the break we catch, if we do catch a break. And if so we’ll need to take advantage of it in a witty and timely way.
Just spoke with an old aunt on the Jersey Shore. She’s pissed because she just read that Katrina victims got their money in 10 days and these poeple have not. She’s such a liberal she’ll never go one to one Bush V Obama. It’s the fault of everyone republican for being greedy or whatever no matter what.
We are going to HAVE to accept that within politics at least for now is just not where we are going to catch that break.
But why give up?
Culturally, I can say from experience, people, especially children thhrough at least mid high school are hungry for the truth and as well, uplifting stories.
They respond very well to classic literature when forced exposure is the rule. Tehy become literary snobs yet there is not a lot out there for them.
There is much work to be done.
Anyone who does not expect or want a ton of money can help.
The only cure for our situation is tough times, and the sooner and tougher, the better.
"The truths to which I've dedicated my life, both professionally and personally, are too important to ignore, too foundational to be abandoned, too much a part of reality to be lost forever." - Maggie Gallager
Gallager's use of the words "truths," "foundational," and "reality" echo those of America's Founders in their Declaration of Independence--that great document which asserted as "self-evident" the Creator-endowed life, liberty and rights of individuals.
Such truths are, indeed, "too important" and "too foundational" to relinquish.
Future generations will look on this period in America's history as one where the enduring ideas expressed in that Declaration of 1776 were upheld and liberty preserved, or -
a time when so-called "progressives" set themselves and their counterfeit ideology of coercive power over the "self-evident" truths which made America a haven for the oppressed for over 200 years.
If that happens, then that ideology will lead a once-great nation back into the tyrannical control of government, just as it was in 1776.
How discouraging optimism was these past four years and how even more discouraging is the prospect of four more years of even worse conditions.
When a nation has a ‘president’ who is a phony marxist jackass it’s extremely difficult to look towards a future that is even more than gloomy. Here is a government that is growing like poison ivy that is killing the nation. The Constitution is already in the ashcan and when one looks at the crop of advisors, regulators, etc. that this moron has appointed the outlook grows even worse.
He has surrounded himself with homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, lesbians and probably even some with new sexual persuasions. To criticize him and them is to be called a racist as though a whole new category of human was discovered. And these are the ones responsible for wrecking our lives and our grandchildren’s future.
If someone is eventually elected that will have the machinery to turn this Godawful mess around it will take decades. The only way to erase this evil is to completely erase the blackboard and start over.
Thinking and perspectives must be reframed, out of the box, so to speak. Optimism shall spring again, as some naturally joyful souls will always look for the sunny side, and see the good that lies like a kernel amid the most dreadful situation imaginable.
After all, humanity has gone through some pretty cataclysmic upheavals throughout history, and very probably through all of pre-history as well. Floods, famines, pestilence, natural disasters and even the wrath of God, to name a few, and somehow, there is always a small segment to struggle back to some semblance of civilization. Sometimes the lessons learned are not always the right lessons, but in the karma the universe seems so well endowed with, there is always the prospect that the lesson shall be taught again.
Obama, like FDR and Woodroow Wilson before him, shall pass into history, leaving a greater or lessor impression on succeeding generations, and most of the really serious harm they do will eventually either form a mass of scar tissue, or the subsequent regrowth will cover up the damage.
The ruins at Angkor Wat and Chichen Itza are proof positive that cultures do rise, and later crumble, while the rest of the world goes about, business as usual, until that, too, blows up in their faces.
We are looking at one of the major blowups in history, up close and ugly.
But think, centuries from now, when its glory days shall be memorialized in song and story.
Hope is a great spiritual plan.
I never knew there was a correlation between the two, thanks for the info.
Agreed. Look what happened when conservatives banned together to support chic-fil-a. There are still long lines.
My church sells chic-fil-a sandwiches on Wednesday nights and whenever we have something at church it is chic-fil-a and other Christian owned businesses. Our church membership is over 5,000 so that can make a difference. Also, I don't care how intriguing or funny a TV program is, if it is filled with violence, filth, nudity, sex and gays, SWITCH CHANNELS! We allow them to sink us.
But there are no more plans. No more last best efforts. The light on the horizon has gone dim.
But there is still hope. I am a Christian. I know the end, and know that they gave Jesus a crown of thorns, so I do not expect a bed of roses.
There are things besides our selves to work on. Family, friends, your small corner of the world. Start laying a foundation now.
Now I know how good Romans felt when an insane dictator was emperor and bread and circuses doctrine was in full effect.
I expect our jobs will return when the climate FOR business returns. I expect they’ll stay where they’re embraced instead of shunned.