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This I Believe: A Farewell to Optimism
Townhall.com ^ | January 3, 2013 | Maggie Gallager

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.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: culturewar; faithandfamily; hope; optimism; pornography; videogames

1 posted on 01/03/2013 8:06:55 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Lots of conservatives seem to be abandoning “politics”.


2 posted on 01/03/2013 8:11:14 AM PST by Former Proud Canadian (Obamanomics-We don't need your stinking tar sands oil, we'll just grow algae.)
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To: Kaslin

OUTSTANDING post, Thank You.


3 posted on 01/03/2013 8:12:15 AM PST by US Navy Vet (Go Packers! Go Rockies! Go Boston Bruins! See, I'm "Diverse"!)
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To: Kaslin
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.

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.


4 posted on 01/03/2013 8:16:17 AM PST by Cinnamontea
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To: Kaslin

True.
“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.


5 posted on 01/03/2013 8:20:56 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: Cinnamontea

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.


6 posted on 01/03/2013 8:22:44 AM PST by pabianice (washington, dc ..)
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To: Kaslin

“Hope” is not a plan.


7 posted on 01/03/2013 8:23:12 AM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: Kaslin

“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.


8 posted on 01/03/2013 8:27:20 AM PST by Rennes Templar
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To: pabianice

We continue to send American jobs overseas.

What else to you expect?

Bring back US jobs.


9 posted on 01/03/2013 8:30:57 AM PST by Cringing Negativism Network
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To: Cinnamontea

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.


10 posted on 01/03/2013 8:40:25 AM PST by stanne
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To: Former Proud Canadian
Lots of conservatives seem to be abandoning “politics”.

I have been sorely tempted to abandon FR as well. There are too many here that haven't a clue of what conservatism is. Too many here that think the govt is the solution to every problem. Truly, conservatism means what ever someone wants it to mean.

The only cure for our situation is tough times, and the sooner and tougher, the better.

11 posted on 01/03/2013 8:40:53 AM PST by PeterPrinciple ( Lord save me from some conservatives, they don't understand human nature any better than liberals.)
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To: Kaslin
Thanks for posting!

"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.

12 posted on 01/03/2013 8:41:12 AM PST by loveliberty2 ( -)
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To: Kaslin

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.


13 posted on 01/03/2013 8:47:15 AM PST by IbJensen (Liberals are like Slinkies, good for nothing, but you smile as you push them down the stairs.)
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To: Cinnamontea

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.


14 posted on 01/03/2013 8:49:40 AM PST by alloysteel (Bronco Bama - the cowboy who whooped up and widened the stampede.)
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To: BenLurkin
“Hope” is not a plan.

Hope is a great spiritual plan.

15 posted on 01/03/2013 8:50:52 AM PST by Starstruck (Washinton has now built a diving board on the fiscal cliff)
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To: Kaslin
Sex makes babies

I never knew there was a correlation between the two, thanks for the info.

16 posted on 01/03/2013 8:51:26 AM PST by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: Cinnamontea
Conversely, conservatives need to stop supporting novelists, filmmakers, businesses, etc. that support leftists.

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.

17 posted on 01/03/2013 8:51:45 AM PST by Bitsy
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To: BenLurkin

It isn’t.

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.


18 posted on 01/03/2013 8:51:50 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: redgolum

Now I know how good Romans felt when an insane dictator was emperor and bread and circuses doctrine was in full effect.


19 posted on 01/03/2013 8:55:52 AM PST by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network

I expect our jobs will return when the climate FOR business returns. I expect they’ll stay where they’re embraced instead of shunned.


20 posted on 01/03/2013 8:56:19 AM PST by showme_the_Glory (ILLEGAL: prohibited by law. ALIEN: Owing political allegiance to another country or government)
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To: IbJensen
Here is a government that is growing like poison ivy that is killing the nation.

Kommie kudzu.

21 posted on 01/03/2013 9:12:04 AM PST by Albion Wilde ("If you're going through hell, keep on going."--Winston Churchill)
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To: central_va

Most of the “Good Romans” were dead or in exile by that time.

Those that remained were the ones who learned to like the boot they licked.


22 posted on 01/03/2013 9:19:03 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: central_va

Gibbon’s Decline and Fall is my guidebook for our current predicament.


23 posted on 01/03/2013 9:20:27 AM PST by Argus
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To: central_va
Now I know how good Romans felt when an insane dictator was emperor and bread and circuses doctrine was in full effect.

I guess we can look forward to the President marrying a horse and setting fire to Washington.

24 posted on 01/03/2013 9:21:50 AM PST by seowulf ("If you write a whole line of zeroes, it's still---nothing"...Kira Alexandrovna Argounova)
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To: blueunicorn6
We have become a nation of cowards, bleating about how hard life is and arguing that cowardice is OK.

With respect, unicorn, blow it out your ass. If you think America is a nation of bleating cowards, GO MOVE TO FRANCE WHERE YOU BELONG.

Either that, or stop allowing yourself to be brainwashed and hornswaggled by the MSM when it presents the distorted picture of an America that looks just like the MSM. Go READ at places other than FR, go READ the comments from people at MSM sites like ABC and CBS. Most of them -- like most of us here on FR -- write that they think liberalism and the liberal bias of the MSM, stink.

You are so gullible that you've allowed pop culture and the MSM to reduce YOU to a bleating coward.

25 posted on 01/03/2013 9:28:00 AM PST by Finny (Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. -- Psalm 119:105)
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To: seowulf
President marrying a horse

Have you looked closely at the current FLOTUS?

26 posted on 01/03/2013 9:43:42 AM PST by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: Finny
There definitely is something wrong with a large segment of the American population; I'm not sure “coward” is the right word. It's more like a sense of complete apathy, most people I come across have no clue about how dire the situation is and put their heads in the sand when you try to tell them. It's like the people are stoned or “zombiefied” and no about of screaming will wake them up.
27 posted on 01/03/2013 9:47:07 AM PST by JGT
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To: JGT

When you try to tell someone about where things are going, the most common response is anger. They blame you for all the bad things, because you pointed them out.

A very basic human reaction. Kill the one who brings bad news.


28 posted on 01/03/2013 9:58:03 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: PeterPrinciple

I was off FR for about a month after the election debacle. I have changed my way of thinking about things. I am going to insulate myself against what is coming.


29 posted on 01/03/2013 10:03:21 AM PST by Former Proud Canadian (Obamanomics-We don't need your stinking tar sands oil, we'll just grow algae.)
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To: Albion Wilde

Kudzu is tasty, full of minerals, and high in fiber.


30 posted on 01/03/2013 10:03:45 AM PST by Tax-chick (I'm not crazy ... I'm just not you.)
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To: blueunicorn6
Using recreational drugs to escape reality is cowardice.

You've agreed elsewhere that people who use the legal drug alcohol to escape from reality are likewise cowards. What ought we do about the cowardice of people who use the legal drug alcohol to escape from reality? (Note that criminalizing the cowardice of people who use other drugs to escape from reality does nothing about the cowardice of people who use the legal drug alcohol to escape from reality.)

31 posted on 01/03/2013 10:10:54 AM PST by JustSayNoToNannies ("The Lord has removed His judgments against you" - Zep. 3:15)
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To: Tax-chick
Kudzu is tasty, full of minerals, and high in fiber.

You naughty kitten!

32 posted on 01/03/2013 11:15:10 AM PST by Albion Wilde ("If you're going through hell, keep on going."--Winston Churchill)
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To: JGT; All
There definitely is something wrong with a large segment of the American population....

Are you sure that such a large segment of Americans have it that "wrong"? And if you are so sure that you're awash in a sea of idiots, LEAVE AMERICA because you're sure as hell part of the problem as long as you stay here and preach the gospel that most Americans are losers.

I think the primary thing that's wrong is that average Americans, decent people who prefer limited government, and who make up the MAJORITY of legitimate voters, parents, and producers in this country, have been bamboozled by the impression created by pop culture and the MSM that they're the "little dog," when the reality is that liberals are the "little dog" in America, but who have vastly inflated representation in the MSM and pop culture.

ONE example, one of thousands, PLEASE think about it and dammit, kick yourself in the ASS and anybody else in the ASS who starts preaching the losing, whining, pathetic, suicidal line that "Americans are children and idiots who voted for Santa Claus." Okay? Here's ONE EXAMPLE of how pop culture and the MSM work their illusions:

Gun rights. Now, if you actually follow the links to anti-gun articles and opinion pieces in the media and at blogs, you will see where they are AVALANCHED with comments from people who are pro-gun rights and who absolutely cherish the 2nd amendment, and who are even now creating RECORD SALES in gun stores and waiting lines at shooting ranges. THIS is all stuff that the MSM ignores. Instead, the MSM and pop culture ABSOLUTELY present a portrait of America where being pro-gun is controversial and rare. That portrait is flat-out FICTION, and variations on this distorted portrait of American opinion are repeated everywhere from environmentalist sentiment to welfare and gay rights and every other liberal cause, but YOU and other gullible pesimist fraidy cat Frenchmen believe the worst of the majority of your fellow Americans.

That path is the path to hell. WAKE UP, start paying attention to what's really going on outside of the MSM and pop culture, and START HAVING MORE FAITH IN YOUR FELLOW AMERICANS.

33 posted on 01/03/2013 11:17:26 AM PST by Finny (Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. -- Psalm 119:105)
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To: Albion Wilde

“Annoyingly looking on the bright side since October, 2002.”


34 posted on 01/03/2013 11:35:34 AM PST by Tax-chick (I'm not crazy ... I'm just not you.)
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To: Kaslin

When the final history of the United States and western civilization is written, it will be recorded that radical feminism was the chief agent in destroying the American family...the chief underpinning of any society.


35 posted on 01/03/2013 11:48:57 AM PST by driftless2
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To: Finny
Finny, I never said that we are awash in a sea of idiots or that most Americans are losers. But you yourself said that “the vast majority of legitimate voters, parents, and producers in this country, have been bamboozled by the impression created by pop culture and the MSM that they're the “little dog,” when the reality is that liberals are the “little dog” in America, but who have vastly inflated representation in the MSM and pop culture.”

We cannot be bamboozled against our will, nor can the MSM affect our representations if we continually seek the truth; it is our responsibility to be eternally vigilant against those who misrepresent the truth to us. I dont think poorly of my fellow countrymen; I just believe that we have not been paying attention for the last 30 years or so, and now we are paying the price.

36 posted on 01/03/2013 12:53:36 PM PST by JGT
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bump for later


37 posted on 01/03/2013 7:24:20 PM PST by foreverfree
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To: alloysteel

The good old days are gone forever. The American vote was stolen and will go on being stolen and manipulated from here on out. Those in power are gonna pick whichever person they want to become president. Freedom and liberty died with this last election.


38 posted on 01/03/2013 10:05:39 PM PST by Vote 4 Nixon (EAT...FISH...SLEEP...REDUX)
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To: alloysteel

>>>But think, centuries from now, when its glory days shall be memorialized in song and story.<<<

I agree. There’s this science fiction novel inside me that always begins, “When America died, the world cheered, and when the cheering stopped, the world wept.”

I really do see us in the same category as Periclean Athens or the Roman Republic. And I agree that it appears that we are experiencing a similarly tragic end. I would guess the best outcome would be empire, then decline, but it would still be the end of this glorious experiment. We are indeed a light for the world, or at least we used to be, a model of how people could live together in freedom and harmony. Maybe in a thousand years someone else will look at our bones and carry on.

God help us.


39 posted on 01/03/2013 10:38:44 PM PST by redpoll
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