April 16, 2024

Get Married, Have Children, Save Civilization

There are at least two major things that men and women were not encouraged to plan on being when they grew up– a wife and mother and someone in the trades.

While my public school had a BOCES program, those who dared to go to the all-day-long activity were looked down upon as people who couldn’t cut it in the more academic realms that the rest of us dreamt of– the software engineers, astronauts, or celebrities. Home economics was a joke, having stoves and ovens that were never turned on and reams of material that barely saw a sewing machine. Shop class was good to show you some tools, but that was it.

My generation was encouraged to max out on education– four years of college was just the beginning! You had to find a degree in a lucrative field– and lists of those were coming out every year to tell you what to prioritize. The government started to trumpet that any education was the key to success and urged many young adults into years’ worth of college debt to catch the lucrative jobs that were just around the corner.

Not All Jobs are Created Equal

The problem is that not all jobs are created equal, and just because you have a degree does not mean you will get one of the better-paying jobs.

My summer job was at the local Ponderosa as a dishwasher busboy. Eventually, I started to learn Salad Bar and Fry Cook, and it was as Fry Cook that I got better acquainted with the Grill Master, a guy named Chris. As he was teaching me the various ins and outs of both grill and frying, how to bake the potatoes and serve orders, he said to me that he had a college degree– in computer programming (the same major I was seeking out in college). I asked why he was there, at Ponderosa, grilling more sirloin tips, and he told me that he couldn’t find a programming job in the market, so here he was.

Chris’ experience wasn’t much different from others at the time– they spent thousands of dollars getting degrees that were supposed to be the ticket to the good life, only to find that if they didn’t have the network connections, or weren’t living in the right area, the jobs that they were promised just weren’t available.

You Don’t Need To Have a Family to be Fulfilled

Not only were we programmed to need a college degree, but men and women needed a college degree and women needed to be like men and compete with men to be equal partners. Men and women were told to put off marriage, which was encouraged by having four and six-year degrees and debt from college. They were told to find their own jobs, get themselves prepared, and then find a spouse.

This led to family formation after the best biological years of their lives, after they’ve already formed life patterns, and sometimes came with issues of fertility– if they weren’t convinced that the world was getting overpopulated and children would either inherit someplace that was dying because of greenhouse gas or war. Young men and women were encouraged (and still are) to follow a lifestyle that puts the individual first, and family second or last. Indeed, many cultures the world over have growing percentages of people who believe that they are better off without a spouse and family.

“We’ve also seen the falling fortunes of men…. About one in four men in their prime, 25 to 54, are not working…. [T]he rise of expressive individualism since the late ’60s and early ’70s has kind of changed what Americans expect from love and marriage and made them less formalistic in their orientation…. I was talking to a graduate student recently. He had a very clear sense of his plan for schooling and work, and then I said, what’s your plan about marriage and dating? And there was silence…. [P]eople are not being intentional enough about seeking opportunities to meet, date and marry young adults in their world…. And I’ve spoken to a number of working-class women who kind of express concern about their partners or husband’s lack of full-time employment, and his lack of assistance on the home front — just kind of the male malaise, we might call it, is more likely to be expressed in many working class and poor communities….”

 “I Said, What’s Your Plan About Marriage and Dating? And There Was Silence” – hat tip Althouse

Our Inheritance

We’re inheriting what we’ve sown, a generation of people who create short-lived relationships over apps. Whereas generations ago we would have marriages and families with less access to birth control, now we have people using one another for whatever they can get from each other. We’ve created a society consumed upon itself, not realizing that the future is there for those that show up, and those couples that are married and having children are our civilization’s best chances of surviving and moving forward.

And that’s just it. We have a generation of young people that have never known want or lack of a feeling of safety and security. They believe that they have a terrific life– and who can argue with them based on the information at their fingertips and what they can afford to buy that they turn around and dispose of without a second thought? So why wouldn’t this generation want to max out on pleasure, travel, and the like– it’s what they see these influencers on their phones doing. Why would they want the normal monotony when their unmarried friend on social media can afford a new car or vacation?

Nothing of value comes without investment– it’s true in money and life. It turns out that anyone can have a lasting impact on the world simply by doing something everyone can do: get married, start a family, and stay committed to it. You don’t need a high-dollar job or the next new thing. All you need is determination and love– something we all can afford.

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