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“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Benjamin Franklin

Monday, 30 March 2015

We congratulate ourselves for arresting old men.

Police have arrested a 66 year old Maori Man who was captured on video saying to two young men "you with the Islam c**ts, that’s where you fellas from? Shooting innocent people.  Go back to your own country.”


He will appear in court on Tuesday where police advise further charges may be laid.

To put this event into context our Prime Minister has advised that there are more than 40 ‘people of interest’ who are on a terrorism watch list, whose sympathies lie with the Islamic State.  There are also another 40 who are also being investigated by our security services.  I understand that at least seven of these ‘people of interest’ have had their passports cancelled for wanting to travel to the Middle East presumably to engage in violent jihad.

So how does one get to be on the New Zealand security service top 40? 

Presumably you have to be recorded saying something more serious than our 66 year old Maori bus passenger?  I doubt that he was on a terrorist watch list, or that even now he will be placed on one.

What about those seven individuals who are hot for jihad, whose passports have been cancelled, who remain free to wander about our cities, fueling their anger and resentment.  They are potential Haron Monis’s in the making, yet they have not been arrested.

So who represents the greatest risk to New Zealand, an old Maori man seated on a bus who tells a couple of Muslims to ‘Go back to your own country’ or these individuals, presumably Muslims who have had their passports cancelled but have not been charged with any offences?

We congratulate ourselves for arresting old men, and (in the UK) old ladies, for being impolite to Muslims, while allowing dozens of Islamic jihadists who represent a very real threat to our citizens roam free.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Perhaps the Swedes have abandoned all sense of virtue.

Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallström is a rare feminist.  She has risked her political career by highlighting the plight of women and young girls in Saudi Arabia.  She went further in condemning Saudi courts for ordering that blogger Raif Badawi receive 10 years imprisonment and 1,000 lashes for championing secularism and free speech.

Saudi Arabia has responded by withdrawing its Ambassador and refusing visa’s to Swedish businessmen.  Meanwhile, that bastion of liberty and free speech, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, (OIC) which represents 56 Muslim-majority states, accused Sweden of failing to respect the world’s ‘rich and varied ethical standards’.

Ah yes, those rich ethical standards that allows old men to rape child brides and punishes women who lodge rape complaints for admitting their infidelity. 

You would think Margot Wallström's fellow countrymen and women would be proud of her public stand against this abuse of women and young girls, as it turns out, not so much.  The Spectator reports that Thirty Swedish chief executives signed a letter saying her actions ‘would jeopardise Sweden’s reputation as a trade and co-operation partner’. No less a figure than His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf himself hauled Wallström in at the weekend to tell her that he wanted a compromise.

This is the same Sweden that has become the rape capital of Europe, not because the blond haired blue eyed Swedes have abandoned all sense of virtue, but because they have allowed millions of immigrants into their country who also believe that it is appropriate to treat women the same way as the Saudi’s treat theirs. 

But then perhaps the Swedes have abandoned all sense of virtue, they are about to abandon Margot Wallström. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Theatre for western consumption.

We all remember the extended coverage of the three teenage schoolgirls who left Britain to join the Islamic State in Syria.  All the handwringing by the media, the photographs of the girls at the airport, and the distraught parents who as usual had ‘no idea’ that there child was being radicalized.


In the past I have expressed deep cynicism about the role of Muslim parents and the radicalization of their jihadist children, and of course been criticized for it.  However it now seems well justified.  The Daily Mail reports that the teddy hugging Muslim father waiting and hoping for his daughter’s return, was photographed at a rally hosted by radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary and attended by Michael Adebowale, the killer of soldier Lee Rigby.


It seems his daughter, rather than being radicalized by the Internet, has deeply imbibed of the same understanding of Islam held by her father.  She is simply following in his footsteps, and while he may not have left for Syria himself, he has carefully developed the ideological path for her to follow.

I have never brought into the lie that Internet preachers radicalize these children.  How many Christian children have disappeared to fight for the Islamic State, how many atheist children?  Not one.

It is only children of Muslim parents or converts who become soldiers of Islam, and who travel overseas to be their brides.  While there are public expressions of sorrow and loss at their daughters leaving, for many if not all of these parents, there is joy that their children have gone to fight the apostate and the infidel, and of course to marry those who do.

We need to stop imputing western cultural values on those who do not share them.  We have seen enough videos of Palestinian mothers joyful that their sons have died as suicide bombers to know that these displays of grief by Muslim parents in Britain are for the most part theatre for western consumption.
  

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Swiss are doing themselves no favours

From the ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ files:

Switzerland has put together a plan to reconstruct the Gaza Strip which includes paying the salaries of Hamas operatives, according to Palestinian officials interviewed by Israel’s NRG website. The plan would also reestablish the status of the Hamas terrorist organization as the only authority in the Gaza Strip.


In recent months, according to the report, Hamas has been faced with the danger of collapsing in Gaza, and turned to Swiss officials for help. Its relations with Egypt are at their worst ever, and funds intended to rehabilitate the coastal enclave after Israel’s Operation Protective Edge last summer have run out. Thousands of Hamas officials have not received their salaries for months, leading to weakening of Hamas’ legitimacy in Gaza, and raising the specter of protests against Hamas’ rule.

The Palestinian sources told NRG that the Swiss jumped into the fray and promised to pay the salaries of thousands of Hamas officials.

Diplomatic sources have noted that Switzerland’s policy towards Hamas is very forgiving, unlike the much sterner policy of EU-member States which consider it a terrorist organization and are forbidden from maintaining contacts with Hamas.

….


Even the Islam friendly Obama led US State Department lists Hamas as a terrorist organization.

As if Jews didn’t have enough problems with Islam in Britain and Europe, that they should now have an enemy in the nation of Switzerland who is funding an Islamic terrorist organization committed in its charter to the obliteration of every last man women and child in Israel.

It seems the financial support is without any pre-conditions, let alone the instance that Hamas pretend to re-engage constructively in a peace process with Israel.   They have abandoned all pretence, all theatre, and just got down to the dirty business of funding Islamic terrorists.

I don’t know if the God of Israel is still in the business of judging nations, but if he is then the Swiss are doing themselves no favours. 

230 not out.

And in news that our papers didn’t consider newsworthy, the Associated Press reports that Australian counterterrorism squads have prevented 230 suspected jihadists from departing Australian airports for the Middle East, this month.


Apparently 86,000 people were questioned at Australia’s eight airports in the process of preventing the 230 from leaving.  How much cost and inconvenience for other travelers did that incur?

AP reports: “Experts disagree about why Islamic State had been so effective recruiting in Australia, which is widely regarded as a multicultural success story, with an economy in an enviable 24th straight year of continuous growth.”

I guess you can be a multicultural ‘success story’ until one culture insists on being monocultural, and that ultimately all other cultures must submit to it.

There is also the somewhat bizarre inference that economic growth trumps the call to jihad.  That’s the kind of statement that only the culturally blind and theological illiterate are capable of making.  That’s what a modern university education buys you in Australia today.

So what are the 230 grounded jihadists doing now, just mooching around home festering on welfare, reading their jihadist blogs, tweeting their hatred of the infidel, building up their sense of rejection and victimhood, reading their Korans…

What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Hypocrisy or unconditional love?

Today Stuff reported that Peter Westmore, the head of an Australian lobby group against gay marriage attended his daughters gay wedding here in New Zealand.  Fairfax Media implied that it was hypocritical of him to support his daughter’s gay wedding while holding both the views and the lobbying position that he does.


I had never heard of Peter Westmore prior to this article, however I have some sympathy with his situation.  As a parent you do your best to impart your faith and your values to your children, but there always comes a time when you must also release them to choose their own destiny.  You may not always agree with their choices, but they never cease being your children, and in functional families at least, you never stop loving them.

So it is I suspect for Peter Westmore.  He has firm convictions about the institution of marriage that are rooted in his Catholic faith and have been accepted as mainstream in virtually all cultures for thousands of years.  In Western secular culture over the last decade, the underlying religious worldview has moved to support ‘love in a variety of forms’ including gay marriage.

Is Peter going to abandon his daughter because she no longer holds to the faith of her parents, and has abandoned their views on marriage? As parents, particularly those of us animated by our Christian faith, we always live in hope, always seek the best for our children, and always love them despite our differences.

Attending his daughters gay marriage may have looked like hypocrisy to Fairfax Media, but it looks more like unconditional love to me.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

One reason why teenage pregnancy rates are decreasing?

Social commentator Lindsay Mitchell reported a while back that teenage pregnancy rates are falling.  This is encouraging news both for the New Zealand tax payer who is presently landed with the financial burden of caring for the teen mums and their children, and is also carrying the cost of the negative downstream social consequences of these solo parent’s children. 

The question is why are the numbers reducing?


Today the NZHerald reports:

A young solo mother of two believes she is being "discriminated against" after being rejected for 52 rental properties in the Western Bay. She has to be out of her current rental home today and is now hanging her hopes on one last application before her family are left homeless.

When Miss Stempa's youngest child turns 1 in August, she hopes to be able to return to her job in construction that she left when she fell pregnant and said she could not wait to be back in work again.

Well you might ‘fall pregnant’ once, but how many times can this happen and it still be considered an accident?

Anyway, this young women’s difficulties in obtaining tax payer funded accommodation are apparently becoming more commonplace, according to the Herald article.  Landlords, or more specifically their insurance providers are wary of such tenants even if landlords think they are fine.  The thing about Insurance companies is that they are numbers people.  They work on the laws of probability; they are deeply grounded in reality.

The reality is for them is that benefit dependent solo mothers are a high-risk proposition. The taxpayer already knew that, so I suppose it’s no surprise that the Insurance companies caught on sooner or later.

Why are the numbers of teenage solo mothers falling?  It is possible that the social networks that these young mothers operate in are beginning to realise that life is getting harder for them, and simply having a taxpayer funded baby is not an automatic entry an independent life of welfare support that it once promised to be.

I hope this young woman finds suitable accommodation for herself and her young children.  I’m also hopeful that the uptake of teenage solo parenting stupidity continues its decline.  It would only take a small adjustment in the Government’s social policy framework to virtually eliminate this problem from our landscape.   As any economist will tell you, we get more of the behaviour we reward. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

British Home Secretary Theresa May recycle’s last elections lies on Islam.

There must be an election approaching in Britain.  Home Secretary Theresa May wakes up from her post lunch snooze and starts ‘tough talking’ against radical Islam and its proponents.  Everyone can relax, once the election is over she will default back to passivity and Britain can get back to ‘immigration as usual’. 


Islamic extremists who reject British values will today be warned that ‘the game is up’. In an uncompromising speech, Theresa May will promise to drive out the ‘significant’ number of fanatics who have been allowed to infiltrate schools, universities, town halls and charities. [Allowed by whom?]

Under Tory manifesto plans, the Home Secretary would ban preachers of hate from spreading their bile in public or on the Internet. [And also ban those who would critique Islam in public or on the Internet]

There would also be an independent review of Sharia courts amid fears they are being used to oppress women. [Gosh, do you think?]

Mrs May will say to the Islamist hardliners: ‘The game is up. We will no longer tolerate your behaviour. We will expose your hateful beliefs for what they are.

'Where you seek to spread hate, we will disrupt you. Where you break the law, we will prosecute you. Where you seek to divide us, we will stand united. And together, we will defeat you.’

Four years ago, on 5 February 2011 just after the last election Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Entering the debate on national identity and religious tolerance, the Prime Minister declared an end to “passive tolerance” of divided communities, and say that members of all faiths must integrate into wider society and accept core values.

To be British is to believe in freedom of speech and religion, democracy and equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality, he will say. Proclaiming a doctrine of “muscular liberalism”, he said that everyone, from ministers to ordinary voters, should actively confront those who hold extremist views.

He warned that groups that fail to promote British values will no longer receive public money or be able to engage with the state.
His speech, to an international security conference in Munich, comes after The Daily Telegraph disclosed the extent to which the British intelligence community fears the “unique threat” of terrorist attacks by radicalised British Muslims.

Mr Cameron promised a new willingness to argue against and “defeat” extremist ideologies that lead some to engage in terrorism.”

If ever a Government deserved to be defeated for its abject failure to protect and preserve British culture against the onslaught of Islam it’s this one.  It has consciously betrayed its citizens, lied and then lied again, and now is pulling the old lies out and recycling them via Theresa May.

God help us all. 

We can learn something from the Aussies.

Throughout the West it seems there are literally just a handful of people who are prepared to take a lead and resist the active Islamification of their country.  In Australia one such individual is a former Australian Defense Force Intelligence officer, Bernard Gaynor.  He outlines his experience and expertise in a presentation he gave recently below:


“Five years analysing and briefing senior decision makers on violent groups that use the Koran to justify their actions. The difference between me and most others in my profession was that I actually opened a Koran, or read the hadiths and I gained an understanding of the Islamic justification for these actions. I didn’t just assume that our enemy was crazy, or that Islam could not possibly justify their actions.

I also studied Arabic as a full-time student in 2007. My instructors were Arabic Muslims and Arabic Christians. These studies allowed me to explore Islamic ideology in depth with Muslims and with minorities who lived in Islamic countries.

I also deployed to Iraq on three occasions, spending two Christmases in Baghdad. During these deployments I interacted with Iraqi Army personnel and learnt about Islam from them, or probably more importantly, how they mostly didn’t practice it.

So I have years of practical experience with Islam, analysing jihadis and interacting with other Muslims (who, I might add, I got along very well with), non-practising Muslims and minorities who have lived and suffered in Islamic countries.

This has also been complemented by years of personal study. You don’t have to be a Muslim to open a Koran, or to visit the website of an esteemed Islamic scholar.

You should also know that I have graduated with a BA majoring in history from the University of New South Wales. Military history, especially European and Islamic military history, along with religious studies, has always been an interest of mine.”

As you would expect, Bernard has his share of his detractors, mainly from the politically correct left, who see nothing wrong with increasing Islamic immigration into their country.   He has made a useful contribution to everyone’s understanding of what they are facing in Australia, but it is also true for us here in New Zealand in the brief presentation below.  I encourage you to read it.

Assessing the impact of Islamic immigration, political correctness and Sharia Law in Australia. -  A presentation by Bernard Gaynor.

The way to preserve your liberties is to publically defend them.

As the battle against ISIS continues, and its influence spreads into Libya and Nigeria, many of our politicians, and those in the media seem unable or unwilling to confirm that the Islamic State is in fact Islamic.  Very often we see the prefix ‘so called’ attached to any reference to the Islamic State out of deference to both Muslim and western political sensibilities.


It seems however that Islam and its followers are the only ones presently having the ‘so called’ prefix attached to there various movements.  We don’t see any reference in our media to the Pope being a ‘so called’ Catholic, or the Dali Lama being a ‘so called’ Buddhist, or even our local Anglican Bishop being called a ‘so called’ Christian even though there are various denominational streams within both Christianity and Buddhism who take different interpretations from their scriptures.

Perhaps the thought that the Islamic State does represent at least one faithful interpretation of Islam is simply too awful for the modern secular mind.  That said, following the atrocities at Charlie Hebdo and Copenhagen this year citizens in the West are beginning to grasp this reality, even if their politicians refuse to do so.

Here’s a question for you.  What does the Islamic State and the New Zealand Herald have in common?  Both rigorously enforce Islamic blasphemy laws.  The Herald does this by refusing to print images or artwork that is offensive to Muslims while the Islamic State does this by destroying images and artwork that is offensive to Muslims.

Both entities are working diligently to bring Sharia law to a neighbourhood near you.

Perhaps we need to prefix the ‘so called’ to our media in New Zealand when speaking of our ‘free press’.  While no one seeks to deliberately offend, when images such as those published by Charlie Hebdo are newsworthy because of the controversy they invoke, then a free press should not engage in self-censorship in order to appease the violent mob.

The way to preserve your liberties is to publically defend them, not to appease those who violently oppose them.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

For whom the bell tolls.

Sweden takes more [Muslim] immigrants than UK France and all other Nordic countries combined, and has the largest gap in employment between locals and immigrants.

What could possibly go wrong?

These are Interview excerpts with Swedish economic researcher Tino Sanandaji. Sanandaji who has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is a contributor to National Review. He is a research fellow at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Stockholm. His family is Kurdish and came to Sweden from Iran. This interview was conducted in November, 2014. Hat Tip Gates of Vienna.


Who is the biggest political loser?


Here’s a question for you.  Has there been a more cringingly petty President of the United States than Barak Obama?  It is customary for world leaders to congratulate the leaders of other incoming Governments upon their electoral success.  This is particularly true when the elected leader is one of your long standing allies, and the only democracy in the region.  Benjamin Netanyahu wins the election in Israel, and from Obama, only silence.


What does human flourishing actually look like?

There is no doubt that the decline of the two-parent family has substantially contributed to the growth of child poverty, and the inequality gap that is produced by single parenting.  There is a solid debate happening in the US at present from those on both the left and the right of the political spectrum.  Is the decline of the two-parent family simply a result of economic deprivation or a post 60’s permissive culture?  Can it be resolved through social policy, and further wealth redistribution, or are we needing a cultural change that does not yet appear on the horizon?


From Jordan Weissmann, economics corrospondant at Slate.

For about a half-century now, two-parent families have been vanishing from the United States. And for nearly as long, Americans have been arguing over the reason why. Liberals tend to blame the economy. The disappearance of decently paid factory work decimated working-class communities, they argue, and has made it harder for young couples to settle down into stable, financially secure relationships. Conservatives, meanwhile, prefer to emphasize the role of culture: Our lax, live-and-let-live attitude toward sex and parenting has supposedly convinced young adults that there’s no need to walk down the aisle before having children. It is the sociology debate that never ends.

There are obvious reasons to be skeptical about affluent pundits who jump to blame society’s ills on moral decadence and decay; namely, it’s a convenient excuse not to spend tax dollars fixing the country’s problems. That said, I think more liberals need to get comfortable acknowledging that, even if it doesn’t explain the whole story, culture probably has played a role in the changes that have rocked domestic life for so much of the country.

Ross Douthat in his NYTimes column stated:

But the basic point is this: In a substantially poorer American past with a much thinner safety net, lower-income Americans found a way to cultivate monogamy, fidelity, sobriety and thrift to an extent that they have not in our richer, higher-spending present.

So however much money matters, something else is clearly going on.

The post-1960s cultural revolution isn’t the only possible “something else.” But when you have a cultural earthquake that makes society dramatically more permissive and you subsequently get dramatic social fragmentation among vulnerable populations, denying that there is any connection looks a lot like denying the nose in front of your face.

Columnist Rod Dreyer also weighs in on this subject, with one of his commentators noting:

We now know that the Enlightenment Project has utterly failed because we cannot possibly agree on what human flourishing looks like, what hinders it, and how we can solve our problems. We become more and more fragmented because the only thing that we really do agree on is that we all need to pursue our best life now, as long is it fits with what “society” deems is acceptable. The problem is that “society” and it values/truth is not rooted in anything objective other than what can be shouted loudest, advertised, manipulated, and forced upon the rest of the people through persuasion and even force. Reason is no longer appealed to. Just persuasion and ridicule if one does not get with the program.

Anyone opposing the Sexual Revolution over the past 40 years has been mocked, jeered, and criticized. But, we see objectively that it is a complete failure in producing any form of human flourishing other than gratifying personal desire, which is nothing to build a society on. The evidence is in. But, we aren’t a society that appeals to or is convinced by evidence any longer. Having thrown out Revelation and then having thrown out Reason, all that we have left is Persuasion and Power, which is why the Cultural Left knows that if they want to run things, they do it through the Arts and Media. And, they have been incredibly successful.

We are in hopeless disagreement about what the problems actually are, how they are fixed, and what human flourishing actually looks like. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

We have no comprehension of the challenges we are facing.

Saudi Arabia is apparently an ally of the West.  I have observed previously that it would be difficult to differentiate between them and ISIS based upon their interpretation of Islam and its execution.

On Tuesday Saudi Arabia’s top Muslim cleric called for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula after legislators in the Gulf state of Kuwait moved to pass laws banning the construction of religious sites associated with Christianity.


Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who serves as the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, said the destruction of churches was absolutely necessary and is required by Islamic law, Arabic media reported.

Abdullah, who is considered to be the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom, also serves as the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas.


No prizes for guessing why interfaith dialog is a uniquely western phenomena.

The sheep are back - is there life after death?


The sheep are back discussing the perennial topic, life after death.


Monday, 16 March 2015

"Nothing must slow down Islam in France". - French PM Manuel Vallis

From the ‘read it and weep’ files, in a speech at a Mosque on 3 March, French Prime Minister Manuel Vallis stated that he wants to meet the challenge of “anything that slows down Islam in France”.

The English translation of French article here.


When describing State assistance for the training of Imam’s he stated, “In France, all the energy, all the necessary resources already exist for the development of Islam.

In his statements he naively expresses the view that both Jihadism (which as we know has nothing to do with Islam) and the ‘far right’ are the two extremes that must be defeated with the values of the Republic and with education.

"We must not hide from the challenges we are facing. The rise of populism, of the extreme right, in Europe and in France, feeds naturally on the rise of Jihadism, terrorism, and radical extremism. At bottom, these two extremisms feed one another and represent a major danger for our democracy, our society and our ability to live together. I am sometimes surprised, angered, by the fact that people are not sufficiently aware of this. The only answer, the only one, to these two dangers that feed on each other is the Republic. The only answer is laïcité, education, the university, knowledge, intelligence, the ability to live together. Otherwise our plan, our national plan, will be in jeopardy."

So it was the extreme right, or lack of education that motivated the killers at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a far left satirical magazine that transgressed Islam’s blasphemy laws? The extreme right and lack of education that caused a Jihadist to attack and kill four Jews in a Paris Kosher supermarket?

There is no excuse for this rhetoric from a French Prime Minister who presumably wants to preserve the culture and secular values of the French Republic.  Why doesn’t he challenge the French Imam’s to place a Fatwa on support for ISIS and violent Jihad if he wants the killing to stop?

It sounds like both he and David Cameron have been drinking the same anti-civilizational kool aid.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Get in the pen!

New Zealand used to be a country with 70 million sheep.  We have more possums these days, and they are less productive although there is nothing quite like a pair of possum socks in the winter, but I digress.


How often have we felt bullied to get into line?  This is a common experience for sheep, but some, just some choose to fight back.


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Ebola - prevention is better than cure.

According to Stuff, a health worker recently returned from Sierra Leone has been flown in a helicopter from Gore to Christchurch hospital to be tested for the Ebola virus.  Apparently she is in a stable condition.


We know that Ebola is highly infectious and at least 50% of those who contract the disease die from its symptoms. The incubation period for Ebola is from between two and twenty one days.

If someone who is a nurse or health worker and is returning to New Zealand from exposure to Ebola in Africa wouldn’t it would be a sensible precaution to place them in quarantine for twenty two days before allowing them to mix with the general public?

How many people have been exposed to this health worker from Gore, 10, 20, 100?  If she is infected, won’t these people also be at risk?

The cost of quarantine should be borne by the sending agency.  If someone travels on their own initiative, then they should be responsible for the costs, and this information should be made available to them prior to departure, and to anyone who is planning to travel to an infected region.

But no, it seems we must wait until someone returning from an Ebola affected region has to exhibit symptoms of the disease before we take any remedial action.

What was that old saying?  Prevention is better than cure? 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

How then shall we live?

The New York times is a news paper that typically reflects the view point of the political left, however it has a couple of opinion writers who are worth reading.  Ross Douthat is one and David Brooks the other. 

Today David Brooks has written an excellent article on the cost of moral relativism as it works its way through culture.


He references political scientist Robert Putnam who has written a book titled “Our Kids” in which describes the growing gap between those who finish education at high school and those who go on to University.  Many of his observations are also reflected in a book previously written by Charles Murray entitled “Coming Apart”.

Roughly 10 percent of the children born to college grads grow up in single-parent households. Nearly 70 percent of children born to high school grads do. There are a bunch of charts that look like open scissors. In the 1960s or 1970s, college-educated and noncollege-educated families behaved roughly the same. But since then, behavior patterns have ever more sharply diverged. High-school-educated parents dine with their children less than college-educated parents, read to them less, talk to them less, take them to church less, encourage them less and spend less time engaging in developmental activity.”

It’s interesting to note that this ‘great divide’ begin in the 1960’s and has increased subsequently.  In Murray’s book, he makes the point that historically the ‘ruling classes’ we intentional about communicating how we should live to the general public, supporting the institution of marriage, monogamy, the dignity of work, the virtue of thrift and so on, even though they may not have necessarily always followed those virtues themselves.

The difference today is that the educated ruling elite still by and large practices those virtues, marriage, faithfulness, education, work, enterprise, thrift and investment, but they no longer publically advocate for them.

Brooks goes on to describe some examples from Putnam’s book:

“David’s mother was basically absent. “All her boyfriends have been nuts,” he said. “I never really got to see my mom that much.” His dad dropped out of school, dated several woman with drug problems and is now in prison. David went to seven different elementary schools. He ended up under house arrest, got a girl pregnant before she left him for a drug addict.

Kayla’s mom married an abusive man but lost custody of their kids to him when they split. Her dad married a woman with a child but left her after it turned out the child was fathered by her abusive stepfather. Kayla grew up as one of five half-siblings from three relationships until her parents split again and coupled with others.

Elijah grew up in a violent neighborhood and saw a girl killed in a drive-by shooting when he was 4. He burned down a lady’s house when he was 13. He goes through periods marked by drugs, clubbing and sex but also dreams of being a preacher. “I just love beating up somebody,” he told a member of Putnam’s team, “and making they nose bleed and just hurting them and just beating them on the ground.”

Brooks reflects:

“But it’s increasingly clear that sympathy is not enough. It’s not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles; it’s norms. The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens. In many parts of America there are no minimally agreed upon standards for what it means to be a father. There are no basic codes and rules woven into daily life, which people can absorb unconsciously and follow automatically.

Reintroducing norms will require, first, a moral vocabulary. These norms weren’t destroyed because of people with bad values. They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another. People got out of the habit of setting standards or understanding how they were set.

Next it will require holding people responsible. People born into the most chaotic situations can still be asked the same questions: Are you living for short-term pleasure or long-term good? Are you living for yourself or for your children? Do you have the freedom of self-control or are you in bondage to your desires?

Next it will require holding everybody responsible.”

…..

The book was written in an American context, but I’m sure those of us living in New Zealand can easily identify with its observations.  Nonjudgementalism, or moral relativism is rife in our own culture, and somewhat stupidly we still appear to believe that all lifestyle choices produce the same outcomes.

If we believed that it is preferable to have children and raise them within the context of marriage, and there is ample research to confirm this, then when are we ever going to say so publically?

A recent longitudinal study undertaken in Dunedin has shown that people who get married and stay married are more than twice as better off economically than those who are single or who suffer relationship break down.  But then who would be surprised at that finding?

Judging by what we (don’t) teach at schools, a lot of us it seems.

The problem we face, and that Brooks does not address in his NYTimes article, is that a culture that is increasingly made up from people who have experienced broken relationships, and who are living in ‘blended families’ finds it exceedingly difficult to advocate for lifestyle choices they are not living.

On a personal level, people feel hypocritical telling others to ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  That’s understandable.

However, if we fail to even hold up the ‘ideal’ before the next generation, how on earth can we expect them to aspire towards what is best for them, and ultimately for their children?  Are we content for so many of them to default into relationship dysfunction?

Right now it seems the answer to that question is ‘yes’.