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DEPARTMENTS: Opening Salvo
A few years ago, my family and I moved from our apartment in downtown Chicago to a small community in Northwest Indiana. Being staunch urbanites, we didn’t particularly want to move to farm country, but we did so because my sister and her family, as well as my parents, had already moved there (my grandparents would eventually do so, too). The sacrifices have been somewhat significant. I now have to commute to the city, which can take anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours, depending on the traffic; my wife can no longer shop at Trader Joe’s, which has meant much higher food prices; and we now spend our weekends tending our yard instead of going to museums and baseball games.
That said, the decision to live in close proximity to so much family (a block from my sister, and a mile from my parents and grandparents) has proved wonderful. My daughters play every day with their cousins, whose values are completely in line with our own. Indeed, all of these kids, both my sister’s and mine, are benefiting from the instruction and discipline of multiple intact couples who share the exact same morals, religious faith, and high parental expectations. And we adults are profiting as well. I have immediate access to the wisdom and accountability of my father and grandfather; my wife, sister, and mother, all of whom are fulltime homemakers (talk about sacrifice!), help each other out with cooking, cleaning, and shopping; and all of us spend our leisure time together, whether participating in “family movie night” at my sister’s, barbecuing at my parents’, or just reminiscing on my back porch.
It was not just to raise our families together, however, that prompted all of us to move to Indiana; rather, we also wanted to take a stand against the dominant -culture—to strengthen our bonds with one another in order to more effectively resist the culture’s attempts to influence us in negative ways. In this issue of Salvo, the Howard Center’s Allan Carlson reminds us of G. K. Chesterton’s belief that “the family is the one truly anarchical institution”; it’s a message that my own family has taken to heart. We have decided that we simply will not passively conform to the dictates of the media, the educational establishment, the science community, or Hollywood. Instead, we are establishing a familial front against all such cultural pressures—one that cannot be breached without our consent.
Here’s the thing: The family is, and always has been, the fundamental unit of society. As such, it has the power to determine what that society values and scorns. Carlson notes that while governments come and go, as do other institutions, the family will always remain. The only problem is that, for many, the makeup of the family has changed, in some cases drastically. Divorce rates continue to rise; cohabitation is quickly replacing marriage; marriage itself is no longer defined as the union of a man and a woman; children now have fathers whom they don’t know and who have donor numbers for names; and we continue to abort our babies as a method of “contraception.” So what happens to the family’s anarchical function once what constitutes a family has been fundamentally altered? That’s precisely the question we attempt to answer in the following pages.
First, John Coleman and Jackie Feit ask whether there is in fact a standard model for the family—and whether it matters. Ken Brown then examines the birth-control revolution and its impact on the family’s role in society. Marcia Segelstein assesses the manner in which our society is robbing children of their childhood and what that might mean for our families. Kate Bluett investigates in vitro fertilization and how it has changed basic family dynamics. And Hunter Baker reviews all that we know about divorce, but primarily the way in which it is undermining the social order.
Taken together, these articles, as well as several related columns by our Special Forces, should be enough to convince you that what Allan Carlson calls “the natural family” is essential not only to the overall health of the nation, but to the preservation of liberty. As a result, perhaps you, too, will take steps toward fortifying your own family ties. •
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