A Nation of Bastards
Of all the suffocating maladies that America has suffered under the past 50 years, none even comes close to inspiring a sense of cultural dread as the quantitative explosion of single-parent families in this country. Indeed, no other institutional bellwether has the capacity to cut across the demographic stratifications of race, class, party affiliation, or economic viability in its ability to inflict such a vast array of cultural pathologies for our collective futures. As evidence of this claim, I point to CDC research:
According to 2009 data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of all births were to unmarried women. The percentage has risen steadily since at least 1980, the earliest year for which data was provided in the CDC report. In 1980, it stood at 18.4 percent. By 1990, it was 28.0 percent. And by 2000 it was 33.2 percent. In 2009, 17 percent of births to Asian-Pacific Islanders were out of wedlock, with non-Hispanic whites at 29 percent, 53 percent for Hispanics, 65 percent for American Indians and Native Alaskans and 73 percent for non-Hispanic blacks.
These stark numbers reveal far more about the rapid state of decay within a society than GDP or employment data. In effect, they tell us of the disintegration in the moral vision of a people who have tossed aside the old restraints, eschewing the traditional moral appeals of praise and blame while losing faith in an institution that has been the wellspring of American virtue par excellence. Strong intact families, all things being equal, have generally provided the foundation for nurturing opportunities that translate ultimately into individual success, as well as fostering the generational continuity of a salutary institution that is fundamentally anchored in divine revelation by virtue of natural design. In contradistinction, it is the mélange of liberalism’s ill-conceived policies that have provided perverse incentives through both the subsidization and cultivation of fragmented homes, and in the noxious process, foolishly depreciated the primordial bond between man and woman — an action akin to throwing gasoline on the white hot embers of our passions. Through policies that lead to the effectual trumping of this natural institution, the progressive regime has set its house aflame by short-circuiting civilization’s most sacred bond. Moreover, this wicked act of offering alms for the “intended” corruption of America’s cradle of strength has wildly succeeded in the institutionalizing of poverty and dependency, while rendering the final moral predicament of men, women, and children exponentially inferior to that of their former estates.
In light of this erosion, we should not be greatly surprised when women with dependent children embrace cynical political parties who provide just enough empty hope to ensnare them in a perpetual marriage of convenience to the state, but too little to significantly effect an economic change of circumstance. American culture, via the liberal regime, to say nothing of Western Civilization, is fundamentally altering the natural and mutual obligations of the marriage bond, creating an artificial vacuum that the expansive state opportunistically leaps into, consequentially nurturing a synthetic incubator spiritually detrimental to the rearing of healthy children.
In a country where divorce is almost as easy to get as a tattoo, the fact that over four in ten children are raised out of wedlock may seem to be a belabored point. But children raised in households where no binding commitment exists between couples who engage in serial monogamy or who must wrestle with the ghost of a transient or absent father, bear the full brunt of our degraded choices. The casual or invisible parent wreaks havoc on the tender psychological maturation of young people who are trained early on that men are merely capricious pollinators and that a woman’s bad choices can be shrugged off, subsidized, or aborted. Young men, in these environments, often master the lie that women are flies of a season to indulge one’s appetites with; while girls, raised without a father who cared enough to marry their mothers or stay in the home, often cynically conclude that men are by nature predatory and unworthy of trust. In fact, boys and girls raised in illegitimate unions are less likely to trust or honor their commitments because the virtuous expectations of such a behavior have been excised forever from their cultural vocabularies.
In the Judeo-Christian worldview, the book of Genesis grounds marriage as a union designed as a categorical good for mankind — not only because it recognizes and sanctions our tempestuous passions, but because the intricate architecture of civilization and the cultivation of the soul begins in the family where children are to be ideally nurtured in the reverence of life, love, and endurance, a salutary foundation which appeals to the angels of our better natures. If they are held to a standard higher than that of clever wolves, boys will then look to the image of their married mother as a template in deciding upon the quality of their own future mates, while girls pattern likewise from the pattern set by their wed fathers. What happens to a civilization where the ties to tradition and historical continuity within the web of our generations has unraveled; and the regime, with its perverse evolving moral imagination of homogeneity, gender neutrality and casual hedonism, chooses the spurious over the connatural? Under these ill-considered conditions, where the sexes and their progeny are deconstructed along the lines of individual fiat and utopian social engineering, what effect will the erosion of security and stability be to the fragile psyches of our youth who languish in the knowledge that they and their brethren are little more than metaphorical whelps of a common litter: mere cogs in a depraved scheme of desacrilized being.
Even now, I can sense the indignation bubbling up in response to these statements which some feel are predicated on the “illusory” Judeo-Christian moral ideal. But all societies embrace marriage in some form — even if only to ensure that the children that a man supports are indeed theoretically his own. The Post-Modern artificial world, with its ever-shifting foundations and creaking support beams, is venturing into largely uncharted waters in its redefinition of what constitutes the familial ideal; and if what we are experiencing now is a preview of our statist-dominated future that conjoins woman with Leviathan in a tango of necessity and patronage, then we are undone. The world has seen scant success with matriarchies, with the possible exceptions lying in pre-historical pagan antiquity. And these, if we can trust the arcane mythology of politically self-interested feminists, created no civilization that contributed anything other than the stagnant rot of sensual effeminacy. In truth, we can readily see the matriarchal phenomena as it plays out today in America’s urban and suburban female-dominated homes. For the most part, the harried female, who is at best struggling to keep her head above water by fulfilling the dual roles of nature, is ill-equipped to wrangle the energies of her testosterone-oozing male children. Without a steady and visible virtuous male in which to tame and model what it morally and physically means to be a man in the most enlightened terms, how difficult it is to resist the barbarisms of a perverse culture wherein strength, guile, and predation broadcast their self-serving messages to the fallow consciences of wide-eyed boys.
When I was a younger man, the term “bastard” or the fact that a child was born in a state of illegitimacy, was still able to hush conversations or raise eyebrows. Today, the epithet’s sting has softened and genteel company think nothing of it — at least relative to the rudderless moral abandon of the greater popular culture. I cannot express what a terrible thing this is in moral terms. Nevertheless, it is in the child’s own self-conception that this reality firmly takes hold: not as a curse, but as a lonely burden that must be borne in the tragic search for identity. What does it say about us when we eschew wedlock through our own careless volitional convenience to the detriment of children who will never fully feel the secure freedom of belonging to something abiding and whole; and how will they be able to re-create for their offspring a legacy filled with missing branches on a tree that lies withering from a pandemic of thoughtless neglect?
It is said that there are no illegitimate children, just illegitimate parents. But in brushing aside that sterile bromide, how will these self-same children, whom we claim to cherish with cunning lip service, spin their prospective destinies out of empty air? How thin is that meager inheritance which a self-obsessed America endows her generations, once marriage as we know it is at last an antiquated tale reserved for a dusty and forgotten shelf?
Written by Glenn Fairman.