What Are We So Afraid Of?

Wednesday, August 6, AD 2014

In my last post I brought up helicopter parenting and small families, and I postulated that there was a connection between the two phenomenon, and that  fear prevented people from wanting large families, and further tended to make these same parents afraid to let their children be children.

Subsequently my wife sent me this article in Time Magazine, and I can’t help but think that fear is behind this cultural shift as well. As my wife said this is meant to be a cute and cheeky look at modern dating and marriage, but like her I just found it incredibly sad. Here’s a bit:

You could say I beta-tested my relationship.

It began with a platform migration ​(a cross-country move) and a bandwidth challenge (cohabitation in a 450-sq.-ft. apartment). There was a false start (botched marriage proposal). Then, an emergency deglitching (couples therapy). We tried to take the product public before we were ready (I wrote about our relationship in Newsweek). And then, finally, we abandoned launch. There were simply too many bugs.

It’s a joke, kind of — except that when it comes to millennials and marriage, the beta test may be par for the course. And really, why wouldn’t it be? For a generation reared on technology, overwhelmed by choice, feedback and constantFOMO, isn’t testing a marriage, like we test a username, simply … well, logical?

You can see where this is going.

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9 Responses to What Are We So Afraid Of?

  • Say what you will about the blogger Dalrock (who writes often on Marriage and Christianity), but he got it spot on in this post:
    http://dalrock.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/when-dennis-rainey-got-it-right/

    And there is something to be said to finding someone who’s flaws you can actually stand.

  • that feeling of unease, that feeling of fear is because people know something is wrong but they don’t know what.
    /
    This is what it is. They don’t understand the power of sex. And the whole society is burned. The general milieu of sex outside marriage, hook-ups etc makes us sick. Really.
    We don’t tie the effects to the cause, but you just can’t have intimacy with a person without bonding. Then, trying to keep up with the Joneses, being free and cool and all; move on and try to establish that same natural bond that happened to you and your mate, with someone else. Pretty soon people get dysfunctional. And the whole society gets sick and fearful
    /
    Not understanding, they are leary of marriage and commitment. When actually marriage and the reality of that bond, becoming one, is the real help for us. Marriage is not to be afraid of, it is the help if we could do it.

  • Yeah. About that Bennett quoting Cohen quote, the one about how Millennials believe in easy divorce. Millennials also believe in gay marriage. Both of which tell me Millennials don’t really believe in marriage.

  • When civil unions (PACS) were introduced in France in 1999, there were about 350,000 marriages a year. In 2010, there were 250,000 marriages and 200,000 PACSs. In other words, there seems to have been a decline in the popularity both of marriage and of unregulated cohabitation. Is there a similar pattern in the US?

    A rather cynical Frenchman of my acquaintance (is there any other kind?) remarked that, eventually, the only people getting married would be the rich, Musselmans and gays.

  • “They don’t understand the power of sex. And the whole society is burned. The general milieu of sex outside marriage, hook-ups etc makes us sick. Really.”
    “We don’t tie the effects to the cause, but you just can’t have intimacy with a person without bonding. Then, trying to keep up with the Joneses, being free and cool and all; move on and try to establish that same natural bond that happened to you and your mate, with someone else. Pretty soon people get dysfunctional. And the whole society gets sick and fearful”

    The whole of modern society doesn’t understand the power of sex. Not just the millenials

  • “They [Millennials] don’t understand the power of sex. The whole of modern society doesn’t understand the power of sex.”

    Rather the opposite, I’m inclined to believe. What they don’t understand, what modern society has forgotten is the power of chastity, fidelity and continence. Add to that the willfullly foolish post-modern notion that sex is social construct we call gender, and you get the misunderstanding of the power of sex (sexuality?) we see in both the hook-up culture and the normalizing of sex outside of marriage.
    .
    Use it or lose it is what they understand. What they don’t understand is how that dissipates power.

  • Yeah. What Ernest said, too. 😀

  • I agree – there is power in virtue. It doesn’t have the immediate gratification of sin, but in the long run, virtue will win. Sin is destructive and has no future.

We Have Nothing to Fear But the Fear of Fear

Tuesday, November 16, AD 2010

One of the most famous speeches in American history is FDR’s First Inaugural.  The most memorable quote from this address occurs early on when he intones, “we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”  It is one of the most oft-quoted bits of political rhetoric.  It is also one of the most profoundly silly.

Even if one grants that the line is not to be taken literally, it is wrong.  Here is the entire first paragraph of the speech to provide some context.

I AM certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

For a  rundown of why this is an absurd sentiment, see this excellent blogpost by Keith Spillet.  Keith delves into some of the philosophical problems with this line, and I largely concur with his assessment.  Beyond that, I also find the line to be, somewhat ironically considering the subject matter, demagogic.  Though it is ostensibly a call for optimism in the midst of dark economic times, it is a fairly cynical attempt to brush back criticisms of his program.  It is a rhetorical device that is employed today, and it is one that I find highly insulting. 

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7 Responses to We Have Nothing to Fear But the Fear of Fear

  • Excellent post Paul!

    I think another admirable event and action in this nation’s founding was how the Bill of Rights came into existence. Borne out of the fear you speak of, it was a great compromise to bring the parties into agreement and it has proved to be very beneficial to our nation (and perhaps other parts of the world by the standard it set). I doubt we’ll ever see another win-win compromise like that again.

  • Thank you, Rich. In the paper that I alluded to and which I borrowed some of the ideas for this post from, I brought up the Bill of Rights. It was perhaps the major contribution of the Anti-Federalists and a great compromise, as you mention.

  • Fantastic article, Paul. Your connections to Federalist 51 and 55 were extremely impressive. The point about the sublime brilliance of checks and balances was also quite insightful. Thanks very much for citing my article.

    By the way, your title was hysterical!

  • I appreciate that, Keith. I’m happy that I discovered your blog.

  • Um, Paul, their was a context you neglected, which was the banking panic which erupted in November 1932. It ran on for four months and resulted in the closure of some 4,000 banks. Fractional reserve banking requires confidence and the loss of it can generate a most unsalutary feedback loop. Roosevelt was addressing this very phenomenon.

  • Art, I’ll concede not knowing the background of this speech as well as, say, Lincoln’s inaugural, but it seems the context of the paragraph and speech in total refers to general policy matters. That said, your point does emphasize the distinction we ought to make between the type of irrational fear that cripples us and can lead to bad results vs the sort of rational fear that motivates genuine opposition to policy.

  • “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.” This speech was (and continues to be) offensive to Catholics and Protestants who believe that Fear of the Lord is a gift of the Holy Ghost and that “our help is in the name of the Lord Who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). The Anti-Federalists were right; Roosevelt continued the centralization of power started by Lincoln.