Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Marriage Gap: Updated

Just read a really amazing (if a bit long) piece in City Journal called "Marriage and Caste" about how the marriage gap between middle class and low income women contributes to entrenched intergenerational poverty. Below is a selection from this piece:

"Two-America Jeremiahs usually nod at the single-parent family as a piece of the inequality story, but quickly change the subject to describe—accurately, as far as it goes—an economy that has implacably squeezed out manufacturing jobs, reduced wages for the low-skilled, and made a wallet-busting college education crucial to a middle-class future. But one can’t disentangle the economic from the family piece. Given that families socialize children for success—or not—and given how marriage orders lives, they are the same problem. Separate and unequal families produce separate and unequal economic fates."

You can read the entire article here.

Reading this prompted me to reflect on the Baha'i perspective that the family is the basic building block of the social order and that it's spiritual, moral and material well-being is critical to the development of a unified, just, peaceful and "ever advancing civilization."
The Baha'i Writings state:
Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. (Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 100)

There's a wonderful statement from the Baha'i International Community that I finally rediscovered today. The opening paragraphs are below:

The Family in a World Community

Pamphlet first distributed at the World NGO Forum Launching the United Nations International Year of the Family (IYF)

Malta, Malta
November 1993

Like the world as a whole, the family is in transition. In every culture, families are disintegrating, fragmenting under pressure of economic and political upheavals and weakening in the face of moral and spiritual confusion.

The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation.1

Bahá'ís see these disturbances as signs of humanity's struggle toward a new age in its collective development, an age of maturity. The family, as the most basic unit of society, must in this process be remolded and revitalized according to the same principles that are reshaping civilization as a whole.

You can read the entire statement here.