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Social Attitudes and Shame

by Christopher Chantrill
August 17, 2006 at 11:10 am

EVEN THOUGH young people in Britain today are regularly drunk as skunks, university students would never think of driving drunk, claims Mary Ann Sieghart. “What a change in a generation!” she writes.

And social attitudes have changed for the better in other areas, too. People are abandoning their SUVs and recycling. It is not so much that the law has changed as a kind of “social revolution that may well save our planet.”

This social revolution is a tribute to the power of shame. It used to be kinda cool to drive drunk and get away with it. Today it is shameful. And as for failing to recycle! In Seattle we are well on the way to making it a crime.

Maybe there are other areas where the power of shame could save the planet.

Russian immigrant Julia Gorin clearly wants a social revolution in attitudes towards abortion. On the website of Ms magazine, she notes, you can sign a petition. “I had a abortion.” Bully for Ms.

But Julia Gorin narrowly escaped being aborted thirty years ago. It was only due to the nurse at the Soviet abortion clinic “who sensed a tinge of reservation [in my mother] and kicked her out.”

Just as well, because Gorin’s only sister was killed in a car crash in 2000.

How about setting up another petition, she suggests helpfully: “I was nearly aborted!”

One of the proud boasts of the twentieth century was its conquest of shame—or rather sexual shame. But it is clear that in the most progressive circles where sexual shame has been most thoroughly banished a host of other shames has been created: environmental shame, sexual harassment shame, SUV shame, racist shame, patriarchal shame, even glass-ceiling shame.

We conservatives should learn a lesson from this. As the consequence of legal abortion becomes more and more clear to women—and in the case of Julia Gorin’s mother it is a lack of “close people,” children and siblings, in her life—it will create an opportunity for another social revolution.

We should learn a lesson from the liberals. The key to a social revolution is not in changing laws. It is in changing attitudes.

We should work to change hearts and minds, and make abortion Safe, Legal, and Shameful.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

 TAGS


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


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