For about two weeks, I have been reading Juan Williams' book Enough (The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America - and What We Can Do About It). I first heard of this book in the NY Times a number of months ago. I was immediately captivated. I didn't get the book until recently though when it came in at the library.
When I first began reading Williams arguements, which are a response to and an agreement with Bill Cosby's controversial speech at the anniversary of Brown V. The Board of Education, I was taken in quickly by everything he said. Then, I glanced at his bio. Williams (much to my horror) is a panelist on Fox News Sunday (i.e. a Republican). This made me read his agruments with a more leery eye. But, I still agree with much of what he says. Williams (and Cosby) argues that there is a sure-fire way, three step way to escape poverty. Stay in school, get a job (any job) and keep it, and do not have children until later in life.
I think though that "family values" have too long been hijacked by Conservatives. Hey, liberals have families too. I think that Republicans/conservatives have taken the ideas of "family values" and twisted in them into a life style that imprisons people. But, as I get older, I agree with some of the stuff that seemed wacky before.
1. Abortion should DEFINITELY be legal. The reasons for this are infanently, and, in my stupid mind, non-debatable. However, abortion should rarely, if ever, be used as birth control. There are many instances, too obvious to name here, were an abortion is appropriate or necessary. I'm sorry. Failure to use birth control because you are young, horny, irresponsibleness, out of money for condoms, lazy, or bored is just not one of them. Pro-choice (and pro-life) people both downplay the seriousness of abortion for women. Most women I know have had one. None of them are happy about it, and all of them were at least slightly traumatized by it. I was never that opinionated about abortion until I had my son. I don't care, something with a heartbeat at 7 months is a living thing. Unfortunately, people who oppose the morning after pill are REALLY on the wrong band wagon. To me, this pill is a God send. I would MUCH rather see someone abort one day after conception than 7 weeks, 10 weeks, six months. According to Catholic tradition, the being is a baby the minute sperm hits the egg, but this is philosophy, not science. A fetus of seven weeks has a heartbeat (I heard it!) so then practicality gets involved.
2. Teenagers should not have sex, PERIOD. This is not one of those life is complicated things...they just shouldn't do it. I taught teenagers for 5 years. They are just not mature enough to handle all the crap that goes with sex - and certainly not AIDS or parenthood. Someone on Silliman's blog said something about teenage sexual energy. I say masturbate! And put the rest of the energy into art, sports, or getting into Harvard (has anyone seen the Seifeld where George stops having sex and becomes a genius?)
3. Teenagers will have sex. So teach them to use birth control. My kids tell me, I can't talk to a guy about condoms. I tell them, if you can take off all your clothes and get in bed naked with them, you should be able to talk to them.
4. Single people can party all night. Married people can do what they want. But, if you decide to have a kid (or even if she's an accident) life should be oriented toward the family. People gripe about poor people not caring for their children, but I think it's worse sometimes in middle-class, upper-class families. The American system is so screwed up. Most people are slaves to consumerism. I hate it. Republicans tell us that we should be family oriented, and then that we should work, work, work, so we can shop, shop, shop. I'm sorry, I think money and family values are opposing forces. Both take time! A mother who lives in the South and has to be gone 12 hours a day to feed her kid is criticized and penalized. But, what about all the upper class New York mothers and fathers who work 70 hours a week (so they can be rich) and pay no attention to their kids. Why is this the norm? Why is this okay? I am certainly not saying mothers and fathers should not work. For a family to run, every unit must be happy, including the cats. The mother in particular (as we have been too long repressed) should work, no work, make art, or do whatever makes her happy. (Another conservative mistake, a mom FORCED to be a homemaker or do anything against her will is not a happy mom, is not a happy child). But, the mistake here is putting money and commerce above your family. Your family needs YOU not a classic six on Park Avenue.
This leads me to thinking about Williams point: Why DOES every in the Projects have really nice shoes? More tommorrow.