Bill Murchison

In the hyper-connected world of the 21st century, styles and outlooks and assumptions spread as fast as Twitter can carry them. It takes nerve to buck trends seen as chic and modern -- and easy. For decades family relationships -- always the bulwark of civilization -- have weakened under the impact of divorce and serial monogamy.

"For many people," writes Mary Eberstadt in her new book, "How the West Really Lost God," "'family' is ... at least in part, a series of optional associations that can be and sometimes are discarded voluntarily depending on preference."

It's clearly no way to live, unless we decide -- as no society ever has done -- to define "living" as membership in the Whim of the Month Club; just a succession of inner feelings and social pinpricks.

Injury to the family as an institution has never been defined as a capital crime, but it could be said to have fatal consequences: the death of cultural coherence and social order; the demotion of the human being -- whether male or female -- to the estate of despair and loneliness.

Then there's the future to consider.

What comes of droughts in childbearing is the drying up not just of numbers but of energies, abilities and faith in the value of everything we do.

Faculties and student bodies at elite universities are supposed to understand such things. It may be we need to redefine "elite" as morbidly self-satisfied, out-of-touch, silent and dead at the very core.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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