Rights, Responsibilities and Population Density
Are we missing the basics?
By Larry Plachno
There is an increasing concern among some demographers and researchers that conservatives, Christians and pro-life supporters may be winning a battle but losing the war. Many do not understand the real issues and reasons behind how social problems, actions and decisions are interconnected.
We live in interesting times. People in the past based decisions on traditions and the practices of previous generations. Today, we are lucky to have the advantage of decades of research into social problems as well as computer-generated statistics. In many cases this data is not only endorsing many of the old traditions but also giving us the reasons behind those decisions. If you give me a few minutes of your time I can walk you through the basics.
Our Polarized Society
While overly simplistic, it is not difficult to split our society into two groups based on a simple question. When faced with an action or decision that could impact others we have two alternatives. We can do what is best for other people and society or we can do what we want regardless of whom we hurt. One side is conservative while the other side is liberal. One side believes in responsibilities while the other side believes in rights. And, ultimately, and to a large extent, one side tends to match with red states and the other side tends to match with blue states.
It is interesting that there is both a Christian and a secular way to look at this decision.
From the Christian standpoint, God sent His Son to earth to suffer and die to atone for our sins. Jesus Christ gave us two basic laws to live by: love of God and love of neighbor. Love of God means judging our actions as good or evil. Following Christ means that we define good as what is best for others. What is interesting is that decades of research and computer statistics into social problems have endorsed this judging of actions as good or evil and doing what is best for others. Social problems are almost always caused by not judging actions or not doing what is best for others.
From a secular standpoint it is obvious that we all come out ahead if we work together for common goals. A winning team is one where the players accept the responsibility of working together rather than exercising the right to do what they want. This is why four horses pulling a wagon are known as a team. When they are working and pulling together in the same direction the wagon makes progress. But if the horses think they have a right to do what they want and pull in different directions, the wagon makes no progress and could easily be harmed.
Giving people what they want is often not doing what is best for society. An excellent example would be kids who would rather hang out on street corners then go to school or who would rather eat cookies and candy rather than balanced meals. Giving in to them is not the best solution for either them or society. While they may not like it, going to school and eating balanced meals is actually best for both them and society.
Marriage, Family and Children
One of the biggest differences between those who believe in responsibilities and those who believe in rights is their attitudes on marriage, family and children. Those who are on the side of responsibilities tend to support marriage, family and children. Those who are on the side of rights tend to support individuals rather than marriage and families. The movement from a family wage to equal pay for equal work obviously put individuals above families and eliminated compensation for families and moms who dedicate their time to raising their children.
What is very interesting is that decades of research into social problems shows that marriage is the single most important factor in reducing or eliminating social problems. There was a time when everyone supported “apple pie and motherhood.” What the researchers find is that as we move away from motherhood, our society falls apart. Married people are statistically less likely to commit crimes or be the victim of crimes. Married people are statistically less likely to be homeless or live in poverty. With the exception of certain major diseases, married people are also more likely to be healthy and more likely to live longer.
Marriage has a special place in the Christian context since the first public miracle of Jesus Christ supported the wedding feast of Cana. Theologians point to marriage as the joining of guidance and love to reflect God on earth. This is seen in statistics showing that the single biggest factor in kids ending up in prison is being raised without the guidance of a father. To that you can add the fact that 80 percent of women seeking an abortion are not married. Hence, supporting marriage is a major component part of the position of the conservative and responsibilities position. I note that several groups are expanding pro-life activities to include marriage and family because they statistically go together.
An interesting recent note was added by research into the future of jobs. It was estimated that more than 40 percent of American vocations and jobs could be automated or replaced by computers in the next two decades. However, it also noted that wife and mother was not one of them.
Red States, Blue States
This difference between rights and responsibilities and the polarization of our society is increasingly evident in elections. Several recent presidential elections confirmed this contrast between red states and blue states. The recent 2016 presidential election again pointed to this polarity. In writing this in mid-May of 2017, abortion had become a major division point between the two sides.
While there are exceptions, the primary difference between counties voting red or blue is population density. Areas with higher population density tend to side with rights and liberal candidates while areas with lower population density tend to side with responsibilities and conservative candidates. The demographers and researchers are still trying to figure out why population density seems to be the division point. More than one person has suggested that the rural people see the work of God in hills, plains and crops while the big city people only see buildings and streets built by humans.
However, we have the statistics to compare the red and conservative areas to the blue and liberal areas to see how they stack up against each other.
Statistically, the conservative areas that believe in responsibility tend to have more marriage, more children with larger families and higher church attendance. Liberal areas that believe in rights tend to have less marriage, fewer children, more singles, smaller families, and lower church attendance. As noted earlier, the two sides also tend to disagree on abortion.
From there the differences get more interesting. Conservative areas tend to have more middleclass with less income inequality. Liberal areas tend to have more income inequality with more rich and more poor as well as more poverty. Liberal areas tend to have more crime and a lot more shootings than conservative areas. Some people also suggest that the liberal areas are also more likely to have financial problems.
One researcher came up with an interesting and somewhat funny statistic. He said that people in conservative areas are more likely to own pickup trucks. If you don’t know someone who owns a pickup truck, you may be a liberal.
All of this tends to suggest that being conservative and believing in responsibilities creates it’s own reward. Jesus Christ told us to love God and love our neighbor. The statistics are now telling us why.
The basic problem is getting conservatives, Christians and the pro-life supporters to understand that everything is interconnected. Either you are on the side of rights or on the side of responsibilities. You cannot pick and choose like the liberals because that makes you a liberal.
A recent survey by LifeWay Research came up with good news and bad news. The good news is that an impressive 81 percent of Americans are concerned about the declining moral behavior in our nation. But the bad news comes with defining right and wrong. More than 60 percent of people older than 45 believe that right and wrong do not change. However, fewer than 40 percent of those 35 and younger make that claim. In addition, the statistics also show that those 35 and under are less likely to attend church regularly. This may account for their movement away from love of God and love of neighbor. It would help to make people understand that supporting love of God and love of neighbor as well as doing what is best for society carries its own reward.
The problem we are facing is that our younger generation does not understand that everything is interconnected and you need to choose between rights and responsibilities. You cannot support life while not supporting marriage.
Editors Note: Larry Plachno is a successful businessman, publisher, author, and composer of an incalculable number of articles relating to family, life issues and associated problems and solutions. This barely scratches the surface of what Larry really is. His love of God, family and country is inspiring.
For years now Larry has shared his writings with us here at the ProLifeCorner and we are truly humbled by his generosity.
Larry is also an ardent blogger and is a prolific writer. You can follow his work at: www.unselfish.org