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Thursday, November 15, 2012

David Brooks, "The Age of Possibility": Or a Brave New Narcissistic World?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Age of Possibility" (, David Brooks observes:

"The number of Americans who are living alone has shot up from 9 percent in 1950 to 28 percent today. In 1990, 65 percent of Americans said that children are very important to a successful marriage. Now, only 41 percent of Americans say they believe that. There are now more American houses with dogs than with children."

As someone with both children and a dog, I can tell you that both are demanding, but obviously, the requirements of Arnold, our Anatolian mountain dog, are far less time consuming than those of Michael, Barr and Teddy. My children? They are a constant source of worry and also a perpetual fount of love. My life would not be complete without them. When I pass out of this world, I am convinced that their relationships with those around them will continue to be characterized by empathy and caring.

Brooks continues:

"But the two-parent family is obviously not the only way people bind themselves. We are inevitably entering a world in which more people search for different ways to attach. Before jumping to the conclusion that the world is going to hell, it’s probably a good idea to investigate these emerging commitment devices.

The problem is not necessarily a changing family structure. It’s people who go through adulthood perpetually trying to keep their options open."

Yes, children place severe constraints upon "options." When children come into the world, it's no longer only about "you."

Will birth rates continue to decline? I am convinced of that, as we continue to metamorphose into a world governed by the dictates of self-gratification.

The age of "possiblity" or the age of narcissism, in which our politicians and pop stars serve as role models?

Sorry, David, but the world is indeed going to hell.

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