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The Socratic Club A club that Lewis founded at Oxford. A forum devoted to general philosophical and spiritual discussion

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Old 05-13-2013, 07:48 PM
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Default Weblogs and Social Media

Many Dancing Lawn members are also users of Twitter, Skype and Facebook, or have personal weblogs. It ought to be possible, without offending this forum's propriety, to share some interesting things which we have seen or heard, or which we ourselves wrote, in those other settings. Below is my starter sample, which I wrote on Facebook today. Note that the _specific_ subject of my Facebook post is not the _point_ of this new Dancing Lawn topic.

It was only yesterday that Carol and I celebrated the first anniversary of that late-in-life wedding which is depicted in my timeline photo. Just yesterday. Well, Carol and I are still fine, but is anyone else? I go to a pizza shop and hear talk about divorce; I turn on the radio and hear talk about divorce. I remember being in the Navy and having shipmates be _startled_ to learn that my parents, unlike theirs, had _stayed_ married. How blessed and fortunate I am, that I never _was_ divorced, nor caused anyone _else's_ divorce, nor saw my _parents_ getting divorced.

If any divorced person is reading this, _don't_ get judgmental at me for supposedly being judgmental at you. Nothing I'm saying here is meant as criticism of any _particular_ person; so for purposes of this little essay, you have permission to come away as convinced of your own innocence and rightness as ever. For there _are_ such things as innocent, injured parties in divorces; the criminally stupid nonsense about "both sides always being equally guilty" rubs sand into the wounds of persons who _really_ tried their best in a marriage but were backstabbed by the _other_ spouse. Least of all am I trying to tell battered wives (and the occasional battered husband) that they have a "duty" to remain at the mercy of an abuser. But my heart aches for the _most_ innocent and _most_ injured parties in divorce cases: children, and sometimes other family members affected by a split.

In its eagerness _not_ to seem "judgmental" toward persons who get divorced for causes _less_ extreme than physical abuse or blatant adultery, society has become guilty of minimizing the harm divorce can do to children. Before anyone starts harrumphing at me, "So you want children to be trapped in a hostile, violent atmosphere," look again at what I already said about abuse. There are plenty of households where, if only the trouble between the parents could be healed, there _wouldn't_ be anything hurtful to the children. But look at how the children's problem is minimized by society.

The minimizing takes the form of only acknowledging _part_ of what is affecting children of a broken home. The one part of the children's plight which _does_ get widely acknowledged is the likelihood of a child thinking, "The divorce is my fault, so Mommy and Daddy won't love me anymore." Like setting _one_ broken bone for a crash victim who has _multiple_ fractures, the popular wisdom addresses _this_ worry of the children, saying, "Everything's okay, because the divorce _isn't_ your fault and Mommy and Daddy _won't_ stop loving you." But there is _more_ disruption involved than the _single_ area of disruption which pop culture consents to recognize.

Where, if not in the family, will children learn the qualities, like forgiveness and loyalty, which make it possible for _them_ to have successful marriages -- even friendships, for that matter -- in the future? Pop culture is willing enough to say that physical violence learned at home will be carried elsewhere; so why is it not possible for pettiness, treachery and selfishness _also_ to be carried beyond the household where they were acquired? If children witness the demigods of their childhood, Mommy and Daddy, becoming estranged (whether by equal fault, which of course is _sometimes_ the case, or by the fault of only one spouse), then what _positive_ example will ever outweigh this negative one? These children have been taught in concrete experience that relationships _don't_ last, that love _isn't_ permanent, that promises _won't_ be kept. So how are the children being helped to do better in their turn, just because the people breaking the promises offer the superficial assurance "I _stopped_ loving your mother/father, but I still love you, really, honest, why are you looking so skeptical?"

I offer no magic wands here; do you think I don't know life is complicated? But if we never face the truth about _what_ the problems of society are, we'll never even _begin_ to undo the damage.
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