Monday, January 4, 2021

A Lost Life Purpose

Single people used to have ways to give their lives purpose.

  • They could join religious orders, fitting themselves into a quasi-family, and bringing them a sense of a higher purpose.
  • They could join the military as a career. In the old days, the pay/benefits generally didn't afford those beneath the officer level to take a spouse - and, for women, they would not be able to both have children and a military career. So, many of them dedicated themselves to their particular service during their active career. Some would have a late-in-life marriage, or live with/near family, or just retire to a quiet life of fishing and golf.
  • They could live at home with parents and other family members, taking care of aging family, running the family farm. Being the unmarried uncle or aunt to many grateful nieces and nephews. Some would work outside, and contribute money to launch the lives of other family members. Others would foster children in times of family crisis or need.
  • Hard as it is for today's youth to believe, many single people in previous times worked jobs that did NOT pay a "living wage", and only were able to stay alive because there was room and board (for ONE person) included with the job - household help, farm labor, cowboys. They were never able to save enough to afford to get married. That was also true of the enlisted men of pre-WWII times. What many of the career military did was to work until their pension would kick in, then marry a younger woman, or a widow with children. In essence, they time-delayed their family formation.
When did those purposes stop being sufficient? If you look to history, when a significant number of women no longer had an prospect of getting married to their social equals, that would be in the post-Civil War period. There had been some growth in unmarried upper class women before that time - that's the group that largely fulled the abolition, women's rights, and temperance movements.

But the flood of single ladies with little to occupy them overwhelmed the society after the Civil War's end. Some had little money, and needed to find ways to earn it. That need, and the growing numbers of women who devoured the books and magazines of that time, allowed some of them to make a living writing - some of the early feminists tried their hand at that trade, including Louisa May Alcott and Ida B. Wells. Their writing wasn't always revolutionary; many wrote tepid romance novels and fashion magazine articles.

Some, who had a slight independent income (although not enough to entice a potential spouse), threw themselves into politics, becoming the "Goo-Goos", the Good Government advocates. Like too many RINOs today, they believed passionately in Reform, and in the benefits that passing laws to outlaw graft, corruption, and fraud would bring to government.

Decade by decade, women lost their meaning in the traditional existence. Modern home machinery took away the back-breaking work, but it also reduced their sense of importance. They traded leisure for lack of purpose. They tried replacing that void with:
  • PTA and other parental involvement activities
  • Local charities and public-service organizations
  • Social activities, formal and informal
  • Crafts, cooking from scratch, and gardening - not from need, or desire, but to fill those lonely hours
  • Shopping, traveling, lunching
Single women, after mid-century, tried to use jobs to replace that sense of purpose. Others engaged in sexual escapades, often with random strangers.

And, the men?

Aimless chasing after sexual adventures, drinking, gambling, gaming, and - for the very young - playing sports.

But, seldom any involvement in civic affairs, community organizations, or churches. That was left for the women. The idea of spending your leisure time improving your mind, or your community, was just not considered.

Notice what happened?

Except for alcohol-fueled outings, men and women conducted separate lives. No wonder so many say that they don't seem to be able to meet the opposite sex. They live completely disjointed lives.

Society needs to find ways for not-married non-parents to live a fulfilled life. The massive growth in Leftist adherence is largely due to the fact that they have created a means of doing so. By joining AntiFa, Woke Culture, or political activism on the Left, those without meaningful personal interactions gain a purpose for their lives.

A few years ago, the book The Purpose-Driven Life became a best-seller. That book, and others purporting to map out a blueprint for a meaningful life, speak to the deep hunger our culture has for spiritual meaning. Without our traditional focus on God, Americans have turned to other causes that provide a similar sense of purpose - such as BLM. It's no surprise that today's young people are turning to a mission that links them to the historical Civil Rights movement - their hunger to be a part of something bigger than themselves is powerful.

Perhaps most of history's causes were less about alleviating wrongs, and issuing in those who would correct abuses, than about filling that God-sized hole in their lives. I just hate to see so many people throw away their lives on those causes that are so intimately connected with the Death Cults of the Left.


Francis W. Porretto said...

Nicely put, Linda. For a grace note, consider this: According to various (dubious) social “scientists,” our principal reason for seeking group membership, including such things as corporate employment, is our awareness and fear of inevitable death. It’s a theory, I suppose...but what if the opposite were the case? What if we seek to immerse ourselves in a group of some sort because we know, in some fashion, that only our flesh will die – that our souls, the repositories of our true identities – are eternal, and will face Judgment after they’re liberated from the flesh? Ponder this in combination with the commonplace excuse for bad and sinful behavior: “Everybody does it.” (Alternately and even worse, “Everybody does it these days.”)

Fredrick said...

"...that would be in the post-Civil War period"

You left out the tens of thousands of young men killed or maimed during the war, especially and proportionally greater in the South.

"Aimless chasing after sexual adventures, drinking, gambling, gaming, and" That sounds a lot like the leftist speak you are arguing against.

That's not the only purpose single males had in life in the 1880s. Though Catholic (which was intensely discriminated against then and now) the Knights of Columbus comes to mind. There were plenty of other fraternal organizations then (most of which still exist).

" By joining AntiFa, Woke Culture, or political activism on the Left, those without meaningful personal interactions gain a purpose for their lives."

True, yet what they desire is to free the slaves(!), provide civil rights, clean up the environment, save the whales, feed the starving children of Africa and, of course, "we've only got 12 years" - save the Earth. Highly energetic and easily manipulated they don't know who already ended slavery here (and mostly everywhere else), ensured an end to legal descrimination (accept for the victims of affirmative actions, sorry white guys), cleaned up the worst of America's polution (burning river in Cleveland anyone?), ended commercial whaling and even fed most of Africa for the most of the past 4 decades (thank you capitalism).

The left is praying that nobody starts providing this and future generations a real historical education or they will lose the easy converts. Of course they are also trying to ensure no one else can pray in church as the last thing they want is another Christian revival in America.