As a student of philosophy I am often struck by how the values of culture can influence each individual, whether we know it or not. Religious faith, for instance seems to correlate with a longer lifespan, less alcohol abuse and better marital life. It may be that the values of the church/synagogue/mosque simply influence a greater commitment to family and one’s personal medical hygiene.
Marriage and divorce are also influenced by the culture at large, but maybe not in the best way.
In the post modern era, we tend to see our leaders as self serving and not all that wise. And without accepting that all leadership is flawed, the modern mind often rejects community norms, in favor of self fulfillment. So, steadfastness to community values like a commitment to marriage and children is weakening as our institutions weaken. What we have on the other side is the undisputable value of individual happiness. After all, if we have one life to live, why not enjoy it to the fullest?
But there is a rub. We are human beings and by virtue of being human, much of our happiness (and yes, torment too), comes from being a creature of relationship. We love, we marry: and we have kids, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, coworkers and pets. Get the point? Human beings are social beings, and therefore, we live a web of relationships. If individual happiness trumps everything, then we get divorced when we are unhappy, we fight for our rights because we think we were wronged and we tell ourselves that our children will learn from our example and become self centered as well.
Love requires more. Think about it.