“Can liberalism be saved from itself?”, asked author Sam Harris -- a liberal -- on a recent blog post. If you are a well educated, introspective, single, NYC resident who believes in long term romance for rational reasons, then you’ll probably be saddened by the question and sigh. It seems very unlikely.
In his piece, Harris discusses how a lot or liberals mention religious freedom to overlook the cruelties supported by some belief systems, in particular Islamism. I’m not going to expand on that article (which is a nice read, by the way), but look at another instance in which blind liberalism is letting its societies drift to a very dangerous direction: love and dating.
Let me start by pointing to the obvious fact that liberal societies are much more nurturing towards love in its more general form. Throughout history, romantic relationships have been greatly tamed by genetic code, “sacred” books, families, social rules, or whatever the “institution.” Now there’s great freedom, of unprecedented level. But how is this freedom being used? Are people having happier, more fulfilling relationships?
Let’s take a look at the epicenter of liberalism, New York City. Yes, that town where Sex And The City was set. A little discussion around this very TV show should give great insight on the topic, but let’s move a bit further. How many articles describing the hardship of finding a serious relationship in the city you’ve seen around the web? Here are two I’ve seen posted on social networks lately: (1) “You’re single because you live in New York”; (2) “9 Reasons why you are still single in NYC.”
If you’re feeling lazy to google them, here are 5 reasons from the 2nd article I listed: too many options; too many distractions; too independent; the hookup culture; selfishness. How many of these correlate with a liberal worldview? But correlation is not causation, right?
Liberalism can be a wonderful thing. It’s fantastic that nowadays people can divorce if the marriage is not going well, and not worry about what the Church is going to think of it. It’s amazing that women can take care of themselves and not be subject to what their husbands want.
However, liberalism allows for some strange, too commonly found aberrations. Now that people can choose to be with whomever they want, they make long checklists of qualities that a person should fulfill to be “the one,” and somehow ignore that they have a finite lifetime to find such person -- should that person exist in the first place. People think love will magically, “naturally” happen. That they’ll instantly “know” when they find it, and that there’s no work to be done in order for things to succeed. Women obsess about the guy paying the bill on the first date -- a symbolic gesture in which he shows he wants to take care and be responsible for her -- but complain when he doesn’t have a plan and keeps asking for her opinion about what to do. Men become “nice guys,” doing anything to please their women, but end up falling into a slippery slope in which they get their feelings hurt without complaining.
It’s very easy to point to what’s wrong. Evolution put the “playground” next to the “sewage system.” How stupid... Now, think about it for a monent: where else would you put them? Religion stablished that sex is sacred and should come with love. How pretentious... A little fun should hurt no one. But is it really the best attitude? Isn’t sex way better when the other person cares, and don’t just go away the next day?
This is what liberalism is doing with love and relationships: it’s getting rid of restrictions, without putting much thought on how the entire system should work. It’s all about “rights.” People should have rights to this, rights to that. People should have more power to do what they want. I see no problem with this. Except... how about responsibilities? A certain cliche comes to mind. Yes, that cheesy, old cliche, I don’t even dare write it down. Bue does that mean it isn't true?