That's Life

For more than a week I've been ruminating on an article I read online in the New York Times. Political scientist Charles Murray's drew me in with the title, Thank God America Isn't Like Europe -- Yet. I'd encourage you to take a look at it and wrestle with his assertions.

Murray begins by describing our continent's fascination with the European way of life, noting that the majority of us view it as superior. But, in reality, their worldview supresses life. The Europe Syndrome, as Murray refers to it, was shaped by Freud and Darwin and presupposes that, "human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible." This creates an Epicurean generation that devalues things like religion, interaction with neighbors, and raising children. And while Murray posits that while America has yet to adopt this perspective, the time is coming when it will be here.

"So what?" you ask. The problem is that this point of view eventually leads to a society where all human outcomes are measured scientifically. And any deviation from the perceived norm is decreed to be a result of human or societal error. In short, we will begin to legislate and medicate anyone different. When we boil down human existance to scientific outcomes while ignoring metaphysics, we will lose our identity. Murray implores,

"People must be treated as individuals. The success of social policy is to be measured not by equality of outcomes for groups, but by the freedom of individuals, acting upon their personal abilities, aspirations and values, to seek the kind of life that best suits them."

We mustn't sacrifice our country's diversity in an attempt to achieve equality of life— an equality that doesn't even exist. But it seems as though many of our policy-shapers are sold-out to adopting the European way of life. Since I've decided to quote large sections of the article, I figure I might as well give you the pay-off to Murray's article.

"The trouble is that American elites of all political stripes have increasingly withdrawn to gated communities -- literally or figuratively -- where they never interact at an intimate level with people not of their own socioeconomic class. Over the last half-century, the new generation of elites have increasingly spent their entire lives in the upper-middle-class bubble, never having seen a factory floor, let alone worked on one, never having gone to a grocery store and bought the cheap ketchup instead of the expensive ketchup to meet a budget, and never having had a close friend who hadn't gotten at least 600 on her verbal SAT.

"America's elites must once again fall in love with what makes America different. The drift toward the European model can be stopped only when we are all talking again about why America is exceptional, and why it is so important that America remain exceptional. That requires once again seeing the American project for what it is: a different way for people to live together, unique among the nations of the earth, and immeasurably precious."