It's time for a Marshall Plan for American families
Do you recall the expression, "What's good for General Motors is good for the country?" It emerged in 1953, when President Eisenhower nominated GM president Charles Wilson to become his secretary of defense. A senator asked the GM boss whether, should his new role force him to make a choice adverse to GM but good for America, he could, in fact, make that decision. Wilson famously replied, "Yes, sir; I could. I cannot conceive of one because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country." Eventually, that was boiled down to the more recognizable saying.
I think I can go Charles Wilson one better. As I look back at the America of 1953 and stand in the America of 2022, I am pressed as a pastor and teacher to modify that famous quote. I would say, "What's good for the family is good for America!"
One of the ironies of President Johnson's Great Society programs aimed at ending poverty in America is that they negatively affected the American family. Just as Prohibition was supposed to help families, so was the Great Society. These attempts to help the family were disasters. We had the good sense to repeal Prohibition, but the Great Society, with all its good intentions, is the hurt that keeps hurting.
Johnson and his policy team believed that expanding government funding for broken families would help save them. Instead, it incentivized single mothers to remain unmarried. By expanding welfare state programs to Americans who were already experiencing serious stress and hardship, it deepened the problems of illegitimacy, fatherless homes, and other cultural problems. Millions of Americans soon were engulfed in permanent chaos and dysfunction. A plague of fatherlessness ensued, with nearly 72 percent of all American black children being born to single mothers by 2015.
Image: Divorce by freepik.
Since the sixties, there has been an ongoing battle over the welfare coming from Johnson's Great Society and the dependency it fosters. In a country that gave us air travel, the light bulb, and the Marshall Plan and put men on the moon, surely, we can come up with incentives to strengthen the American family, minimize one-parent households, and wean Americans away from social dependency.
Promoting strong families in 2022 invites a minefield of objections from the wokesters. It will also challenge radical education leaders who see themselves as default parents and cultural gurus. It will also mean re-examining matters that challenge families. For example...
- What is a healthy family?
- How do we teach sexual education to strengthen the family?
- How should we reform divorce to strengthen the family?
- How should we treat homewreckers (male or female)?
"Each divorce is the death of a small civilization," wrote Pat Conroy. I went through a divorce in 1990. It is hell for all involved, especially for the children in the family. Abigail Trafford wrote a book, Crazy Time, reflecting on her own divorce and her struggle to emerge from the chaos of divorce. She argues that divorce makes people crazy. She goes on to say that some people survive divorce, but many never recover.
In 2022, the divorce rate for the USA is projected to be nearly 45%. I understand there are times when a divorce is called for, but America's divorce rate is near the top among all nations. We should take no pride in the high incidence of divorce in America but, instead, consider what we can do to help marriages and strengthen American families.
One of the mantras in the self-help world says, "As you get better, everything else gets better." Is it a stretch to say, "As the family gets better in America, everything else will get better"?
Ned Cosby's new novel OUTCRY is a love story exposing the refusal of Christian leaders to discipline clergy who sexually abuse our young people. This work of fiction addresses crimes that are all too real. He has also written RECOLLECTIONS FROM MY FATHER'S HOUSE, tracing his own odyssey from 1954 to the present. For more info, visit www.nedcosby.com.