Sunday, June 09, 2013

New York Times, Washington Post hit different angles on "socialization" in the real world this Pride Sunday

A couple of Sunday morning op-eds do rotate around a deeper problem – concerns among many observers today that upper middle class young people experience less “socialization”.

One of them is “Only Children: Lonely and Selfish?”, in the New York Times June 9, Sunday Review, p. 5,  by Lauren Sandler. link here.The mom who wrote the article was an only child herself and is raising an onluy daughter.  The other side of the question is, are only children “smarter”., or better able to decide and follow their own aims?   When I grew up, a number of families had only children.  One female, a year older than me, grew up to be an English professor (but married a history professor and raised two boys).  I have a female cousin who is “only” and taught grade school for years.  And I am “only”, although my parents considered adopting a sister when I was nine (and having social issues in grade school) but never did so.  
Mark Zuckerberg, by the way, has three sisters, one of who, helps him run Facebook. 
Another article appeared in the Washington Post Outlook, “In 1961 Phyllis Richman applied to graduate school at Harvard; she received a letter asking how she would balance a career with her ‘responsibilities’ to her husband”, link (with her belated answer) here.  

Still, I recall a 1957 issue of the Ladies Home Journal (why was a teenage boy looking at this?)  with an article to this effect, “Who would you rather have a college degree, you or your husband”   That question would take on additional urgency some years later in a world with a male-only draft, Vietnam, and student deferments.    
 We thought about “moral” issues in a much more “collective” (or supposed “common good”) manner in past decades.  There were certain things that have to happen, and given the examples that people on the edge (like me) set, people might not get them done.  There’s some of that thinking likely to return today, as sustainability comes front and center, and demographics is part of it. 

To wit, for all our wonderful progress in individual rights and equality, there still comes the possibility of personal tests that we all much meet.  Sometimes we have to “step up”, and take the risk that others will have to pick up the slack from us later if we have to make sacrifices in the process.  We have to find some core emotional satisfaction in helping other people, even when we don’t all get the personal recognition for constructive, worthy cultural, artistic or otherwise notable accomplishments.   

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