Sunday, August 07, 2005

American virtue

Judging from what one sees in the media, it would be easy to assume that virtue is in retreat. What with gangsta rap, violent video games, celebrity sex tapes and that meth epidemic Newsweek is so upset about, it's hard to believe this is anything but a decadent and debauched age. Enter David Brooks with another important column (for my money, he's the most thoughtful and perceptive columnist around).

If you look at the indicators, Brooks notes, you'll conclude that our society is actually experiencing a moral revival. Violent crimes, alcohol consumption, drunk driving fatalities, teenage pregnancies, abortions, and the number of children living in poverty are all down. It is hard to resist the conclusion that people are beginning to live more virtuous lives.

This certainly squares with my own experiences and observations. My generation seems, in general, to be characterized by the bourgeois virtues; my peers tend to be prudent, sensible and law-abiding. They are thinking about a family, a career, and how to reconcile the two in today's society (this is particularly thorny for the girls). Very few have any sort of revolutionary, anti-establishment spirit. In a sense, this non-rebellion is my generation's rebellion against our radical professors who assumed that we would follow in their footsteps.

I've always appreciated the bourgeois virtues, myself, so I can only welcome these developments.

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)


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