I seem to be in a more than usually reflective mood today. In my life there has been an enormous amount of social change. Whatever you may think or read to the contrary blacks (we used to call them “colored people”) are no longer relegated to the back of the bus.
The United States has gone from a country that was 85% people of primarily European descent to 65%. Its population has nearly tripled, from 130 million to more than 330 million. 8% of the people had been foreign-born; now more than 14% are.
The likelihood not just of engaging in sex prior to marriage but having had multiple partners before marriage has increased enormously. The percentage of children born to parents who weren’t married has gone from 5% to 40%. Women working full-time jobs has gone from being a phenomenon of the poor to being not only expected but necessary. The openness of the professions to women has increased considerably.
Not only is marriage no longer between a man and a woman but we’re not even sure what men and women are.
I think it’s obvious that the nature and pace of social change is disruptive. I don’t think the society has really adapted to the change in sex roles impelled by the change in the role of women.
Here’s my question. Can a society exist without norms? I think we’re being pushed in that direction. I doubt that it can. I think that what Chesterton said holds: “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing. They then become capable of believing in anything” and applies to social norms as well.