There have been some bad ideas in my day - "open-classroom" schools, platform shoes and Vietnam - but never, never before have I seen such unabashed silliness, governmentally funded silliness (GFS), as the "Healthy Marriages Initiative." I mean, $1.5 billion to teach people how to be good little husbands and (mostly) wives? Come on.
First of all, whoever said that marriage was the foundation of our society? Not any of the founding fathers (or mothers, certainly). Marriage is a personal relationship, a personal choice (remember those?), like religion. It is completely subjective, and individual. We might as well say that, oh, friendship is the foundation of society. That's at least a bit more true. Or how about parenting is the foundation, since at least in parenting, between struggling in these diminishing economic times to feed our children and trying to provide them with adequate child care while we work (if we have a job), we are in the process of teaching them how to behave in society (you know, things like "don't tell lies").
But, OK, OK, let's accept (since we accept more and more these days, it seems) that marriage is the foundation, the cornerstone. How does one have a "healthy marriage?" By taking a class? I think not. It is a fact that most marital strife occurs over money. Fact. So, let's make sure that people have jobs. And how about working on the health care system so we're not up all night worrying about how to pay the doctor bills?
I've got a great idea - how about we give grants to housecleaners all around the country so there would be less arguing about who does the dishes. Perfect.
If we're interested in teaching "values" to uphold our society, how about we offer grants for kindness. Cooperation. Or Integrity. How about, if you don't demonstrate skill in these areas, you can't hold a public office, like, say president of the United States. But these are rather subjective, too, aren't they?
Let's see. What is our American society founded on anyway? How about civil liberty, which should include being able to love and marry whomever you choose, of any gender, and being able to hold your own beliefs, and know that no one belief system is being discriminated against or favored (or funded) by your government, which is supposed to represent all the people, married or single, straight or gay, Christian or Muslim.
For now, I'm flexing my skill for dissent, which we seem to have forgotten is another foundation of our country. We need to wake up and be on the lookout for more flagrant GFS.
Joyce Parry Moore
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