We are coming to the end of 2019, and people seem to enjoy reviewing the events of the past year. Here, however, is something a little different. We will consider events of 2019 with respect to a question: how did those events tear or repair our nation’s social fabric?
We will tackle this subject in three posts. In this post we will consider what our social fabric involves. In the second and third posts we will look at major events in 2019 and consider how they involved our struggle over the character of our nation’s social fabric.
What does the expression “social fabric” mean?
The demographics of an area that consists of wealth, ethnic composition, level of education, rate of employment and regional values that are combined to create this social fabric. (from here (thelawdictionary.org); similar definition here (businessdictionary.com))
What is puzzling about this definition? The expression “social fabric” is a metaphor. To hold itself together, fabric must be woven tightly together with strong threads. Yet this definition makes no mention of the metaphor, and they don’t speak of the fact that social fabric is what holds us together. Hence, I suggest What is the social fabric? (quora.com), which goes into a bit more detail.
What story in 2019 best represents the battle over our nation’s social fabric? That is probably the impeachment of President Donald Trump. We have argued bitterly over Trump’s right to be president, and the crony capitalist mass media has done everything it could to separate Trump from his supporters. When a news source popular with evangelical Christians provided this editorial, Trump Should Be Removed from Office (christianitytoday.com), the mass media happily played up the story. That lasted until evangelical Christian leaders made it clear that the author of that Christianity Today editorial, Mark Galli, did not represent evangelical Christians (see UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL).
Instead of challenging whether Galli appropriately represents evangelical Christians, Ben Shapiro, a Jew, took a different tact. He spoke about our nation’s social fabric and why evangelical Christians are supporting Trump in spite of the fact evangelical Christians might not especially happy with Trump’s moral character. Most of the video is about this subject, the way Shapiro approaches the problem quite insightful and very important for all us all to understand.
Shapiro focuses on how our differences over moral values is tearing our nation’s social fabric, what the definition above refers to a regional values. What happens when a nation no longer holds important values in common? Listen to Shapiro.
There is something here that Shapiro almost gets to but doesn’t quite mention. He observes our battles over moral values has caused each faction to fight for leadership that will protect its political interests. That is, the political positions of our leaders have begun to matter more than our leaders’ moral character. What Shapiro neglects to mention, at least in this video, is that our increasing divisions also make us an easier conquest for tyrannical leaders. Because we are divided, we are easier to conquer.
When we begin electing leaders strictly for political reasons, we can succumb to the temptation to elect people we don’t actually trust. Even though the choice may be logical, moral, and even unavoidable, the fact remains that our divisions make it easier for the unscrupulous to conquer us. Therefore, we must be wary of those leaders who deliberately set out to divide us.
- BEN SHAPIRO: WE CAN’T BLAME PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR THE DIVISION IN AMERICA | OPINION (newsweek.com) and Government Isn’t the Social Fabric (jewishworldreview.com): Additional thoughts from Ben Shapiro on the social fabric.
- Virtue and the Social Fabric (realclearpolicy.com): The focus here is on the importance of virtue in maintaining the social fabric. Virtue is another way of talking about moral values. What we call virtuous depends upon what we most value.
- Year in review: 2019 was a busy year in Washington and around the world (foxnews.com) and 2019 Current Events (infoplease.com): Here are two lists of the major events of 2019.
“The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him.” ― James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, on the Religious Rights of Man: Written in 1784-85
“Let us put it generally: if a regime is immoral, its subjects are free from all obligations to it.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books V-VII
“There is nothing more alluring to man than freedom of conscience, but neither is there anything more agonizing.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov