Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

March 25, 2009

The Honorable Thing to Do

It's old news now, but, Bristol Palin and her highschool boyfriend/father of her child Levi Johnston have called off their engagement. The really cynical part of me (along with many others) says "typical--they were only engaged for political reasons anyway."

This thought nagged at me, and I soon began to realize why.

There was a time (I hate nostalgia, but here I go) when a man who got a woman pregnant had to do the honorable thing, and marry her. There were plenty of forces, social, moral, familial, that encouraged and even bound the will of young couple to beocme married thought they may not have been a perfect fit. But in those days there was a sense that doing the honorable thing would not only make you a better man, but would likely make you happy as well.

Let's change the scenario, and say McCain and Palin had won the White House. Would Bristol and Levi still be together? Probably--and for those base political reasons, no doubt. But maybe, if handled properly, they would be a witness to the honest truth that doing the right thing makes you a better person.

In the American Middle class it is easier than ever to raise a child on your own, and there are no longer the social stigmas of such an action. But in loosing those social stigmas we have also lost an opportunity for boys to do well, recognize the consequences of their actions, and become better men.

I don't know why Bristol and Levi broke up, and frankly, I don't care. But I do wish there was a stronger sense both in the media, and in our lives, that choices have consequences, and that it is good to do right. That's where real manliness lies.


Julian said...

Your post brings up so many thoughts, Agatha! There is a man in my family who did the "honorable thing" but did not become a better man. Certainly he had the opportunity to after he married the woman, but he had many affairs and eventually left our family. The thing is, he had the chance to grow in virtue, and while we know this growth leads to happiness, I think our tendency as human beings (and not just as part of this 21st century culture) is to cut and run when that happiness isn't immediate. We confuse immediate pleasure and satisfaction with happiness. If only Aristotle could be hanging out in the background telling us to keep plugging away at virtue! Well, I guess Jesus would be even more effective :)

You also raise the issue of a man "getting a woman pregnant." So true that in years past it was the guy's responsibility to "man up." Now the responsibility is on the woman NOT to get pregnant, and if she does find herself pregnant, it's her "fault." I'm not sure it matters who's "responsibility" it is according to the culture. If there are two consenting adults, then we should just pray that they do everything in their power to protect the baby. We should be supporting the two of them for bringing the baby to term and giving it (is it a boy or a girl?) the gift of life...and hopefully a not-so-stuffy name!

Susan Walsh said...

I think readers of this site would like a blog called The Art of Manliness. It's not really in my niche for young women, but boy do I wish more young guys would read it! I suggest starting with this post:

In a nutshell, it celebrates chivalry and good behavior. Just generally "manning up."

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