Where Did Morality Go?
A recent column opened the door for a conversation on the difference between morality today and what it was in the 1950 era. It would seem that the conversion from a better disciplined and moral lifestyle to the “anything goes” of today was almost planned. The entertainment field and the government played a huge rule in the changes.
Back in the fifties, when television became the center of entertainment in the home we had family shows like “Father Knows Best,” Leave It To Beaver,” and “Ozzie And Harriet.” They all had the same theme that the father was the head of the family, the mother took care of the home and the children were respectful to their parents and other adults. “The Andy Griffith Show” continued the theme with the raising of a son by a single father and again, the theme was that the father was respected and was the authority figure.
Somewhere in the mix “The Life Of Reilly” was put in prime time and the role of the father changed to make the father look like the village idiot. He was loved by his family, but it was almost like a friendly tolerance. The mother and the children were the smart ones and dad blundered his way through the series. The family unit weakened with the authority figures getting weaker.
Comedy shows were clean and they had censors to keep them that way. Morality was still popular, but the respect factor started into the downturn. The family unit was giving way to the swinging singles philosophy. “Cheers” became very popular with a loveable bartender who had the respect and admiration of the barflies because he was so successful with numerous romantic escapades. This was passed on to one of the main characters, Fraser, who became a spin off with another show and the same sexual themes.
The themes were similar again with multiple partners and everyone having fun by smashing the moral standards of the past. This was portrayed as the normal way of life and promiscuity was the way the “beautiful people” led their lives. When Woodstock and the Beat Generation made the scene, the committed relationship lost ground and monogamy became almost a rarity. Some still believed in “going steady” but multiple relationships flourished.
The Viet Nam War initiated an attitude of rebellion. It was a very unpopular war and young men burned their draft cards and the women’s lib movement had the girls burning their bras. The respect for authority kept going farther down the drain with the young people making protests part of the regular agenda. Burning the American flag was common and the Supreme Court said that doing that was an expression of free speech. Patriotism took a big hit during that time.
The invention of the birth control pill gave the women’s movement more freedom and really changed the definition of relationships. It made the promiscuity less risky than it ever was before, but then, the huge rise in babies born out of wedlock really skyrocketed from the old customs.
If a girl got pregnant before the sexual revolution, she usually went to another city to live with a relative until the baby was born and then the baby was often put up for adoption. The other option was the boy who created the pregnancy “did the right thing” and married the girl. Sometimes it took encouragement from the male members of the girl’s family to make sure the guy became a husband.
The out of wedlock births continued to climb and the girl who used to be shamed for getting pregnant without the benefit of marriage got a change in status. The liberal leaning media and the “politically correct” came up with a new title which was “the courageous single mother.” Many of them supported their children with help from social services.
It isn’t surprising that marriage was becoming less popular and people were waiting longer before making the commitment. Some just moved in together and had children, but at least they took the responsibility of supporting them. The government made it more practical to do so because they, in their desire to tax more, invented the marriage penalty which raised the taxes on the couple.
This also affected older people. For example, two senior citizens on Social Security who fell in love and wanted to be together had a serious decision to make before making the commitment. If their Social Security benefit was not large enough to tax when they were single they paid a low income tax rate. Putting both together could cause the higher amount to enter the tax code, resulting in a higher tax bracket. This could cause the amount they would now pay to quadruple.
That could be a good reason to “live in sin” as it used to be called. For those who were raised to respect marriage that could be a real violation of their conscience. To be moral they would have to take a severe drop in their standard of living. However, our government officials and representatives want the tax money. This could be a good issue for the politicians to discuss next year. It could be significant for the senior voting bloc.
License: CC0 Public Domain
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