The United States has always been a country which advocates freedom for its citizens- the freedom of speech, religion, even the freedom to decide if a marriage must end. Divorce rates have always been notoriously high in the Land of the Free, and many people wonder why. Is it something to do with our culture?
In Dinesh D'Souza's essay "Becoming American" (289), he says that "Americans marry in a rather peculiar way: by falling in love." Indeed, many cultures do not see love as a very practical way of choosing a suitor. Instead they tend to rely on common sense, such as the family background of a person, their religion, reliability, political stance, and so on. In fact, in D'Souza's home land of India, if a person decides to wed a person who is obviously a poor choice, it is up to the neighborhood to gently guide the amorous couple in a very different direction.
When considering how poorly some marriages in our country fare, such actions on the half of the community seem very wise. Yet our culture would not stand for it, and label such actions as being "nosy". After all, our culture has a great stance on rights to privacy, so when it becomes well known that someone has an abusive husband or wife, no one in the neighborhood very willing to be the first to take matters into their own hands. After all, it is simply "none of our business".
But maybe it is time it starts becoming our business. Judith Wallerstein calls our attention to the fact that "first marriages stand a 45 percent chance of breaking up, and that second marriages have a 65 percent chance of ending in divorce" (85). Such numbers are not seen in any other country. Would it be better for us to behave more like Indian society, where we allow ourselves to step into a situation, and do what we know is best for the couple at risk, or would we be betraying one of our most sacred rights as American citizens, which is the absolute privacy of our own lives?
Kirszner, Laurie G.....
Cited: Kirszner, Laurie G.. Mandell, Stephen R. eds. The Blair Reader. 5th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson, 2005.
D 'Souza, Dinesh. "Becoming American." Kirszner, Mandell 484-491.
Wallerstein, Judith. "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce." Kirszner, Mandell 85-93.
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