One of the most destructive things that’s happening in modern society is that we are losing our sense of the bonds that bind people together – which can lead to nightmares of social collapse. … Alexander McCall Smith
Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my new book, Divided: Colliding Ways We See the World. In the next several posts in this blog series I am looking at the Modern Worldview. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.
In the next several blogs, we are exploring the ideological, philosophical, scientific, religious, political, environmental and economic characteristics of the modern worldview.
Modern Society, Part 2
The middle class family encouraged affection. The importance of love as an ingredient in family life became a modern value. The family served as a pleasurable nurturing center that provided an emotional bond among individuals and a reliable, comfortable refuge
from outside strife. With fewer children, child-rearing practices among the modern middle class began to change. Parents increasingly treated children with love and respect.
This practice of respect coincided with Enlightenment beliefs, which assumed children could improve and become responsible adults through humane and supportive treatment. Harsh discipline as a means of dealing with childhood transgressions declined, although it certainly was not eliminated. Instead, it was believed that children should be afforded certain rights and protective services, and the tradition in which children were obliged to accept arbitrary parental directives decreased.
Middle class parents spanked children less often and drew them more closely into the family orbit of affection. The old European practice of swaddling—wrapping infants tightly in cloth to prevent movement—began to disappear. Adult supervision increasingly replaced physically restraining children.
Parents experienced a decline in their traditional authority, especially the father’s role as authoritative head of the family. Although the father’s influence did not fade away completely, this subtle decline of traditional family authority and male preeminence was linked to a lessening of family members’ reliance upon each other for mutual benefit and even survival. Instead, family dependency shifted towards more reliance on the outside marketplace as a source of necessities and income.
In middle class families, fathers, some mothers, and children spent at least parts of the day outside the home, which meant that at least a partial transfer of family influence shifted to other institutions, such as schools or the workplace, which began to take over some of the family’s traditional functions.
Through the years, many people holding a modern worldview have fought for steady, incremental progress in forging a more equitable and inclusive society. Supporters of various social movements—civil rights, feminism, Native American rights, environmental protection, LGBT rights, people with disabilities, and others—have supported the recognition and implementation of legal, political, and other rights that have helped those historically discriminated against win greater inclusion into mainstream society. Although the results have been uneven, blatant discrimination of minorities has been tempered, and society, especially among the younger generation, is now more accepting of diversity of social norms than previous generations.
About the Author
Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.
For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95