Bifurcated is a word that I usually associate with mathematics. However, as David Brooks pointed out recently, it is a better word than class to describe the separation of the white classes in America in the beginning of the 21st century. Brooks is commenting on the differences between the top (upper tribe) 20% and the lower (lower tribe) 30% of white American society described in “Coming Apart” by Charles Murray.
Murray sees many reasons for the widening separation of these two groups since the early 1960’s. I will comment on two: the number of white children born into one parent families; and, the number of men during their prime earning years that are dropping out of society. Both of the above reasons are related.
The 60’s were a time of great social changes, all purported to be for the better. Their intentions were to help raise up certain segments of society. One change was the advent of Welfare for poor mothers; the other, was the development and use of safe birth control pills. These new things offered women opportunities to free themselves from the consequences of a poor or misunderstood choice like having unprotected sex which often resulted in pregnancy. In the 50’s and for generations before, the coming birth of a child was often the signal for the couple to marry and thereby, form a family, once described as the “building block of society”. Once society took on the primary role of providing for mother and child, men were relieved of responsibility, especially among the poor. Over time, women perceived themselves as “liberated” from the dominance of men. This gave men, even in the then middle class, less perceived responsibility. It may be disheartening, but it should not be unexpected that since the 60’s lower tribe white men in their prime working years, between 30 – 49, are dropping out of the labor force and out of society.
It would be wonderful if all men and all women knew in their hearts that each was a child of God, always forgiven, but always expected to live up to the great mandate of a caring Parent, “Love one and other as I have loved you.” My hope and my prayer is that all of the pundits put their talents together to help upper tribe and lower tribe men and women reach for the best in themselves and then share it with other men, women and, most importantly, children.