Tuesday 22 September 2009

two conflicting values

It's hard not to write about America - historically, the world's largest emitter of CO2 - when you're writing about climate change, and hard when writing about America not to write about America's sense of itself - its exceptionalism and spirit of individualism. Because at the heart of any debate on climate change lies the relationship and/or responsibilities that exist between the individual and the group. (Or between one country and other countries.) For any playwright, this would be the great theme.

A new book on marriage The Marriage Go Round by Andrew Cherlin offers a useful slant on this. It's well known that Americans treat marriage very seriously. But one of the details that jumps out from Cherlin's book is that a child in the U.S. has a greater chance of seeing his married parents break up than a child of unmarried parents in Sweden. The author explains this strange finding in this way:

I think Americans have two conflicting values in their heads: one is the high value placed on marriage and other is the high value placed on personal choice and individualism.

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