Wednesday, November 21, 2012

All quiet on the western front

Quiet? Not likely.  Things are changing, constantly!
Our world has changed and is changing now.  Things that make up our culture, our world, seem more liquid than fixed.  We'd perhaps like our world to be predictable, but it isn't, and it isn't going to be.

Causes?  Among many, war is just one.

What would happen if war suddenly removed half of the marriage-eligible men from a generation?  

If a country of millions lost half of the marriage-eligible men, then millions of women (and their parents and communities) are in turmoil. It means the country will struggle for a generation, trying to understand the place of women in society. It means the economy will have to shift to make a place for women in the workforce formerly occupied by men.

One of 300 million search hits
for "emerging woman"
In American civilization, that kind of thing has happened three times with the Civil War, WWI, and WWII. Europe was hit much harder. Three generations, tilted over the edge of 'normal'. One result; beginning (yet again) in the 1950's, an emerging women's culture, a changing woman's philosophy, a reconsidered woman's theology, and a newly formed woman's identity!

Half a century later and throughout the world, the question of a woman's place and its resolution are still taking shape with conflict, violence, and rhetoric; and we are living in the continuing upheaval. We understand the issues, perhaps, but often misunderstand the cause of its prominence. This one is only one of many changes emerging from the wars.

This article's title is taken from the novel of the same name; written by a German veteran of WWI describing the inhuman conditions of the war, the changes and the impossibility of returning to a normal civilian life. Published in 1929, the book was among the books banned and burned in Nazi Germany.
Are there impact points besides war (and the horrors we won't cover here) that might force the reshaping of a culture? Even bigger causes?
Of course there are.  Shifting demographics from immigration, international economic shifts, technology and communication innovations, globalization, polarization; all are nation changers, and many are world changers.

Teacher Li's take on
leftover women...
and leftover men.
For a recent example affecting tens of millions, what would happen if a nation's economy went wild with a rapidly growing gap between haves and have-nots, and I mean explosive growth! Welcome to the China you've never imagined! Just a half-century ago, Chinese society was mostly poor, tightly constrained, and neither men nor women had difficulty in finding a mate. Then education became a priority along with population control and other pressures. Today, with the country's colossal economic upheaval - and a yawning chasm between China's winners and losers - your spouse may be the largest single factor determining whether you ride home on the back of a bicycle or in a BMW.
China's educated women increasingly know what they want in a husband, but it's getting harder to find him. They're calling themselves the 'leftover ladies'. Millions of them. By 2020, we're told, the balance will shift rather suddenly due to the 'one child per couple policy' with 24 million more men than women in the marriage window. Major impact.

Every nation is changing. Every nation.

Now the question surfaces long before we're ready to consider it in a calm and rational manner ... what does all this mean to our worldview? To our theology? And to our digestive system, for pity's sake.

Truth is unchangeable, but everything, everything else is soft and pliable. Plenty of opportunity to learn and grow and help things along.

Welcome to the 21st Century.  

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