In his writing, Steyn notes the departure of social norms. It wasn't long ago that with out a doubt "women and children" came first, a social norm which provided a small amount of structure in chaos. However in response to the Concordia it has been brought up that "women an children first" is not a law, and is "from the age of chivalry." Steyn notes that this "age" was the age of our great-grandparents...Not really that long ago. So Steyn says,
"We are beyond social norms these days. A woman can be a soldier. A man can be a woman. A seven-year-old cross-dressing boy can join the Girl Scouts in Colorado because he 'identifies' as a girl. It all adds to life’s rich tapestry, no doubt. But I can’t help wondering, when the ship hits the fan, how many of us will still be willing to identify as a man."
He then goes on to say that the Concordia is a metaphor for the "fragility of civilization." What does he mean by this? In the West we have many things that give us the illusion of security--airport security checks, evacuation drills on ships--but when something goes wrong,
"we discover we’re on our own: from dancing and dining, showgirls and saunas, to the inky depths in a matter of moments."
So taking a step back...We have an illusion of security in the West. Especially America because our currency is the international trade currency, we have a powerful military and an ocean separating us from the mess on the other side. But what happens if this security evaporates? This question is something Steyn brings up. He acknowledges the cliche of comparing the West with a ship headed for disaster, but just because it is a cliche doesn't mean it should be ignored. Given the reaction on the Concordia --where the illusion of security was torn and passengers were left to fend for themselves-- what can we expect should disaster hit the West he asks? Steyn concludes,
"The contempt for 'women and children first' is not a small loss. For soft cultures in good times, dispensing with social norms is easy. In hard times, you may have need of them."
One of the important offshoots of Steyn's article, in my mind, is an evaluation of our security. Is our security --economic, national, personal-- really there, or is it an illusion? Are we close to a wreck? It is hard to answer these questions if one wants to avoid the label of "alarmist." We are talking about TRILLIONS in debt, an active militant country pursuing nuclear weapons, we've been at war for 10+ years, more and more legislation seems to go against the constitution... Yet on the whole, here at home in my apartment, everything seems ok. I can still surf the internet, do what I want when I wake up, I have a car, no one I know has been laid off...That is, life SEEMS ok. So is there, or isn't there a problem, and if so can it be fixed? In my view there is a problem, we are headed for a wreck. But that is hard to come to terms with because I have never been in a shipwreck, literally or figuratively.
To close things out, Mark Steyn is on the money, and I think many people are trying to figure out if there really is an "iceberg" ahead. It will be up to candidates --including Obama-- to answer this question and to have a plan, be it avoiding the collision, or evacuation afterwards.