Is Your Society Healthy? Take This Short Quiz To Find Out!

 

shutterstock_34630036I tend to be on the optimistic side of things, but the past few weeks have felt like the climax of years of bad news. The Islamic State remains intractable in a country in which we spent a decade fighting, and it’s sending tendrils of violence into the West. Obamacare is further entrenched, and undoing it seems like ever-more wishful thinking. Gay marriage is now forced on millions of people, not only without a vote, but often in spite of their votes. A handful of bad actors seem intent on provoking racial animosity at every turn. It’s just been no fun to be a conservative of late.

Of course, things aren’t all bad, even on the social front. As others have pointed out, we’re living in a golden age of school choice and homeschooling (unthinkable not so long ago). Gun rights are expanding rapidly. Both violent crime and abortion are still trending downward. Those are hardly consolation prizes. But this still leaves us with questions about what we really mean when we talk about a “healthy society” — and how we determine if we have one.

So take a step back from the headlines: What questions should we ask, and what would help us answer those questions? Go as big-picture or as granular as you like, but the questions should be short (two sentences at the most). Don’t worry about exceptions to general rules, or whether your question is wholly comprehensive; no single question need be determinative, and it’s the total score that counts more than any individual answer.

Here’s one suggestion: Does your society make an effort to honor its past while also looking forward to its future?

There are 21 comments.

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  1. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Where does your country land on the Heritage Economic Freedom Index?

    Are your taxes incidental to your behavior or determinative?

    Is your government chartered? If so, does it operate only within its legitimate functions?

    On June 4, 1788, Patrick Henry said, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.” Is liberty the direct end of your government?

    • #1
  2. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    A question that seems to me very important is whether suicide rates or proxies for them (such as drug overdoses) are trending up or down. I think Durkheim’s insight about the importance of seeing the suicide rate as a social fact tied to social structures was very profound.

    • #2
  3. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    The King Prawn: Are your taxes incidental to your behavior or determinative?

    Oooh, I like that.

    • #3
  4. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    The King Prawn: Are your taxes incidental to your behavior or determinative?

    Oooh, I like that.

    I think it gets to the heart of the question of whether we are a people who have a government or the opposite.

    • #4
  5. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    I clicked on the “click bait” hoping to find a short quiz. Now I find out I am expected to make up my own quiz? I demand my money back! ;)

    • #5
  6. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    “Is liberty the direct end of your government?”

    Oh, that’s good, KP!

    • #6
  7. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Z in MT:I clicked on the “click bait” hoping to find a short quiz. Now I find out I am expected to make up my own quiz? I demand my money back! ;)

    The sign of an unhealthy society. Expecting others to do your work for you.

    Seawriter

    • #7
  8. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    TG:

    “Is liberty the direct end of your government?”

    Oh, that’s good, KP!

    It’s very good, but it needs a followup: What do you mean by “liberty” and is there widespread agreement?

    • #8
  9. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    My question will surprise nobody–How are families doing, and more specifically, children.  Follow-up questions would be:  What percentage of children live in poverty, drop out of school, have both parents, etc.

    • #9
  10. user_432921 Inactive
    user_432921
    @JimBeck

    From Lileks http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/15/0715/070715.html ,in which Lileks comments on an articlehttps://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/how-art-became-irrelevant

    From the Commentary  article:  Without a sincere concept of the meaning of civilization, one cannot explain why a masterpiece of Egyptian New Kingdom art counts for more than a creation of 1960s industrial design (other than in dollar value). If one cannot do even that, it is hard to see how one might set out to make serious and lasting art. To make such art—art that refracts the world back to people in some meaningful way, and that illuminates human nature with sympathy and insight—it is not necessary to be a religious believer. Michelangelo certainly was; Leonardo da Vinci certainly was not. But it is necessary to have some sort of larger system of belief, a larger structure of continuity that permits works of art to speak across time. Without such a belief system, all that one can hope for is short-term gain, in the coin of celebrity or notoriety

    At the mundane level Steyn notes that his town will not even defend its own holidays;http://www.steynonline.com/7040/insufficiently-independent-to-hold

    So as a society does not know what to believe in, or doubts its beliefs, or doubts that there are beliefs which have lasting value it becomes increasingly ill or in evolutionary terms, maladaptive.  I think that the easiest and earliest marker is the family.  Does the family transmit those values and beliefs which have lasting and evolutionarily adaptive value?  If it does not or has lost the ability or motivation to teach values and beliefs then the society will increasingly collapse.

    • #10
  11. user_605844 Member
    user_605844
    @KiminWI

    Do you find yourself thinking about the government as an actor in your life? Weekly? Daily?

    • #11
  12. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    KiminWI:Do you find yourself thinking about the government as an actor in your life? Weekly? Daily?

    I run a business, so pretty much daily.  Oh, and taxes are sometimes very determinative to our actions.

    • #12
  13. user_189393 Inactive
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    I think my question would  be – “How many people are convinced that the end is near and desperately trying to DO SOMETHING to stop it”.

    the_end_is_not_for_a_while

    • #13
  14. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    My sign would say:

    THE END WILL NEVER COME!

    • #14
  15. user_432921 Inactive
    user_432921
    @JimBeck

    “The Amish population increased from about 5,000 in 1900 to about 140,000 in 1992.  In recent years the population has been doubling every twenty years.”

    “On the other hand, formerly high birthrates in Catholic Italy have fallen well below replacement in recent years.” Concerning birthrates, “No modern transition has reversed itself once begun.”  From “Not by Genes Alone”, authors Richerson and Boyd.

    So how does the Amish community thrive in a world where all of the Amish beliefs are out of sync?  Also, why are Italian Catholic families ceasing to have more children than the Japanese? The Amish family and community is succeeding in transferring their values and beliefs to their children, so that their children choose to carry on the tradition.  However, in the West, the culture is confused or silent, even at the simplest level of family responsibilities, like how are fathers and mothers  to behave as parents and with the society in general.  When a society is so rudderless, people will follow whatever trend seems to be the most popular, or they will follow the behavior of public celebrities.  This is a difficult time to sustain public virtues.

    • #15
  16. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    Barkha Herman: I think my question would  be – “How many people are convinced that the end is near and desperately trying to DO SOMETHING to stop it”.

    Judging by how too many people become alarmist pessimists precisely when things are going well…I’m not sure if this has a positive relationship with the “health” of a society, or a negative relationship.

    I hypothesize an inverted-U relationship :p

    • #16
  17. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Does it protect the  vulnerable?

    • #17
  18. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    I don’t like where we’ve come to as a culture.  The breakup of the family, the pop obssession with sex, the loss of faith, the normalization of perversity, the selfishness of radical individualism, the ignorance in classics, history, art.  The list goes on.  I was just thinking about Chesterton’s great work, Orthodoxy last night.  When Chesterton wrote it, it was a dissent on the trajectory of where western culture was heading.  That was 1908.  Today it’s not a dissent against the trajectory but of where we actually are.  We are no longer on a trajectory, we are there.  Western culture has expired, the legalization of SSM being the final death blow.

    • #18
  19. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    “A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein, Friday

    • #19
  20. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Barkha Herman:I think my question would be – “How many people are convinced that the end is near and desperately trying to DO SOMETHING to stop it”.

    That’s not as compelling for Willimason conservatives or Millenialist Christians.  We’re all of the opinion that the end will be awesome and are trying to hasten it.

    -E

    • #20
  21. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Zafar (View Comment):
    Does it protect the vulnerable?

    Define vulnerable.

    • #21
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