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I 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?