Published March 1975 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Family Decline Spells Social Trouble With all of the other problems that beset our society, one that is receiving all too little attention, in my judgment, is that of the deterioration of family life in our country. "Liberation" is the great catchword of the times. The main aim in life for many, it seems, is to be relieved of as much responsibility as possible especially the responsibilities associated with home and family. The urbanized circumstances in which so many people live today contribute to family decline. The great mobility of our society- its rootlessness-is a factor. The increasing lack of necessity for the hard work once required to keep a home going-bringing in the fuel, preparing the food, etc.-is another. But more significant than all that, perhaps, is the startling change in attitude toward marriage that has occurred in recent years. In one locality after another, if the news reports are to be believed, the institution of marriage is on the decline as the sexual revolution spreads. Popular publications revel in stories about swinging singles who openly live together; who may or may not produce children; and who afterward, as likely as not, may go their separate ways. Where society once condemned such lifestyles, 1~ow it only shrugs. We have yet to see the end result of this kind of "liberation." The experience of mankind in societies throughout the ages does not suggest that it will produce an improvement upon all that has gone before. On the contrary, an even greater social instability than plagues us now is likely to follow. The family is basic in any organized, civilized social order. Both Oriental and Occidental peoples have found this to be true. The stronger the family, the more stable the society. In many ways, the new liberation is simply a new selfishness, a new self-centeredness. Individuals may gratify passing whims without family ties or family responsibilities. But society as a whole, and children who may be involved, will be the less secure and the losers because of it. Our country needs, perhaps more than anything else, a new emphasis upon the importance-the essentiality, in fact-of the family. Our cherished social progress is not likely to continue, much less endure, without a renewal of the responsibilities that should go with home and marriage.