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Feb 28

This is the end of marriage, capitalism and God. Finally! – Salon.com

The next big thing isn’t a clever gadget or miracle drug—it’s a way of life: not a breakthrough invention but a social innovation. And it’s not so much a beginning as it as a series of endings.

Rising numbers of young people are now deciding to do everything their parents didn’t. They’re eschewing cultural and economic convention to challenge what we take to be civil society. They aren’t marrying. They’ve become the refuseniks of our competitive corporate culture. And many of them have opted out of organized religion.

Let’s start with a quick look at some facts:

The End of Marriage

According to the New York Times, over half of all American women under 30 who give birth are unmarried. When adjusted for levels of education and economics, the numbers skew dramatically higher.

Of course there are an array of possible causes for this trend, including everything from the relative economic independence of educated women to a shift away from the cultural stigma of unwed parentage to even a latent reaction to the divorce of their own parents. This change brings a complex array of challenges. For example, marriage is a foundational element of our legal system connected to property, beneficiary and custodial rights and obligations. Some believe that the decline of matrimony has led to the increase of children living under the poverty level. These skeptics say that if we pull the thread of marriage from the fabric of our society, it is unclear what will unravel or remain intact. While societal norms may have changed, adjusting our legal system to protect unwed mothers and their children may still be far behind.

But the end of marriage may also be a sign of something great: just look at the Scandinavian countries, which rank among the highest educated in the world with a standard of living positioned well atop of our own, and you’ll see the same downward trend for marriage among the young. Their society has not collapsed, their children are well attended, and by, most discernible standards, they are prospering.

The End of Capitalism

Well before the collapse of the middle-class economy in America, Europe and now Asia, young people started cultural movements that shifted the center of balance from economics to social values. According to Pew Research, this change is creating an enormous generation gap between boomers and millennials that is still widening. It’s likely a response to the worst employment prospects for young adults in almost a century—and a renewal of idealistic frontierism, with the New Urban Corridor as the 21st-century Wild West. What were once areas of blight are now shining lights for our youth. Signs of the new anti-commercialism are everywhere: shared houses and cars, urban farm collectives, and the end of intellectual property rights. Millennial survival guides abound in the form of countless blogs that offer advice on how to hack the new world. Pass the beer nuts, comrade.

Time went so as far as to call millennials the “Me Me Me Generation.” While tons of readers disapproved of the essay’s snarky tone, what the essay really missed is the collaborative nature of this age group. There is a noticeable shift away from traditional careers in favor of values-centric goals of communal harmony. For example, a much larger percentage of recent college graduates now seek work in the nonprofit sector than graduates in the previous four decades. Many might have attributed this to the dismal job market or the availability of posh parental support, but this global, inclusive view of millennials suggests a real change in attitudes about what constitutes meaningful work.

The End of God

According to the Washington Post, 25 percent of millennials don’t affiliate with a faith-based tradition and almost twice as many don’t belong to a church. More so, a Pew Research study suggests that an astonishingly low number of youth believe in the existence of a God. As religious participation, affiliation and even belief wane in both post-Christian Europe and the Americas, atheism is now among the fastest-growing affiliations among young adults who have turned anti-faith into its own kind of faith.

What has driven our youth away from their spiritual traditions in record numbers at record speed? A recent report from progressive think tank Center for American Progress suggests a culture gap. The organization characterizes this gap as both a push away from church dogma regarding same-sex marriage and reproductive rights and a pull toward science and personal development. Abuses by clergy and power plays by the bully pulpit may also factor into this divide. Even evangelical magazine Relevant notes that social media-savvy millennials are increasingly rejecting the hierarchy of the church and turning to each other for spiritual solace and advice. Though they may not be attending traditional services, they might well be creating their own personalized spiritual playlist.

Source: This is the end of marriage, capitalism and God. Finally! – Salon.com

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