Monday, June 1, 2009
The case for arranged marriage.
Arranged marriage does not have a lot of proponents here in the United States. It's not unknown in western culture, but as it stands now in the early 21st Century, it has the twin connotations of being either old-fashioned or foreign or both, and those two aspects make it much harder for it to catch on. We're Americans, Goddammit, and we know how to do stuff! While personal ads and computer dating sites are considered acceptable alternate options, we prefer to let the decision of who chooses whom as a life partner to be left to the wisdom of the hormones of young adults and teens, thank you very much.
But it wasn't that long ago that we saw marriage as not just the connection between a man and woman, but as a merger of families, and having a healthy agreement between the two clans was an insurance policy that could keep the young couple together and help them through the difficult first years of the transition.
Say what you will about the Palin family, and I will probably say worse. It's hard to deny that a mom and her unwed daughter both giving birth in the same calendar year is a story you expect from poor folks and trailer trash, but the Palins actually have made something of their lives. While Barack Obama's personal story as the first African American president is much more remarkable, Sarah Palin has lived the American dream as well, becoming the first young political star from Alaska in the fifty year history of Seward's Folly being a state. From city council to mayor of Wasilla to the governor to being nominated as vice president, she has made something of herself. While it was clear that Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston were capable of producing a healthy baby, the Palins now find themselves in the position of needing to find good matches for their offspring, families that are worth merging with. Bristol's mom is the governor of the state. Levi's mom is on trial for selling oxycontin. There's trailer trash, and then there's trailer trash.
Americans think of arranged marriage as a quaint throwback, but some people like the Palins are now looking at the unpleasant alternative left them by the acceptable modern options. If our society thought of 'family planning' as actual planning done by families instead of a euphemism for birth control, Todd Palin would not be in the unfortunate position of offering to buy his high school graduate daughter a car if and only if she will dump the father of her child.