I read the Atlantic's cover piece, All the Single Ladies, a few weeks ago, and I've been chewing on whether to write something on it or not. I think it's pretty obvious that author Kate Bolick and I couldn't lead more different lives. It's probably only slightly less obvious that I find hers to be almost completely shallow and lacking in meaning, mainly because she has deliberately separated herself from belonging to the most quintessential "community" mankind has ever created: a family.
I find her decision shallow because she seems to have made it in order to search further in life for self-satisfaction and happiness: some kind of "meaning" that apparently continues to elude her. She fails to realize that most of us find exactly these things by taking the path that she dismisses. In fact, the very reason that marriage and families endure as bulwarks of society despite the many attacks on them is because so many people have realized that focusing solely on their own happiness and fulfillment just doesn't get them there. When they take the lens off themselves, and turn towards helping others - that is when not just happiness but true joy descend. Does that mean that married life and family life is a peach? Of course not. But anything we do that has a higher purpose - even if that purpose is not a religous or metaphysical one, but simply the desire to consistently put another's needs before our own - will bring back gifts we can never hope to measure.
Ms. Bolick has lived her life lacking practically any kind of moral compass and now it is beginning to show. She has put herself first and all others who could have made her life richer second, and now writes with some bewilderment how this order of things could have failed her. It fails everyone, Ms. Bolick; even without a mother interested in teaching you this lesson (and yours clearly was not), you could have looked about you and discovered that quite quickly. But the mirror must have been much more fascinating, and so you missed it. Instead of grasping why people get married and have families - not for sociological or economic reasons, but for real, human reasons such as love and companionship - All the Single Ladies looks at marriage as a curiosity that can't quite be understood and can be easily dismissed as "just another odd way some people order their lives." In this conclusion, Bolick misses the raison d'etre of the vast majority of her fellow human beings; not just her long, meandering article but her life itself is the poorer for it.