A powerful antidote to such atomistic existence, loneliness, and alienation, is found in the family: productive, resilient, and together. A family-centered life with the home as the engine of education and economics orders one’s vocations and roles in ways that build lasting familial bonds and provide stability amid a changing world. COVID-19 quarantining provides an opportunity for this reality to sink in.
In much of her scholarship, Mary Eberstadt establishes the natural family as an ideal structure for human flourishing. With penetrating insights that transcend normal partisan categories, she makes a compelling interdisciplinary case that the liquidation of the natural familial order contributes to a whole host of worrisome aspects of modern life, from identity politics, to religious decline in the West. In what Eberstadt labels the Great Scattering, one finds “unprecedented familial dispersion, . . . [with] Western men and women . . . more atomized and estranged from their own than ever before.”
Living the atomized and autonomous life, nurtured by Western societies and praised by popular culture, has unintended consequences that are still coming into view, all the more so in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps this is an opportunity for what Eberstadt predicted in 2013: “One need not imagine a full-scale crisis to see how the pressures of a shrinking and aging Western population might force a new consideration of the family.” The compulsory homecoming of sorts that much of the country—and the world—are now experiencing could be Eberstadt’s catalyst for a reconsideration of the family and the home as a place of educational pursuits and economic productivity.
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