David Brooks offers some interesting statistics that are sure to cheer those who believe in traditional morality. Instances of family violence have fallen by half since 1993, while violent crime in general has dropped by more than half. The number of drunken driving fatalities has declined by 38 percent, teenage pregnancies by 28 percent. Whats going on here? Brooks suggests that were in the midst of a genuine moral revival:
I always thought it would be dramatic to live through a moral revival. Great leaders would emerge. There would be important books, speeches, marches and crusades. Were in the middle of a moral revival now, and there has been very little of that. This revival has been a bottom-up, prosaic, un-self-conscious one, led by normal parents, normal neighbors and normal community activists.
But, I hear traditionalists say, hasnt our culture been in steady decline during the past twenty years? What about the rise of violent video games? What about the ubiquity of sex in movies and song lyrics? What about the general coarsening of public discourse? Could it be that these things arent as important as traditionalists have suggested? Might it not be possible that in spite of Howard Stern, Grand Theft Auto, and internet porn were becoming a better nation? Or--perish the thought--that people might even indulge in such guilty pleasures without becoming chronic neer-do-wells?