In light of the news that Governor Palin will soon be a grandmother, many people are comparing her daughter’s decision to bring her baby to term and to marry the father with Senator Obama’s comment
about not wanting his daughters to be "punished with a baby," should they get pregnant at a young age.
The contrast is interesting, as it seems to point to two different philosophies. Senator Obama wishes to diminish the consequenes of mistakes that young people (and adults for that matter) inevitably make. Not an unreasonable wish. On the other hand, Governor Palin’s philosophy is that the best way to help someone grow up is to force them to live with the consequences of their actions, however difficult that might make life. It’s more of a tough love philosophy.
In his speech last week, Senator Obama spoke of responsibility: "That’s the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper."
But how can one teach people to be responsible unless on lets them fall flat sometimes and suffer the consequences?
P.S. A slightly different point. Obama seems to think of America as a community of 300,000,000 people. Is that possible? Or is that why the founders turned away from the old idea that republics had to be small. In small, city-state sized republics, we truly can be each others’ keepers. In a large republic, there’s probably too much diversity among people and among communities for that to work. For the most part, being our brother’s keeper is done one-on-one, and locally. In that sense, the effort to make us all one big family might, in fact, hinder our ability to help our friends, neighbors, and families in times of need.