Monday, June 19, 2017

Making Good Appealing

I read a piece the other day, “The Taste of Strawberries,” by Jeffrey Bilbro for The Imaginative Conservative, about Tolkien, pointing out that his writing does something not easy to do:

One of the reasons that Tolkien’s stories continue to inspire us is that he does something few authors are able to do: he makes goodness compelling and desirable.
Bilbro (I’m delighted that his name sounds like he could be from the Shire) reminds us of the good places Tolkien created:
The Shire, in New Zealand
image from here

We long for the rich life experienced by the hobbits in the Shire, the elves in Rivendell, the dwarves in Moria and their kingdom under the Lonely Mountain, and the men in Rohan and Gondor. These places are not perfect, but their vibrant communities offer rich visions of shalom, of beautiful, harmonious ways of life.
I think he’s right. We don’t often come across imaginary creations that are truly good, yet are beautiful and interesting—never boring. More often we get depictions of good that are less than artistic, and often boring, even contrived.

We have a set of animated videos for children, intended for our grandchildren’s entertainment and learning, particularly on Sundays when we’re separating ourselves out from the world. I think they’re well done. They include music that is often worthwhile beyond the video. These videos depict scripture stories or historical characters. But my granddaughter, in a pique one day, refused to have those boring videos forced upon her. Sigh!

But I kind of understand. So much of literature—including movies—is about conflict, or other things more exciting than the good.

As Tolstoy points out in the beginning of Anna Karenina,

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
I’ve always bristled against that. I don’t believe it deep down. Unhappy families come from people doing uncivilized things—lying, cheating, being unfaithful and disloyal, jealousy, coveting, stealing, selfishness, abuse. There’s not really that much variety.

But inventing bad things does seem to be easier. As Bilbro points out,

In many of our movies and stories, the good characters are rather insipid, while the evil ones are much more fascinating. Think about the character of the Joker in The Dark Knight, Walter White in Breaking Bad, or Darth Vader in the Star Wars series. These characters are complex and compelling—they draw us into their struggle.
Even the bad places are fascinating, though often morbidly so. Think The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and plenty of other dystopian series. And in historical literature, we’re drawn to the extremities of war and oppression—hopefully with the uplift that comes from overcoming the evil, but still that’s where we dwell: the German holocaust in Schindler’s List and others, the Armenian Genocide in the recent movie The Promise, the Japanese prisoner of war camps in Unbroken, the story of the survival of Louis Zamperini, or the martyrdom of Bonhoeffer.

It’s not that these aren’t stories worth telling. It’s that there must be stories of good that also ought to be told, and told well. But we’re not good at finding them—or telling them.

Even the way we talk about heaven isn’t appealing—floating about on clouds, playing a harp, singing praises. Most of us (including me) would say that sounds boring if that’s all there is for the rest of eternity. It’s not how I picture heaven.

So how do we picture heaven—or as close as we can get to it here on earth?

There’s a story from the Book of Mormon that uses the image of a tree of life. I’ve met people from other religious traditions that have a tree of life too. In ours, it appears in First Nephi, near the beginning of the Book of Mormon. The prophet and patriarch of the people, Lehi, has a dream. In it there are paths, obscured by a dark mist, on a narrow path alongside a gulf of filthy water. But there’s a rod of iron alongside the path. Those who hold onto the rod and stay on the path get to a beautiful tree, with fruit that is sweet above all that is sweet:

a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy./ And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen./ And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit. [1 Nephi 8:10-12]
Lehi's Dream
painting by Steven Lloyd Neal

In this vision, many people seek the happiness of the tree. Many get lost along the way. But those who taste it—you’d think that would be the finale. For some it is, but others, even after they taste the sweetness, fall away from the tree after they notice ridicule coming at them from people pointing and mocking from a large and spacious building. There’s a lot to this dream we could apply as allegory to our lives.

Even if we find the best way to encourage people to seek and taste the good, that’s not the end. But at least we’d better start there.

In Bilbro’s piece, he says (and quotes C. S. Lewis as saying) that portraying an evil character is easy, because we can imagine an exaggeration of the evil already in us. But it’s harder to depict an extraordinarily good character, which we’ve never been. What Tolkien does that succeeds is putting decent but ordinary characters who are drawn to exceptional good and beautiful places.

In the words of Lehi’s Dream, they are people who seek that tree and taste the fruit—and then they remember the taste so clearly that, even when they might be placed in far distant circumstances, they will live for the day they can return and taste that fruit again. As Sam Gangee says to Frodo,

Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon, and the orchards will be in blossom; and the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket; and they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields; and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?
So if I had to describe good in a way that would draw everyone to it, I’d say those sweetened-on-the-vine best spring strawberries.

In the Spherical Model, we use this description for good, or civilization. There are happy families, economic prosperity, living in peace, creativity and innovation in the arts and every other area of endeavor. We could use Bilbro’s words and say civilization is “vibrant communities [that] offer rich visions of shalom, of beautiful, harmonious ways of life.”

It’s just a description, not an enticement, really. There’s beauty in civilization. If you can picture it, it’s hard not to want it. But it’s not dramatic. If people are going to visualize it—and, better yet, want it and seek it—they’ll probably need both real-life and literary examples.

I recently spent a week watching a Netflix series based on Anne of Green Gables—a series I’ve read multiple times, and also enjoyed the 30-year-old PBS series. There’s a lot for the new version, Anne with an E, to live up to. But going to that beautiful world (which I’ve been to in person) was worth giving it a chance. The casting was excellent. The scenery, of course, was beautiful. And the parts of the story that actually came from the original were nicely done.
That's us at the Lucy Maud Montgomery home
on Prince Edward Island, in 1985

But then the people who created this new version decided what they needed was drama. So they added things: Anne getting sent back to the orphanage after a brooch goes missing and is assumed stolen (the brooch incident is in the book; getting sent back is not); quitting school because others don’t accept her; saving someone from a fire so that her bravery wins acceptance; willing to go back to school because of feminism (I’m rolling my eyes); a mortgage on the farm; a heart attack for Matthew so he can no longer work the farm (he does have heart problems in the books, but doesn’t get incapacitated in her first year, nor is the farm ever in jeopardy); going to the big city to sell all the household goods, and the horse—and the farm helper who goes along to sell the horse gets beat up and the money stolen; they decide to take on a boarder—who happens to be the thief of the horse money; add in a possible love interest for Matthew, and a near suicide, plus a lot of parenting angst and self-doubt for Marilla.

So, maybe in some other story the drama might add something. But what we love about Anne Shirley is just watching her be herself in that beautiful Prince Edward Island setting that she appreciates so thoroughly. The books are episodic, rather than dramatic. But we don’t mind. Episodes like dying her red hair accidentally green, and floating in a sinking boat to enact “The Lady of Shalott,” which are practically iconic parts of the book, were left out of the new version. What a loss!

We need portrayals of good, or, as Bilbro calls it, shalom, that are enticing enough that adding drama for the sake of drama is unnecessary. Stories still need drama, and contrast, and layers of rich meaning. But we have plenty of depictions of evil.

I think, if we’re looking for stories of the good, we’ll find stories about happy families, with lots of humor, along with facing the challenges that happen just because we’re experiencing earth life. Sometimes dads and moms are the heroes who ought to be “put into songs and tales,” as Sam Gangee would say.

So, I’m on a search—I hope you’ll join me—for the good that will be as memorable and enticing as strawberries in the Shire.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Flags and Symbols

Things have meaning when we imbue them with meaning.

It’s useful to have a symbol that means something larger. Instead of describing, each time, that the United States of America is a nation based on a Constitution that limits government, and is intended to give people freedom while protecting their rights—kind of a mouthful—we have a symbol. A flag. It represents those larger ideas, plus some of our history.

The thirteen stripes represent the original colonies—the founding states. For a while there was an attempt to add a stripe with each new state, but that soon got unwieldy. The stars, though, do represent each state, so the number changed frequently until its current arrangement of fifty stars.

The red, white, and blue colors themselves add meaning. White stands for purity and equality. Red stands for valor, or courage. Blue stands for vigilance and justice.

Flag Day, June 14th, is actually the US flag’s birthday—which came about nearly a year after the Declaration of Independence, giving Washington's army a symbol to rally around.

When we “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,” we are using the word flag to represent all those ideas that are America. We even go on to clarify that we are also pledging allegiance to “the Republic for which is stands.” We mean all those states that make up our “one nation under God,” along with the ideas “indivisible” and “liberty and justice for all.”

Allegiance is related to the word ally, also align. When you offer your allegiance to the flag, you are allied with the ideas the flag stands for. In the case of this nation, we stand for some lofty things. The government doesn’t always meet up to that lofty standard. We love the country anyway. Like loyalty to family, we stand with, want the best for, correct as necessary; we don’t say, “You’re not perfect, so I’m abandoning you.”

You’re free to do that, of course. You can leave, become a permanent ex-patriot. But you can’t, by definition, be a patriot if you feel no allegiance to the place and those beautiful ideas the flag symbolizes.

Flags surrounding the Washington Monument

A flag is a piece of cloth, with colors. But it’s much more, because of the meaning it carries. When we see our flag blowing in the breeze, we see it as beautiful. Aesthetically it is, but the beauty we feel is the loftier meaning it symbolizes.

We can imagine what Francis Scott Key felt, after the battle at Ft. McHenry, during the War of 1812, when the smoke cleared and he could see the colors flying. That "star-spangled banner" was beautiful because it meant that freedom won that battle against tyranny. And that is always a beautiful thing.

This is from the American History Museum, in Washington, DC
where there's a display about the flag over Ft. McHenry, that
Francis Scott Key wrote about, which became our national anthem.
The actual, huge flag is on display, but no photos allowed.

One other symbol got notice this week. Do you remember when President Reagan spoke the forceful words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”? It has been 30 years since that speech, given June 12, 1987. The wall was a physical barrier between East and West Berlin, But it was larger than that physical thing. 

The larger thing was called the “Iron Curtain.” It represented the oppression of Communism, keeping millions of people trapped under Soviet communist rule. The wall was intended to keep people captive, separate from the Free World.

Two years after the speech, the day finally came when the wall was physically torn down. The meaning of that was more than just disassembling a structure; it meant renewed freedom. Families who had been separated for decades could freely visit one another again. People who had been held captive under tyranny gained visiting privileges to the rest of the world.

When I visited Washington, DC, I saw a piece of the wall, kept in a museum. It's not a pretty thing. But I'm glad we can see the symbol—that symbol we do not feel allegiance to—and remember what it meant, so that we can rejoice that the ideological barrier also fell that day.

Fragments of the Berlin Wall,
in the American History Museum in Washington, DC

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ninety-ninth Father's Day

Yesterday would have been my Dads 99th birthday. He was late to fatherhood—39 when my twin brothers finally showed up, and 40 when I came along barely over a year later. We had him around a good long time. He was 91 ½ when he passed away in late 2009. But the age gap meant we were relatively young to lose our Dad, especially so for my sister, who is eight years younger than I am. I have a lot of friends a decade or more older than I am who still have their parents. That’s part of the variety of life.

My Dad, WWII Army photo

Anyway, since Father’s Day is coming up this week (which began in 1910, eight years before my Dad was born), I thought I’d go ahead and honor fathers—with their civilizing superpower, today.

I’ve written about fatherhood, and Father’s Day, fairly regularly here. There’s an even larger list related to strong families, but we’ll focus mainly on fatherhood today. So here is the collection, after which I’ll pull out a few highlights:

·         Honoring Fathers, June 17, 2011
·         Building Better Families June 20, 2011 
·         Dad Rules, June 18, 2012 
·         Fathers, June 15, 2014 
·         Being a Dad, June 22, 2015 
·         Depend on Dad, June 17, 2016 

From “Fathers

In an interview about the study, Dr. [Brad] Wilcox said,

After kids come along, men are more likely to be engaged civically in their communities in activities ranging from youth soccer to church. Furthermore, they typically work harder and earn more money after they become dads, provided that they live with the mother of their children. One study found that “married, residential, biological fatherhood is associated with wage gains of about 4 percent, but unmarried residential fathers, nonresidential fathers, and stepfathers do not receive a fatherhood premium.” So, men become more engaged at work and in civil society in the wake of assuming the role of fatherhood.
Mr. Spherical Model carries sons
Political Sphere and Economic Sphere
Many of the outcomes of good fathering reinforce what sociological studies have been showing for some time. Additionally, though, Dr. Wilcox says having an involved father in the home actually leads to better mothering from mothers—assuming the father is doing his job well. He said, “It’s crucial for married fathers to do their best to be attentive, affectionate, engaged in the practical work of the home, and thankful towards their wives.”

From “Honoring Fathers

There’s a summary of family research I often turn to for data, called Why Marriage Matters. I’m going to list some of the conclusions here, to show how important it is to children and to civilization for fathers to be present in the family. (Please go to the original for sources and more details, available through 

1.     Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers have good relationships with their children. (Children of divorce report having much worse relationships with fathers.)
2.     Cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage. (Outcomes for children are equivalent to single-parent households, with higher incidents of abuse.)
3.     Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents.
4.     Marriage is a virtually universal human institution. (It is a significant factor in every civilization in history.)
5.     Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase poverty for both children and mothers.
6.     Married couples seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples.
7.     Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories.
8.     Parental divorce (or failure to marry) appears to increase children’s risk of school failure.
9.     Parental divorce reduces the likelihood that children will graduate from college and achieve high-status jobs.
10.  Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms.
11.  Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality.
12.  Marriage is associated with reduced rates of alcohol and substance abuse for both adults and teens.
13.  Married people, especially married men, have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles.
14.  Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women.
15.  Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological distress and mental illness.
16.  Divorce appears significantly to increase the risk of suicide.
17.  Married mothers have lower rates of depression than do single or cohabiting mothers.
18.  Boys raised in single-parent families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior.
19.  Marriage appears to reduce the risk that adults will be either perpetrators or victims of crime.
20.  Married women appear to have a lower risk of experiencing domestic violence than do cohabiting or dating women.
21.  A child who is not living with his or her own two married parents is at greater risk of child abuse.

The study summary ends with this conclusion: 

Marriage is more than a private emotional relationship. It is also a social good. Not every person can or should marry. And not every child raised outside of marriage is damaged as a result. But communities where good-enough marriages are common have better outcomes for children, women, and men than do communities suffering from high rates of divorce, unmarried childbearing, and high-conflict or violent marriages.

From “Dad Rules

A Dad will:
·         Spend time, more than money.
·         Work hard for and with his family.
·         Enjoy playing with his family.
·         Love the mother of his children.
He can be athletic or not. He can be good with a grill or not. He can be loud or quiet. He can be polished or a little rough. He can be himself, whatever that is—if he’s trying to be his best self.

Here are a few of the quirks we’ve observed in our household Dad, Mr. Spherical Model.

·         Vacations are for doing things you don’t normally get to do, or see things you don’t normally see; so there’s no excuse for wasting a minute. You fill every minute. Ten+ miles a day should be minimum.
·         Sports are for girls every bit as much as for boys—and Dad will just about always be the coach (which explains why daughter Social Sphere learned basketball instead of dance).
·         A dad that is big enough to intimidate just by walking in a room and looming over everyone gets the luxury of acting friendly to the kids’ friends.
·         Being considered an honorary teen for several extra decades is better than a lot of worldly honors.
·         It’s good to be one of those dads/grandpas/neighbors who loves holding babies and is sure he has the secret formula for calming fussiness.
·         When you say no to a daughter and she texts back that she hates you, you can be sure that she doesn’t really hate you and an apology is forthcoming; but you can save the texts to illustrate the amusing anecdote later.
·         Sure, save for a daughter’s wedding, but no matter what, it will cost more than you ever envisioned—but if you’ve been a good Dad all along, then she’s probably choosing the right groom, and it’s worth it.
·         Never swear around the Mom or kids, and the kids won’t swear around their Mom either (and maybe not around their friends either).

What are some of the ways to make a family more successful? Here are some of the ideas from yesterday’s lesson:

·         Pray together daily as a family.
·         Study scriptures together as a family, and teach your children your religious beliefs.
·         Do things together as a family—recreation, work.
·         Have family meal times and hold family councils.
·         Attend church meetings together regularly.
·         Keep a family history; share stories about elderly family members and ancestors.

Some years ago I had a lesson to give in our children’s auxiliary on Father’s Day. I wanted to be sensitive to any child that day who didn’t have a father, because if we made something to give to fathers and they didn’t have one, they could feel excluded. So I looked at the list of 60 or so children—and there was not a single child not living in an intact two-parent household. In our world today I know that’s rare. I know it’s rare even within my church. It was a snapshot. But it was telling. In that little community parents were doing many things right. The odds continue to build up against us, but the solutions to stopping and correcting the decay are known. They just have to be chosen.

And one final quote:

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.”—17th Century English Proverb

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Start with the End in Mind, Part II

Mondays post was mainly about education (specifically, educating for accomplished citizenship). But the process of figuring out what and how to teach is something that can be applied in a larger context. So I thought I’d apply it to the Spherical Model today. I’m doing this as an exercise; I can’t say I’m expert at this process. So we’ll find out together whether the exercise is fruitful.

So that we’re on the same page, I’ll start with reminders of what the Spherical Model is, and what human performance expert Joe Harless says is the process for coming up with what to teach.

The Spherical Model is about the interrelationships of the political, economic, and social spheres. In each of these interrelating spheres, the goal is north: freedom, prosperity, and civilization respectively. We want to stay away from—or move up from—the south: tyranny, poverty, and savagery respectively. East/west is neutral, relating to the appropriate interest, from most local ( furthest west longitude) to global (furthest east longitude)—with one proviso: issues should be handled at the most local level possible. When a higher level tries to control a lower level’s issues, the result is movement southward on the sphere.

To review the process outlined by Joe Harless in the book on education, here’s the order:

1.       Identify the results you want.
2.       Identify the measurable outputs/accomplishments that indicate accomplishment of the result.
3.       Identify behaviors/skills that must be used in order to get the outputs.
4.       Teach those behaviors/skills in the context of their purpose.
There’s probably more to it than that, if you’re going to use the process in developing a school system or a training program in the business world. But this will do for our purposes today. I don’t think we can even cover all four steps in a blog post (not sure I’ve covered them fully in the 800+ posts on this blog). But maybe we can identify what we want, plus a few measurable outputs that would show we are getting there.

The Results We Want

We want freedom, prosperity, and civilization. What do each of those look like?

Freedom: I used this definition in “What Is Freedom” a year and a half ago:

The Political Sphere

Absence of hindrance, restraint, confinement, repression. In the political sense, it is ownership of one’s own life and the production of wealth and property that results from one’s use of life and effort. A government should protect the freedoms of life, liberty, and property; it does not grant these things, but protects them from infringement. A government that takes life, liberty, or property unjustly—when the person has not unlawfully infringed on those rights of another person—that is a tyrannical government, which is the opposite of freedom.
Political freedom means living in a society in which our God-given rights are protected rather than infringed. These would include freedoms of belief and expression, such as freedom of religion and freedom of the press, as well as freedoms of property and security, such as freedom from illegal searches and seizures and the right to bear arms.
So, in the language of results, we have freedom when our rights are protected, and government is limited to that protective role of securing life, liberty, and property. The Preamble to the Constitution delineates the limits of government’s role, and the rest of the Constitution enumerates the powers the government is granted to accomplish its role.

Specific measurable outputs might include these:

·         Secure borders.
·         Sovereignty respected; peace with other civilized nations.
·         Effective and disciplined law enforcement and judicial system.
·         Representative government strictly limited to government’s proper role.
·         Adequate infrastructure.
·         No slavery or indentured servitude.
Prosperity: We’re born naked, impoverished, and inexperienced. It is by growth, hard work, and gaining in expertise that we try to overcome this condition throughout our life. Prosperity, then, means having a standard of living in which basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter are met, and opportunities for improved living standard abound. This comes from a free economy, in which we choose how we work, and more particularly how we spend what we have earned. This encourages the incentive to work harder and innovate, so that we can enjoy the fruits of labor.
The Economic Sphere

But one reason “the poor are always with us” is that some are unable, for reasons that are no fault of their own, to take care of themselves, either temporarily or permanently. Some might lack physical or mental capacity to earn enough to care for themselves. Some might be in the position of taking care of a loved one, which prevents them from earning income. Prosperity means that even those incapable of caring for themselves will have their basic needs met.

So let’s try re-wording prosperity goals as somewhat measurable outputs:

·         No death from lack of access to food or shelter.
·         Property ownership is protected.
·         Choices on how to spend earnings in hands of earners.
·         Limited taxes—that pay only for government’s proper role.
·         Fair taxes—same percentage for all income beyond subsistence earnings.
·         Low or non-existent unemployment.
·         Entry-level work opportunities.
·         Skill improvement opportunities.
·         Skilled workers well-match to business needs.
·         Entrepreneurship.
·         Parental responsibilities met (children cared for until adulthood).
·         Philanthropy—source providing basic needs to those who cannot care for themselves.
·         Upward mobility in standard of living.

Civilization: Civilization thrives when we have a critical mass of people who are moral by choice, meaning they honor God the Creator and grantor of life and liberty and definer of ultimate Good. It means they also honor family, which is the basic unit of civilization and the means of perpetuating it. Moral people also honor life, property ownership, and truth.
The Social Sphere

What does it look like? Here’s the description from the Spherical Model:

Civilized people live peaceably among their neighbors, helping rather than taking advantage of one another, abiding by laws enacted to protect property and safety—with honesty and honor. Civilized people live in peace with other civilized people; countries and cultures coexist in appreciation, without fear.
There is a thriving free-enterprise economy. Poverty is meaningless; even though there will always be a lowest earning 10% defined as poor, in a civilized society these lowest earners have comfortable shelter and adequate food and clothing—and there’s the possibility of rising, or at least for future generations to rise.
Creativity abounds; enlightening arts and literature exceed expectations. Architecture and infrastructure improve; innovation and invention are the rule.
People feel free to choose their work, their home, their family practices, their friendships and associations. And they generally self-restrain before they infringe on the rights and freedoms of others. Where there are questions about those limits, laws are in place to help clarify boundaries of civilized behavior. When someone willingly infringes on the rights or safety of another, the law functions to protect that victim as well as society from further uncivilized behavior from the offender.
So, now, for the attempt to re-word into measurable outputs:

·         Law-breaking rates low and easily handled by police.
·         Contracted commitments kept.
·         Businesses with integrity—errors toward consumers or employees corrected voluntarily and quickly.
·         Volunteer offerings of time and money to alleviate suffering of the less fortunate.
·         Thriving churches, charities, and philanthropies—shown by needs of less fortunate being met.
·         Citizen engagement high: voters educate themselves before voting; elected officials legislate no laws beyond the proper role of government.
·         Very low divorce rates.
·         Reproductive rates well above replacement—children are valued
·         Unwed parents rare; adoption is the expected result of the rare unintended pregnancy.
·         Sex outside of marriage unaccepted—not portrayed as normal and accepted in media.
·         Free expression of respectful opinions intended to preserve/repair civilization.
·         Justice that is clear, quick, and fair; creative sentences for law-breaking, including efforts toward repayment and rehabilitation.
·         Abortion and euthanasia near nonexistent.
·         Art, music, and other creative works.

One of the points of Harless’s book is that separating curriculum into discrete subjects doesn’t work. Similarly, separating the political, economic, and social spheres into discrete segments doesn’t work. They interrelate.

As I wrote in “Choosing to Solve Poverty” a year ago,

Prosperity requires a free people engaged in a free market—all of which requires a law-abiding, righteous people. Things are interrelated. There’s something that comes up in all three spheres—political, economic, and social—and that is choice
So this exercise at least lets us examine what we would see in a free, prosperous civilization.

Inculcating the behaviors to get there? That’s the lifelong job of every civilized person. And it’s done most effectively by example in the home. If we started with strengthening families, much of the rest would follow.