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The Weekly Digest: 2-24-16

By James Arnold posted on:
October 17, 2017

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On to the news.

Assisted Suicide

We'll start with assisted suicide, and then we'll move into abortion laws around the world.

Over at The Federalist, Krista Kafer argues that assisted suicide laws often "become a license to kill." The author works as a hospice volunteer and is familiar with the difficulties of end-of-life care. In her words, however:



"Enabling suicide, however, is not humane. In the five U.S. states and as many western countries that have legalized physician-assisted suicide, such laws have opened a Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences that are anything but compassionate or liberating."

Interestingly, her argument runs contrary to one we looked at last week. Over at Public Discourse, Wayne Miller argues that conservatives would do best not to make these "Pandora's Box" style arguments.






Marriage and Math

Marriage is important. Okay, I'm preaching to the choir a bit with that one. But popular culture doesn't seem too concerned with marriage these days; after all, if you're already living with your significant other, what's the point of a piece of paper and a piece of jewelry? The answer to this question is long (and rooted at least partially in the 'already living together' part), but here's a different sort of counterargument: Singleness isn't all it is cracked up to be in the movies.

From the article:






"Disregard for marriage isn’t unique to movies. More sophisticated reflections also tend to minimize the challenges associated with being young and single. In his book 'Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone,' sociologist Eric Klinenberg stresses that American single men (and women) tend to do just fine. Compared with marrieds, for instance, he notes, 'single people are more likely to spend time with friends and neighbors, go to restaurants and attend art classes and lectures.' Nothing to worry about here, folks."

But spending "time with friends and neighbors," along with all sorts of other life-enriching activities, don't statistically lead to a less depressed or more fulfilled life. In fact, single men are more likely to "have difficulty with depression and excessive drinking" if they are single, compared to their married counterparts.

So, marriage is a good thing. Someone attempted to figure out the best time to get married, using math. There's a problem with this sort of calculus, and you might even catch it in the opening paragraph. See if you can spot it:





"Committing to a partner is scary for all kinds of reasons. But one is that you never really know how the object of your current affections would compare to all the other people you might meet in the future. Settle down early, and you might forgo the chance of a more perfect match later on. Wait too long to commit, and all the good ones might be gone. You don’t want to marry the first person you meet, but you also don’t want to wait too long."

The conclusions here are pretty solid. Don't marry the first person you meet. Also don't wait so long for Mr. or Mrs. Right that you end up single forever (provided marriage is on your list of goals). The problem is in the reasoning.

Here's the underlying assumption of the paragraph (and the subsequent math): When you meet someone, you have some amount of affection for them, some hidden quantity of compatibility. The article continues on and makes it clear that these stats are less variable and more static. That is, they are the sort of numbers that are simply true. When you meet your "soulmate" or "perfect match," you feel off-the-charts numbers.

But marriage is more than that, and so is compatibility. The reality of marriage is that it is far more than an initial compatibility quotient (though initial compatibility does matter). If you and your spouse do not work at your marriage, if you do not fight to make your marriage work (and work better!), then you are always going to wonder if that other man or woman you've met more recently is "right" for you. History and hard work can solidify a marriage (and the corresponding "compatibility number") beyond what an initial meeting or first few dates can tell you. Just ask any couple that has been married for many years.

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James Arnold

James Arnold

News and Research Manager

James Arnold manages and edits the Alliance Alert, a daily repository of news in all forms—written, spoken, or in video format.