Everything impacts family law, because everything impacts families. Our changing social mores, our political zeitgeist, our econmony even our environment direcly impact how families operate and therefore, how family law is done.
Right now I’m seeing much that is in transition and all of it will impact family law.
Same sex marriage is very soon to become an accepted form of marriage in all 50 States. This will be true by the end of this decade, if not sooner. Very soon gays and lesbians will be able to marry just like any heterosexual couple. And won’t that be shocking. About as shocking as watching a mixed race heterosexual couple stroll hand in hand through the town square. (Please read a strong note of sarcasm here.) Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Our political zeitgeist impacts our families. Politically we are teaching our children that we need never get along, we need never find common ground, indeed, that there may be none. “If he’s for it, then I’m against it.” Dialogue and compromise are no longer virtues. They have become vices.
We are teaching our children that right is defined and determined by our side, whichever side that may be. There is no ultimate truth, no normative value to which we can all lay claim. Might makes right is okay. If we complain about guns, we get threatened with having them used against us. If we complain about unarmed teenagers being slaughtered by police in our city streets, the police turn out in tanks and full riot gear to remind us who is boss.
The intentional economy is decimating the middle class. We are rapidly approaching a society of haves and have nots.
The overall economy has doubled since the 1980’s, but you’d be hard pressed to know that by your paycheck. Wages have remained largely flat. Almost all gains in the ecomony have gone to the top 1% of wealth holders becuase they have the political power (and that’s before the Citizen’s United decision). As a consequence, the top 1% have re-written many laws reducing the top tax bracket from 70% to 35%. Capital gains are taxed at only 15%. The top 400 wealthiest people in the country last year paid taxes at only 17%.
This creates huge budget deficits which causes our politicians to constantly slash government programs. Remember, the goal is to get government so small they can drown it in a bathtub.
This impacts our children in their schools where the wealthiest districts are outspending the poor districts two to one. This results in standardized scores that are decidely lower, college acceptances less likely and, of course, the consequent disparity in employment opportunities.
Finally, the environment. The IPCC’s new report is out. As you may know, the last time the world leaders met, they vowed to try to keep the planet’s temperature from increasing no more than two degees Centigrade above the norm. Now the IPCC is reporting that this goal is implausible. At present rate, if we do nothing we can anticipate a climb to nine degrees Fahrenheit, (five degrees Centigrade) above normal on average by the end of this century. As conservative and cautious as the IPCC scientists are, they are quite possibly overestimating that time frame. Based upon the quantum changes that occurred between their first report and this one, mid-century is quite possible. I probably won’t be alive by 2050, but my children will. And so will yours.
In “Six Degrees” Mark Lynas writes,”[w]ith five degrees [Centigrade] of global warming, an entirely new planet is coming into being – one largely unrecognizable from the Earth we know today.” “Humans would sit powerless to intervene as their planet began to turn into a Venus.” Our zones of inhabitability will dramatically shrink. Those of us remaining, climate refuges, would be forced to the arctic regions, the last habitable places on the planet. There will most certainly be “[a] dramatic reduction in human population… ‘the cull'”. Billions of people will die.
While we still have a chance of stopping this quick descent into hell, whatever harm we continue to do is irreversible. Our children, our grandchilden, will suffer for our greed.
All together now.
So how will these elements intertwine, interact, even impact each other?
If we start with the global warming crisis and work backward, I think a path will become clear. To save ourselves, to save our children, we must immediately and completely re-direct our focus, our efforts and our energies to ceasing carbon emissions. The alternative is suicide. Most of us are opposed to that. Right?
The result in ceasing carbon emissions in and of itself is transformative. Already, Europe is looking to a day very soon when they can decommission their power plants, when they will operate 100% on renewable energy. So must we.
We will create a multitude of jobs. We will tremendously reduce air polution which will keep millions of people healthier. Most importantly, we will have lowered the pistol from our head. Collectively, we shall have taken such a significant, life affirming step. By our mutual actions, we shall have saved life on this planet, particularly the human kind.
From that life-affirming step, many other benefits flow. The myriad of jobs helps re-create the middle class who abundantly invest in and create our economy. The collective power to re-create our energy infrastructure necessarily means that the 1% will have lost the war. No longer generating their wealth at the expense of our health and wellbeing, their political power is checked. The common good once again carries political clout. “Of the people, by the people, for the people.” What a concept.
From this common good we return to universal truths, universal values, such as might does not make right. Such as, you don’t shoot an unarmed man. Such as, police officers are our friends, not our enemies. We create a safe and sane America.
From this common good we stop worrying about the people opposed to gay marriage. And they stop worrying too because they’ve finally come out of the closet. Even they no longer have to live their lives in fear and self loathing.
Family law shall then go on. Kinder, wiser, more centered.
So, you see, I want to stop global warming, re-establish the middle class and ensure universal truths so that I can continue practicing in the profession I so dearly love.
Won’t you help me?