The Abandoned Generation
by Gabriele Kuby
(St. Augustine’s Press, $21, 195 pages)
Angelica Vecchiato, Review:
In a modern world driven by individualism, where the immediate prioritization of the self has been valued over care of the other, humanity has been pulled apart at its seams—and forsaken children are the unfortunate byproduct. The young generation has been pushed to the margins of society, at best by callous neglect. Gabriele Kuby decries the tragedy of these rejected children in her short study The Abandoned Generation.
Logically, she lays out a compelling case for the return to strong families and a well-developed parent-child bond, in an attempt to address the “plight of the young generation.” Kuby analyses the problem from its core, tackling a present-day “elephant in the room.” First and foremost, the German-born writer acknowledges that every life, from its conception, is a miracle. Although children are largely considered a burden and weather a constant onslaught in our society, she affirms that they pave the way to a promising future. Yet even the tender bond of parenthood has come under attack. Since parenthood (but especially motherhood) contradicts the socially pervasive tendency for selfishness and individualism, the child-rearing role is discredited and discouraged.
Ideally, the child, in its helplessness, becomes the central focus of a loving parent, requiring the constant security and comfort of an affectionate mother; without her, the child cannot survive. This selfless role means that individual ambitions come secondary to the care of another being, an idea that defies the conventionally accepted wisdom of our society which always vaunts individual accomplishment and material success as a sure path to happiness and fulfillment.
A longtime sociologist, Kuby avows that although frequently unadmitted, “to nurture and care for life is the woman’s greatest identity,” because she finds it meaningful and more important than even the highest of leadership positions. Kuby takes her analysis one step further and advances the argument that this diffuse selfish individualism coupled with the “freedom as the highest virtue” mentality makes for a particularly disordered societal cocktail, leading to the culture of death. Since “lording over life and death” is considered “absolutely indispensable for our freedom,” practices like abortion, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and condom use are championed as liberators. While they purport to give women complete “control” over their destiny in separating sex from procreation, the adverse effects of these conventions have realized warnings laid out in Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae encyclical: widespread infidelity and lacking respect for women.
Kuby is also highly critical in her analysis of daycare for children under the age of three, calling it “socialism 2.0.” Since the earliest years of a child’s life are the most essential, she argues that it would be unwise to yank the child from an affectionate mother to the care of strangers. Kuby condemns daycare as a modern construct whose true (and concealed) foundational ideology—to induce a socialist utopia—essentially devalues motherhood. She notes that Marx identified the family as the main opposition to the classless society in his Communist Manifesto. Since daycare integrates women “into the production process” and encourages the “earliest possible collectivization of children,” Kuby suggests that it acts as the key to realizing Marx’s ideas.
To explicate her commentary on a broken generation Kuby — a divorcee — also tackles the present-day marital status quo, commenting on the unfairness of a growing divorce rate for children, who become a “fifth wheel” in a “patchwork family.” In line with modern tendencies, she remarks sadly that society considers only a parent’s happiness, but not the children’s suffering in a divorce.
After a hefty analysis of the symptoms and consequences of an abandoned generation, Kuby draws important conclusions. She develops a strong definition of love: sacrifice for the good of the other. She remarks that love is the foundation of a strong family and that strong families make good societies. In the face of the widespread culture of death, where the self comes above the other at all costs, Kuby concludes on a prophetic tone: If parents take good care of their children, the chances are better that their children will take good care of them when they’re older. However, if we continue in our current state—valuing self above everything else — we will only “end up on a collision course” with ourselves.
Angelica Vecchiato is a reporter for The Interim.