He recounts the difficulties facing young people growing up in the dysfunctional family cultures of poor and working-class America. We need to respond to their hard circumstances with sympathy. ‘But it’s increasingly clear that sympathy is not enough. It’s not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles; it’s norms. The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens. In many parts of America there are no minimally agreed upon standards for what it means to be a father. There are no basic codes and rules woven into daily life, which people can absorb unconsciously and follow automatically.’ This loss of social capital didn’t just happen. Norms for decent behavior ‘were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another.’ Care about the poor and vulnerable in America? Step one is to combat the plague of nonjudgmentalism.
First Things, (May 2015): 69.