It’s easy to think that history is something that happened before you were born, but this month illustrates that we are watching history in the making, day by day, week by week. After President Obama’s second inauguration and the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I knew January 2013 would be historic, but this?
The United States is now on a very special list that includes Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, New Zealand and Norway: 9 nations that send women to combat.
Opinions pushing pros and cons about the decision are all over the internet, some silly (Slate: “ladies can’t pee outdoors”) some quite serious (The Washington Post: “Through quirks of biology and human nature, are not equal to men — a difference that should be celebrated rather than rationalized as incorrect.”), and some focused on past realities (NPR: “We’ve been at war for 10 years where women have been directly engaged in combat.”)
Two polls released in late January show that Americans are more likely to support than oppose allowing women to serve in combat roles. The photo above is of Richmond, KY National Guard Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, the first woman to receive the Silver Star since World War II. That’s change with a capital C.
As NY Times columnist David Brooks explains, “Each year, there are more people from different cultures, with different attitudes toward authority, different attitudes about individualism, different ideas about what makes people enterprising.”
Days after the ‘women in combat’ announcement came another whopper: The Boy Scouts of America, that banned gay leaders for years, is considering allowing local scouting groups to decide for themselves whether to accept gay members. There’s still a Board vote to come, but leakers say the change is sure to pass and take effect on June 1.
For adults like Jennifer Tyrrell, 32, who lost her position as a Bridgeport, Ohio troop leader because of her sexual orientation, the announcement is an answered prayer. When the news of her dismissal broke last summer, Ms. Tyrrell said,
“I love Scouts as everybody probably knows by now. Cruz loves Scouts and we don’t have any ill feeling toward the Scouts. We just wanted to be included.”
What’s that you say? You’re not in the military and you have no interest in the Boy Scouts? Maybe not, but America’s ongoing changes are broader than that. Pew Research Center has revealed another cultural shift: public attitudes toward childlessness have become more accepting. Most adults now disagree that people without children “lead empty lives,” a share that rose to 59% in 2002 from 39% in 1988.
Physics tells us that if one object changes — speed, shape. you name it — the objects around it must change as well.