Sunday, 4 November 2007

Jonathan Sacks's solution to family breakdown

[...] He doesn't blame immigration for fracturing British society. "The critical variable is not immigration but integration. America has had to integrate wave upon wave of immigrants and it did so by telling the American story. Very quickly immigrants made the American story their own."

This, he thinks, could be a solution for Britain too. "We need to have occasions to express our island story. We should have a British day when we stop and think about who we are."

The country, he says, needs to rediscover a shared moral purpose. "On many issues there is common ground between Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and traditional British Humanists. It is a voice that tends not to be heard often enough in the media."

Britain's abortion laws are, he thinks, too liberal. "Abortion should be permitted only where it endangers the life of a mother. In Jewish law a foetus is a potential human life and therefore the rights of the foetus can only be overruled by actual human life."

He was shocked by a report which suggested that British children are the unhappiest in the West. "That should be a real wake-up call. Children should be allowed to be children, not turned into premature adults," he says. "They are sexualised, consumerised, their self-worth depends on which brand of sneakers they wear. We need a counter-balance."

Television is also in his view contributing to the moral decline. "Programmes like Big Brother and X Factor are awful, they whittle away at communities by promoting competition rather than co-operation. But things like the website Mumsnet which bring mothers together to swap advice are wonderful."

Children will, he says, only regain their self-respect through strong families. "Marriage is the most important building block in society. We shouldn't stigmatise single parents — if it doesn't work, it doesn't work — but let society do everything to boost marriage." Read more
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