Teaching Public Virtue

TEACHING PUBLIC VIRTUE (PART I)
by Robert Williams

There is little controversy about the need for adults to educate their young by utilizing some sort of public or private schooling methods.  The common desire and expectation is that the young will grow up instilled with sufficient societal skills to assume adult responsibilities by the time they are 21 years of age.  These societal skills include the basics of academic subjects such as reading, writing, and arithmetic — plus an understanding of what society in general considers behavior beneficial to,  or detrimental to,  the advancement of the human species.  Behavioral topics constitute what is most often meant by the words “morals” and “virtues” and “vices”.   Be their origin divine or secular — the usefulness of such principles to society is seldom questioned because everyone throughout history has noticed that humans without such training are like ships without rudders that are condemned to the whim and fancy of nature’s winds and tides and can do much harm.

Since its foundation,  America has used morals taught by the Christian religion as a basis for distinguishing “good” from “bad”.  It is not surprising then,  that any kind of instruction of appropriate behavior is in the minds of many Americans automatically associated with religion.  While  it used to be that Christianity was openly espoused and practiced in public schools,  modern interpretation of the First Amendment tends to prohibit such.  The end result is that the teaching of “moral” behavior has little or no emphasis in modern public schools.   Unless private schooling and parental guidance can fill the gap,  too many citizens can now grow up without any rudder one could call “virtuous”.   The result is rampant bribery, dishonesty, and general chicanery at all levels of American society including the highest levels of government and finance.  A ruinous condition to be sure.

It should be obvious that if our society is to right itself,   it must restore a behavioral rudder.  Call that rudder what you may,  it has to be taught to our young.  In the hopes of avoiding a religious connotation and for the sake of discussion,  I term it here “public virtue” or a “public value system”.  It should not matter who believes what about the origin of such a system  as long as there is a majority agreement about the good public impact of its principles.  Deciding on the enumeration of these principles is really not all that hard.  We merely have to pick from the common-sense evidence of what has worked well through the ages.  Be charitable, don’t lie, don’t steal, reserve violence for self-defense, be civil in general, observe others’ rights as defined by the Constitution and the laws, etc.

The question is,  how can we restore the teaching of such principles into public schools without running afoul of the First Amendment and  ACLU law suits?  One answer may be to use words which cannot be associated automatically with religion.  Existing classes called “civics” for instance,  could include topics called “principles of social behavior” instead of being called “morals”.  In colleges they could be associated with “the psychology of public behavior”  or some such.  It is a shame we should have come to the point where such subtleties become necessary,  but hey — they are used all the time in “polite society” — such as calling sexual organs “private parts”.

The final answer of  course will depend on how much of the public can be alerted for putting sufficient pressure on elected school boards to have any effect.

TEACHING PUBLIC VIRTUE (PART II)
By Michael Dennin

It’s no secret that much of the support that Barack Obama has received over the years comes from young people, and it’s no secret a lot of them think he’s “cool”. No doubt, part of this comes from the slick persona he has projected to the public, and some of it comes from his hipster pot-smoking days in Hawaii when he was a member of the Choom Gang. However, a lot of the appeal has to do with the ages old tendency of young people to be naive, idealistic, liberal and even collectivist-minded – traits that are commonly associated with the Left. To be anything otherwise – i.e., conservative – is often considered backwards, lame and uncool. Naturally, Leftist ideologues and politicians promote and exploit those attitudes for their own benefit. What can the Right do to counter the Left’s propaganda?

In a nutshell, Conservatives and Libertarians have to counter the collectivist lies that Socialists are feeding young Americans. One of the most outrageous of these lies is the one that President Obama peddled at his recent inauguration speech – that our entitlements and government’s socialist redistribution schemes are what makes this country great. They’re not. What made this country great is individual freedom and initiative. It was the hard work of the people who settled the American wilderness, farmed its lands and toiled in factories to make a better life for themselves and their children that made this country great. The government didn’t build that. The Left’s socialist redistribution schemes didn’t build that. Individual freedom and initiative built that.

And this brings us to a little thing called History and what Socialism did build. It built the Soviet Union and its Gulag Archipelago. It built the Killing Fields of Cambodia. It built the starving wastelands of the Ukrainian Holomodor, China’s “Great Leap Forward”, Mengistu’s Ethiopia and the Kim dynasty’s North Korea. It built the re-education camps of Communist Vietnam. It built the Berlin Wall. It built the most rights-repressive socio-economic system in human history, killing 100 million human beings and destroying every society and economy that it touched. It built the Great Lie that Socialists can bring freedom and prosperity to all by robbing individuals of their freedom and prosperity. This totalitarian Lie is the roadmap to slavery and ruin. As William Faulkner pointed out in his numerous stories about the American South, Man cannot defy Nature with impunity, and it is Man’s Nature to be free. When men defied that truth here in America it led to the catastrophe of our Civil War and the decades of strife that followed. When men defied that truth in Russia, Eastern Europe, China, Southeast Asia and elsewhere, it brought more war, death and destruction. Those who forget and ignore this bitter lesson of history risk repeating it themselves. Our young people need to be made aware of this.

Finally, the Right must aggressively attack the Collectivist lies and propaganda of the Left. We must counter the Left’s campaign to de-stigmatize government dependency and its phony narrative that freeloaders are the “victims” of Capitalism and the greed of the “rich”. This is naked power-mongering at its worst, and it must be exposed as such. Dependency – most particularly dependency on the government – is not a good or desirable thing. Independence is the key to freedom. Dependent people can never be free. Dependent people can never be the masters of their own destiny. Dependency is not cool – it sucks, and the “progressives” who promote dependency for the sake of enhancing their own power are not cool. They’re not even progressive – they are Socialists. They are not revolutionaries, they are reactionaries who still cling to an 18th Century socio-economic ideology that should have perished with the Berlin Wall. The only true revolutionary ideal is Individual Freedom. It is this ideal that represents the true revolutionary break from the long dark centuries of State-imposed tyranny and totalitarianism. Again, Conservatives and Libertarians must spell this out to young people.

Leftists are waging open war on Individual Freedom and they are targeting their propaganda at the most vulnerable segment of society, our youth. If we wish to preserve Individual Freedom in this country, we must make it our duty to actively promote it to our youth. Their hearts and minds are the battleground for America’s future and we must arm them with the truth.

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Posted February 10, 2013 by Candidus in Activism, Culture

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