Opinion | Morgan Liddick: What does the future look like for our children?
Our second grandson turned 1 on Sunday. There was cake. Cookies. Goodies. A pile of presents he tore into like a weasel falling on a chipmunk. As I watched him toddle about in oblivious glee, there were questions far beyond the occasion.
What sort of education will my grandson receive? Public education may teach him to read, write and count, however indifferently — but will it teach him to think for himself, and give him the facts necessary for that? Or will it provide him with approved attitudes and anathemas, that he may become a quiet cog in the machinery of the state? Will he learn the ancient, productive virtues — courage, self-control, honor, hard work, duty, friendship? Or will he be taught that these are wicked instruments of an oppressive system, named to suit the whim of the times?
Will he discover the greatness of his country that, despite its flaws, has provided the best example of the possibilities of human freedom the world has ever seen? That has labored mightily to advance the cause of liberty and has been its foremost champion for generations? Or will he be told that his home is an ongoing criminal enterprise, responsible for uniquely ugly and profound crimes that forever mark it as a pariah nation?
Based on present trends, the latter are far likelier than the former.
When my grandson is grown, will he live in an America that values and rewards prudence, diligence and measured risk? An America that appreciates those who accumulate wealth themselves and who dispose of their gains as they see fit, in accordance with their own goals and moral compass? Or will he experience a country that punishes anyone daring to rise above the herd — if they pay no obeisance to their political masters? A nation which stands the fable of Henny Penny on its head, heeding the fool’s comment that “you didn’t build that” and thinking profit is the property not of he or she who labored for it, but rather the mob who lifted not a finger to help?
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Indications are not encouraging.
Will my grandson experience an America which embodies the vision of Dr. King, valuing countrymen by their character and disregarding skin color? In which there is a general sense of shared culture, shared goals and national, as opposed to group, pride? Where a neighbor is a neighbor, whether from Arco, Idaho, or Khanpur, Pakistan? Or will the country be divided among ethnicities, races and political tribes, each regarding the other with deepest suspicion; nursing grievances real and imagined, for which they blame their fellow citizens and demand redress?
Look around and try to imagine the former coming to pass.
The good news for my grandson is that we created the present mess, so we can unmake it if we wish. The bad news is, that will take decades of work but most Americans have the attention span of gnats. It also requires self-discipline and sacrifice in a people less and less accustomed to either. But it is possible and if we start now, it will be easier than it will be later.
The first step is recognizing that many of us are responsible for the present mess. If you think those who don’t look like you are nefarious, it’s probably you. If you habitually accuse people of racism simply because you disagree, it’s likely you. If you think those who make more than you owe you their gains simply because they have more, it’s you. If you encourage division, suspicion, envy or violence for political advantage, it’s really you. From “Black Lives Matter” to “Not My President,” it’s definitely you.
This must stop for hope to prevail. We must recognize that, though we may disagree about the route, most of us have the same goal: a safer, freer, more prosperous future for our children, and theirs after them. If we cannot accept this, there is no chance of achieving that goal, since the nation which might have made it possible will boil away in a cloud of petty, bickering factions. Then it will vanish. Those who strove to erase it may soon wish it back, to no avail.
So we must begin by changing ourselves. Then we must seek out, expose and reject those who so corrupted the thought of so many that national self-evisceration became possible. And those who debase our language to make present evils seem boons.
But first changes first. And if not us, whom?
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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