Shortly after December 7, 1941, advisors to Winston Churchill told him about the Pearl Harbor attack. In response he said, “What kind of people do they think we are?”
So as you take a look around yourself, and as you observe the attacks happening on the soul and development of your children and grandchildren, I want you to ask yourself, “What kind of parents and people are we?”
Earlier this year a movie came out titled Whose Children Are They?. The movie gathered experts, parents and teachers who shared the shocking experiences they had with their schools. Sadly, the chronicles of much of education today engenders chaos, confusion, and poor academic outcomes. Fortunately, many parents like you have stood up and engaged in their schools as classroom volunteers and as elected board trustees. But is that enough? We need more to enter the battlefield on the side of right, whether it’s through civic service or more careful attention to our elected leaders, present and future.
It was C.S. Lewis who, in his unforgettable Screwtape Letters, wrote:
The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid ‘dens of rime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.
Abraham Lincoln said, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” (I would add, with our children being the prize.) I want to introduce you to a few principles and reasons for why I encourage public service for all who can give. I will use a few examples.
Recently I have had some friends and associates leave California for a variety of reasons. The irony is that some of them call after having left and express a desire for a John Adams Academy where they now live. I often reflect about making sure when you leave a place you are doing so for the right reasons. We have every right to stay in California and raise our children in our values and in our schools of choice.
For better outcomes, remember these principles:
1. The Bully Principle — A bully is a person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable. Stay where you stand; then lift where you stand. As a young boy in the 5th grade I was ruthlessly bullied by a very assertive and athletic lad. There came a point when I felt I needed to either leave my school or vacate my position on the school safety patrol. I decided to stay where I stood. That resolute decision with subsequent action ultimately resulted in being respected. In short, I learned to not take counsel from my fears. I also learned the saying of The Lord to his disciples to be as “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 KJV)
2. First Among Equals — We hold a trust for our communities for a brief period. As elected officials or as community members we need to work as first among equals. Consider the definition of the word trustee: A person to whom anything or business is committed, in confidence that he will discharge his duty. A person to whom is confided the management of an institution, as the trustees of a college or of an academy. (Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language 1828)
3. The Authority Principle — The best authority is moral, natural, and positional in that order and in complete harmony. Many seek positions of power and talk about how they will serve. The proper sequence is to serve and become a living resume where your natural abilities reflect your motives to serve others. It is then that you will be asked to serve in a position.
4. The Mentor Principle — We all need a mentor who is on higher ground than we are, one who can coach, lift, guide and inspire us. Mentors are found in books, friends, churches, business, schools, etc. They possess the gift of thoughtful reflection for our success.
Shortly after the Second World War, Nazis were put on trial in Germany. They couldn’t be convicted immediately under German law because it was “legal” to kill Jews. Ultimately, they were convicted under natural law as “crimes against humanity.” In other words, legal does not mean morally correct or right . I would term the academic and character failings by those in authority in many schools as “crimes against families and humanity.”
Elections are what allow us to put our leaders on trial for their actions. Elections are almost upon us, now is the time to hand down your verdict.