I recently spoke to a former public-school teacher who now teaches homeschool students online. She had experienced the expected depredations in the former arena: the introduction of divisive critical race theory, historical revisionism, and the permeation of woke ideology into every crevice of the curriculum. But there was something more.
“We can’t tell any stories,” she related. Every story that has been shared across generations can be (and has been) sullied by those who proclaim that their mission of social/racial justice hinges on the eradication of Western culture. The utopian vision promised by proponents of this radical ideology can only bear fruit in the ashes of Christendom, it is claimed; thus, they seek to destroy the solid foundation upon which the best of the West was rooted.
The stories and fables of other cultures can’t be shared in the classroom either, lest the teacher be accused of cultural appropriation—which doesn’t seem to be readily distinguishable from cultural acknowledgment to the sane observer. So, children are raised without tales, without literature. Common Core worsened this problem by insisting that the curricula include more non-fiction than ever before. Horrendously, we call all of this “education.”
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The folktales that have been repeated throughout the ages don’t just share moral messages. They enable us to abstractly examine the spiritual battles that take place within, as we struggle to choose the paths we ought to embrace at difficult moments in life, often while being lured elsewhere by our vices. The stories endure through time because they share these truths that speak to our souls and to our experiences. We share them with our children to teach them messages that they might easier learn from a book than from painful trial and error. They were as relevant a century ago as they are today because man has the same innate impulses, needs, desires, and temptations throughout the ages. What summons man today is also what beckoned him in yesteryear. Each was made by God and was born after the Fall.
So, timeless fictional works are nearly eradicated from the curriculum; and then, the only history that is shared with those deprived children is that which undermines the great men of the past by amplifying their flaws and minimizing their virtues. Children grow up without any positive connection to the past. At what cost?
Relatedness to men of the past can help to remind us during difficult moments of the suffering and tragedies that punctuate every human life, not just our own. It can also help to provide context to historical events—that we might see those men as being as flawed as we are, yet with the same innate aspirations to provide for their families and protect their loved ones effectively from the darkness of the greater world.
Children are instead immersed in a doctrine that is designed to teach the evils of one’s forebears, to coat every brick laid in the history of the West in the blood of hapless victims. There is no attempt to herald the virtues of those who indisputably led harder lives than we and accomplished more than most of us can imagine or aspire to, or to recognize their humanity.
As a preteen, my hero was Admiral Horatio Nelson, probably mostly because he lost his mother at a young age, as I had, then went on to reach legendary status as an admiral and wartime strategist. While that might have been an atypical hero, what was not atypical was to have a hero. That’s one of the things that we are depriving young people of, to tragic effect.
We’re training them to believe that they stand on nothing but the subjugation of others, and that it is their principal job to thus live in rejection of their ancestors; to tear down what was built before them. They are denied the stories of martyrs who fought and sacrificed that we might endure; those who gave everything to protect Christendom and the freedoms of those lucky enough to be born within its territory.
The ignorance instilled in our youth causes them to fail to see that painful moments throughout their own lives are not catastrophic or insurmountable. They must be taught and warned about the certainty of such events—historically done through literature—so that in times of despondency they might believe that their battles are not unique, they do not exist in isolation, but rather that they share the burdens that others have throughout time. Suicide is the leading cause of death in teenagers and the numbers are worsening, but this really shouldn’t surprise us.
By denying them their history and the stories of old, we thrust them into isolation in the present. We deny them the truth of kinship, the understanding that their struggles have been experienced by others and overcome. We insist that they live in a timeless present—completely without ties or affection for the people of the repudiated past and owing nothing to posterity. If we owe nothing to our forebears, what must be passed on to the next generation? If we ourselves gain nothing from those who came before, why should the next generation fare better?
If the last generation and every age before them is defined by its worst actions, left impotent to influence us by the stain of their grossest sins, why wouldn’t we, too, be defined by ours? Every man knows the capacity of his own malevolence and the sordid chapters of his own history. If the tales of old are thrust down the memory hole for their worst attributes, there’s little hope for any of us. Life is stripped of meaning to the degree that it is stripped of redemption.
This is not how Christians should define themselves or their brothers and sisters. We are defined by our baptisms; our sins can be met with redemption should we seek it, a truth that offered hope for those who came before us. Our forebears fought the same battles against vice and temptation, often failing, as we do, yet ever on the journey home. We don’t have to believe in perfect people to see value in the battles fought and won—to realize that they have things to teach us.
Of course, the public school system is secular, and when you deny Christ, you fall into the nihilism of defining people by the immoral matrix of the current political theater. You fail to see them as sons and daughters of God, with value and dignity inherent. The curriculum therein described is thus a consequence of a faithless education. To refuse to see the good any time there are also flaws is to prepare our young to crumble in the face of adversity and to be unable to bear their own reflection. It readies them for despair and drenches them in a secular ideology that, by definition, lacks hope and meaning.
Some send their children to schools and work tirelessly to stay abreast of what is being taught, to protect them from the degeneracies of our age. While credit is due for those efforts, harm can be done through the absence of knowledge—through what is not being taught. We must work to correct this privation before what’s left of our culture is lost because the next generations don’t have any memory of what once was.
[Image Credit: Unsplash]