There are weeks when I want to grab my husband, children and grandchildren and sail off to an uncharted island, cocooning us away from the rest of the world. Needless to say this idea has serious downsides including that I have yet to effectively grow anything in a home garden and that this voyage would render my library card useless. I’m not even sure that Google Earth, let alone government satellites still allow for the existence of uncharted islands.
Nonetheless, the desire to block out a confused world remains strong. After hearing of the president’s “evolution” on same-sex marriage last week, one of my son’s friends told me that among his peers are those who have strong religious beliefs. They agree that following God’s word on organizing both families and society leads to more successful and long-lasting results.
But, and this is a big but, they also believe that if they vote according to those beliefs, they are not good citizens. Years of higher (mis)education have convinced them that a Marxist can take his views into the polling booth; an atheist can vote his convictions; someone who believes that his cactus tells him how to vote can follow his plants’ imagined conscience, but that the good citizenship forbids one to take religious beliefs into account when voting. These are intelligent, personable and well-intentioned young adults. They are also abysmally ignorant as to the foundations of America (while waving diplomas that inform them that they are superbly educated).
I would like to think my son’s friend misunderstood his peer’s comments. I fear he did not. Years ago, a very bright graduate student told me how shocked she was to discover that the wording of the First Amendment to the Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” did not mean that Congress was forbidden to show any respect for religion.
If I had an island I could ban ideologically biased newspapers, manipulative books, TV shows or movies and teachers with an agenda. In the real world, however, these influences are pervasive. The onus is on each of us to articulate to our children ideas which are so fundamental that we assume they don’t need to be stated. Unless we make sure that our input is paramount we risk our children’s opinions being formed by other.