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Teaching American Values – Essential

Posted on Monday, April 10, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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14 Comments
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A recent poll shows a slide in values essential to the Republic, especially among the young. Fading are patriotism, faith, willingness to sacrifice, including for children, and tolerance for others. The question is why? The answer is – we are failing to teach. Truth is that way.

The Wall Street Journal reported that, since 1998, those calling patriotism “very important” fell from 70 percent to 38 percent, religion from 62 percent to under 40 percent, having children from 50 percent to 30 percent, and tolerance for differences from 80 percent to under 60 percent.

These are sobering facts, a slap in the face to those who believed in, sacrificed for, and built America. Republics are based on transferring values forward; we are plainly failing at this.  

America arose from an unwavering belief in individual liberty, the sanctity of individual souls, and power of those souls, working together as one People, to govern themselves.

Majority rule was balanced with protecting minority groups and views, three branches of federal government balanced with State powers, and all government given limits – in the Bill of Rights.

Until America’s founders put these ideas into practice, no nation had. Until America created our Constitution and Bill of Rights, no such system of existed for federal action, states’ rights, and self-governance premised on God-given individual liberties.

The idea was genius, maximum freedom to all individuals – political and economic – limited only by maximum protection of the rights of all other individuals.

What did that produce? The most free, prosperous, unabashedly faith-centered, other-regarding nation in human history, one that regularly self-corrects by reference to that Constitution and even waged a Civil War to self-correct racial inequality, thus elevating and honoring all souls.

So, let’s get back to the values which are fading – patriotism, religion, fidelity to children, and tolerance for others’ views. Let me unpack this failure to teach, value by value.

One cannot love what one does not know, and cannot know what one disparages from ignorance. If patriotism is love of country, it fades in proportion to the “unknowing” of how good a society is – that is, about our founding ideals, our past sacrifices, and our selflessness.

Older Americans confess patriotism – at a rate double younger Americans – for a reason. They are not senseless. Their love of America is a measure of depth, gratitude, and understanding – based on living. They appreciate what they have lived, risks and rewards, failures until success, the loss of fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and siblings to war.

When we read that younger Americans are less “patriotic,” reality is shouting at us. Too often, these young people do not understand the nation’s origins, founders’ genius, what brought us to life, values and sacrifices required to sustain and grow the nation – making possible their lives. 

In truth, this is not their fault. Younger generations draw their understandings from those who are older, who either teach or do not teach what they know. 

To be a patriot is not to profess our nation is free of faults, but to understand our unrivaled status in history and the world, the genius of pluralism, power of individual freedom – economic and political – to lift all souls, and limitlessness of pursuing equal opportunity for all citizens.

Americans are on a quest – which we originated and lead – to realize our founding values, honor the sanctity of every soul, balance of individual liberties with equality of opportunity for all.

That brings me to the second fading value, faith. If history is rightly taught, one connects the dots, seeing in our Constitution – not to mention America’s other-regarding nature and generosity of heart – a reflection of our founders’ faith.

This is not a small matter. Those who have kept the nation free, risen to defend and preserve us, from the inside out and outside in – have generally believed in a merciful God, in freedom over every other option, and in the power of right to prevail. We should take a page from their faith.

As Lincoln quipped, “…my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Elsewhere he noted, “…if we lose our freedoms, it will be because we have destroyed ourselves from within.” Faith is essential; it sustains and protects, fortifies and in the quiet of the night, offers insight for the reflective soul.

As for children, and a willingness to look forward, give forward, sacrifice for others, and do so with an uncompromising heart – this is a value that raises not just the child, but the parent. We must say so. In giving we receive.  

As for tolerance, this is the essence of pluralism, of any republic or democracy. Tolerating other’s views is what allows self-correction. Behind tolerance – actually motivating it – must be a sincere interest in truth, and the humility to know no one has a monopoly on it.

Clearly, America is at a crossroads. We will either educate succeeding generations about America’s “exceptional” nature, a word Alexander de Tocqueville used for us, or we will fail to understand ourselves, our obligation to those who follow, and will fail the future.

As Lincoln pointed out, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation is the philosophy of government in the next,” to which he added, “He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help” – and with wry humor: “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” May we pass forward what we know, hoping it sticks as it should. Truth is that way.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman2 for AMAC.

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PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

RBC,

Both Stalin and Hitler understood that if you get control of the education system and access to a nation’s youth starting at an early age, it was possible to re-shape the attitudes, views and even intelligence level (dumb down the populace) of the entire nation over time to make them more pliable to the left’s goals. The left in this country has understood and copied that model since the early part of the 20th century here in America. First starting with the universities and colleges and then, once the education system was largely subsumed in the late 1970s, working their way down through the high schools and grade school levels. The creation of the Department of Education, by Jimmy Carter, greatly eased access to the high schools and grade schools of this nation, while also speeding up the leftist indoctrination process under a de-facto official stamp of approval from our own government.

I wish I could say that results posted a few weeks ago on this poll were surprising, but honestly they were NOT. This country has essentially stood by in a combination of apathy and willful ignorance for decades as more and more of this socialist style indoctrination was spoon fed daily to the young, mailable minds of this country. What would people rightly expect to see after decades of this stuff going on? Exactly what the poll results show! If schools are teaching that the United States is inherently evil, unjust and the source of what is wrong with the rest of the world, and that the solution to fix all this is to completely dismantled our republic and adopt socialism, what would you expect?

Felix
Felix
1 year ago

Sarah Huckabee Sander said it best after the State of the Union Address, the progressive left, supported by MSM, are “crazy”. And our younger generation is indoctrinated by the schools, K thru college, right before our eyes, and we allowed it. We all need to pray to God to wake people up to the truth that is in the Bible.

John Bass
John Bass
1 year ago

First let me say, another great article by Mr. Charles.

For me, I believe it all started when we were told you could not correct or punish your children. Then they started taking God out of the classroom because it might offend some non-Christian, which is ironic considering our government was founded and based on Judeo Christian values. Then they quit having school children say the pledge of allegiance because, again it might offend someone. Now were seeing transvestites parade around influencing grade schoolers. How can we be expected to teach any values to children when we’ve been forced to relinquished control over them?

Yeah, people in recent years have begun to push back but when your child is in the care and custody of the school system for the majority of any given day, you better hope there’s not some bleeding heart liberal at the reins of your local school district…values are best taught at home. The government needs to stay out of it and schools need to stick to teaching the basics, of reading writing, arithmetic and social studies.

God save the USA

Joyce
Joyce
1 year ago

… CIA runs psy-ops, playing divide and conquer, keeping Americans at each others’ throats, on account it keeps the heat off themselves, and their bestest little buddies, the cartels, the corporations, the limousine liberals, and Washington DC insiders –

Yvonne
Yvonne
1 year ago

Your cars, your children, your gas stove, your wood burning stove, every kind of stove, your right to bear arms, your 1st amendment guarantee, ever notice how the Democrat people, are always taking something away from you? The democrat people want you back in bicycles, and horse drawn wagons, so they can have the roads, everything all to themselves –

JamesP.
JamesP.
1 year ago

Joe Biden is turning America into Sh*thole. There is a special place in Hell for this fake catholic.

Max
Max
1 year ago

Great article, RBC. But I believe that the nation is past and through the crossroads and on the downhill slide to oblivion.

SusanW
SusanW
1 year ago

Great reminder, Robert, of what’s important.

I will NEVER give up on our great country! I’m not a Democrat nor a Republican. I am a conservative American. Our founding fathers provided us with a very vivid and detailed road map. Pull it out and let’s get back on course!

God blessed me with eternal hope and a massive amounts of determination and strength. As an educator of history, I have created lessons for my many students that immersed them into a period of history. We traveled back in time. One of the most important periods was that of the American Revolution. My students became participants in the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea party, knew Paul Revere and William Dawes, and fought as minutemen and soldiers in the Continental Army. We fought at Bunker Hill, read and analyzed the Declaration of Independence and celebrated the Treaty of Paris. This is how our children learn about and experience the concept of patriotism. They don’t just read about it in a book. We must continue educating our future whether the schools permit or not. Be an active participant of our American values.

Faith, the willingness to sacrifice and becoming tolerant of each others beliefs, are born out of patriotism. This great country would never have been created without these values.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

Excellent article.

John K
John K
1 year ago

Great insights!

James H
James H
1 year ago

Amen! “The truth will set you free.”

John Moon
John Moon
1 year ago

This is so very true????????????
I wish I could share these great articles to other platforms. Unfortunately when I do( I.e. Facebook) all that shows up is a banner trying to get people to join AMAC . Don’t get me wrong, AMAC is great. But it would be a good thing to be able to spread the message to a platform that most younger Americans are familiar with. You’re not going to get a teenager to join AMAC.

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