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Education and Charity Begin at Home
by Thomas A. Droleskey
Feburary 9, 2001

The fellow with the horns and pitchfork is dancing up and down for joy these days. The Adversary knew that decent people would be so appalled by the criminal activities of Clinton and Gore and company that almost anyone else would look better by comparison. That is why otherwise sensible, rational people are expressing great hope for President George W. Bush, even though many of his policies are founded in the same statist and redistributionist fallacies as those of his predecessor. Having been pounded mercilessly by the forces of darkness for so long, truly good and well-meaning people just do not want to view Bush’s proposals through a critical lens. It is almost as though they are saying, “We’re so glad Clinton is gone! Cut Bush some slack. Give him whatever he wants.” However, the net effect of that uncritical attitude is going to be disastrous for the cause of fundamental justice founded in the splendor of Truth Incarnate.

To be sure, the new administration, although replete with pro-aborts, does have a sprinkling of appointees who do seem to understand some of the dangers posed by the evils that lurk in our midst. On February 2, Michael Southwick, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations, received a standing ovation from representatives of governments and non-governmental organizations at the United Nations when he asserted the rights of parents and the traditional concept of the family. (He was assessing a UNICEF document prepared for the Summit on the Child that was then underway at the United Nations.) That is a very welcome development, one that augurs well for the battles on matters of the family that lie ahead at the United Nations in the next four years. The people at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute will have allies in the U.S. delegation to the United Nations rather than adversaries. All well and good.

(Although it’s a topic for another discourse, suffice it to say that someone with the courage of Howard Phillips or Patrick Buchanan would remove this country from the United Nations altogether. It is worse than a useless debating society. Its bureaucracy is composed of a gaggle of Communists and collectivists, people who preach solidarity with the poor and the oppressed while living quite luxuriously at the expense of the member nations that fund their salaries. That is a sin against the Seventh Commandment — “Thou shalt not steal.” More importantly, however, the United Nations has long been — and continues to be — one of the chief instruments for promoting the evils of contraception and abortion and sodomy around the world, all in the name of promoting human rights. While efforts to limit the damage done by the United Nations are well-intentioned, the world would be a far better place if the United States led a coordinated withdrawal of a number of countries out of its ranks once and for all. Nothing less than the reality of national sovereignty — and the ability of traditionally Catholic nations to withstand the reach of the United Nations — is at stake. What applies to the United States applies also to the Holy See. There comes a point when attempts to limit the evils done by the United Nations, no matter how well-intentioned, actually lend legitimacy to the unjust nature of the institution itself.)

However pleasing it may be to hear them coming from public officials such as Southwick, philosophical discussions about the primacy of the rights of parents and of the traditional family ring hollow when this nation’s policies continue to subordinate the family to the whims of the omniscient, omnipotent state. Take, for example, Bush’s education proposals.

No level of government — state, local, national — has any role to play in education. Zero. None. Zip. Zilch. State governments have created a government-based school system that arrogates unto itself the right to establish curricula of study for students in all schools, including those in private and religiously affiliated schools (as well as for home-schooled students). That is a fundamental violation of the natural-law right of parents to be the principal educators of their children. Parents may take it upon themselves to work together with other parents to establish schools for the education of their children — or to enroll their students in parochial schools (which are meant of their nature to assist the parents in their divinely ordained function as the principal educators of their children, as Pope Pius XI noted in Divini Illius Magistri in 1929). The state has absolutely no right to establish curricula of study, much less mandate that all students and institutions within its boundaries adhere to such curricula. The only role that a state government might have to play with respect to education is to assure that the buildings of schools run by parents or private organizations or parishes met basic safety requirements. That is it. Period.

As I have noted on a number of occasions in the past few years, public education began in the United States as a means of partly undermining the traditional right of the family in the education of their children. Public schools were one of the many means employed by Masonic organizations — whose members made up a good deal of the membership of state legislatures in the nineteenth century — to promote the American mythology of democracy, egalitarianism, and religious indifferentism. And compulsory-attendance laws were aimed largely at forcing immigrants to send their children to public schools rather than to school them at home in the event a parish did not have its own school (or in the event parents could not afford the tuition at a parish school). The children of immigrants would therefore be forced to learn the importance of “tolerance” and religious indifferentism as part and parcel of the American way of life.

Yes, in many instances public schools did a decent job of teaching students how to read and write and calculate figures in their own mind. However, public schools from their very inception presented a view of world history that was Protestant and Masonic in its orientation. Public schools were an instrument for promoting Protestantism and Masonry in the nineteenth century, just as — all too logically — they have become the vehicle for promoting secularism, relativism, all manner of leftist ideologies, and the occult in the twentieth century. During that century, control of public schools shifted away from localities to centralized state education departments. And those centralized state education departments were staffed by people influenced over the course of time by the likes of Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and John Dewey, to name just a few of the criminals responsible for the triumph of a public school system that adopted, as its raison d’etre, atheism and the cult of self-esteem. The advent of sex instruction, school-to-work, and outcome-based education simply completed the tableau that had been developing throughout the twentieth century. Contemporary public schoolers have sought to create a citizenry so unable to think rationally and communicate clearly (clear writing and clear speaking are signs of clear thinking) that it has to rely upon elitist experts to tell it what to think and how to react to current events and public policy.

American public schooling is founded on the French Revolution’s concept of egalitarianism: that all people are not only equal in authority to each other but also equal in ability to each other. That is what can lead George Walker Bush to say that his education program will “leave no child behind.” It cannot possibly be that some children do not have the same ability as others. It cannot possibly be that some children do not possess the aptitude for college studies. It cannot possibly be that children have different aptitudes in different fields. No, the myth perpetrated by American public schooling is that there has to be a “solution” to differing levels of academic performance and achievement. To say that this is utopian claptrap is to state the obvious (although it is obviously not obvious to President Bush).

Leftists believe that the “solution” to differing levels of academic performance and achievement is to spend more money and to create more programs, which invariably are founded on the latest trend developed by educrats (educational bureaucrats) eager to use their captive audience (students) as their own rather elaborate laboratory of social and behavior and educational experimentation. A failure of one particular set of programs to work does not result in the critical reassessment of the basic premises upon which they were based. Oh, no. A failure of one set of programs to work results in the creation of more of what has failed. More conferences. More workshops. More programs. More money. More control by elitists over the education of the young.

Many conservatives essentially agree with that Lockean approach to “solving” the problems found in public education. They simply disagree about the methodology to be employed, preferring the use of vouchers, which, when intended to subsidize private and parochial schools, are an unjust involvement of the state in private education; or of so-called teacher-accountability standards, which are based upon the results of nationally devised examinations in various subjects. Most “conservatives” accept the premise that public schools are just and that they are good. Such schools merely need the right kind of changes in order to equip them to prepare students to participate in the American dream.

Therein, you see, lies the problem: American public schooling rejects the notion that education is about the pursuit of the truth, and that Truth is indeed the Theandric Person, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as He has revealed Himself through His true Church. No, American public schooling views “education” as the very pragmatic process by which students are prepared to be producers and consumers in our materialist, pleasure-seeking society. Students need the “tools” with which they can make money and thus realize the happiness that is to be had from acquiring and maintaining a high standard of living.

Contrast that “view” of education with that of Pope Pius XI:
From this it follows that the so-called “neutral” or “lay” school, from which religion is excluded, is contrary to the fundamental principles of education. Such a school moreover cannot exist in practice; it is bound to become irreligious. There is no need to repeat what Our Predecessors have declared on this point, especially Pius IX and Leo XIII, at times when laicism was beginning in a special manner to infest the public school. We renew and confirm their declarations, as well as the Sacred Canons in which the frequenting of non-Catholic schools, whether neutral or mixed, those namely which are open to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, is forbidden for Catholic children, and can be at most tolerated, on the approval of the Ordinary alone, under determined circumstances of place and time, and with special precautions. Neither can Catholics admit that other type of mixed school (least of all the so-called ecole unique, obligatory on all), in which the students are provided with separate religious instruction, but receive other lessons in common with non-Catholic pupils from non-Catholic teachers.

For the mere fact that a school gives some religious instruction (often extremely stinted), does not bring it into accord with the rights of the Church and of the Christian family, or make it a fit place for Catholic students. To be this, it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school, and its teachers, syllabus and textbooks in every branch, be regulated by the Christian spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision of the Church; so that Religion may be in very truth the foundation and crown of the youth’s entire training; and this in every grade of school, not only the elementary, but the intermediate and the higher institutions of learning as well. To use the words of Leo XIII: It is necessary not only that religious instruction be given to the young at certain fixed times, but also that every other subject taught be permeated with Christian piety. If this is wanting, if this sacred atmosphere does not pervade and warm the hearts of masters and scholars alike, little good can be expected from any kind of learning, and considerable harm will often be the consequence.
That is, a school founded in naturalism winds up, by its nature, promoting academic sloth and moral degradation. Public schools do not need “fixing.” They are evil by their very nature in that they reject Truth Himself, and make war upon Him and His true Church in sundry ways. As Pope Pius XI noted, every aspect of every subject must be permeated by a love of our Lord. Indeed, it is only a love of our Lord through His true Church that gives students an understanding of their true identity, motivates them to pursue academic excellence as befits redeemed creatures, and inspires them to view themselves and the world in which they live by the standard of the Holy Cross.

Therefore, leftists and conservatives are both wrong about “education.” Indeed, as Pope Pius XI explained so tellingly:
Perfect schools are the result not so much of good methods as of good teachers, teachers who are thoroughly prepared and well-grounded in the matter they have to teach; who possess the intellectual and moral qualifications required by their important office; who cherish a pure and holy love for the youths confided to them, because they love Jesus Christ and His Church, of which these are the children of predilection; and who have therefore sincerely at heart the true good of family and country. Indeed it fills Our soul with consolation and gratitude towards the divine Goodness to see, side by side with religious men and women engaged in teaching, such a large number of excellent lay teachers, who, for their greater spiritual advancement, are often grouped in special sodalities and associations, which are worthy of praise and encouragement as most excellent and powerful auxiliaries of “Catholic Action.” All these labor unselfishly with zeal and perseverance in what St. Gregory Nazianzen calls “the art of arts and the science of sciences,” the direction and formation of youth. Of them also it may be said in the words of the divine Master: The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers few.
The best teachers are parents, who are equipped by God Himself in the Sacrament of Matrimony with all of the sanctifying and actual graces necessary to discharge their duties to teach their children. Even some parents drawn to home-schooling, however, find themselves intimidated by the fact that they lack a professional degree and permit themselves to be browbeaten by family members or friends into believing that education belongs in the hands of professionals, not “amateurs” such as parents. No amount of leftist-based educational ideology and no amount of conservative-based restructuring of public schooling can improve what is fatally flawed in its very foundations.

What is true of education is also true of charity. President Bush is getting high marks for pushing his “faith-based initiative” program, wherein religiously affiliated programs and charities would receive subsidies from the government to supplement some of what is provided by national and state programs to those in material need. Again, the whole concept misses the mark and is fundamentally violative of the principle of subsidiarity.

Most of the people who are in material need today are the direct victims of the systematic and very well-planned attack on the stability of the family as the principal building block of society. Divorce, which was promoted with great fury by Masons in state legislatures in the late nineteenth century, was meant to destabilize families and thus place women and children in the care of the state. Contraception expedited divorce, thus paving the way for the destruction of the family and the alleged “necessity” of teaching children how to keep themselves safe when engaging in “activities” that they simply could not restrain themselves from practicing. Feminism helped convince married women of child-bearing years that they had to work in order to be “fulfilled,” thus creating the need for pre-school and after-school programs, as well as for “day-care” programs for newborn infants and young toddlers. And Social Security made it possible for grown children to shift the natural law and Fourth Commandment responsibility of caring for their elderly parents to the state, and led those children to consider it a burden to have to support the people who brought them into this world. (The economic “burden” of caring for parents increased as the numbers of children brought into families decreased — the fruit of contraception and abortion). It is no exaggeration to state that most, although not all, of the social problems we face that have given rise to the monster state are the direct result of attacks on the family.

President Bush said that “[private] charity cannot replace government.” Oh, no? There is not one word in the Old or New Testament about governmental charity. Charity is a function of individuals, and it is meant to be expressed first and foremost in the family, where each member cares for and loves the others as redeemed creatures, whose eternal salvation he seeks to advance with every beat of his heart. If the family were properly constituted according to the mind of the Divine Redeemer, Who deigned to submit Himself to the authority of His own creatures in the Holy Family at Nazareth, we would have a government concerned only about the administration of justice and the maintenance of public safety.

Thus, while it is nice that the Bush administration is using the United Nations to remind ideologues such as Carol Bellamy — executive director of UNICEF — that the concept of the family will be defended by the U.S. delegation, the family continues to be undermined by “conservative” policy initiatives that vest power in the state in areas where it has no authority to act.

Education and charity begin at home. They begin in the home. That is, of course, unless we know better than Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

May God have mercy on us for trying to reinvent the wheel over and over again.

This column is distributed by the Griffin Internet Syndicate.
Copyright © 2001. All rights reserved.

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