The brouhaha is over now, thankfully. The President delivered his speech to the nation's public school children. Some parents protested, some praised. Some children skipped school, some applauded him. In the end, the speech itself was not the agenda-indoctrination attempt many warned against.
One wonders if it would have been different if no protests had been made, but we're not here to contemplate things that didn't happen, are we?
I read the speech. And I'll say right off the bat that, fundamentally, I don't have a problem with our elected leader addressing the children of the nation in the government's schools.
Yes, they are the government's schools. We let the government have the schools, and our children's educations, many decades ago. It's all well and good for parents to say, "Those schools are funded by our taxes, and they belong to us." The real situation is that most parents send their kids off to public schools every day and are very thankful to have someone else do the teaching.
I think it would be a nice tradition for every new president to take a morning and welcome the nation's students to a new school year. Hopefully all of could set aside our vicious partisanship for 45 minutes, and let that happen. Will the right-wing bloggers also attack Obama when he lights the national Christmas tree?
Come to think of it, will he be willing to light the Christmas tree? After all, it is vaguely related to a Christian holy day. Have to wait and see on that one!
Back to the speech. Were there things I didn't like in it? Yes. When he encouraged the students to do important things with their lives and educations, he couldn't help but slip in a few of his personal favorites, as a liberal Democrat: curing "cancer and AIDS," and "develop new energy technologies and protect our environment," and "fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination." But then there's the rather bizarre instruction to them to, "build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy." That sounds downright Republican! The Kennedy trio might be rolling over in their graves!
I would have preferred it if he had kept all hints of party agenda out of the speech -- but I must admit there was very little of it there.
What did he ask these students to do? Why, what every good American should do! Pull yourself up by your own boot straps! BE INDEPENDENT! Conquer your world! Save the planet! Manifest destiny! Make a name for yourself! Be a good citizen! You can do it - yes, you can!
And if you don't, Obama warns them ominously, "if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country."
And here we come to the nitty-gritty of it. How much of a patriot are you? Aren't you willing to devote yourself to the life-long mission of improving America with your personal service to her culture and people? Isn't this why you were put on the planet?
No, Mr. Obama, it's not.
I was put on this planet by God to know him, and to glorify the God I get to know. I'm here to live for him, not for myself, not for America. If, in the process of obeying His call and claim on my life, I end up helping others and advancing America, then that's fine. But it's not my first goal.
And, not to put too fine a point on it, it's also not the goal of my education, or my children's educations. Which is why my kids are not in the public school system.
Parents, please do accept this one thing: if your kids are in public schools, the goal of the system is to turn them into good little citizens. That's not a bad thing, but it's not the best thing. And if you're a Christian parent and want to invest some serious brain time into why God gave you those children, consider the possibility that He has a goal for them that might go beyond an earthly citizenship.
I want my children's educations to prepare them for their heavenly citizenship. Obama's speech had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with that.