|Is This How Embedded Reporters Feel?
My day job is teaching. I know, kind of an odd thing for a conservative, but actually much less rare than you might think.
At any rate, I've had a number of somewhat bizarre experiences lately, which I'd like to rant about for a bit. So, indulge. . .
I was at a community meeting a few days ago which involved teachers and parents (mostly those with students who have very limited command of English) and others. One of the activities, to help establish a sense of community, was to have each adult in the group explain what their vision is and what their highest values are. Now, given the setting, certainly you would not be surprised that the dominant answer to the question of vision was "world peace;" this was followed by "optimism," though in a distinct minority. The answers to values were dominantly "family" and "respect," though, to my surprise, the words "honor" and "God" also came out.
And, more than any event in my recent memory,this crystallized for me the difference between the mindset of conservatives and liberals. I think I can say with come comfort that I was the only conservative in the room, and I did not offer up my vision and values for the group (not really my role in that setting). But the word that absolutely leapt to mind for me in the question of vision was "opportunity." Sure, peace would be nice, but there are things that I despise more than conflict. As far as what am I willing to invest what little spare time and energy I have, the pursuit of peace is futile, and the pursuit of opportunity is both achievable and necessary to create peace.
I love the idiocy of the bumper sticker "There can be no peace without justice." Well, sure, but there is even less chance of there being any justice without freedom. You see, I am coming to believe that the left wants the ends so badly that they are willing to claim the moral high ground on any point in between and leave it at that, regardless of the futility of their plan. The left wants peace so badly that it is willing to forego self-governance, security, and prudence, while counting on the good graces of the "moral example" to magically create the ends without taking any of the steps down the right road. To abuse a pop icon, it's as if the left is content to stay in the field of poppies, while the right is insistent on going step-by-step down the yellow brick road. And if memory serves, one of those who has recently been hailed for his "moral example" is responsible for the most embarrassing episode in American foreign policy in the last 50 years and also for making America the greatest dupe and diplomatic cuckold since Chamberlain. Just in case I'm the only one who can follow my train of thought, I am referring to Jimmy Carter, who was thanked by Howard the Duck for his "moral example."
Just in case you were wondering, on the question of values I would have been unique, as well. Certainly, Faith, Family and Honor are at the top of my list, but I include Achievement and Indomitable Spirit as well. I think this separates the left and right, as well. I would never doubt someone's commitment to God or to the their family based on their political ideology, but you very rarely hear the left commend grand achievements--in fact, the only time they pay attention to that is when they can tax it! And an Indomitable Spirit would never be content living on the welfare of the state, also antithetical to the left's worldview.
What is most troubling to me about these revelations are the implications for the country: if, as some have posited, it is a 50-50 country, that means that half of the country would rather chase pipe dreams with platitudes than work to guarantee the future. That, to me, is simply an unacceptable world for my daughters to grow up in. Which is why, as disappointed as I have been with the recent moves on immigration, Medicare, and now the NEA, I will work to get this President re-elected.
In a related thought, I'm taking some classes right now, and a good part of every class seems to be devoted to criticism of the No Child Left Behind Act and the CSAP (Colorado's testing program). Don't ask me what we're supposed to be learning from these discussions--I can't answer that. At any rate, there is a palpable dislike from the teachers in the room for anything that has anything to do with Republicans. It's as if there is no such thing as a good Republican idea. I know, not a big surprise, right. What would surprise is how non-representative this is of how good teachers actually teach. Think back. . . what was the number one, most important lesson every great teacher in your past taught you? Multiplication tables? Historical Timelines? Of course not. The really great teachers teach self-reliance above all else. Any really good student at some point learns that the only way to learn is to take responsibility for themselves, and to dedicate themselves to their pursuits. Teachers become mentors, sherpas and tour guides in this world, while weak students insist on their teachers being nannies and confessors.
The point is that teachers have really marginalized themselves with their knee-jerk reactions in the political arena, and that troubles me. What we're talking about is a group of people who have devoted themselves to the service of the youth of the country, and in the process have become hijacked by an ideological mindset which guarantees that their contributions will be minimalized.
So how do I co-exist? I tend to choose party affiliation and ideology based on philosophical compatability, whereas most teachers choose their party based on their own self-interest. Sure it can be disgusting, and the marginalization is well-deserved. Until teachers see the schism between practice and philosophy, public education will continue to be an easy target for derision.