Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Power of Education to Transform Society

Education is such a powerful tool that, when used properly, it can help prepare generations of people into good citizens of the "Kingdom of God." In today's society, people responsible for the education system are  increasingly ignoring the moral responsibility of raising morally-enlightened citizens. Education in Catholic primary and high schools is either private and expensive or, as is the case of most Catholic schools in Toronto, is free but ineffective. In Toronto school boards whether public or Catholic, teachers are required to get all students in a given class to pass to the next grade without necessarily having merited a successful pass. If a teacher disciplines a student or gives him a low mark, the student's parent can complain and get the teacher's credentials questioned. This is the reverse of how our schools managed us when we were students. Kids who did not respect their teachers in the classroom were disciplined by the administration and if they misbehaved, their parents were called to withdraw them (they were basically expelled by the director).Today the school board's policy is based on the relativistic idea that a given child must be allowed to only reach his own potential regardless of the requirements for study and knowledge in the curriculum.  Attention to the individual's potential overrides attention to the social standard for learning. Add to this how evil exploits it and enters into political games in boards and teachers association and children's games of envy, selfishness, and power struggle. Some teenagers exercise peer pressure on their classmates: "Are you still virgin?" or worse they can through bullying provoke their relatively more successful classmates into the temptation of despair, and possibly suicide. Teenagers in schools without discipline or at least communication can become sexually active or do drugs or both. Public school boards care only about the physical health of students. They provide their students with condoms for "safe sex." Unhappy teachers on one hand and classmates without a good moral standard on the other hand mean only that Satan is the victor. This state of affairs is prevalent in liberal societies of the Western world, and we may think the discussion is probably limited to them. However, this does not mean that conservative societies in the Eastern hemisphere are immune. Promiscuity and drugs do exist there too even though they are socially considered taboo.  The widespread access to the Internet has made it possible for students in both East and West to share and watch clips of such immoral acts and/or join in little gangs especially with lyrics of such popular singers and dancers that often call for selfishness and acts of revenge. Although the Internet has made learning material available much easier in the world, it is easier to tempt and destroy souls than help build them. If popular individuals messages on Facebook are envious or hateful then the young will learn as always from their parents who share them. Students that have just graduated from university or college are faced with double the pressure. First they have to find a job in their field of study; and second they have to pay back student loans from the money they could earn. And if a graduate is accepted for a job, the offer is usually for a contract for a limited time with probably half the salary given to the experienced older employee - no job security and no benefits. How will this young person be able to expect a good future? How will  this young person afford to get married and build a family? In an ethically-permissive society, are not we encouraging our young ones to have sex without marriage?  Where is the safety net for future generations?
The issue is complex. Let us only focus on the younger of the young.
How can the community of the faithful deal with this evil in the absence of good moral standards and records of real success in most schools? For almost every child or teenager, parents are also under pressure to work harder in order to please the boss who also works harder in order to please his own boss. By the time a working parent comes home, the child has already done his homework or probably entertained himself with like-minded children using his own phone/computer and is already tired and so the parent too. Talking of helping the offspring get better education becomes an expensive option if parents have to pay for private lessons. In some cases parents are already stressed and each adds to the tension that they are no longer together. Welcome to the single-parent family, which also costs society in welfare payments and costs the family in the loss of bonding and sacrificing love. With the loss of one parent, children then pay a higher price of emotional turbulence and/or mental sickness. As parents and children descend into individualism so too society as a whole is bombarded, over the media, with sad news of murders, crimes, trials, divorce of popular artists and embarrassing acts of politicians. The latest in Canada are the investigations of Toronto's mayor, the self-revelation of Ontario's premier that she is lesbian, and the sudden declaration of the leader of the Federal Liberal Party that every candidate in his party for future elections must be pro-choice; seemingly bowing to radical feminists in order to win their support..Though this picture sounds bleak, it is important to note the central role of the woman in building, and educating her family. This is why I consulted a number of ladies involved in education and psychology to write this article. I have much hope in the role that mothers can play in educating their children. A mother communicates with her child since conception in the womb. If you are in doubt consult the research work of Dr. Alfred Tomatis in audio-psycho-phonology (Cf. Tomatis, Alfred; 1989; "Neuf Mois Au Paradis"; Ergo Press) or visit The bonding of a mother and her child has also been demonstrated in the widely-acknowledged neurological research on oxytocin (the so-called love-hormone) naturally released in sexual love and pregnancy as well as in the ensuing natural bonding between couples and with their children.

Proposed Actions:
1. The Church leadership (bishops and priests) need to implement the directives of the Church on the family and the upbringing of good children. Churches need to organize effective seminars with videos accessible of their websites and tailored to the various needs of different generations where the faithful are attracted to learn the moral teachings of the Church especially on education.
Bishops and priests need to be a Christian example for their fellow faithful in humility and accessibility as Pope Francis has demonstrated. We can only look to the leadership of Pope Francis; a moderate pastor who communicates well with the young, the outcast, the poor, and the weak. How dared he to challenge the mafia, the men of power and excessive consumerism, and global Capitalism without condemning anyone remains a powerful display of the courage that Christ showed in his love of his enemies! Probably this is where the lessons should be drawn for the Christian community in dealing with this generation of young minds.
2. Leaders of youth groups in parishes must coordinate spiritual/moral formation of the groups by effective educators in the Church.These activities, using videos, computers and high tech facilities if required, must take priority over fun games, parties and outings and be given on a weekly basis.
3. Parents need to understand the needs of their children and communicate daily with them - If you do not love your children who will love them? Love them with wisdom. Parents must be careful not to show favouritism for one child over another. Husband and wife need to talk daily and show appreciation for each other on little things. Love is more than emotions for it is the grace that carries the world.
Parents in Canada can join an organization such as PAFE to register their defense of Christian teachings on moral issues with school boards.

Education is a powerful tool that can help us be transformed, and society too, albeit slowly, into little children of God (Matt 18, 3) who increase in wisdom.
In Luke, it is written: And [Jesus] went down with [his parents] and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2: 51-52).
 It was Caiaphas who had given counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people (John 18, 14). That was Christ who sacrificed his life for the world to live, but who today would sacrifice a bit of time to help families and future generations live the joyful eternal life? Are we the educated wise or the foolish ones (Matt 25, 1-12)?

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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