My days begin before a classroom of 9th-graders. Every morning, I spend an hour with these young men and women before I head to the office for yet another day of real estate during this time of economic instability and political unrest.
The contrast could not be starker.
From where I stand in front of my class, I know that we can conquer the world. We could change the course of history if we wanted to. We look at history and we face the facts: Governments fail when they trust in themselves; governments fail when they overreach.
We study and discuss the hard issues. We ask the hard questions that must follow each example of failed leadership: "How can we learn from their mistakes? How do we improve on their policies and ideas? How should we handle the issue of _____ in today's society?" From our classroom, we debate the timeless lessons of government and observe how they have failed again and again... and how, in the rare cases, they have succeeded. In our classroom, we determine what must be done and how it must be done. In our classroom, we understand that morality is always key. What are the worldviews behind socialism, communism... and a republic? To whom will we be accountable? Is there such a thing as too much taxation? Is a death tax even moral?
The curtain closes. The scene changes. I am in my office, surrounded by papers and endless trails of sticky notes providing my to-do lists for the day.
From where I sit in my semi-uncomfortable chair, I am no longer in control of anything. In fact, I find myself at the mercy of our political system. I can't conquer the world; I suffer under a failed economic system.
Free Enterprise lies in a hospital bed, sucking quick breaths of oxygen as the doctors debate in hushed tones in the hallway. "Should we try an experimental treatment which could very well revive her, or should we just leave her to die a slow, painful death one quick breath at a time." It's a question of morality, of life or death, but who will make the right decision? Will the real leaders please stand up?
But I ask: do our leaders even understand morality? Do they know what my students know - that there's a difference between right and wrong, and that there are things which the government is designed to do, and things governments must avoid at all costs in order to succeed? Will our country's leaders make the right decisions that will eventually stabilize our economy? Will they understand the proper role of government, which doesn't involve stealing dollar after dollar from working citizens?
I must throw in the towel. I have no idea. My students know the answers, but do we? Do your parents? Do your friends, your neighbors, your teachers, your PTA, your doctors, your dentists, your waiters and waitresses, and don't forget the girl at the checkout counter? Do they know that there is a right way and a wrong way to govern? Do they know that the principle of success involves having no debt - that you can't spend money you don't have? Do they know that they can't take from those who have more just because they have more?
I don't believe they know these things. In fact, I know that they don't, because if they did, we wouldn't be where we are now.
But I have faith.
I know that things can change, and I know how. I know things can change because my 9th-graders know things must change. They see the dilemma and they know they face an uphill battle. They know that they must continue to ask the hard questions. That they, like our founders before us, must actually learn from the lessons of history and curb back government spending. They know that the success of an economy is not based on government stimulation, but on the shoulders of a free economy not oppressed by taxation. They know that they must act, because their worldview and morality is not one founded on themselves or their own power and might, but on Christianity and the Bible. Their worldview is founded on a clear definition of right and wrong, and they know there must be no wavering from the truth.
There is no doubt that the future of our country lies in the minds and hearts of our children. We would do well to prepare them for what they're destined to reform.