What We Don’t Teach To The Next Generation Doesn’t Get Effectively Passed On

What We Don’t Teach To The Next Generation Doesn’t Get Effectively Passed On

In her latest column, Peggy Noonan notes the cultural deterioration of our country.

Imagine for a moment that you are a foreign visitor to America. You are a 40-year-old businessman from Afghanistan. You teach a class at Kabul University. You are relatively sophisticated. You’re in pursuit of a business deal. It’s your first time here. There is an America in your mind; it was formed in your childhood by old John Ford movies and involves cowboy hats and gangsters in fedoras. You know this no longer applies–you’re not a fool–but you’re not sure what does. You land at JFK, walking past a TSA installation where they’re patting the genital areas of various travelers. Americans sure have a funny way of saying hello!

You get to town, settle into a modest room at the Hilton on Sixth Avenue. You’re jet-lagged. You put on the TV, not only because you’re tired but because some part of you knows TV is where America happens, where America is, and you want to see it. Headline news first. The world didn’t blow up today. Then:

Click. A person named Snooki totters down a boardwalk. She lives with young people who grunt and dance. They seem loud, profane, without values, without modesty, without kindness or sympathy. They seem proud to see each other as sexual objects.

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Click. “Real Housewives.” Adult women are pulling each other’s hair. They are glamorous in a hard way, a plastic way. They insult each other.

Click. Local news has a riot in a McDonalds. People kick and punch each other. Click. A cable news story on a child left alone for a week. Click. A 5-year-old brings a gun to school, injures three. Click. A show called “Skins”–is this child pornography? Click. A Viagra commercial. Click. A man tried to blow up a mall. Click. Another Viagra commercial. Click. This appears to be set in ancient Sparta. It appears to involve an orgy.

You, the Kabul businessman, expected some raunch and strangeness but not this–this Victoria Falls of dirty water! You are not a philosopher of media, but you know that when a culture descends to the lowest common denominator, it does not reach the broad base at the bottom, it lowers the broad base at the bottom. This “Jersey Shore” doesn’t reach the Jersey Shore, it creates the Jersey Shore. It makes America the Jersey Shore.

You surf on, hoping for a cleansing wave of old gangster movies. Or cowboys. Anything old! But you don’t find TMC. You look at a local paper. Headline: New York has a 41% abortion rate. Forty-four percent of births are to unmarried women and girls.

You think: Something’s wrong in this place, something has become disordered.

The next morning you take Amtrak for your first meeting, in Washington. You pass through the utilitarian ugliness, the abjuration of all elegance that is Penn Station. On the trip south, past Philadelphia, you see the physical deterioration that echoes what you saw on the TV–broken neighborhoods, abandoned factories with shattered windows, graffiti-covered abutments. It looks like old films of the Depression!

By the time you reach Washington–at least Union Station is august and beautiful–you are amazed to find yourself thinking: “Good thing America is coming to save us. But it’s funny she doesn’t want to save herself!”

Values are not passed from one generation to the other in the bloodstream. They have to be taught.

America is a great country, but kids need to be told early and often why it’s a great country and why they should love it.

Human beings have a natural tendency to reach for God, but they need to be taught Christianity from the time they’re young so they’ll understand it and how it works.

Living a decent life with good moral values is good for individuals and society at large. Still, if kids aren’t taught that from a young age, it’s very easy for them to go astray.

We haven’t noticed how things have started to break down, in large part because we HAD a more moral society in times past. So the immorality, the decay, and the bottom feeding started on the fringes. But as it has become more acceptable, it has moved from the shadows and back alleys towards center stage in American culture. That’s not to say American culture has gone waist deep into the sewer, but a lot of depraved behavior that’s not worth emulating has been mainstreamed.

Terrorists and Communists are considered to be fit to teach college students. People in assless chaps copulating during parades is considered to be acceptable behavior in San Francisco. Everything from the demonization of Christianity, to the glorification of illegal drug use, to the Jersey Shore has become standard fare on television.

There’s a lot to be said for the free exchange of ideas and differences of opinions, but there’s not much to be said for miring our country in a cultural cesspool that preaches a value system of hedonism and anything goes as long as you don’t get caught.

If you want to clean up that kind of culture, you do it one kid at a time, one family at a time, and one church at a time by teaching people about what matters in life: God, family, and country.

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