How Christian Teachers Can Restore
The American Vision
“We Teach Even When We Fail To Teach”
James Russell Lowell was asked by the French historian Francois Guizot, “How long will the American republic endure?” He wisely replied, “As long as the ideas of the men who founded it continue to dominate.” Today, the American vision has been replaced by the American dream and is rapidly becoming the American nightmare. When America’s news magazines feature headlines, “How Our American Dream Unravelled,” you know there is cause for concern. How can Christian teachers respond?
Only You Can Restore Vision
Only you and I, with God’s help, can restore vision. Neither our President nor candidates promising grandiose remedies pandering to our pet concerns can accomplish the task. In truth, it will require changes in our lives, in the way we think, in our values, in the way we teach and raise our children, in the way we
spend our money and time – in our hearts.
We must repair and rebuild the foundations of our personal lives as Americans, in our families, in our schools, our businesses, our churches, and our government. But vision comes first. Without vision, we will eventually perish.
How You Can Restore Vision
There are three basic ways teachers can restore vision in America. Each of them begins with us as individuals, with our families, and in our classrooms.
FIRST: I MUST REMEMBER THE AMERICAN VISION
Abraham Lincoln, at a moment of deep national crisis, in a civil war that threatened to destroy the nation, found himself in a very lonely place in the White House. It is always lonely when leadership is required and vision is clouded. In drafting his Gettysburg Address, at that desperate moment in our history, he reached back to a time when vision was clear as expressed in the lives of our Founding Fathers and in their writings which endure as our most precious heritage.
Lincoln distilled from those lives and writings an unmistakable truth – the cornerstone of the American vision. He then re-declared on the battlefield of Gettysburg that truth that would restore and hold the vision of America for the century that followed:
“This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom….”
Humbly declaring our nation to be “under God,” and acting accordingly, is the sole prerequisite to restoring the American vision. New, believable, visionary leadership will then emerge. But America will never be “under God” unless you and I are “under God.” In order to place ourselves “under God,” we must choose to adopt God’s ways, God’s plans, and God’s purposes as expressed in the Bible. We must repent or turn from our own pride, our rebellious ways, and our selfish ambitions and choose to humble ourselves under God’s authority. That must begin with professing Christians…yes, even Christian
SECOND: I MUST TEACH THE AMERICAN VISION
Forbes Magazine, a foremost business publication in America since 1917, dedicated it’s seventy-fifth anniversary issue to analyzing and responding to the grave sense of despair and anger in the land.
It declared, “It isn’t the economic system that needs fixing. It’s our value system.” Among numerous articles from America’s scholars and writers dedicated to exploring the nation’s demoralized condition are the following quotes from a single article:
“Every parent in America knows that we’re not doing a very good job of communicating to our children what America is and has been.”
“We do not teach it as a society and we teach it insufficiently in our schools.”
“We teach the culture of resentment, of grievance, of victimization.”
“We are certainly demoralizing our children…”
In 1939, “we could tell we were beginning to lose God – banishing Him from the scene…”
“And it is a terrible thing when people lose God.”
“I don’t think it is unconnected to the [baby] boomers’ predicament that as a country we were losing God just as they were being born.”
It has been said that our children are a message we send to a world we will never see. What kind of a message are you and I sending through our own children and the children we teach? What message have we failed to send?
If America’s future depends on the vision for America which you are instilling in your children, grandchildren and students, what is America’s future? We are writing America’s future with every opportunity we fail to seize to instruct and guide the young lives entrusted to our care of the utter dependence
of our Founding Fathers on God’s personal guidance and direction both in their personal lives and in the building of the nation. Yes, we teach even when we fail to teach.
Let’s teach our children well. America cannot survive another vision-less generation.
THIRD: I MUST LIVE THE AMERICAN VISION
None would deny that “actions speak louder than words.” Yet we all find ourselves living in ways that are hypocritical. We make excuses. We conjure up reasons why we should be relieved of conforming to our professed moral and spiritual standards. But – over time – a telling story emerges from our
behavior and attitude. We could call it a “life message.” So what is your “life message”? What message does our behavior, our attitude, send to our children and grandchildren, our students? What are we teaching them? What are we teaching them about what it really means to be an American? Is what I am really teaching them the same message I want to leave them?
What is the future of America based upon my example? Do I want to face such a future? Do I want my own children and those students entrusted to my care to face such a future? Most of us have been more concerned about living the American dream than the American vision, haven’t we?
Whether we like it or not, our daily choices, decisions, behavior and attitudes are defining or re-defining the American vision for tomorrow. We are in crisis today because of our example yesterday – not just my example, not just the President’s example, or that of the Congress – but your example, the example of America’s teachers who stand according to law, “in loco parentis.” Become an EXAMPLE of the American vision. And may God, through you, bless the America our children will inherit. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
is the President of SAVE AMERICA Ministries. After 9 years as a public school teacher, Chuck practiced law for 18 years. The above article is excerpted from his latest book, Renewing the Soul of America (2002), endorsed by 38 Christian leaders.
SAVE AMERICA Ministries
P.O. Box 70879 • Richmond, VA 23255
(804) 754-1822 • (804) 754-1823 FAX • www.saveus.org