“For children to take morality seriously they must be in the presence of adults who take morality seriously. And with their own eyes they must see adults take morality seriously.”
Bill Bennett, the once and for many still the moral voice of conservative Republicans, wrote the above in the introduction to his wonderful compendium, The Book of Virtues, published in 1993.
And what examples of morality are our children seeing from conservative adults leading our state and nation today?
While conservative state leaders and legislators may talk morality, too many seem to practice a devil-may-care attitude toward morality. How else do you explain their long-time inability to notice the corruption surrounding our prison system, requiring the feds to step in? Or their unwillingness to stop misuse of their campaign funds for personal expenses?
At the same time, conservative leaders and legislators in Washington seem to thrive on division and demonization rather than moral leadership. So nothing gets accomplished, except moral degradation and distrust of our political system.
Then, there are our leading conservative presidential candidates whose penchant for name-calling, mudslinging and untruths is the antithesis of morality.
More from Bennett: “The vast majority of Americans share a respect for certain fundamental traits of character: honesty, compassion, courage, and perseverance. These are virtues. But because children are not born with this knowledge, they need to learn what these virtues are.”
So, exactly what virtues are our children learning these days from our conservative state and national leaders?
For example, do our children know… do you know… the virtues embedded in the Great Seal of the United States that represent “the beliefs and values that the Founding Fathers attached to the new nation and wished to pass on to their descendants?”
From the Continental Congress explanation: “White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the colour of the Chief, signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice… The pyramid signifies Strength and Duration: The Eye over it & the Motto allude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause… The Escutcheon is born on the breast of an American Eagle without any other supporters [figures represented as holding up the shield] to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own Virtue.”
If not our conservative leaders, what institutions can we depend upon today to teach our children virtues and morality?
Thomas Jefferson said this was the responsibility of our public schools. But, many fail in this duty.
So, we rely on our churches. But, many Americans are un-churched. According to the Gallup Poll, 46% of Americans are not members of a church or synagogue and only 36% of Americans attend services regularly.
As the Great Seal heralds with the motto ANNUIT COEPTIS above the Eye of Providence, we count on God’s favor of our undertakings. Will God continue to smile on a nation that shucks its commitment to morality?