My heart breaks for the souls of young boys and girls, black and white, who are not being challenged to do their best; young people relegated to welfare ghettos with no outlets, no hope and no humanity. People need to learn what it means to be human, to love working toward something higher than base pleasures. Hopelessness breeds dissent. This is not simply an economic problem; it is a problem of values, community and caring.
I cannot listen to the news noise about hate, divisiveness and what amounts to chaos and evil. We have failed our young people, not only by keeping them ignorant of history and great literature, but by keeping them fed and clothed just enough to kill their initiative, hope, spirit and the joy of reaching for something better. Our sin as a nation to young people in ghettos is that we haven’t given them a way out. We have created an atmosphere in our cities from which there is no outlet except anger, boredom, hate, rioting and destruction.
As a society, we have to give our young people – all of them – black and white, something to reach for. Without a transcendent vision or belief in God, they cannot love themselves or anyone else.
Our leaders must sit down with a cross section of ministers, pastors, educators and business people to form humanity zones – places where lost young men will read literature (story telling), writing, theology, music and philosophy. It can be done with private funds – not to build more technocrats, but to save young souls from despair. If we can build rockets and computers, we can build character in our sons.
All human life is precious. In a country like ours, we can teach the humanities in make-shift schools; classical learning doesn’t require fancy buildings. Years ago I went to school in an old brick school house, but what was inside offered light and hope. What counts is content.
Many retired citizens and teachers can help with this task. We can do better as a civilization. Let’s try.
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