I am speaking to as many people and groups as will listen on the matter of including a year or two of Western Civilization as a Graduation Requirement for Idaho’s Secondary Schools. While I am myself a Conservative Republican, I am convinced that this is a bipartisan issue. Progressives and Liberals derive their philosophy from a long tradition of self-criticism and reform unique to Western Civilization. I would like to speak before the Kootenai County Democrats on this matter, in hopes of getting your organization and membership to consider the possibility that my proposal may be worthwhile.
Like Jonathan Haidt, I earnestly believe that it is critical for Americans to cultivate the skill of productively discussing issues of significance with people who hold differing convictions. It is a rare individual who is self-consciously and intentionally evil. Most people, regardless of their ideology or philosophy, are motivated by good intentions. If we really believe this, then in the heat of sharp disagreements we will remember that, at most, our opponents are misguided. Neither rectitude nor good sense is exclusive to any faction. Good and wise people can and do come to mutually exclusive conclusions. Recognition of this is the foundation of all civil discourse.
So, I hope that you will be willing to invite me to speak before you for a time, and take questions and constructive criticisms, despite the fact that we probably vote differently. All students in our schools have a common need to understand the past of Western Civilization, warts and all, if they are to make an informed choice about what they will personally stand for. Without idealistic self-criticism, our society would stagnate. From Socrates to Rev. King, it has been those willing to stand up and demand that “we” do better who have made our society more worth living in.
Ralph K. Ginorio
Coeur d’Alene, ID