Do souls exist? They are intangible, unquantifiable, and the closest thing that modern science acknowledges is our own body’s individual bioelectric field. Yet, any one of us can intuit when a person around us is soul-sick. Their very essence seems trammeled by a depression that transforms every aspect of their being. Most of us also viscerally react when in the presence of genuine evil. While we may not be able to empirically analyze the soul, we each are wired by evolution and blessed by God to instinctively detect when another’s soul is troubled.
Cultures and civilizations are, like individuals, possessed of a soul by any other name. The pre-Communist Confucian heart of East Asian cultures is unmistakable in its emphasis on social harmony. Japanese Shinto has created a national essence (“kokutai”) that is defined by a thoroughgoing belief that they inhabit an awake landscape full of sentient spirits. Reincarnation shapes every aspect of the Hindu homeland of India and its widespread religious descendant, Buddhism.
My vocation is to teach the history of our shared Western Civilization. I have practiced it for over twenty years. Each school day, I am privileged to help acculturate the next generation of young Americans, introducing them to their own cultural identity. As the philosopher Ortega wrote, every person is an alloy of themselves (their own individual nature) and their circumstances (their culture). At my best, I help to fight cultural amnesia, wherein a nation or society literally forgets itself. Those values which make us American and of the West are not inherited; they must be taught by people like me.
It is nothing less than our own kokutai that is at stake in the struggle over the core philosophies that guide curriculum in our public schools. Naturally evolved American culture, the core beliefs which define us, combine Greek creativity, Roman virtue, Christian compassion, and Germanic independence. Our Western Civilization transcends all parochialism, including race. Alone of the world’s great civilizations, we of the West developed and practice concepts of individual freedom and the primacy of conscience in a manner that allows each of us to pursue our dreams.
Our society evolved in order to give us, each and all, an opportunity to develop our own sensibilities about the meaning of life. More than that, the American variant of Western Civilization is defined by our shared commitment to the proposition that each one of us should be able to live according to the dictates of their conscience within the broadest possible limits. Human history demonstrates just how difficult it is to craft and perpetuate a virtuously free society which invites the best to come out in every citizen.
We are not defined by slavery, racism, sexism, or intolerance! We are instead defined by our thoroughgoing insistence on struggling to evolve a proverbially “more perfect union”. As a Conservative who both loves and appreciates Liberals, I know that such a proud heritage as ours, of expanding the definition of who is a fully enfranchised human being, requires both the ideals of the Left and the Right. Without Progressives, we would not scrupulously address our shared faults. Without Conservatives, we would abandon the practical realities of freedom for the nowhere of “utopia”.
The various ‘isms of woke education are a betrayal of American and Western core beliefs, both Conservative and Liberal. Where we see individuals, they impose group identity. Where we see the value in heterodox convictions, they demand adherence to one ideology. Where we revel in the froth of free discourse over essential meaning, they impose speech codes and shame dissenters into silence. Most importantly, where we teach how to think, they teach what to think. This is not education, it is indoctrination.
Today’s educational establishment is not to be trusted. The core American principles of meritocracy and fair play have been decried as “whiteness”. The postmodern deconstruction of the Western Heritage is now in full swing. Today, good Teachers, Administrators, Boards, and Schools exist despite Teacher Training Programs, not because of them. Like all of Higher Education, contemporary pedagogy has been reinterpreted in a manner designed to produce a doctrinaire ignorance, a tribalized populace, and an all-encompassing mission for government to rule rather than serve us.
Unless everyday Americans intensify their control over School Boards, curricula, and guiding principles, the professional class of Educators will reform a living memory of what it means to be an American out of existence. They will teach students to conform to their one truth in thought, word, and deed. They cannot help themselves; they genuinely believe that they are building a better world by destroying the past. They uncritically see themselves as agents of change that will transform the cultural essence of the United States into something more communitarian, collectivist, and controlled. To them, the biggest barrier to building equity and sustainability is the very fact that common folk insist on being free. We abuse our choices, in their eyes, by not agreeing with their self-evidently superior solutions to the problems of the human condition.
They do not see that they are dragging us back into a world of rank bigotry and serfdom. This is what has been characterized as the struggle over Critical Race Theory in our schools. It is nothing less than a struggle for the soul of our Republic. Yes, we are soul-sick, vulnerable to deconstruction. Unless we awaken and take back our schools from the entrenched professionals who have brought us to this crisis, our very soul is lost. This is not a fight we can afford to lose.
Ralph K. Ginorio