Is There A Missing Yes Before The Big No?
[The following Commentary by columnist John Lofton appeared in the Washington Times on December 9, 1988, and is reprinted by permission of the author.]
Add, please, to the growing list of non-solutions to the problems in our public schools, the appearance of Oprah Winfrey at one of these schools.
Last week, Oprah brought her nationally televised TV program to Baltimore’s Southwestern High School. According to a story in the Baltimore Sun, she believes “there’s a breakdown in the system.” And she’s correct.
Last year, in the Baltimore City schools, there were 397 assault cases, 61 assaults with a deadly weapon, nine rapes or attempted rapes, 52 robberies and 381 cases of theft and/or vandalism. And a grand jury report on the Baltimore public schools has revealed that almost half of all male students have carried handguns. And 60 percent of the students knew someone who had been shot, threatened or robbed in their school in the previous six months.
Oprah opens her program by saying parents would be “shocked” if they knew what was going on in Baltimore’s public schools—how kids are afraid of each other; they carry guns, knives, blah, blah, blah.
But is this really “shocking?” I think not.
As so-called public education has, over the centuries in this country, become de-Christianized—and this has occurred rapidly and with a vengeance over the past three decades, thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, among others—students have, increasingly, behaved in a Godless manner toward each other and toward school authorities.
Taught only the theory of evolution—which is to say that, accidentally, we descended from lower forms of animal life and thus are only more sophisticated animals—many students now behave like animals. But even this analogy fails, and is unfair to most animals. Unlike many public high school students, no animals use guns or knives to murder one another. And they don’ rape each other.
So, were any real solutions suggested on Oprah's program? Not at all.
An obviously sincerely concerned young man in a suit and tie is applauded when he says “the main problem is we have to teach our young people how to think and evaluate problems and find other ways of handling the situation. It's going to take a collective effort. We have to come together as a whole.”
But having said this, what has this young man said that we don’t already know? Nothing. What, specifically, must all of us think, collectively, that will bring us together as a whole? He doesn’t say. And this is the main problem, that is what to think, not how to think.
At one point, Oprah notes that in her travels around our country she has seen a “tension” in our schools, that they are “not the same” as they once were. OK. So what were they once when there was no murder, robbery and rape in our public schools? She doesn’t say. And seems to have no idea.
Many students come to their respective microphones and tell horror stories. Heads nod knowingly. No solutions here. Only more cursing of the darkness.
A little later, it actually seems that somebody is about to say something substantial, something that might be a real solution. A young woman who is in the U.S. Army preaches a de facto, but not explicit, Christian message that we are our brother’s keeper.
She says that “we all have to take the responsibility for everybody’s children, not just our own.” She tells how she has done this. Oprah, quite correctly, replies that these are just “nice words,” asking: “But how do you begin to do that?”
This is a moment of truth.
This is a fair question.
It is muffed badly.
The young woman says: “Just do it.”
But people won’t “just do it” until they, first, believe in something that commands them to do it. People won’t just say “no” to anything until they first say “yes” to something. And this something must be Christianity, God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, the life. It is an illusion that there is a foundation other than Christ on which to base education or anything else.
Read His lips. Repent or perish is the message of Christ.
Our public schools have become Godless, Christless and they are perishing. This situation is not only not “shocking,” it was absolutely predictable. Thus saith the Lord. And he never lies.
A student at a microphone says we need more “positive peer pressure” in our schools. But pressure to do what? He doesn't say.
Oprah asks, sincerely: “Once a student is packing an Uzi (a machine gun), a .38, or a .22, where do you begin to instill a sense of values?” An excellent question, but it's only rhetorical. She gives no answer.
A woman who says she counsels adolescents, but looks as if she needs counseling, says that we should listen to the kids because “these guns coming out is telling us something”—which is true. But what? She doesn’t say.
And last, and certainly least, an angry man complains vehemently because the city of Baltimore “is not making parents take responsibility for their kids.” Huh? This is something the state should make parents do?
God help us.
The Oprah Winfrey show in Baltimore was a classic example of the blind trying to lead the blind, the result of which Scripture promises will be that all parties will be in the ditch.
Our country’s public educational system, and other institutions, are in the ditch. True repentance is the only way out. If we don’t repent, we deserve what we’re getting. And things will get much worse. God gives no nation, no people a blank check to do as they see fit.