One thing that is now crystal clear is that the radicals and militants are fully and ferociously targeting our children.
No wonder we hear so much today about grooming and the like: it is all part of the war on children – and parents. The aim is to get kids separated from their mothers and fathers, and let others with nefarious agendas take over.
These folks have made it known their dislike of the traditional family, and how children must be ‘freed’ from the ‘harmful’ values, convictions and beliefs of their parents. They are quite open about all this. And this has been going on for quite some time. As Anthony Esolen wrote in Defending Marriage (Saint Benedict Press, 2014):
It is not the State that defines what marriage is; nature has done that. It is not the State that determines the good of the family; nature has done that, too. It is not even the State that creates the village or the parish. Households have done that. Before there was ever a gross national product, there was economy, the law of the good of the oikos, the household. The ancient Greeks, who bequeathed to us both the term and the reality of democracy, understood that the individual as such was something of an abstraction. You belonged to a family, a household, a clan….
Totalitarian regimes since Plato penned his Republic … have always been aimed against the family, and for good reason. The family is the single greatest bastion against the power of the State. That’s not because of ‘individual’ rights. It’s because the family claims precedence in being and in nature. It is itself a society anterior to the greater society.
We are aware of the old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It means that the surrounding community has a role to play in the development of a child. In its context, it is quite true, and it refers, for example, to other male adults teaching a boy how to hunt. Obviously in a small African village such communal help in training and nurturing children makes perfect sense.
There are several problems when we seek to replicate that wisdom in contemporary Western society. One, we of course do not live in small, close-knit communities. Instead we may be scattered many miles from extended family members and friends. Letting complete strangers have a role in raising our kids is just not a useful option.
But more importantly, those who most often use this mantra today have something much different in mind when it comes to the raising and socialising of our children. What they almost always mean is having the State take over the role of mum and dad in parenting, educating and training our children.
The classic example of this of course is found in the 1996 book It Takes a Village by Hilary Clinton. Unaware parents might have thought she was giving us some helpful parenting tips, but more savvy readers instantly knew what the real agenda was. For example, a year after the book appeared radio talk show host Dale O’Leary discussed the book.
In The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality (Vital Issues Press, 1997) she looked at the feminist activism and those pushing the androgyny agenda (men and women are fully interchangeable) and warned of its consequences. Toward the end of her book she asked what can be done to stop the gender agenda. She said this:
The first step is obviously exposure. Gender feminists have left a paper trail, and they must be made to eat their words. Gender feminists who hid behind family language need to be exposed. A perfect example of this kind of deception is Hillary Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village, which is full of wonderful, apparently profamily wisdom. Underneath, however, one finds the gender feminist ideology. The book should be titled It Takes a Federal Bureaucracy because the village Mrs. Clinton envisions isn’t a close-knit community where neighbours share common values and support one another, but a place where families are dependent on government programs.
Plenty of other commentators have showed how woefully inadequate Clinton’s proposed “solutions” are. The closing paragraphs of a review by Kerby Anderson are worth featuring here:
From start to finish, Mrs. Clinton proposes government as the answer to every problem. In some cases, the government is behind the scenes providing funding and direction to community-based organizations. In others, it is the primary provider. But whenever a problem is raised, the First Lady seems content to have government take care of it.
By the end of the book, Mrs. Clinton has endorsed such groups as HIPPY, Parent Education Program, Healthy Start, Children’s Defense Fund, Parents as Teachers, Carnegie Council on Children, Head Start, and Zero to Three. Many of these groups, along with the government programs she endorses, make up the foundation of her liberal, big-government agenda for children in the 1990s. Readers without discernment may easily be seduced into believing that these programs are the only way to make life better for their children.
As Christians, I believe we must ask where is the church in this book? Where are communities? Where is individual initiative and responsibility? The world’s largest bureaucracy is the Department of Health and Human Services. Mrs. Clinton seems to be saying throughout the book that the solution to nearly every problem will come from enlarging this enormous bureaucracy even more.
I believe the real issue is that Mrs. Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village, is flawed at its premise. Government is not a village. Parents do not need government bureaucrats and federal programs to raise their children. In many ways, the problems Mrs. Clinton discusses are the result of government “solutions” proposed decades earlier (through the New Deal and Great Society programs). Families don’t need more government; they need less government. In a very limited sense we might agree that it does take a village to raise a child, but that doesn’t mean it takes the government to raise a child. Children should be raised by families, churches, and communities–not by the federal government.
P. J. O’Rourke was even more scathing:
It takes a village to raise a child. The village is Washington. You are the child. There, I’ve spared you from reading the worst book to come out of the Clinton administration since – let’s be fair – the last one. Nearly everything about It Takes a Village is objectionable….
There is no form of social spending that Mrs Clinton won’t buy into (with your money). But she is oblivious to the idea that the government programmes she advocates may have caused the problems the government programmes she advocates are supposed to solve.
It is not just turning kids into those who are fully dependent on the teat of Big Government, but it is the ungodly secular left values that will be crammed down their throats as well. That is the real worry. A meme shared by another radio talk show host, Dr. Laura Schlessingerer says this “I homeschool because I have seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child.”
Quite so. Millions of Americans have turned to homeschooling because they know that the public school system is today largely about indoctrination and propaganda, and not teaching the three Rs. Whether it is pushing the radical homosexual and transgender agendas, or informing little Johnny all about the latest critical theories and woke madness, our schools today are NOT safe places for children.
So the best option for so many parents is something like homeschooling to ensure that the values and beliefs they want passed on to their children do get passed on, and not hijacked by the militants in our schools. And homeschooling in Australia is also on the rise, for this very reason.
Speaking of Dr Schlessinger, she has penned a number of useful books on how important it is for parents – and not the State – to rear their children. One such volume is Parenthood By Proxy: Don’t Have Them If You Won’t Raise Them (Cliff Street Books, 2000). Her subtitle says it all. As she writes:
“Obviously, any parent or family unit can, from time to time, run into trouble and need back-up support in an emergency. Historically, this back-up has been relatives, neighbours, and friends. What is frightening to me is the ongoing conspiracy to normalize institutionalized care as the best situation for children, period.”
In her Epilogue she says this:
I pray this book will encourage more women to follow Colonel Beard’s brave sacrifice for her children. I deeply hope reading it will awaken our consciences; ignite our compassion toward our children; and prompt a reconsideration of the ultimate cost of coveting more money, more things, more power, more sex, more pleasure, more experiences, and more success. The inestimable rewards for turning away from those temptations and toward the expectant faces of our children are clear….
And she continues these themes in her other volumes, For example, in How Could You Do That? The Abdication of Character, Courage, and Conscience (HarperCollins, 1996), she states that parents have a major obligation in teaching core values to their children, including that of personal responsibility.
She argues that no matter what past or present influences weigh down upon us, we are still free to choose how we respond, and we ought to start taking a bit of responsibility for our actions. In a nutshell, “the path to solid, supportive, healthy relationships, self-respect, and a quality of life starts with the usually painful decision to do the right thing.”
Depending upon the State to instil these virtues of morality, self-reliance, personal responsibility, and respect for others is a pipe dream. Sure, not every parent will be an ideal role model in these areas, but I would far rather trust them to ‘train up a child in the way he should go’ than rely on government bureaucrats and politicians pushing radical ideological agendas to do so.
So forget about the government village.
Bill Muehlenberg teaches ethics, apologetics and theology at several Melbourne Bible Colleges. His independent blog, Culture Watch, has over 5,000 articles commenting on the major cultural, social and political issues of the day. Bill's podcast is exclusively produced for Good Sauce readers and fans.
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