I recently received an email. In it was a petition, written to the President, calling for the reinstatement of prayer in schools. With 1557 names on it, it asked users to forward it on when it reached 2000. I’m sure that happened soon and was diligently delivered. But I’m afraid that the good intentions of the originator is misplaced.
Where does the power really live in American government? Why do so many of us focus on big picture, national issues and ignore their back yard, ignore the community which they live in? Why do we call on the President when we really need to connect here at home?
I don’t know where you stand on the topic of school prayer. For me, I think our public schools need us to pray for them. But rather than send everyone off in one direction or the other, the subject of this article is how we all misperceive our government and how it works. The debate over prayer in public schools is just that, something to be debated.
Local, Local, Local
This petition should be a local issue where each city, then county, then state determines how we are to be governed. Whether you like it or not, representative democracy is majority rules. This is the reality that so much of America has forgotten. But majority means nothing, when we all would rather flip on the TV and watch Oprah, Bill O’Reilly or John Stewart — than be concerned with local events.
America was founded, in the Declaration of Independence, on the philosophy that God gives power to the people in the form of unalienable rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and in turn these people give power to the government. Throughout the Independence day celebrations no one bothers to remember this.
Prior, throughout most of human history, God gave power (Perceived or real) to the king who then ruled the masses. Whether you called him (or her), Pharaoh, Your Majesty or Ayatollah, most worldly governments were derived from this model. Opium for the masses, true believers or religious fervor, the masses followed this leader, for better or worse, and little changed for thousands of years.
In 1776, a group of upstart Renaissance thinkers, came up with a better concept. They imagined a society where God-given, basic rights, where guaranteed to all men who then empowered a government that would preserve these rights — and America was born. This is the core of America — and I believe — it’s why we have prospered.
Power can flow from the people on up, if the majority is active. When complacent, as we have become, those who are active, those who can band together to shout loudest with one voice, prevail. No matter where we are at in this day and year, our system is working as it was designed. And only when and if a real majority takes part in the process, will we see change.
It’s easy to criticize the public education system. It’s easy to complain when it fails, and that’s what society has deteriorated into. We bitch when it doesn’t suit us, then ignore the issue and move on. Sitting comfortably on our couches with Cheetos in hand we watch “Sex in the City ” and complain about a lack of morality. If we even can sit through the news it’s doom and gloom and a nationally-focused shell game that keeps our attention from the things we can really effect; profoundly effect, if we give it the chance.
So again back to this petition. Writing a letter to the President is fine and dandy, but we’ve got to flip our attention around to our backyards. With this issue, it’s in the hands of the school boards.
Do you even know who sits on your school board? Have you ever written an email or a letter to them? Our system of government is majority rule. We all need to become active and dictate to the representatives what we want, not the opposite.
How is the school board established where you live? Is it elected? If so, these local races should be the focus of our attention. Until we become active in the affairs of our communities on a local level, we will not see positive change. If you allow your school board to become complacent, to represent views that you do not hold, then you get what we see today.
I call upon you to become involved. Only when we do so, can we take ownership of our government, of our community. When we ignore government, we lose freedom. When we become active in it, we see the change our petition writer seeks.
Ultimately, it’s all about our kids, what they are exposed to, what they are taught. When we become complacent about this crucial matter, what kinds of future is in store for us?
I think my school system has an incredible amount of caring, qualified, good people. Still, we need to be in constant communication with them. We need to tell them how we want our schools to be governed. You need to make it your school system as well by taking an active role.
Our school taxes are an investment in the future of our community and we need to treat them as such. If we were as involved with them as much our other investments, if we made our kids our most important investment, imagine what dividends it would yield!
And for those who wrote that petition, or signed it, I ask you to ponder this. What would happen if every church, synagogue and group of faith had just one person whose job was to focus their congregation on their local school board?