The global village has brought Mexicans, Chinese, Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans together in a way we haven’t seen since the fall of the Roman Empire. Some folks think rather glibly about the promises and perils of this development. A few classes here and there, a multi-cultural emphasis in the classroom and everything will be fine.
I believe the prescription may be worse than the peril; that we will be going through a period of significant disruption and adjustment, one that will take great wisdom to steer through. On the one hand is the charybdis of bigotry; on the other the scylla of social engineering.
Bigots are a nuisance and they can certainly take your ship down. But I think the social engineering side holds more peril for us today. The glib possess an arrogance about the ease with which we can adapt to each other, in spite of all global evidence, and, perhaps worse, an indifference to the costs to the folk who must adjust at actual cost to themselves that blinds them to the realities they will have to deal with in time.
People Love Particulars
After all, anybody who loves his own soil, his own country, his own land above all others must be a chauvinist. What other explanation could there be. But one’s own soil and one’s own neighbors provide the only “material” on which our natural affections can be trained. In one sense, nobody loves an idea. Ideas don’t make any demands. People love particulars—this yard, this person, this fence, this school.
In my studies on poetic knowledge, I came across this relevant text in Charlotte Mason’s Formation of Character: “It is good, doubtless, to be cosmopolitan in our tastes, liberal and unprejudiced in our judgments; but he who would love all the world must begin with his brother whom he has seen, and enlightened sympathy with other nations can coexist only with profound and instructed patriotism… The child who is not trained in patriotic feeling will not, as a man, live at the highest level possible to him; and this noblest virtue is best instilled, not by vulgar vaunting of ourselves, but by the gradual introduction of the child to the lovely lives that have been lived, the great work that has been done, in quiet places of every county of Britain through the long period of our history.”
Andrew Kern ([email protected]) is the founder and president of The CiRCE Institute and the co-author of the book, Classical Education: the Movement Sweeping America. Article reprinted with permission. Image by Nazareth College.