There is a sign in the Army locker room at West Point with a quote from General George Marshall in WWII. It says, “I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point football player.”
Ideals like duty and virtue are no longer talked about in educational circles today. Critical Race Theory and privilege and wokeness are taught in inclusivity and sensitivity courses in our colleges—even at military schools like the Naval Academy and West Point. The implied duty in each quote to something and others greater than oneself has today taken a back seat to victimhood and “wokeness” If it weren’t for athletic programs at our institutes of higher learning I believe students would have little opportunity to learn these values much less practice them under real-life conditions.
What course of study requires students to get up at 5 AM, 4 days a week all winter long and lift weights and run before even going to class? These students come from all races and nationalities. By working toward a common goal, sweating and suffering side by side they learn to respect each other and themselves. And what keeps them together? What makes them not want to quit? Ans. They don’t want to let their fellow teammate down. Isn’t that the ultimate form of respect? You don’t learn that in sensitivity training. What class is this? Football.
On July 4th, 1881, Tuskegee Institute was founded by Booker T. Washington who brought with him an education philosophy he had learned in Hampton Institute in Virginia. Both schools utilized an academic work philosophy. Students went to class from 8 AM ’til 1 PM. After class, they were required to work on farms or manufacturing plants owned by the University for 4-5 hours a day. In later years athletes who practiced in the afternoon were required to make up their work times in the summer. The point is that work is the common denominator in establishing respect for oneself and for others. When you know how hard you had to work for a college education you value that education. When you know how hard another had to work for that same education you value him/her and their work in a way very different than a person values their college education when they get a student loan that they don’t have to pay off.
The athletes likewise value themselves and each other because they recognize the sacrifice and work that goes into their education. This is one of many great lessons that athletics teach—the value of work and shared sacrifice. And no matter what the future holds for people who understand this great lesson—from Tuskegee in the Jim Crow era came many judges and chemists and doctors and bankers and businessmen who took their values into their communities and built great companies and made great discoveries—think about George Washington Carver’s discovery and patents on plastics, they always will have their own self-respect. They understand the value and work they have put into their own lives. They also value and respect others who have made those same sacrifices. At Tuskegee, there never has been a place for the “bigotry of low expectations” The pursuit of individual and team excellence lifts all boats
I see many of the values and virtues that are the underpinning of our society being lost in a world of ‘feelings and intuition”. Empathy and sympathy are replacing compassion—which is an action that requires effort. Saying you care about someone—as Billy Clinton used to say “I feel your Pain” accomplishes nothing. Passing a homeless person in the street and saying I paid my taxes and I am helping you does nothing. Compassion requires work and getting one’s hands dirty. Saying I am sorry because my great grandfather owned slaves accomplishes nothing. Virtue signaling is another form of false caring. Confessing that one is sorry for their whiteness accomplishes nothing. Did you make you white? God made you white. You never have to apologize for God? I guess if one were an atheist that wouldn’t matter. hmmmmmmmmm
If you want to understand how the next guy feels work in a lumberyard or a sawmill or frame houses, or be a cook or a waitress for a few summers. You would learn far more about diversity than sitting by the country club swimming pool waiting for your college loan debts to be forgiven.
I reread a book last weekend called THE JUNCTION BOYS about a 10-day summer practice session at Junction Texas that Paul Bear Bryant conducted his first year as head coach at Texas A&M, 120 boys started camp, and 32 came back—the rest quit. The conditions were brutal. I imagine few parents or the kids themselves today would put up with such conditions. But remember these were the sons of parents who had survived the Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, and WWII. 60 years later the accomplishments of those players—none of them great athletes or scholars is incredible. Judges, CEOs of fortune 500 companies, and governors, several geologists of international acclaim, chemists and physicists, and engineers. And 60 years later when asked they all said the most important part of their education at Texas A&M was the 10 days they spent at Junction. And the people that survived deeply loved and respected each other. When asked what was accomplished? They answered uniformly—”One Heart Beat”. It didn’t matter if they were white, Hispanic, or Native American. How many people teaching diversity classes at BSU / ISU / UI have the leadership skills to teach or demand—”One Heart Beat”? You don’t win a popularity contest or score high on a teacher evaluation form when teaching those kinds of tough life lessons.
Until we in this country are willing to all work and sacrifice, we will not have “one heartbeat”. AS long as politicians are willing to give away free stuff and forgive student loans, and place their own quest for power above their responsibilities of asking us to ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country” we will remain a lost tribe. The foundation for “inclusivity” should be shared values and shared work”. Anything else is “fluff”
It is time for Christian Conservatives to get back to the work of teaching and practicing virtues. We must take our country back from the “regressive” narcissists.
If not now, when? If not you, who?
“Fight Like Hell”