In reference to the horrible shooting of children in their classroom in Texas, I had an in-depth discussion with a liberal colleague regarding how to solve the issue of school shootings ranging from gun control to mental health. As we dove deeper into the conversation, my colleague told me that he believes and posits that the American culture has created a socialized populace which in many instances dehumanizes people and treats them as only being useful for work, and he concludes that these horrific events will continue and that we are all doomed in the long term. Though I do not think that he meant it the way I took it, I heard his assertion as a rejection of our modern culture – a culture that as a whole lacks virtue and looks outward to blame others instead of looking inward and in the mirror to ask themselves the question of whether they are good, virtuous Christians or at a minimum good people with virtue.
Teaching our children virtue used to be satisfied by teaching the tenets of Protestant Christianity in our public schools. These ideas of teaching religion and virtue in public schools is not new; in fact, these ideas are hundreds of years old. Stephen Colwell, in his book The Position of Christianity in the United States, in its Relations with our Political Institutions, and Specially with Reference to Religious Instruction in the Public Schools published in 1854, Colwell explains that “Christianity is no mere negation in this country; it commands, or should command, the moral and political power of the Christians who dwell in it, exercise in accordance with the spirit of our institutions and with the view to the highest interest of men, temporal and eternal.” Colwell was a Philadelphia industrialist an active in the Presbyterian Church who believed that these evangelical teachings Colwell told his readers that “their activities could help Christianity fulfill its rightful role as what he called ‘the appointed protector of humanity.’” As posited by Edmund Burke, true liberty is the unity a freedom and virtue. In part, Christianity as envisioned by Colwell is the self-restrained freedom about which Burke wrote. We must teach our children to expect freedom restrained by personal responsibility, religion, and virtue.
Circling back to the problem of school shootings, a different friend today asserted as follows: “Cain killed Abel with a rock. The Lord did not get rid of all the rocks. He blamed Cain and not the rock. We have a sin problem and not a gun problem.” We have a problem of the soul and the culture, and I think that we can fix our problem with sin, and we must, or we are doomed. We must reject modern culture which is in my opinion the root cause of school shootings. We must embrace and teach religion and virtue to students again. If the child comes from an atheist family, every kid might be required to take at least one class on Aristotle's Ethics. Education in religion and virtue can and will solve these issues on the whole of society.