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In Jesus’ famous parable of the workers in the vineyard, the landowner hires some day laborers in the morning to work all day in his fields. Near the end of the day, he realizes his work won’t get done at that pace, and hires some more workers late in the afternoon. When he pays them all the same amount, the morning workers get angry, pointing out that they worked more than the afternoon group, but yet got paid the same. The landowner explains that they were paid exactly the amount that they had agreed to, and what he pays other workers does not affect them. It is a brilliant illustration of many things, but especially of the pointlessness and destructive tendencies of jealousy. This is just one of countless Biblical parables that have nothing to do with God, but everything to do with human nature.
The 10th Commandment makes a similar point: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s stuff. If you want a donkey, get your own. After all the big messages in the other Commandments (thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not steal, etc), it seems odd that God cared enough about donkeys to bring this up in the limited space he had available on those stone tablets. God understands the tendency of man to envy others, and he understands how destructive that can be to a society. Jealousy may seem like a petty concern, but God apparently takes it very seriously – it’s all over the Bible. Much of Shakespeare, and literature in general, is also based on similar concepts. These emotions are not new. They are as old as mankind itself. So it seems odd that in modern times, in our enlightened age, we now encourage jealousy and envy, starting in kindergarten.
When a kindergarten kid chews gum, the teacher asks him if he has enough for everyone in the class. If the student says no, then he is not permitted to chew gum.
Then the rest of the class feels satisfaction as they essentially gang up on one member, and bully him into compliance. The teacher probably discourages bullying from students in other cases. But here, it’s ok.
Because equality is more important than individual rights. Obviously.
What is the reasoning behind this? What is the teacher trying to demonstrate to her students? How are the other children hurt, if someone else chews gum? The only way that could possibly hurt them would be through jealousy. Without jealousy, it wouldn’t matter if anyone is chewing gum or not.
So how does the teacher reduce the pain felt by those other students?
One way to do this would be the most common current approach – to take away everyone’s chewing gum. We’re jealous of the wealthy, so we make everyone equally poor. Presto – no jealousy.
The other way she could handle this problem would be to work with the children and help them reduce their natural feelings of jealousy. Without the underlying jealousy, then chewing gum, and all sorts of other things, are no longer an issue in her classroom, and they can get back to the work at hand – learning to read or whatever – with fewer distractions. If jealousy is having a negative impact on her classroom, then she could try to reduce its impact. Deal with the jealousy. Not the chewing gum.
Just like God probably doesn’t care all that much about your neighbor’s donkey, the teacher doesn’t care all that much about the kid’s chewing gum. But she’s using this as an opportunity to make a point. Jealousy of others is, at best, an unnecessary distraction from the work at hand, and it’s potentially destructive. It should be avoided if at all possible. It would seem to be worth some effort by the teacher to teach her students to reduce and control their natural jealousies.
However, it seems that teachers are now trained to take this opportunity (and many others) to help students develop and enhance their natural jealousies – they are trained that jealousy is a healthy response, and you can make yourself feel better by punishing others. This is our intention, in schools today.
Why is that? I’m not sure, but perhaps our teachers were not raised in church, and/or were not trained in character development, and/or have not given these issues a great deal of thought. Whatever, right? It’s easier to just not allow gum, so what the heck. Fix the problem the simplest way possible, and don’t think too hard about the consequences.
But I don’t think so. My kids’ elementary school education was a carefully planned program in modern morality. Much of which is good, of course. They learned quotes from Fair Fox, Self Esteem Elephant, Respectful Rabbit and so on, from their earliest years in school. My kid got an award in 2nd grade or something for memorizing them all before the rest of her classmates. This is a priority for teachers.
I don’t think that whoever plans our school programs has simply not given ethics, morality, or social functioning any thought. They have clearly given it a great deal of thought, so I don’t think that their worship of equality at any cost, and thus their encouragement of envy and jealousy, is an accident.
Modern conservatives believe in individual liberties and are uncomfortable with telling others what to think. Thus, leftists have designed much of our modern educational curriculum. Leftists are more comfortable with encouraging conformity toward a cooperative goal, and they understand the importance of educating the youth with that in mind.
Some aspects of leftist education are particularly glaring. Samuelson’s Economics. Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” The current 1619 project from the New York Times.
But I think the little stuff is more damaging. Confiscating chewing gum. Banning any speech that offends someone. Teaching kids that they can achieve happiness by controlling the behavior of others, and relishing the power of the collective when they gang up on an individual they dislike.
As long as they dislike them for commonly accepted reasons, of course. If you dislike someone because they’re black, that’s bad. If you dislike someone because they have chewing gum, then good for you. The more draconian the penalties for not conforming to commonly accepted forms of discrimination become, then the more confusing and anxiety-provoking all this becomes for school children.
I understand that some of this stuff is just an overworked teacher trying to control her classroom. But this is important stuff. If we intentionally stomp out individualism and promote conformity, what kind of society will we have in 25 years? It may be a society that you won’t like. Although Karl Marx would approve.
We teach kids that it’s ok to suppress individual liberty in pursuit of equality. And then, 20 years later, we act surprised when millennials vote for an avowed communist.
Chewing gum is no big deal. Neither is a day’s wages for a farmhand. Neither is your neighbor’s donkey.
But how we handle this stuff matters. It matters a lot.
The Democrat party is not moving left. We are. We start in kindergarten and continue through college. We’re producing socialists.
And we’re doing it intentionally.Published in