Author Interests: Current trends impacting History & Education
by Dr. Toby K. Easley
I remember my days in elementary school and middle school very well during the 1970’s. I still recall watching the news on our black and white TV screen in 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon. I also have fond memories of participating in our annual Patriotic play at my Elementary school. Our teachers, many of them nearing retirement had lived through the World War II years and as Christians they loved their God, country, and students. We also had a wonderful African American Physical Education teacher who eventually retired after working over forty years in the Public Schools. When the School Principal spoke how he would be missed she said, “You are the true meaning of a gentleman.” Today, forty years after finishing the sixth grade, people are still accurately describing his character and demeanor.
I suppose many of you reading this blog may be asking the same questions that I have been pondering lately. What happened to the Patriotic nation we grew up in four decades ago? Although our nation was not perfect, as we well know in the sixties and seventies, we must all pause and ask ourselves if we are willing to idly stand by while many try and erase our history?
I personally have always been a student of history. Having earned three degrees beyond high school, I would have more than likely pursued an advanced degree in history if the Lord had not chosen a different route for me in Theology and Homiletics. Due to my love of history, I took a specific course in High School on the Civil War. The war was intriguing and very interesting to study all of the generals on both sides of the struggle. After completing the course taught by a patriotic Vietnam Veteran, I understood the key figures, geography, battles, the triumphant and the defeated. I understood that I lived in the United States of America not the Confederate States of America. I also understood that many of the men who fought for the Confederacy did so with conviction in their hearts. I chose to disagree with their views on slavery but also realized many of them were raised in a nineteenth-century culture and held high views of God and country. I understood when I examined their strengths and weaknesses politically and philosophically; I could not reach back into their century and wave a wand and change who they were. I also understood that I could not be held accountable for their actions because I was not there to either agree or disagree with the war and slavery. However, I could study their lives and learn how to avoid the mistakes they made. In other words, erasing that segment of our history and destroying monuments of antiquity will never solve anger in the hearts of those who carry bitterness forward in perpetuity. I firmly believe that only the gospel and a true love of Jesus Christ will bring about lasting racial reconciliation in America.
Please allow me to digress back to the 1970’s once again. As I grew up around Patriotic teachers who were Christians and a solid Christian home, my parents taught me to love and respect others from a Biblical perspective regardless of race. They taught us that if we “love the Lord your God with all your heart,” a better relationship with society would also result. In other words, when I arrived at my first day of Kindergarten over four decades ago, I knew my parents expected me to grant the same respect daily to my female teacher who was white, and my male teacher who was black.
Therefore, how have we digressed so far into much of the chaos that we are witnessing today? Since this is a blog and not a book, I will have to give a brief overview and you the reader can decide if you agree or disagree. Here are five of the major influences as to why I believe many are trying to erase our history. First, there was the effort to remove God from schools and society. Second, there has been a diminishing role the Church plays in the lives of American families. Third, we have seen the deception and impact of the political correctness movement in recent decades. Fourth, over a period of time there has been the daily saturation of technology and negative news constantly before us. Fifth, there has been the ongoing practice of bitterness rather than forgiveness and reconciliation.
Beginning with the first influence, during the twentieth century, the Supreme Court in America began making decisions that I believe affected the future of education. When the Ten Commandments and prayer were no longer permitted in the classroom and we began to take away the educational influences of Christianity upon the secular mind, the ripple effects were inevitable. Before these court decisions, a child who was never given any Biblical instructions at home, could at least get some Biblical morals and ethics taught to them at school. With several Supreme Court decisions, many Godly influences were slowly but surely stripped away.
Furthermore, during the same era of the 1970’s, most of my classmates were taken to church by their parents at least once a week on Sunday. Although many denominations were represented, I recall talking about Church with my friends and their families. When I visited in their homes and they in mine, our parents all prayed before meals to acknowledge God for our food, health, and supply. All of our families made it a practice to consistently eat together, pray together, and worship together. Biblical principals, morals, and ethics played a role in all of our lives. I still recall the saying I learned as a lad, “families that pray together stay together.”
Before the turn of the twenty-first century, the news headlines slowly but surely revealed how American culture was continuing to decay. After I graduated from High School, many schools across the country removed strict discipline from teachers and administrators hands. In many instances, students no longer were required to respect their parents or their teachers. Authorities intimidated parents with jail time who disciplined their children, and teachers were threatened with lawsuits. These developments all paved the way for the radical political correctness movement that was picking up steam. I remember hearing the words of Ronald Reagan’s adopted son as he sadly said, “what used to be right in America is now wrong, and what used to be wrong is now right.” Consequently, the political correctness movement persistently used the platform of race to gain attention. Ultimately, many continued to believe the true agenda behind the movement has been to dramatically change the education, morals, traditions, and the ethics taught in the Biblical worldview.
Once we were well into the twenty-first century, social media and technology were well established in American life. The political correctness movement used the platform to push their agenda and eventually it seemed the secularists were winning the day. Also, when Barack Obama won the presidency for eight years, many conservatives believe race relations in America continually diminished. His administration on many fronts pushed legislation and supported organizations that stirred up the past bitterness of race relations and moral issues such as homosexual marriage and transgender bathrooms. At this point, many believed America had completely abandoned our Biblical, moral, and historical stability altogether. Even though many preachers spoke out about these issues, it seemed that the voices of many historians were too intimidated to speak out regarding bitter trends and erasing our history and past. Consequently, what numerous scholars had called “revisionist history” all of a sudden began to radicalize into the “erasure of history.” I among others observed as many so called credible historians seemed to join the political correctness movement rather than oppose it.
By the time 2016 rolled around the vitriol in American society regarding race and moral issues had reached a crisis point politically, spiritually, and culturally. During the 2016 Presidential election we witnessed what may have been the most bitterly fought political battle in our history. The rules of engagement became an all out brawl and Donald Trump finally emerged to the amazement of the opposing party, the forty-fifth President of the United States. Since becoming President, the rhetoric and violence from those who lost the election continues to rage and forgiveness and reconciliation have disappeared from the agenda. Unfortunately, the new strategy of the vanquished is to stir up more strife by destroying historical monuments and trying to erase from memory entities from the War Between the States. Although not one African American living today was born into slavery and the vast majority of white Americans living all vehemently disagree with the past institution of slavery, the subject continues to be used as a political platform.
Therefore, is there hope of racial reconciliation and forgiveness in America? I say not as long as the bitter continue to dwell and live in a non-reality type nineteenth-century past, and at the same time trying to erase what happened from history. It seems oxymoronic to continually bring to the publics mind what happened in history when at the same time chiseling away by destroying historical monuments. We must also continue to pose the question, after they remove the monuments what will be next on their list? Will it be Churches, Bibles, and guns? I say they will want to remove all of the above and that is why we must stand up and say enough is enough! Over the past several decades, we as Americans have seen what has happened in Europe. If we as American Christians want a better future, now is the time to stand for our faith, families, and the right of our posterity to examine history, not erase it. The future is ours to either have a right to speak about what happened in history or eventually lose that right with a forced cut and paste approach that leaves huge gaps. If this cut and paste approach is allowed to continue through our apathy, they will have been successful in Cutting Gaps For A Neo-American History that will become the clear mandate for historical education in America. ~TKE~