Editorial: Old Fashioned Values, Point Blank

Editorial: Old Fashioned Values, Point Blank

Photo Credit: i94sports.com/

by Baila Olidort - New York

January 12, 2011

It used to be that when individuals committed violent crimes against others, the rage they acted out was attributed to a deprived childhood. Low socioeconomic status was a factor, conventional wisdom argued, and if only every child were ensured a perfect childhood, society would be free of criminals.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case with Jared Loughner, and since his Saturday shooting spree, gun sales have spiked. Desperate to protect themselves against lurking madmen, many are, understandably, doing the only thing that comes to mind in the hopes that more guns in the right hands may be the answer to too many guns in the wrong hands.

While the freedom to bear arms is one of this country’s most polarizing issues and will not, in the foreseeable future, be resolved by consensus, others are focusing on the inflamed rhetoric in politics as incitement for Loughner’s shooting spree. Sarah Palin, in her public remarks took the matter to another extreme, insisting that no one but the criminal is responsible for his actions.

Technically perhaps, the lady has a point. But we do no one, least of all ourselves, a service by burying our heads in the sand and refusing to consider the matter with greater reflection. Because we know that it does indeed take a village, and that children, unlike garden perennials, are shaped by their homes and schools and communities.  

There is no one word in the English language that accurately translates “chinuch,”  Hebrew for education, instruction, dedication, guidance—all words that relate to the careful cultivation of a child into a fully developed, responsible human being. It is a word that implies work, the sustained involvement of parents, teachers and community role models; the presence of values that are practiced and lived by and are evident in the day to day routines of the home, the school and the social environment of the child.

Following the attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life in 1981, the Lubavitcher Rebbe of righteous memory, questioned the nature of John Hinckley’s education. The liberal concept of education as a value-free discipline that makes only the transfer of information from teacher to student as its objective, is a miserable failure, said the Rebbe.

At a time when a “moment of silence” in public schools to encourage students to reflect for a few minutes a day--even without mention of the word “G-d”--had become a contentious issue, the Rebbe pleaded in favor of teaching young children accountability to a higher being, and imbuing them with the awareness of “an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears.”

Fear of punishment, fear of getting caught, he argued, are not effective, he maintained. An awareness of one’s accountability to G-d, reinforced at home, in school and in the community, cultivates a sense of responsibility in children towards others, and fortifies them with the tools to self-correct when they are provoked, even, or especially, when they are grown up.

It is an old-fashioned message. But in the face of Saturday’s murderous rampage and the heartbreaking loss of life, who among us—believers or non-believers—does not wish that Mr. Loughner had been given the right chinuch, the kind that would have empowered him to check himself before he pulled the trigger, unleashing so much grief upon so many innocent people.

To see the Rebbe’s video, click here:

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