I am responding to Josh Rigsby’s letter, “Conservatives losing battle to provide values system to youth” (The Citizen, Jan. 30, 2019). I agree with the importance of strong family and community values to provide youth with a foundation before adulthood.
But I am disturbed by his statements about college campuses being radical and “openly hostile to any viewpoint that doesn’t toe the progressive line.” He further states, “the ideology of leftist professors fills a hole in the lives of young people, sold as purpose and ability to leave a mark.”
There is nothing wrong with finding purpose and leaving a mark. I grew up in a “conservative” Christian family in a small homogeneous New England town, meaning there was no diversity, no homelessness, no inequality, no single parent homes. Everyone went to a Christian church on every Sunday and there was a strong sense of security.
Upon graduation from high school, (late 1960s), I left the safety of home to attend a large city university 100 miles away. I was presented with very “radical” ideas that challenged my immature beliefs. My eyes were opened to all kinds of diversity, poverty, inequality, and different ways to view the world apart from my youthful world views.
I became an activist (it was the 1960s) and participated in marches and sit-ins in support of human and civil rights. I did this because of my strong Christian family upbringing with the values of “love they neighbor.”
After college, I stayed on in Boston and went to work as a public health nurse in an impoverished section of the city, and further developed an understanding of the need for public assistance and healthcare, and other ”leftist” ideas.
When Joel states professors “preach gospel that give youth a calling to protect marginalized communities that had suffered under patriarchal racist structures of society,” I had a strong reaction. He further stated “young people could now rally to protect minority groups from evil discrimination of the conservatives and Christians, fulfilling a need to rebel against parents.”
That’s ludicrous. I felt no need to rebel against my parents, as I joined in the cause to support minority groups who had suffered discrimination. In fact, I invited “minority” friends into my parents’ home and our community (it was radical at the time), and helped change some of their learned racist and “conservative” beliefs.
Joel says conservatives need to find a way to give meaning and purpose to a generation they have been unable to reach. He says that “preaching of leftist gospel at his college has young people being told they can change the world and protect those being forgotten by society.”
And this is bad? Sounds very “Christian.” He further contends that “when they move into the labor force, it will be difficult to adjust this view and they will struggle unnecessarily.” But from my experience, the effort to help those less fortunate or “forgotten by society” is not a struggle, but a well-worth cause driven by values to live by in adulthood. And, maybe they can bring this view with them to continue to effect change for those less fortunate.
He says “when traditional societal structures fail to provide purpose and meaning in life, youth turn to ‘leftist’ philosophy.” I suggest maybe “traditional societal structures” need to adjust in a way that is more inclusive of “leftist” philosophy, or at least accepting of leftist principles, some of which are very “Christian.”
The way to reach youth is through open-mindedness, nonjudgmental acceptance of different viewpoints, and humility. We have to stop the overarching labels, such as “leftist” and “conservative.”
The continuum with far left on one end and extreme right at the other is big and very fluid. We need communication among people at all points along the continuum. As Joel invited different ideas, this need for communication is something we agree on … a good beginning.
Peachtree City, Ga.