Yet, a flurry of educators, consultants, and government officials has decided to instruct Johnny how to feel, ostensibly in the interests of “safe schools.” Johnny does not merely need to get along with Bobby. He must now like Bobby. And Jeffrey, and Justin, and Jane, and Jameka, and Maria, and Maia. He must get along with everyone and not exclude anyone.
The order is coming down from the federal government, from the Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools, Kevin Jennings, who also founded GLSEN. At one of his many speaking engagements around the country, at the Third International Conference on Conflict Resolution Education in Cleveland, Ohio, in March, he described his plans for “safe schools.”
They now will be free, not only of drugs and weapons, but more importantly (in his estimation) of “uncivil behavior, verbal threats, hate language, and social rejection.”
Social rejection entails choosing one’s friends. The idea of having a “best friend” is going the way of prayer and patriotism in our schools.
A recent New York Times article described the vanishing best friend. Parents who encourage non-exclusivity by scheduling group activities are getting their cues from the schools that try “to prevent bullying through workshops and posters.”
The article also quotes psychologists who say that close childhood friendships help children “develop the skills for healthy adult relationships.”
There is even more at stake. C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves” writes that it is “easy to see why Authority frowns on Friendship. . . . Men who have real Friends are less easy to manage or ‘get at’; harder for good Authorities to correct or for bad Authorities to corrupt. Hence if our masters, by force or by propaganda about ‘Togetherness’ or by unobtrusively making privacy and unplanned leisure impossible, ever succeed in producing a world where all are Companions and none are Friends, they will have removed certain dangers, and will also have taken from us what is almost our strongest safeguard against complete servitude.”
Whether one is a political ruler, teacher, or Department of Education bureaucrat, friendship threatens their power. And as I learned at this conference, their ultimate goal is to mold students into “global citizens.”
Their lessons go far beyond civics, citizenship, or even political correctness. They want to change the world by changing children.
No wonder my college students look at me as if they had just been released from a Stockholm bank.