I write to you today as both a parent and an educator. For those who know me, you are well aware that I am rarely at a loss for words, yet last evening I felt speechless. Today, through prayer, I found the words that I’d like to share with you.
If you are upset and frustrated after watching last night’s presidential debate, you are not alone. Policy issues aside, this event featured behavior that would be completely unacceptable in our classrooms. In fact, some of the behavior exhibited on that national stage would result in a school suspension or expulsion!
The politicians and pundits will likely continue to argue. As LCA educators, however, we will recommit ourselves to the important work of teaching respect and thoughtful conversation & dialogue. As people of faith, we will renew our commitment to form our students in humility, compassion, kindness, and social & moral justice. As academic leaders, we will rededicate ourselves to the intellectual tradition of Lakewood Catholic Academy that values truth and distinguishes the difference between facts and opinions. Since the world can’t look to our political leaders for this noble work, the world will look to us, the educators of tomorrow’s leaders. This is a heavy burden to carry during an already challenging year, but we will carry this work forward, because it is at the heart of our mission.
One small, tangible way that we at Lakewood Catholic Academy aim to build a more respectful and peaceful world is the incorporation of our communications class in both the seventh and eighth grade curricula. This class helps our students learn effective public speaking skills and introduces them to the art of true debate. As a former speech and debate competitor and coach, I assure you that our students are capable of more competent and constructive debate than what was televised last evening.
As the tumultuous political season continues to rage on, please be aware that, as a Catholic school, we do not endorse specific political candidates in our classroom conversations. Our teachers strive to share balanced perspectives when asked questions by our inquisitive students, and they regularly suggest that students share those questions with you, their parents. We encourage you to take time to thoughtfully and patiently discuss those issues that your children may bring to you.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently reissued a document entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. The guidance provided within that document states, in part:
Our commitment as people of faith to imitate Christ’s love and compassion should challenge us to serve as models of civil dialogue, especially in a context where discourse is eroding at all levels of society. Where we live, work, and worship, we strive to understand before seeking to be understood, to treat with respect those with whom we disagree, to dismantle stereotypes, and to build productive conversation in place of vitriol.
While there is indeed a heaviness to the issues we face today, there is also an undeniable source of hope. My son and your children have the benefit of being part of a school community and a faith that teach love – a radical love, Christ’s love, a love that knows no bounds, embraces differences, mercifully forgives and calls forth compassion. The type of love the world so desperately needs.
In the midst of national and global distress, I hope this brings you some peace. Your children are taught love. Yes, they will learn our first-class curriculum, complete with all the subjects with which you are familiar, but of greater importance, they will learn love and kindness. May God continue to hold us close, and may the love shared within the walls of LCA and the love experienced in your own family inspire and empower our children to heal a broken world.