Judaism believes that the road to a just society is paved by individual character development. The greatest difference between my yeshiva education and secular education since the 1960s is that I was taught the biggest moral challenge in my life was … me. To make a better world, first I had to fight my flawed nature, not American society. Young people receiving an education rooted in liberal-left values — which means virtually all education today, from elementary school through graduate school — are taught that to be a good person they have to fight American society with its alleged rampant racism, sexism, homophobia, bigotry, xenophobia and despoilment of the environment.
The results of teaching tikkun olam (repairing the world) before tikkun atzmi (repairing the self) are sadly apparent. More young people cheat on tests than ever before, more steal, more show disrespect to parents and teachers, fewer think marriage is an ideal to aspire to, and so on. The State of Maryland has just passed a law that in order to receive a high school diploma, students must be proficient in environmentalism. I suspect almost none of Maryland’s high school students will graduate with the ability to name the Ten Commandments. But they will be able to cite 10 advantages of wind power.
Let me state, as I do in every column on political/social subjects, that I readily acknowledge that there are wonderful individuals with liberal-left values, and that there are awful religious and conservative individuals who have made little effort to repair their characters. But American society will not be repaired if people are taught to fight American society rather than themselves. On the contrary, it will become a worse society.