The recent manifestation of academic timidity at a congressional hearing made all too obvious what most Americans already knew: Our country’s elite universities have lost all claim to moral leadership. Instead, they have become factories churning out hopeless equivocators. Results of a recent survey show that Americans no longer believe the leaders of our nation’s colleges and universities serve the interests of their students.
Which begs the question: How can those who fail to lead produce good leaders?
Much of higher education has been captured and reprogrammed by socialists, Marxism and liberal ideologies. The principal outcomes of higher education for recent generations have been atheism, antisemitism, anti-Americanism and moral abolitionism.
Our leading universities lack the courage to distinguish between basic truths regarding men and women. Unwilling to make so obvious a call, what faith can anyone hold that indecisive figures of authority will guide our young people through intricate questions such as distinguishing right from wrong? Without the ability to discern right from wrong and assert it with conviction, how can anyone aspire to lead?
University presidents are called to be leaders. Presidents must be men and women of moral clarity and intentionality, committed to truth, facts and eternal realities. It is their duty to seize the bully pulpit of learning; leading an alliance that constructs an environment which celebrates and embraces exploration and discovery versus an ecosystem that elevates politically correct conformity. Higher education used to be a factory of thought leaders, innovators, deep intellectual wells of brilliance and discoveries — not social agendas rife with intimidating ideologies of groupthink.
Steadfast and unabashed leadership is what our country sorely needs. We face perilous division, the worst since the period leading to the Civil War. Our country yearns for leadership capable of pulling us together, but what we have in academia is a far cry from the unifying voices of strong and benevolent leaders. The result is befuddled students who lack moral clarity.
From where will emerge our next President Lincoln, whose morally anchored leadership was indispensable in rescuing our country from tearing itself apart?
Lincoln was highly educated yet never attended college. His success as a lawyer, and later as a politician, was due in part to his ability to understand his adversaries’ positions to the point that he could frame his opponents’ arguments better than his opponents.
This depth of understanding enabled his preparation of counterarguments and counter strategies. Guided by moral clarity, his understanding of his opponents’ positions never weakened his resolve.
The more Lincoln dove into understanding those who benefitted from slavery, the greater his conviction grew to end it. He was guided by his study of the world’s great thinkers and his devotion to a pedagogy of determining right from wrong. Enriched by sound reasoning and prayers for guidance, Lincoln’s benevolent leadership was fortified by his belief that God was acting through him to save the Union.
By and large, today’s colleges and universities – led by the academic elites so embarrassingly on display recently in Washington, D.C. — have lost their way by abandoning a pedagogy dedicated to sorting out right from wrong. Instead, they have embraced the fluidity of post-modern personal truth. Yet, the search for objective moral clarity inevitably leads to embracing the faith that obedience to God’s eternal truth will never lead us to do what is wrong.
Those of us on the outside looking into these elite institutions see students who, without clear moral leadership, have lost their way. We see college students and recent graduates as masters of equivocation, hopelessly enlightened to the point of questioning everything on the one hand while accepting everything on the other.
Unable and unequipped to take a stand on the firm ground of moral conviction, many of today’s graduates sink into the quicksand of moral equivocation. Somehow, along the way, they have missed the lesson that not taking a stand is, in fact, taking a stand, albeit a useless one.
It’s not surprising that the same survey reveals that by and large the only ones who value today’s college education, who endorse their leadership, are the very young people who have been indoctrinated to believe their degrees in personal truth hold value.
But fear not, all hope for the rising generation is not lost. Outside of the classrooms and administration halls of the elite institutions that hold outsized sway on American ideals there are leaders of colleges and universities who are committed to embracing and promoting eternal truths.
Because they do so, graduates from these colleges and universities are uniquely equipped to tackle the hard issues facing our country precisely because of their commitment to and understanding of what is right and wrong.
For too long we have looked to elite colleges and universities to fill the leadership void in America. If we are to reverse the tide of division and moral confusion that permeates our society, we must embrace the leaders and institutions that have the fortitude to stand for what is fair, just and true.
Eric Hogue is president of Colorado Christian University, where he previously served as vice president of university advancement.
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