Purposeful Cultural Transmission

Purposeful Cultural Transmission

2020 | Week of September 7 | Radio Transcript #1376

From the time I was six or seven, I’ve been involved in elections.  Yes, you heard me right.  My mother, while she never ran for office, was always involved with the political scene.  She found it intolerable, for instance, that when she and my dad moved to Georgia in the early 1950s that the state had only one political party.  So, Mom set out to do what she could to help bring in a second party.

I vividly remember walking around neighborhoods with Mom, passing out campaign literature, putting up yard signs and enlisting people to help with candidates.  People don’t believe this, but on presidential election years, our whole family would watch the party conventions on TV.

When election day finally rolled around, I also remember going with Mom to vote.  That was back in the days of the voting machines that were wheeled into the polling place, complete with dozens of levers and a half-curtain that closed and opened behind the voter when the big lever was pulled.  I can still hear all the levers Mom had pulled clicking back into place when, after she had made all her selections, she pulled the big lever that opened the curtain and registered her vote.  I was enthralled.

Needless to say, politics wasn’t a dirty word in our family.  Elections were exciting.  Being involved in getting good candidates elected was a priority.  And on voting day, there was no viable excuse for not going to the polls.  I never once heard my parents say, “There’s no point in getting involved; we’re just a few people.  We won’t make any difference.”  No, Mom and Dad believed that a representative, participatory government was a gift; and they needed to do their civic duties and be good stewards of the type of government we’ve been blessed with.

Is it any wonder, then, that when I started teaching junior high government that we heartily embraced election years because they afforded great opportunities for me to share my enthusiasm for being involved with our government in very tangible ways.  As appropriate, I would take students with me for campaign lit drops; and on more than one occasion, we’d meet early in the morning and pound in a few campaign signs before school—not as official school representatives but on our own personal time.

We did mock campaigns, complete with party conventions.  Our class arranged for school-wide elections, and one year we even had a presidential inaugural party.  We invited school officials and parents to join us for the gala evening.

Now, I don’t know how much my parents consciously thought about what they were instilling in me as it relates to an appreciation of and enthusiasm for being involved with our government and the process that we have for choosing our elected officials.  But I do know that, whether intentional or not, their example spoke volumes to me and “stuck.”

For me, as a teacher, I was purposeful in my efforts to transmit to the next generation a deep appreciation for and a good understanding of our system of government, along with a determination to be good, informed and involved citizens. I knew my words, my actions and my attitude spoke volumes to my students.  I wanted much to be taught and caught.

It shouldn’t be a secret to anyone that we’re deeply embroiled in a critical election year.  Much of importance will be determined by those we elect to state and federal positions. The lives of the preborn and aged will be in the balance.  Judges at various levels will be appointed by those whom we elect.  Religious freedom is on the ballot in many respects along with many other of our core values and rights.

However, in the midst of all this, one of the most important issues is the example we will set for those coming after us.  Will your children, your grandchildren, perhaps your students see you being enthusiastic about being involved in campaigns, about learning about the issues and the candidates, about exercising your right to vote in the coming weeks?  Or will they hear you grousing and moaning about the system and see you doing nothing to make it better?

Now’s a perfect time for each of us to be purposeful in transmitting to the next generation a desire to be involved in their government, a belief that one person can make a difference.  Let’s make up our minds that in both word and deed this election cycle we will help at least one younger person see how important it is and what a privilege it is to be involved with politics and government in Wisconsin and the United States of America!  Such purposeful cultural transmission is everyone’s responsibility.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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