“Ninety percent of your college education happens outside of classes.” From my first day at Stanford, I’ve heard this adage repeated dozens of times—by friends, RA’s, parents, and mentors of all types. I’ve repeated it to myself at least as many times—while biting my nails after a particularly difficult test or justifying abandoned books on a Friday night spent learning how to swing dance.
In college we begin to make decisions which will shape the rest of our lives. Especially at a school like Stanford, where intelligence and work ethic are presupposed requirements for admission, book learning only counts for so much. What really matters during our years at Stanford are the decisions we make about how to live, which are infinitely colored by our values.
Herein lies the great tragedy of a true university “liberal” education. Modern liberalism—of the hedonistic, morally subjective, politically-correct-at-all-costs college variety—is ill-equipped to provide students with the kind of values education and moral fortitude they will need to conquer the life challenges they will inevitably face as soon as they leave campus.
When Justice O’Connor spoke in Memorial Church last month, she touched on the subject of religion and values. Quoting her mentor, Stanford professor Harry Rathbun, the retired Supreme Court Justice explained, “everyone has a religion, whether he knows it or not.” O’Connor was inspired by Rathbun, who encouraged each of his students to examine the meaning, purpose, and values of their own lives.
Real values, however, are something that are rarely talked about at Stanford. The history department offers a course on the protest movements of the 1960s, but nothing on how Christian morality shaped the U.S. Constitution. University employees talk to freshmen every year about safe sex and pay thousands of dollars to provide students with free condoms and lube; while university pregnancy resources are virtually non-existent. The Sociology department teaches about sex and love in modern society, but not about traditional family values or attitudes toward marriage.
The fact is that it is impossible for liberal academics to properly teach about values, because for the modern liberal, cultural sensitivity is the highest value, and tolerance of individuality is the highest virtue. Liberal academics follow a religion of their own, with immutable laws of politically correct behavior, whether they realize it or not. In the liberal religion, it is not kosher to argue that
Thomas Sowell once described liberal policies as “feel good” solutions. Pumping more money into government welfare programs makes Democrat taxpayers feel good about themselves; but it may do little to address the underlying reasons why the welfare beneficiary is not making enough money. Advocating universal government health care also feels good—who hasn’t heard health tragedies of the poor and uninsured—but it is easy to overlook the drastic plunge that quality of care would suffer. The list goes on and on…
This editor would argue that a compassionate conservatism provides a much better path to potential happiness than liberalism. Why? Simply put, because conservatism, in its many shades, always supports small government and individual responsibility.