In a year such as this one, I can’t think of a greater gift for a person of any age to have than discernment. We are being bombarded with propaganda and information from all directions and it is often difficult to sort out. More disturbing is the brainwashing of our youth, especially if they haven’t been taught the first thing about discernment.
Often used as a “religious” term, discernment is imperative to any aspect of our lives. A more secular definition is as follows, from Wiktionary:
The ability to distinguish; judgment; Discrimination; To distinguish between things; To perceive differences that exist; The condition of understanding; Aesthetic discrimination; taste, appreciation; Perceptiveness; The ability to make wise judgments; sagacity; Discretion in judging objectively.
Many of today’s issues are not what they appear to be on the surface, and using discernment, we can make a far superior judgment. A recent example would be the Wikileaks story and its’ founder, Julian Assange.
Many have praised his action to release secret documents, exposing our government in many areas and naming names. The discerning person would hesitate to make a call on that without looking much further. What is Assange’s background? Political leanings? Associates? What might be his motive in releasing information like this? What about the editing of the information and the advice of media sources before it was released? All of these factors have to be considered, as they affect the issue dramatically.
Your kids are likely not being taught to be discerning in today’s educational system and radical universities. David Horowitz’s book, Indoctrination U:The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom, shows what a struggle he has had just to attempt to see that students have academic freedoms. Admittedly, many of us would find it difficult not to steer students towards the path we thought was correct, but on many campuses, only one path is even visible. If a student veers from it, they could potentially pay the price. That is definitely not an atmosphere that encourages discernment.
John Taylor Gatto, New York’s Teacher of the Year in 1991 and author of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, has written extensively on this problem among others in our educational system. Here is what he has to say about the goals of today’s state controlled schools:
How can you combat the propaganda that your kids are being deluged with? Francine Morrissette has some great suggestions in her article. Here is a sampling:
To discern is to perceive the true nature of something. When we teach children to discern for themselves we give them the tools they need to navigate the world around them and to steer themselves away from influences that can hurt them.
Tell your kids that people who create (whether books, or music, art, or even video games) project their worldview onto their work. Explain that there is a Christian worldview, an atheist worldview, an agnostic worldview (and on and on) and that a person’s worldview “colors” what they say and do. Have your child try to figure out the worldview of their favorite writers and singers and encourage them to share their thoughts about this.
Throughout our lives, there are many who would manipulate us, but using the gift of discernment, we can be much more prepared for it and we can come to much more reasonable conclusions. This type of critical thinking affects our political lives, social lives, and spiritual lives.
This Christmas, my wish for you and your family is to embrace and teach discernment. Share it with your kids, your friends and your co-workers. It is a priceless gift that will guide you for the rest of your life.