From all of us at TheCollegeConservative, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We will return in January, and will continue to bring you the finest in reporting, opinion, and political commentary from a student perspective.
Please, enjoy this story written by Matthew Lamb, sharing an encounter that some of us may be having this very holiday with college students who have been influenced by professors with differing political views than their families.
Dinner is ready. The mashed potatoes are resting on the table, a pool of butter melting over the top. The waft of cinnamon and apple comes from the oven, as a delicious apple pie starts to bake. The parents are gathering their little ones to sit at the kids’ table.
Great Uncle Jack, the family patriarch, says grace, thanking God for bringing everyone together and offering an extra prayer for the troops overseas who can’t spend Christmas with their own family. The younger kids are restless, and just want to start eating.
Jack’s niece quietly withdraws from the prayer, since she is now questioning her belief in God.
After the grace, the conversation starts innocently. Jack, a decorated war veteran and a successful small-business owner, asks his niece: “So, how did your first semester of college go?”
“Fine” says his niece, a once-innocent high school student who now sees the military and business owners as evil. Her liberal professors have been teaching her that morality is relative and that business owners are greedy capitalists (no matter that Jack employs 15 people, as well as some of his niece’s high school friends, as workers). Now, Uncle Jack’s military background and business achievements make her uncomfortable.
“What did you learn?” Uncle Jack asks innocently.
His niece, frustrated, stands up at the table and shouts, “Uncle Jack, how can you sleep at night knowing you participate in unbridled capitalism, exploiting the little guy to make money!?”
Taking a minute to let her finish, Jack takes a deep breath and prepares to answer. He remembers how many of his friends were once liberal students, swept up in a liberal fever rippling across their college campuses. He remembers when his friends would come home for Christmas break, or visit him at Army training, and would tell him how they too had “discovered” Karl Marx, and how religion was “BS.”
Clearing his throat, he calmly explains to his niece how he came to his beliefs.
“When I returned to the states, I opened my small business. I had some skills from being in the Army, but I never had the opportunity to go to college. I WAS the little guy. You’re right, I didn’t go in to business to employ people; I went in to business to have a job. But as I expanded, I was proud to hire more and more people so they could provide for their families as well.”
“I want people to have jobs and to be able to provide for their families. I just think that all people are worth more than getting handouts or 2 years of unemployment. I would love nothing more than to have a paid vacation for two years, but I have to wake up every morning at 5 A.M. to start work.”
“I think every human is worth more than getting food stamps or housing vouchers. It’s because I think people can do better that I am suspicious of welfare programs. I try to provide for my employees, but every day it seems like the government your professors indoctrinated you to believe is so great makes it harder and harder.”
“You’ve never run a business, and neither have your philosophy and political science professors. They make themselves rich by inflating their salaries even though being a professor provides little to no real economic value. I wake up every morning to provide services people need every day without the government subsidizing my job—unlike how like they do for your professor.”
His niece seems shocked that Uncle Jack would respond so directly to her arguments. Despite her shock, he presses on.
“Bless you, you’re young. I understand. You should explore different ideas and views. But your professors who are feeding you this nonsense have no life experience. They went from their undergrad degrees straight to their Masters or Ph.D, never working a real job. They’ve never had to decide whether to expand a store or keep it the same. They’ve never had to pay 10 or 11 different taxes every month, the same business taxes they seem to love. It’s easy for them to blast small and large businesses, even though it’s the small businesses that make up the backbone of their communities, and the large corporations that fund the endowments at their universities.”
Despite Jack’s reply, his niece is undeterred. “Well, maybe that’s true. But how can you call yourself a Christian and still vote for the party that wants poor kids to starve and doesn’t want to help minorities?”
Jack has heard this complaint before. “Your professors have no problem talking about helping the poor and social justice, but then they live in ritzy communities far away from the school, to avoid the same people they claim to want to help.”
“Throughout the years, I’ve probably helped 50 to 100 people provide for their family or pay for their schooling. Your professors, on the other hand, probably write a check to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood and then don’t do anything else. Or, they attend a fancy fundraiser for the opera or a museum and wine and dine with other wealthy people. I never had the money to do that. What I could do was deliver communion to shut-ins, and help my elderly neighbors rake their lawn and cut their grass so they could feel proud of where they lived.”
“When I was younger than you, my father would wake me up the morning after a big snow and we would shovel the driveways of the elderly and the disabled. After a nasty storm, we would take our truck and a few axes to cut up the large trees that had fallen in our neighbor’s yard. We never accepted any money for this because grandpa just said that’s what good people do.”
Jack’s niece pauses. She had never known that her grandfather had done those things. Nor had she thought about how her professors might not practice what they preach. But still, her professors couldn’t have been wrong about everything they taught in class, right? She has one more challenge for her uncle.
“Uncle Jack, how can you sleep at night supporting the extreme Christian Right in their war against women? I’m a woman, How can you try to make decisions for me?”
Jack sighs. “At one point, I used to be more socially liberal. I was pro-choice like you. But then when your grandmother was carrying your mother, and the doctor said that she would be born prematurely and would be too small to survive, I started to change my thinking.
“The doctors all thought it was best that your grandmother abort the child right away to save your grandmother any grief from losing a baby a few hours after it was born. But then when your mother was born, it was one of the happiest moments in our life. Even though she was born early, she managed to overcome any shortcoming and grew up to become a healthy person.”
“I don’t hate women. It’s because I want every little girl and boy to have a chance at life that I’m no longer pro-choice. I’m pro-life because your grandmother made a decision for your mother and, ultimately, for you.”
Uncle Jack’s niece, shocked that his answer hit her so close to home, sits down in her seat. Jack leans over toward her and smiles warmly.
“So when you ask ‘how could I support all these things,’ it’s because I believe this is how the world ought to work. I do all these things out of love. And, ultimately, it all comes back to caring for my family. Your professors may tell you that family doesn’t matter anymore, or that there is no such thing as a traditional family. We, however, will always be family.”
Matthew Lamb | Loyola University | @mlmb24