From the Right



Secular parents think that human nature is good, thus eschewing moral instruction

Dennis Prager on

Ask any young person -- even a young child -- "What do you want to be?" and just about everyone will answer, "a doctor," "an engineer," "a teacher," "a firefighter," "an airplane pilot" or a member of some other profession.

This is completely understandable.

But I have a suggestion that would change your child's life -- and the world -- for the better. Tell your child to answer, "I want to be a good person." This would completely change the way your child sees himself or herself.

As a rule, people become what they want to become. If you devote the entire first half of your life including your most formative years to being a good student in order to be a good professional, you probably will become ... a good student and a good professional.

Think of how long it takes and how hard one has to work to accomplish those two goals. Why wouldn't it take as much time and effort to become a good person? How would anyone become proficient at anything that wasn't his or her goal to achieve?

Every generation in recorded history has witnessed a terrible amount of evil. One would think that making good people would therefore be the first goal of every decent society, indeed of every society that wishes to long survive. But with a few exceptions, this has not been the case -- and is not the case today.


What preoccupies parents today is not that their child be a good person but that their child be a good student, get into a "good" school and become good at some profession. You can test this. Ask your child, whether he or she is 5 years old or 50 years old, "What do you think I, your mother (or I, your father) most want (or most wanted) you to be: smart, successful, good or happy?"

For 30 years, I have suggested listeners of my radio show do this, and for 30 years, parents have called to tell me how disappointed they were that their children did not answer, "good."

But given how few parents make goodness their children's primary goal, why should they be surprised?

To be fair, one obvious reason few children respond, "a good person" to the question "What do you want to be?" is that the question (often ending with "when you grow up") implies a profession.


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