Forging Leaders

Eric Wilson - 2013

If we want to create leaders in
     Our marriages,
          Our families,
               Our communities,
We must not just talk about education, but need to harness education to empower and enlighten.  We all need to practice what we preach – just disseminating information is not good enough anymore.  The answer is not found in telling someone how or what to vote for or in spewing the most recent talking points.  The answers must be foundational within the individual.  We have a crisis, but I contend it is not a problem of politics but a problem of morals and principles.

The problem is that we are no longer teaching, raising, and empowering leaders among us and the next generation.  The day is coming when this nation will stand at a vital crossroads, and only leaders of the caliber of Washington, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King will be able to take it in the right direction.  Not only do we need “new American Founders” and men and women of virtue, but we need to know and utilize what the Founders knew in order to renew and perpetuate liberty.

We need to prepare ourselves and the next generation in much the same ways these great men were forged to greatness – through classical education and self-discovery.  This process is accomplished through a classical “liber”al arts education instilling the knowledge and skills necessary to remain "liber”ated.  The Founding Fathers were a generation of "liber" – of men and women who could read, understand, and debate ideas and concepts.  Self-education requires reviving that same classical process of reading and thinking to forge the next founding fathers.

We need to once again indulge in the same classics that inspired a generation of leaders.  We need to provide for each of our own intellects the foundation that created statesmen.  We need to understand things – what and how they once understood – to face the great challenges of this nation.  Although it may appear simple, the answer is in methods and readings – through classical education and self-discovery.  This will empower the next George Washington among us.

"Learning to learn for oneself" certainly well summarizes the pedagogical goal of self or classical education.  Another educational truism is helpful, "Education can be merely reading some books."  Self-education does not mean that you no longer need a teacher, but rather that you are capable of making books your teacher without the aid of an instructor to explain the books to you.

When we climb out of the broad stream that comprises the wisdom of the ages, it is very easy to lose our educational bearings – being blown to and fro by the winds of opinion.  Despite the mantras that are continually chanted around us – the motivation for pursuing the most recent issues, looking at charts or being able to recite talking points, sitting through lectures from academia on what to think, or by explaining all labors as just steps in the great “ordu salutis” culminating in acceptance by that Ivy League dream college is not education.  Education comes from within and is the study of how to think.  Until we understand that education is an end in itself, that – indeed – the creation in which we dwell and the historical saga in which we take part are truly worthy of our interest and concentrated study, we will only labor and resist tyranny with a slave’s reluctance.

We need to stand up and step off the plantation and begin to instill the foundation of leadership.  We need to begin to self-educate and encourage the reading of classics and foundational literature.  We need to start opening eyes and teaching people how to think and providing the path through great works for new leaders to develop in
               Our communities,
          Our families,
     Our marriages,
And in ourselves.