Conservatives are outraged over this promo for MSNBC’s new show “Lean Forward”:
"We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we've always had kind of a private notion of children. 'Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.’ We haven't had a very collective notion of 'These are our children.'
"So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities."
Basically, the conservatives’ assertion is that this is proof liberals don’t want to take care of their own children. Wait, what?
Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are outraged over the idea that we should all work together for the betterment of our children.
"I think that there's a good 20 to 30 percent of America, maybe even higher now, I'm not sure, [that] will gladly have the state take that over so they don't have to worry about it,” Beck said. “Yet another one of your responsibilities taken from you -- I'm sorry. Another one of your responsibilities that you will gladly hand over because you don't know what to do."
I’m pretty sure that’s not at all what Lean Forward’s host Melissa Harris-Perry was getting at with this. In fact, quite the opposite. The shift of responsibility from individuals to community actually means you’re now responsible for your whole community instead of just yourself.
The mistake conservatives make is misconstruing the shifting of responsibilities from the individual to the community as a switching of roles from the individual to the government, which, in our current perception of how society works, would in fact be a shirking of responsibility, a handing off of problems to let others deal with them for you. We are all members of our community, however, so when the community at large accepts more obligations, each of its individual members accepts those obligations as well.
Education is a major benefit to the community, as well as the individual. It’s a civic act, the development of an awareness of your place in your community and society as a whole; it’s the learning of the skills necessary to use that awareness to benefit the community you inhabit. Even if you frame it in economic terms, business development is a moral imperative to help benefit society, in a “rising tide lifts all boats” kind of way.
None of these arguments are to be understood as liberals wanting to get away from their responsibility to their children, but as liberals wanting us to take responsibility for each other.
James DiGioia is the social media coordinator for the International Business Times, follow him on Twitter: @JamesDiGioia