Why we should listen to the president

Like I mentioned yesterday, I will be watching President Obama’s speech to America’s school children with my children later today.  We have little ones around here, so we’ll be using the elementary lesson plans, legal or not. Actually, we’ll be focusing specifically on this question, because it fits perfectly with some ongoing conversations we have been having around here:

Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?  Classroom Activities, Pre-K-6 (pdf)

I’ll let you know my children’s answers to that later, after I ask them, but here are mine:

I.  I’m Christian, and the bible is pretty clear:

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake:  whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:  As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.  –1Peter 2:13-16 (KJV)

I consider myself blessed to live in a nation whose ordinances allow me considerable liberty to express my disagreement with established authority, but I try very hard to apply this verse especially to my discussions:  “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men…” By well doing hearts and minds are changed, not by inflammatory rhetoric.

II.  These are our elected leaders, and our responsibility as citizens is pretty clear.

The Salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.  –Hartley Burr Alexander, inscribed on the Nebraska State Capitol Building

If we do not listen, we cannot know, and if we do not know, we cannot act.  Listening precedes all useful action, something I fear some may be forgetting.

Please share your thoughts on the prepared speech, the speech as it is delivered and the accompanying lesson plans.  If you had the stage, what would you tell America’s youth?  And what have you told your own children?


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43 Comments on "Why we should listen to the president"

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Michele
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We are not to submit to sin. This admin is steeped in sin. Ultimately, we will be answering to God for what we have submitted to on this earth. He is first in line for our submission, always.

Mrs. lisa Mickey
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I just thank God that Many Germans did not do as their Leader asked, & indeed saved thousands of Jews from the death camps !

The prez speaking to children With out their parents to buffer his words is not what other presidents have done. Nor have other presidents made it about them.. as he has clearly done..
Sure THIS time he may hold back.. but what about next time ?

I see your point on the verse you quoted, I get that. But I also believe we are to run from those that wont’ accept council .

mickey

Jennah
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By simply listening, you do not have to submit. When you hear or read ANYTHING, you should do so with a critical ear and think for yourself. That is what “If we do not listen, we cannot know, and if we do not know, we cannot act” means.

Also, please read the text of the speech before jumping to conclusions about what he may be trying to implant into the heads of our youth. The text is available: [news.yahoo (dot) com/s/ap/20090908/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_school_speech_text

Rebecca
Guest
Great topic Dana! We will be listening, and I think I’ll talk with my kids about this as well. From Obama’s speech: When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning. Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother… Read more »
Lorraine
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I think most people who are opposed to the speech are not necessarily opposed to him speaking, as they are opposed to the lack of parental notification ahead of time. If those parents had not caused a ruckus, the “materials” would not have been changed. The original question was “what can you do to help the president?” but it was “poorly worded” and changed to “what can you to attain your educational goals?” because, yea, I can totally see how those two questions could be confused for each other right? /sarcasm. Also, considering the inclusion of illegal aliens in the… Read more »
JJ Ross
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I’d explain (if my kids were still too young to think critically about culture clash) that the closing line, “God bless you and God bless America” is not really unconstitutional religious indoctrination even though it would be easy, lazy and cheap to throw a tantrum in front of the neighbors and scream that it is . . . I’d tell them about [huffingtonpost (dot) com/jim-moore/the-lies-of-texas-are-upo_b_277749.html] The Lies of Texas, where conservative religious and political indoctrination for partisan purpose runs directly through public school speeches, textbooks, teachers and curriculum standards — and not just in the name of a universal “God”… Read more »
Stephanie
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Actually presidents *have* done this before. Reagan did back in 1986 and if IRC, there was no major uproar (and his talk got more into politics actually).

[reagan.utexas (dot) edu/archives/speeches/1986/51386d.htm

I also believe that GHW Bush talked to students in 1991.

I can understand that folks have differences politically with Obama, but it bothers me that even when he tries to do something good (like encourage kids to take responsibility for their education) it is jumped on with suspicion. Isn’t there anything that we can agree on any more?

JJ Ross
Guest

Really, Mrs. unlinked gmail commentator? Dana has readers who will compare this president to Hitler and Nazis right here in your lovely comments?

Shall we politely pretend it didn’t happen or shall I exercise MY freedom of belief and expression, and repudiate this as offensive, out of bounds and part of the problem, not the solution for America?

trackback

Text of President Obama’s Planned Speech to Schoolkids…

Just released here.
I like the commentary at Time Magazine’s political blog Swampland:
Rather than any lefty, neo-socialist, communitarian brainwashing, President Obama’s speech to your kids reads like a paean to individual striving and fre…

Mrs Metaphor
Guest

I agree, JJ. It’s absolutely offensive and it’s drawing attention away from the issues and into a big black pool of fear mongering.

Spunky
Guest

I’ve had readers compare Bush to Hitler in my comments box, as long as there is public dialogue Hitler’s name will be invoked.

As for me, the speech isn’t as troubling as much as how the media commented on their objections, including saying they are dangerous and “they are not smart enough” to raise their own kids. Sigh.

School children will survive a one day speech, it’s what they’re hearing and doing the other days of the year and how they will or won’t act that I’m wondering about.

Shawna
Guest
I find the speech “nice.” I find this staement a bit out of line: “I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve. ” Why because I think it sends the wrong message of what it is government is and should do. I think it paints a picture of a nationalized educational system and that is misleading. I think Obama tends to talk a bit too much about himself as some glorified example and that is annoying, but… Read more »
JJ Ross
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Shawna says: “I feel this paints a picture of complete sameness in all of us… and that is not American, that is not the melting pot of differences that makes us so great!” A melting pot of differences makes us great but not the same. Hmmm. Is this satire? I find that much more confusing than anything our American president said today! His speech was ordinary secular civic cheerleading in the great national tradition, no special skills required to think through a simple speech like this. (Schoolkids could do it if we’d let them!) He did say: “”No one’s born… Read more »
Scott W. Somerville
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I’d LOVE to watch the speech with my kids. But they’re all grown and gone now. I’m less comfortable having my kids watch the speech with 30 others and a teacher who belongs to the NEA. I don’t think it’s a comfortable setting for a child whose parents have been vocally opposed to Obama. Echoing the parents’ criticism in a public forum puts the child in an uncomfortable position. Keeping silent could be worse–particularly if the teacher presses kids for a public and personal response to the speech. Not a problem for homeschoolers. Could be a big problem in a… Read more »
JJ Ross
Guest

All true Before Obama.
And the opposite is true in Texas.

So what do we do, Scott, seriously? We’ve broken everything else government does, including to wage war with honorable clarity. So shut down the public schools too, let Texas, Alaska and several other southern states secede and regress to the 1800s, and just give up?

Dana
Guest
Michele and Mrs. Lisa Mickey, that could be an interesting theological discussion on its own…exactly where to draw lines and why. Mrs. Mickey, you said: I just thank God that Many Germans did not do as their Leader asked, & indeed saved thousands of Jews from the death camps ! And I couldn’t agree more. I am thankful there were some Christians willing to display their faith actively through well doing rather than simply as inflammatory rhetoric. You really have to read both parts together and not separate them to understand my point. I never said that we do whatever… Read more »
Spunky
Guest

I want to read the speech BEFORE the controversy began, I bet it was quite a bit different than this speech. This one was a real snoozer.

JJ Ross
Guest

“This admin is steeped in sin.”

Allowable for adults to foist on kids in classrooms? Just wondering.

Dana
Guest

I don’t think anyone is foisting that on kids in classrooms.

JJ Ross
Guest

Except Texas you mean?