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Fox: Of picnics, fast cars, Islam and the power of knowledge

dfox • Updated Nov 6, 2015 at 5:14 PM

It was a gorgeous day.

On the way back up U.S. 231, the dad turned down the blaring radio — a car had come up right behind them at a high rate of speed, flashing its lights and honking its horn. When the opportunity came for the driver to pass, it took it.

“Some people have no respect anymore,” the dad muttered, visibly shaken.

About 45 seconds later, another car came and did virtually the same thing, only this time it didn’t brake. It swerved to the other lane, then veered back, and for a split-second, both the mom and dad really thought there might be a very serious wreck.

The second car sped off — it was going fast enough to where it was out of sight in mere seconds — the parents exhaled, and the mom checked to see if their 5-year-old was still sleeping (she was).

“I’m shaking,” she said. “We could have been killed.”

“I hope the police catch ‘em,” the dad said, adding a few expletives. “If they get hurt, they have no one to blame but themselves.”

Well, the rest of the story came together when the family attended church the next day. People were abuzz with the story of two young boys in the southern part of the county who got seriously hurt playing on a trampoline in the backyard. The boys’ parents saw their heads hit and open up sizable cuts. Forgoing an ambulance call, they took one in each car and drove quickly to the hospital.

Suddenly, the speeding cars from the previous afternoon made sense. And the parents wished that instead of cursing the drivers, they had said a prayer.

The story goes to show how powerful knowledge can be. What you don’t know can hurt you — perhaps not physically, but choosing ignorance is never a good thing.

And, yes, some of that message is directly aimed at the fears over “Islamic indoctrination” in our schools. The citizens of Wilson County simply can’t afford to swallow hook-line-and-sinker that forcing someone to memorize the five pillars of Islam is indoctrination or pro-Islam. 

What’s next? We shouldn’t teach about the Cold War because of fears our young people will become Communist? It’s like me saying those who memorize this column’s headline automatically agree with the words I’ve written.

We need to teach our young people history. And we can’t teach history without touching on religion, because it goes directly to motivation. (If you can write about the founding of this country without touching on religion, you win. But I don’t think you can.)

Another part of this message is aimed at those who want to meddle in textbooks. Unless you have a degree in a certain field of expertise, I simply don’t want you anywhere the authorship of my child’s textbooks. That goes for pastors, school board members or anyone else wanting to sow ignorance in an increasingly complex world.

Doctoring textbooks is a dangerous game. In Texas, for instance, there’s a passage in a textbook describing slaves who were brought from Africa as “workers from Africa,” as if they went down to an office and applied for positions in America. Seriously.

Much like the parents in the story, we’re all concerned about our children — what they eat, what they think and what they learn. We all have hopes and fears, but the worst thing we can do is give in to fear. The best thing we can do is to empower them and teach them to think for themselves.

Much as violence begets violence, fear begets fear and ignorance begets ignorance. And those who understand the power of knowledge need to use it and make sure fear and ignorance stop tightening their grip on the rest of us.

Fox is the news editor of The Lebanon Democrat. Email him at dfox@lebanondemocrat.com and follow him on Twitter @wilsoncoreports.

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