I'm trying to synthesize my ideas into a coherent and cohesive corpus.
Parents are called to prepare their children for their adult lives. This, I believe, is composed of two large parts: morality and the ability to fail.
The ability to fail is under appreciated. If you look at the past in America, people came through great adversity to try, to take the chance that they might fail in order to succeed greater than they ever have before.
If you look at many people who lead in America, they have failed. Look at Bill Gates, who left college. I can almost guarantee most of the great leaders of America had relatively tumultuous upbringings, that they didn't lead better than average lives. Even if they grew up rich, that doesn't necessarily imply a calm, peaceful existence.
People who are comfortable with failure will take the big risks and earn the big rewards.
So I believe that parents should teach their children to question, to try, to experiment and not keep them away from failure.
A parent's responsibility is not to make their child the happiest child ever, make her life the easiest life ever, or remove every obstacle from his path. (I was pretty pissed off when I knew my parents could do something for me and didn't. I appreciate it now.)
However, the questioning nature needs to be weighed against the idea that a youngster could lie, cheat, and steal because they believe he is always right, or she believe there is no other authority. Morality therefore needs to go hand in hand with the instilling of questioning, so that the child will have to reflect and think about the decisions so wise ones are made.
So the general idea is a society of people who are OK with failing and willing to admit mistakes.
I think a large part of the problem in America is that much of the country has grown up as either the strongest nation in the world or seemingly tied (during the cold war). We have the problem that many act as the spoiled trust fund child - the idea that we deserve the first place position and that we are entitled to it perpetually.
Others realize that this isn't the case, so they're fighting the current trying to stay in one place, trying to keep first place by standing still.
The reason America was first was due to a desire to be ahead of the pack, a desire to run, a desire to strive, a knowledge that survival wasn't guaranteed.
We're going to not be first forever. And some people are going to be shocked. We need to, right now, put ourselves into a state of intellectual battle if we're going to excel. The ever increasing globalization means that our geographic isolation will no longer be enough to ensure success. We need to start designing better cars, building better airplanes, writing better code, being better to mother nature, being better teachers, and having stronger minds.
I said Johnny whatcha doing tonight?
He looked at me with a face full of fright
And I said how about a revolution?
And he said, right.
"The revolution will not be televised"