Where Are the Parents of Student Protestors?

Over the last few weeks, millions of America’s children have assembled in hate-filled protests against adult authority. They have demanded that their views and philosophies replace those of the majority of mature adults having rightful authority over them. Parents are the first level of responsibility and authority for children. As I view these radical protests by minor children, I have to ask, where are the parents?

I don’t oppose children forming their own opinions and expressing their own views. That is a vital part of growing up. However, those opinions and views should be developed primarily within the family framework with parents providing the principal influence. If we could analyze the influence that drives most of these protesting students, I believe we would find it is from their schools, politicians, news media, and their peers. I have to wonder how many parents of the protesting teens actually sat down with their children and discussed the issues thoroughly. How many parents talked seriously, but lovingly, with their children about mass shootings, school security, government policy, and appropriate response? Shame on those parent who did not.

During the last half-century, we have witnessed the abrogation of parental responsibility in America on a grand and exponential scale. Certainly, many parents take this God-given responsibility seriously and raise their children properly in a respectful, loving home environment. However, I would have to consider effective parenting in today’s homes as a rapidly declining family model. We in this nation have allowed a lot of detractors to creep into our lives that have weakened our abilities to guide and discipline our precious progeny. The effect has been their lack of respect for authority.

So, what went wrong along the way? Our greatest collective failure has been the movement away from God as the foundation of our family, our education, and our government. We have departed from the Bible as the supreme source for truth. The spiritual development of children is too often left to the church or school rather than the home. More and more, misplaced work priorities are keeping fathers and mothers alienated from their children. Too many children are left alone or with non-family members too often and too long. Technology and social media are replacing nurturing and bonding communication within families. These family dysfunctions and many more have erected barriers between children and their parents leaving little incentive by parents to guide and discipline their children or by children to respect and obey their parents.

Parents who feel they have lost touch with their minor children must begin to reverse that relationship. It is a struggle, but absolutely critical. Often, professional family counseling is necessary. Most of it, though, is simply a commitment to be the parent. If the dad is present, his is the responsibility to be the spiritual leader of the family. Children must see their dad as a godly man. Church should become a top priority. Most churches will teach the proper biblical roles of parents and children. Parents need to be involved in the school. Frequently, a school’s teaching and activities may be counter to a parent’s views. In such cases, parents should make the disconnect an opportunity for family discussion. It is okay for parents to teach something different from the official view of the school or other organization. It is not only okay, but imperative that the parent not hesitate to say “no” when needed.

On a final note, grandparents also have an important responsibility for their grandchildren. They are not to act as parents except in extreme circumstances of parental absence or neglect, but they should always be accessible and approachable. Grown children sometimes need advice and affirmation from their parents, and grandchildren sometimes need a listening ear from their grandparents. Grandparents may have more time than parents to invest in children searching for answers.

When America’s children become disconnected from their parents and are given too much freedom, they will almost always become ensnared in illegal or misguided activity that can ultimately degrade or destroy their lives. They are America’s future. Parents must step up. Be present, be proactive, be the parent!

I Can Only Imagine

I believe the entertainment industry, particularly the movie sector, is not just a symptom, but a major cause of the rapid moral decay of America. Top Hollywood productions are usually R-rated and depict the the most violent and immoral content legally permissible. Thankfully, Christian-oriented movies with redeeming values are becoming more popular every year. One such movie is presently shocking the industry.

In 2001, an obscure band, MercyMe, released a major-label song, I Can Only Imagine, written by its lead singer, Bart Millard. The ballad, written just after Millard’s father died, considers what Heaven is like. It caught the attention of a few Christian music genre icons who helped launch it into the number one position on Christian charts. Secular radio stations picked up on it, and it was soon among the top hits on the adult contemporary lists. With over 2.5 million copies sold and reaching double platinum status, it is to this day the best-selling Christian single of all time. You can read the lyrics here. You can also find the song video on numerous YouTube options. I requested the song be sung at the funeral service of my former wife, Connie, shortly after its release. It is a powerfully moving song.

The heart-rending back story of I Can Only Imagine is now a phenomenal movie. It hit the box offices on March 16th. My wife, Linda, and I saw it a few days later–wow! A relatively low-budget movie with low industry expectations, it’s first weekend draw sent shock-waves throughout the cinema world. Grossing $17.1 million in the first three days, it was bested only by Black Panther ($26.7 million) and Tomb Raider ($23.6 million). It had the seventh highest opening weekend gross revenue of any other faith-based movie ever.

I Can Only Imagine demonstrates how a top-notch Christian genre movie appeals to a vastly under-served audience. This film was well produced, exceptionally directed, and impressively cast. Its actors include Dennis Quaid, Cloris Leachman, Trace Adkins, Priscilla Shirer and Broadway star, but screen newcomer, J. Michael Finley. Even though the film’s quality compares favorably with most secular productions, it appeals primarily to people of faith. I understand why, but more Americans need to experience this reality theme of authentic faith. I pray for the day when the message of spiritual redemption becomes a common option for all people entering theaters across our nation. I dream of movie-goers becoming sick of all the blood, sex, nudity, and horror, and opting instead for a family-oriented emotional journey of redeeming values.

The problem is Hollywood has institutionalized liberal cultural into everything it produces. It has been “Take it or leave it, America” at the box office for years with very few choices outside of the trash major studios call artistry and entertainment. The Academy Awards have become a sham of liberal politics. I Can Only Imagine will have greater impact on its audiences than any other movie this year, but don’t look for even a mention by the Academy. With more choices like I Can Only Imagine on the theater marquees, the Hollywood culture will start turning around. Either Hollywood will be forced to change or more movies will be made in Oklahoma, Georgia, and other locations growing in the industry.

I encourage you to make it a high priority to watch as many faith-based movies as possible and avoid the filthy “block-busters” of Hollywood. Encourage others to do the same. Only voting with our ticket choices will change the movie industry and, in turn, substantially change our nation’s cultural trends. If you haven’t seen it yet, start by seeing I Can Only ImagineĀ now.

A final note. If you know people who are struggling with their faith, perhaps after watching I Can Only Imagine, urge them to visit http://terrythompson.org/eternity.

 

 

 

Trump’s Tariffs: Good or Bad for America?

As a teacher of college economics, I am generally a free trade advocate. Tariffs are usually hindrances to free trade. However, the complex issues of a huge international trade deficit and a sharp decline in manufacturing in America warrant consideration of increasing tariffs on some of our most critical imports. Our future economic health requires leveling the playing field between us and our international trading partners.

The subject of international economics is, of course, far too intricate to accommodate in a short blog post. But, we need to understand a few fundamentals in order to make sense of what is at stake in the current controversial tariff decision by the president. A capitalist free market is without question the best overall trade system known to man. In the best of all worlds, open competition driven by profit incentive and unconstrained by government yields the highest quality of life for everyone. Unfortunately, this utopian economic system is always subject to corruption by the selfish, power-seeking participants.

America’s domestic free market is protected from bad players by various anti-trust laws, monopoly restrictions, and price stabilization controls. Buyers and sellers are virtually free to deal according to supply and demand, but within certain parameters that ensure fairness. This free, but guarded, economy has made America the richest nation in the world. Although a few international trade agreements attempt to provide similar protections for world markets, the restraints are minimum. International trade is a different environment occasionally requiring government intervention.

Two realities place America at a disadvantage in trading with other countries. First, our economic advantage has become our economic disadvantage. We have attained a quality of life that requires a level of individual wealth not enjoyed by most other countries. Therefore, Americans are not willing to produce at the lower income levels accepted by foreign workers. That means other countries can produce most goods and services at lower prices than we can. Second, to keep the price gap wide between American and foreign products, other countries often add burdensome tariff taxes or place limiting quotas on products we export to them. Conversely, the U.S. rarely places tariffs or quotas on imports from those countries. These practices make American products more expensive in foreign countries, while foreign products enter our country at prices far less than like products made in America. That results in high demand for foreign products in America, and low demand for American products in other countries.

This situation has caused a serious trade deficit in America in the amount we export versus the amount we import. In 2017, we imported $2.895 trillion in goods and services while exporting only $2.329 trillion. That is a deficit of $566 billion, a serious outflow of America’s wealth (20% gap) to other nations. To sustain a healthy economy, the export-import ratio should be zero–exports equal to imports–or even a net-export surplus. The dilemma is how to level the playing field without hurting our own citizens.

American consumers benefit greatly from lower prices of foreign goods and services due to lower labor costs of the other countries. At the same time, our corporations and employees suffer in sales decreases, job losses, and pay reductions due to export restrictions and lower prices on imports. President Trumps tariff proposals on steel and aluminum are a step toward resolving this dilemma, although there are valid downsides.

Such tariffs would allow American steel and aluminum producers to compete in price with foreign producers, since the higher taxed foreign products would cost more in our country. Of course, higher priced raw materials will drive up the prices of steel- and aluminum-based products for all American consumers. We Americans will have to feel some pain in order to meet our national economic objectives. The reductions in sales of foreign products to America should provide incentive for other countries to lower or withdraw their tariffs on American products as a move toward a more balanced market. Other countries need to get the message that flooding the American market with lower priced imports is no longer an option unless they allow our exports to enter their market without tariff.

Some lawmakers decry the tariffs as provoking an international trade war with other countries banning American products and America banning theirs. We may see some of that, but the risk is worth the reward of ultimately balancing our imports and exports. The bottom line is we can’t continue our increasingly negative trade balance that is so detrimental to our economy.

I hope the Chicken Little reaction from the left and even some conservatives will cease, and we will all give the president’s plan a chance. Let him have the bargaining tools he needs to make America great again.

I encourage your feedback.

What Must Change in American Politics

The recent tragic shootings have generated explosive debates on what needs to happen to stop such carnage in America. Our leaders seem powerless to even chip away at the issues while standing intransigent at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. A little-known, but extremely eloquent, delegate from the Virginia Statehouse describes the true situation better than I’ve ever heard before. This succinct seven-minute message to America should be heeded by all politicians.

Click the link below for a refreshing and inspiring video on the state of American politics

Virginia House Delegate Nicholas Freitas on what must change in American politics

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