I had occasion recently to keynote the opening day of an inner-city charter school, Chester Village Charter School in Pennsylvania. As I walked among the teachers and parents of the 100 percent African-American children, I said the following:
“We are going to dedicate ourselves to giving these children ‘the American Experience’.”
Immediately, a highly-respected lead-teacher asked:
“What is ‘The American Experience’?”
I answered straightforwardly:
“1. Cultural Relating,
2. Participative Governance,
3. Entrepreneurial Enterprise.”
Cultural relating has to do with the relationships within, between, and among classes and cultures. While some Americans have had this experience, none of the children in this school have had it. None have ever been related to as valued members of the community. This is because most are members of a huge underclass of disenfranchised people.
Participative governance has to do with the relationships within, between, and among individuals and their governance. Again, while a dwindling number of Americans have been involved in their governance, none of these children has had this experience. Their authoritarian command-and-control governance simply gives the orders that they follow. While they are impacted by governance, they never impact it with input or feedback.
Entrepreneurial enterprise has to do with the relationships within, between, and among businesses and individuals. Once again, while a dwindling number of Americans has been involved in entrepreneurial businesses, none of these children are even aware of the role of business in the community. They are simply imposed upon—they never influence anything of legal entrepreneurial significance.
These are the ingredients of “The American Experience.” They are validated by our personal experience in our everyday lives.
Moreover, these ingredients are validated by extensive research relating them to “The Pillars of Civilization:”
- Cultural Relating → Peace
- Participative Governance → Participation
- Entrepreneurial Enterprise → Prosperity
While these experiences have been available to some of us, they are not to others. For our children at Chester Village Charter School, the implications are clear. If they have not had these experiences, they do not know what we are proposing.
But what about the rest of us? Have we had “The American Experience?” If we did, why do we persevere in distorting this experience? Witness the following distorted perception of our candidates for president:
- In the name of Cultural Relating, we designate other human beings as “aliens” and we seek to build walls to keep them out—until we need them to build the walls?!
- In the name of Participative Governance, we seek to impress our will upon others as if consensus rules and the rest are fools!
- In the name of Free Enterprise, we encourage “consumptivity” rather than “productivity” as we shape ourselves into “the bloated host” of conspiratorial multinational corporations and parasitic monolithic societies!
If we comprehend “The American Experience,” then why are we so “alienated” from it?