As we witness yet again the brutal and bloody consequences of religious intolerance in the form of ISIS, we have a majority of Republicans pining for a Christian America. Proponents of converting the United States into a theocracy do not see the terrible parallel between religious excess in the Middle East and here at home.
Does a sharply divided America necessarily mean that no meaningful legislation can emerge from our political leaders on both sides of the aisle? I don't think so! What many people describe as the greatest political agreement in the history of the world came out of a deeply divided America -- the US Constitution.
On this July 4 we should dedicate ourselves to recovering the American promise that education should increase our independence. Since the founding of this country, education has been closely tied to self-reliance, to declaring one's independence through one's ability to think for oneself and creatively contribute to society. In a quickly shifting economic landscape, it is understandable that some parents and pundits are calling for streamlined learning to train people quickly. But gearing education only to meeting current economic conditions is a ticket to conformity -- and also to economic and cultural mediocrity.