If you are hoping for free college education this election season, you may have bigger problems than being uneducated. Graduates from the school of hard knocks understand whenever the word free is used there is sufficient cause for concern.
We all know not to feed the birds. Feeding wild animals makes them lazy and dependent on the source to the extent they are unable to fend for themselves. What is worse is when the free food is withheld, an animal will often cross boundaries putting itself at risk in order to receive the handout to which they have become accustomed.
Body builders, marathon runners or anyone at the top of their game know you do not achieve a noteworthy goal without sacrifice. The coach may take the team out for an ice cream after a game, which can be consumed in minutes, but only after hours of practice, exertion, pain and often defeat. Partial payment does not purchase the prize, and, if it does, you have to wonder what profit does it have if it may be obtained with limited or no effort.
Wisdom manages behavior through positive and negative reinforcement to show there are consequences to every action. The Bible is clear – do what God says and be blessed, do not and be cursed. Lately, however, parents are ignoring the biblical model and embracing the positive while excluding any negative consequence altogether. In this environment only encouragement is given which can be counterproductive if the child did nothing to deserve the reward. Like feeding birds who are weakened through acquiring food which required no labor, such a person has no motivation to develop the skills necessary for survival.
What level of awareness to one’s responsibility comes from having a full account if the account holder is never held accountable? God set the wages of sin at death as recorded in the book of Genesis 2:17. In Genesis 3:19, God informed Adam – in the sweat of thy face shall you eat bread all the days of your life. In Genesis 3:16, God forewarns Eve – in sorrow (pain) thou shalt bring forth children. So, if the cost of sustenance is strenuous labor and the cost to bring something into the world is pain and stepping outside of God’s boundaries even once demands payment in full, there is a cost of living which means nothing in this world is free.
God could have simply forgiven us for our disobedience and rebellion, but he didn’t. He could have ignored it, but he didn’t. Instead, he sent Jesus, his most valuable asset, to the cross to pay our debt. If God had not forewarned us or had been vague in conveying the repercussion for our misdeeds, there would be no weight to the consequence of sin, or value associated to his corresponding grace. But where boundaries are set and consequence is clearly stated, there is law.
Without God’s law, its consequence and a means of remuneration, nothing matters. If Jesus had not gone to the cross to pay our debt, God would have had to let the human race either die out or allow us to live in the ever-increasing filth of our unattended sin. If the debt of sin had been forgiven without payment, no command God gave would need to be taken seriously. If God had not been true to his own word, he would be at best a wishy washy parental figure whom you could go to for advice – only without the correcting power of discipline.
Law requires a consequence just as a consequence requires remuneration. God’s word without remuneration would be no more profitable than Satan’s. Because Jesus went to the cross on our behalf, God’s word is all the more clear – everything matters. Everyone who influences someone will be held accountable for their error or rewarded for their faithfulness.
If the cost is minimal, the value is minimal. Likewise, if the cost is great, the associated value is great. If death is the greatest payment a man can make, then life is the most valuable thing a man can possess. If an education is free, its associated value is zero. A person’s life is only as valuable as the investment that person makes in themselves. If what a person invests in themselves costs nothing, they will be worth nothing. They will have no means of appreciating anything placed in their care, and, like a neglected house, their life will depreciate and cause all the property value around it to depreciate as well.
Without payment, there can be no ownership. Without ownership there is nothing to lose. Without anything to lose there can be no sense of responsibility. A home is an expression of its owner. If someone has been living on welfare when they are capable of working, their home (if they still have one), will reflect a lack of pride both inside and out. Driving through the inner city, it is hard to find evidence of the pride of ownership. My guess is if we dig deeper we will find people who have lost their sense of responsibility – most likely due to someone giving them something for nothing for which they have become dependent.
Parents who give their children a bike often limit the child’s ability to appreciate the gift. We justify giving such gifts on the basis of favorable behavior, but why should an award be offered for being good when being good is everyone’s reasonable service. A wise parent will wait to give a child a bike until the child has someplace they want to go. Only after the child longs to go around the block is a means of transportation valuable to them. Now the parent can use the child’s own desire to develop a work ethic, and lay the foundation for the level of sacrifice and patience necessary to appreciate the bike to the extent it will be properly maintained.
An education is not merely a means of transportation. It is the fuel necessary for a student to propel himself from the island of hopelessness to the land of opportunity. Knowledge is the prerequisite of wisdom, but how can we expect students to fully appreciate where an education can lead when most of them are just beginning to grasp where they are? Students with limited perspective often complain, “when will I ever use this information?” What good will come from giving more to someone until they first learn to appreciate what they have? The students who want to study but can’t afford a formal education will always be willing to work for it – if indeed they want it badly enough. The more obstacles one overcomes to fulfill a goal, the more it will be appreciated and the more likely it will be fully utilized.
The problem with a college education is not its cost, but rather due to the perception the best education comes from the most prominent institution rather than the heart of an inspired student. The problem does not rest in the disgruntled nature of teachers but in their hyper-restricted use of discipline which contributes to ineffectiveness. The problem is not in the politically correct liberal view held by nearly all college professors but in the silencing of any opposing voice. With all that is fundamentally wrong with the education system today, it will be a wonder if those willing to learn will use it tomorrow. Perhaps this is why they are considering giving it away.
If we arbitrarily grant students free education from kindergarten through college, all we will create is a comfort zone and end up with a generation of professional students qualified to teach but unwilling to do the work for which the education was meant to prepare them. If we remove the value from an education by giving it away we will be responsible for the prideful, thankless and essentially useless students such a system fosters. On the other hand, such pampered, insulated, one hit wonders would be well-groomed for one profession – politics.