C.S. Lewis told us in “God in the Dock”: “Put first things first and second things are thrown in. Put second things first and you lose both first and second things.”
In his publication titled First Things, Richard John Neuhaus warned, “One must never underestimate the profound bigotry and anti-intellectualism [of second things].”
If I have learned anything from being a university president for the past decade and a half it is this: Education should be about promoting unity, not division. It’s called a “uni-versity” and not a “di-versity” for a reason. Classical education — truly liberating education — should champion the common cause of personal righteousness, not the self-righteousness of our personal rights.
“If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it might be; if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives him no help at all” ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
The goal of the academy should be selflessness not self, the unum rather than the pluribus, it should teach veritas and virtue rather than victimization and vengeance. Good education should be about pursuing the goodness of unity, not the divisiveness of what you can get.
When we reverse the order, and focus on second things we get neither the first nor second. It is only by dying to self that any human being will ever find his true identity.
Who we “are” isn’t found in race or gender or desire. It isn’t found in personal grievances or in narcissistic infatuation. As St. Paul rightly told us, our identity is “neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female.” We are human beings, and it is our selfless unity, bound together in the character of Christ, that must be our first thing.
We do ourselves and our culture great harm by missing this truth. Neuhaus warned that when we reverse God’s created order and replace first things with those things that should be second, we find ourselves mired in a sort of ontological dyslexia of “profound bigotry, anti-intellectualism and intolerance “
Author: Everett Piper, is president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth."