The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Robin L. Quillon

March 27, 2011

Make home refuge in a world of unrest

— It seems the world is reeling to and fro like a drunken man stumbling home.

I was looking at a world atlas the other day, and it was hard to find a country where the inhabitants were not involved in some sort of violent, economic or social conflict. Sign of the times?

Maybe.

Or perhaps it’s always been that way, hidden from our eyes due to our lack of technological advancements we now enjoy; where sight, sound and motion can be called instantly before our eyes. 

Just the other day, from the comfort of my home, I walked the streets of London via Google Earth. In Japan, I virtually flew over the nuclear reactors that now lay in ruins.

I was able to zoom in so close that I could distinguish the makes of cars on the power plant parking lot.

I visited Libya and saw exactly where we are engaged in war.

I peeked inside South Korea, North Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq.

I know exactly where the Gaza strip is, and I’ve walked the streets of Egypt and Jerusalem many times.

I’ve virtually walked the Great Wall of China. And I’ve looked at the area where Iran is building a nuclear reactor.

We are blessed to live in amazing times, my friends. Indeed, the world is a much smaller place.

I have no control over the tragic events happening around the globe. Yes, I can make my voice heard by contacting my leaders regarding our country’s response.

For me, more importantly, the question is: What can I do to make my little piece of this earth better?

May I suggest that the work we do within our own homes will have a greater impact on the future of this nation and world than anything happening elsewhere. 

With that in mind, I’ve been interested in the heated debate surrounding the value of schoolteachers in America. I hear many castigate teachers for their failures within our schools. And yet, ask any teacher and he or she will probably tell you that parent-teacher night or the parents’ involvement in the academic lives of their children is sorely lacking, if existing at all. 

Is it fair, then, to lay at the feet of these teachers the full responsibility of educating our children?

No, it certainly is not!

My wife and I always took the Ronald Reagan approach to our children’s education: Trust but verify.

We attended every parent-teacher night, not only to show our children we were interested in their successes or failures, but to let the teachers know that we intended to hold up our end of the bargain by being engaged in the academic lives of each of our children.

Ask any of my children and they will tell you about Mom’s brutal afternoon ritual of dumping out their backpacks and asking for an accounting of all the paperwork found therein. The law of the jungle in our home was homework first, no exceptions.

To this day, my children thank us for taking an interest in their educations.

Who is better qualified to teach their children honor, duty, respect and decency than Dad or Mom? 

I believe the strength and success of this nation is in families.

War and unrest will always be with us, and only getting much worse. The fact is, we have but a sliver of time afforded us to influence the lives of our children before they make their own ways.

Despite the reeling to and fro of this earth, our homes can and should be places of learning, peace, happiness – and a refuge from the unsteady world.

  Robin L. Quillon is the publisher of The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at rquillon@tribdem.com.

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