Civilisation hangs suspended by the gossamer strand of memory. If only one cohort of mothers and fathers fails to convey to its children what it learned from its parents, then the great chain of learning and wisdom snaps. Rabbi Jacob Neusner
This quotation sums up quite neatly one of the key aims of education and parenting: to pass on the vital pillars of culture and civilisation texts, poetry, songs and history, to be sure; but also values, virtues, and the norms of civilized behaviour as well. And it identifies the perils if we fail to fulfil that aim.
A school is meant to be an institution of learning where the skills for living Reading, Writing and Rithmetic and so on are passed on efficiently. But it is more than that.
If a man or woman can read and add up, but they live in a hellhole of civic unrest and violence; or a cultural wasteland of reality TV and celebrity dysfunction, then all those hard-won skills will count for naught.
Civilisation is a virtuous conspiracy, where we all need to be in on the secret; secrets of culture and courtesy, of refinement and high values. And these secrets need to be passed on to the next generation.
One civlisational secret is the power of unity. In unity, empathy and understanding mean that we look at the other and see ourselves. In the Bible it says Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One . This is a clarion call to recognise unity and to place it as an object of devotion. It is a powerful force binding disparate peoples together.
And the same passage (Deuteronomy 6) goes on to command: And you shall teach these words diligently to your children.