July 29, 2002

HSLDA Essay Contest: Category II, First Place

A Root Issue
by Susan M. Smoots

"So, Susan, are you going to go to public high school this fall?"

Startled, I glanced up from my bowl of ice cream. Grandmom's keen, hazel eyes pinned me to the back of my chair. The comforting clink of silverware halted as my uncles and aunts paused with their forks half raised. All eyes darted towards me. Carefully, I blotted my mouth with my napkin to stall for time. "Dear God," I silently prayed, "Help !"

I raised my eyes to meet Grandmom's. "Actually, Grandmom, we've decided that I'm going to home school through high school."

"Hmph!" Uncle Rob rolled his eyes and shook his head. Grandmom emitted a sigh and jabbed her fork into her salad.

Not knowing what to say next, I gazed thoughtfully out the window. A flicker of red and white stripes drew my attention. It was the flag that Grandmom and Granddad ritually displayed from their front porch. Next, I shifted my eyes to the dining room walls. Among old family documents and rustic pictures of farmhouses, Grandmom and Granddad's DAR and SAR certificates were proudly exhibited. A lovely painting of the Liberty Tree surmounted the arrangement. The warm, glowing oils captured the regal, sturdy trunk, and dark, olive foliage. "I know that America and the freedoms we enjoy in this nation are very important to you," I addressed Granddad.

"If they were important to you as well," Granddad replied gravely, "the least you could do would be to show support to your nation by enrolling in public school."

"I believe that by home schooling I am being a good citizen," I countered.

"And how's that?" Granddad cocked his head to one side.

"Home schoolers have the opportunity to incorporate Biblical Truth in their education." I replied.

"What difference does that make for America?" Grandmom shifted in her chair.
"I think the Psalmist answered that question when he described a righteous man.

His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:2-3

By learning to love and obey God and his decrees, home school children will not only be blessed, but bless their nation."

I pointed to the painting of the Liberty Tree. "One of my favorite images is of America as a giant tree with strong branches and numerous green leaves. A healthy tree absorbs sunlight through its leaves and minerals through deep roots to produce its nutritious food. However, not everything in the soil is beneficial for a tree to consume. When the roots of a tree soak up spores of Verticillum wilt, the pestilent fungus spreads to the leaves. Rapidly, the once vibrant foliage becomes wrinkled and yellow. The tree will slowly die because the chlorophyll in its leaves is destroyed.

In my mind, each leaf on that Liberty Tree represents an American citizen. Americans contribute to the strength and nourishment of our nation when they absorb light from the Son and wisdom from our Biblically inspired roots. Today, because prayer and Bible reading is no longer allowed in public schools, the very roots of America are bared to the attack of pernicious world views. With prolonged exposure to evil, and not enough of the Son, many children's spiritual lives are crippled.

Our entire nation will benefit from the influence of godly, home schooled youth. By being taught to protect our Biblically inspired laws; a whole generation of home schooled kids are following in the footsteps of the godly men and patriots who founded our nation. We will preserve American liberty because we will understand its origin: Jesus Christ. I can't think of any better support for America than that!"

Granddad folded his napkin and placed it on his empty plate. "Well, Susan, we may not agree with you on some issues, but there is one that can't be contended."

"What?" I asked hesitantly.

"You'll have to drink your ice cream if we don't give you a chance to eat it." His face relaxed into a half smile.