Making a Difference

The urgent need for a moral values-centered education

By Tony Magliano

It’s that time of year again, when many children, teens and adults fortunate enough to have access to formal education (see:, head back to school to learn about such things as math, science, history and the arts.

But the most important lessons to be seriously taught and hopefully absorbed – moral values – will be given little attention in most educational settings.

Yet, moral values when comprehensively infused into the subjects and overall atmosphere of educational institutions, have the strong potential to form students who not only care about their future careers, but far more importantly, about the well-being and overall good of every single person on our planet – especially the poor and vulnerable – and about the planet itself.

For those of us seeking to build a truly humane world and advance the Kingdom of God, the universal teaching and acquisition of moral values is absolutely essential.

The famous Anglican spiritual writer C.S. Lewis said, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

But the world doesn’t need more clever devils; it needs saints centered in Christ-like moral values.

Oh, but undoubtedly, many will voice the compliant “whose values?” For those who have little interest in forming morally sound students, this question is a red herring.

But for those who truly desire their children and themselves to have morally sound values, it’s a valid question.

In his book, “The Moral Compass,” William Bennett, former U.S. secretary of education, lists ten traits of character to aid in the task of the moral education of the young: self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty and faith.

These character traits get my vote! How can any decent person not want to absorb these highly desirable moral values, live by them, and instill them into the lives of young people and into the very culture itself – so often lacking in them.

Bennett adds that we must raise the young “as moral and spiritual beings by offering them unequivocal, reliable standards of right and wrong, noble and base, just and unjust.” He then cites the philosopher John Locke who said, “Tis virtue … which is the hard and valuable part to be aimed at in education.”

And in addition to the essential moral values mentioned by Bennett, especially faith, let us not forget the other two theological virtues of hope, and above all – love!

There is absolutely no reason, legal or otherwise, why moral values can’t be conscientiously and comprehensively taught in not only Catholic schools, but in public schools as well.

As a 17-year-old junior at Morehouse College, Martin Luther King, Jr. even at that young age had the wisdom to write: “Education without morals is like a ship without a compass, merely wandering nowhere. It is not enough to have the power of concentration, but we must have worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. It is not enough to know the truth, but we must love truth and sacrifice for it” (see:

And as we know, King gave all he had in loving and sacrificing for truth.

May we likewise aspire to learn, teach, love and sacrificially live the value of truth, especially the ultimate truth that is Jesus – the truth that will set us free!


Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at

Column 2: I was a stranger and you took my child from me

By Tony Magliano


In the last judgment scene of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus sends a severe warning that hell awaits those who ignore meeting the essential human needs of the poor and vulnerable – and thus likewise, ignore him.

And in reference to those who display a lack of hospitality toward migrants and refugees, Jesus warns “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” Now … just imagine the indignation expressed in his words “I was stranger and not only did you not welcome me, you took my child from me!”

The Trump administration’s inhumane and unchristian immigration policy of “zero-tolerance” – stepped-up apprehension and detention of migrants/refugees often fleeing armed conflict and drug gang violence, mass assembly-line criminal court trials, jail sentences imposed, and deportation back to the violence refugees were fleeing – was started under President George W. Bush and continued under President Obama (see:

Joanna Williams, director of education and advocacy for Kino Border Initiative (see: told me the U.S. practice of criminally charging refugees for entry into the country is against international law as defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol – of which the U.S. is a signatory. The Convention states that refugees have “the right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State [nation],” and that they have the right to work, education, public relief and assistance (see:

But the Trump administration’s policy of systematically separating refugee families was a new and even lower attempt to fearfully deter fleeing families from entering the U.S.

Children as young as 18-months-old have reportedly been forcefully taken away from their parents and placed in government-run caged facilities (see:

But a federal court ordered the Trump administration to end its policy of family separation and to reunite all children with their parents.

Advocacy Officer Esmeralda Lopez of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (see: told me that 2,654 migrant children were separated from their parents in total, and according to a recent federal report 565 children still remain separated from their parents (see:

And to make this sad unjust situation worse, the Trump administration appears to have no idea how to reunite the more than 400 parents it has already deported with their children who are in U.S.

While the court order now bans family separation, it will not keep the Trump administration from continuing its heartless “zero-tolerance” policy toward suffering refugees. That will only come from massive political pressure from us.

Adding injury to insult, the Trump administration cut $300 million in funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency which provides emergency assistance and basic human services to Palestinian refugees (see:

But the U.S. is not the only economically developed nation to turn its back on most of the world’s 25 million refugees, 40 million internally displaced people and 3 million asylum-seekers (see:

Bulgaria, Hungry, Slovenia, Macedonia, Austria and France (funded by the U.K.) have all recently built barriers to keep out refugees (see:

War, drug gangs, the flow of weapons, militarism, individual and corporate greed, poverty, lack of comprehensive immigration reform legislation, nationalism – as in “America first,” and a secularism that has little place for God are among the root-causes that are forcing our brothers and sisters to seek safer havens.

Let’s us commit ourselves to up-rooting these poisonous weeds and sow seeds of true Christian welcome.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at