“The Simple Basics in Life,” by Dr. James R. Wining

I attended the Wichita Public Schools from 1956-1969, K-12. I attended Woodland Elementary, John Marshall Junior High and Wichita North High School. While my last two years years in high school were pitted with racial violence and social disharmony, the balance of the years were peaceful and informative.

In grade school we were just two blocks from Woodland Methodist Church. It seems like two or three times a week we would walk with our teachers to the church and receive a Bible lesson on things like lying, stealing, cheating, love, gossip, truth, family, sharing and so on. The way I remember this time in my life was quite simple. School taught me reading, writing, arithmetic and history. Church taught me how to live with people. Together I would be able to work and live with people in a kind and lovely way.  At least I knew what was expected of a person and a Christian.

In Junior High things became more competitive in sports, classroom education, music, etc.  I still attended my Woodland Methodist Church, went to church on Sunday, Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) on Wednesday and served at The Salvation Army on Thursdays. However, the stories of how to live together that I enjoyed in Elementary years were gone. My memory was still there but definitely something I couldn’t count on weekly being refreshed.

I remember my father explaining his K-12 education in a “One Room Classroom,” with 45 children. Most of his reading, writing and history lessons came from The McGuffey Reader and The Bible. Yes, he would always say doing something wrong (temptation) would always exist but the Bible was there to keep us doing the right thing and helping others. It was still simple all the way through my K-12 years but as years progressed the Words of God became less present in my daily life.

By the time I reached high school years I had learned of the needy, had established morals & values and had a good educational foundation. My parents made certain I associated with good people who would reinforce my development. In fact, it seemed to me everyone was a Methodist or at least also a Baptist and of course a Democrat. These were people that helped widows, disabled children, minorities, elderly and the unemployed. Wichita was a city with wide swings in employment because of the aircraft industry. Because of this I learned in high school how important it was to help your neighbor with food, clothing, jobs and moral support.

Today I look back at my years and realize how easy it is to drift from those grade school years. However, what I see now is generations without this “Grade School Footing.” Signs are in grade school classrooms with “The 13 Positive Behavior Ways.” None with any explanation of a “Moral Compass,” based on solid Christian morals & values. Words spoken and actions taken today without this “Moral Compass,”show a lack of respect, trust & love for individuals, military, police, and even our own elected governmental leaders including the President.

The best alternative is still the family. The best source for life is still the Bible; Finally, the best country to have a good life with a solid educational foundation and  social concern is the USA. We may have disagreements but to stay together as “One Nation Under God,” there will be a necessity for compromise with respect and trust.