Coddle culture threatens core freedoms, Piper says

Higher Education

Ray Carter | May 12, 2021

Coddle culture threatens core freedoms, Piper says

Ray Carter

The coddle culture of colleges, which has emphasized shielding students from uncomfortable truths, has now bled out into the broader culture and threatens basic freedoms, according to author and former Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Everett Piper.

“Ideas always have consequences, and the ideas that we’re imbibing right now where we’ve elevated safety over freedom, over liberty, over human dignity, over human identity—the ideas we’re imbibing right now are very dangerous ideas, because if all we want to be is a safe people, we will not be free,” Piper said. “We will not have liberty.”

During his tenure at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Piper rose to national prominence when he wrote an open letter to his students urging them to stop being snowflakes, reminding them that a university is not a daycare.

Piper discussed his new book, Grow Up: Life Isn’t Safe, but It’s Good, at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ Speaker Series luncheon on Tuesday.

He said the public response to COVID showed how those in authority have infantilized citizens and warned that treatment involves great costs that go beyond personal inconvenience.

“The way we react to this COVID crisis today demonstrates something very disturbing about our culture, in my view,” Piper said. “We have sold our freedom. We have sold our birthright for a messy pot of porridge, if you will, of ‘safety.’ We want to be treated as children. We refuse to grow up. We want to hunker down under virtual house arrest just for the sake of safety.”

He said that mentality is out of tune with reality.

“Life isn’t supposed to be safe,” Piper said. “It’s supposed to be good.”

Demanding safety at all costs ultimately reduces quality of life, he indicated.

“Children, infants, are kept safe, confined, in their daycares,” Piper said. “But do they have any freedom? No.”

Piper said three groups have played a major role in fostering the current cultural atmosphere: teachers, preachers, and parents.

“Our schools are a mess,” Piper said. “Our education system is a joke. The reason we’re having these problems today is because of what we’ve been teaching our progeny—pure and simple.”

He said too many preachers now want to be known as “affirming” rather than as leaders who encourage confession and repentance.

And too many parents, Piper said, want to be their child’s best friend rather than a parent.

“It’s time for us to lead by encouraging people to be adults,” Piper said. “Be adults. Crawling our way through life as infants is probably not a very good recipe for cultural success.”

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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