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Dennis Prager, one of the nation’s most inspiring conservative speakers, recently visited Southern Methodist University. There, he articulated the importance of seeking wisdom, which he believes is lacking in today’s culture due to leftist indoctrination of young people on college campuses.

If knowledge represents where someone is, according to Prager, wisdom equips someone to know where he or she is going. Through his interaction with thousands of people on his radio program, Prager has observed that this kind of moral compass is no longer valued in contemporary culture.

In order to give young people better guidance, Prager developed five specific points of wisdom they should remember:

1) People are not basically good.

Prager began by relating to the audience that all Judeo-Christian religious traditions define wisdom as the fear and love of God. In other words, the foundation of all wisdom rests with the acknowledgement that human beings, by nature, are basically bad and that they need external guidance to be good. Where there is no acknowledgment of higher moral mandates, there is no wisdom.

There is no wisdom in universities today, said Prager, because God has been shunned from academia. Similarly, there is no intergenerational wisdom today because young people have been taught to rely on so-called “life experience” to “find themselves,” rather than to trust in the wisdom of past generations.

2) Feelings don’t matter.

How often does one hear someone say, “I feel like…” instead of “I think that…?” According to Prager, the elevation of feelings—sentiments, emotions, and desires—by leftists has completely twisted contemporary culture, including its colloquialisms. Even those who purport to value morality and logic over feelings are susceptible to using this kind of language.

While people today might assume that it is normal to let feelings determine their actions, Prager offers a different model: Actions determine feelings. Using the example of physical exercise, Prager illustrated that wisdom to pursue that which is good—in this instance, a healthy body—must overrule the temporary unpleasantries of achieving it. While this simple moral concept might seem obvious, it is the implication that may come as a surprise to people governed by emotion: Doing what is right feels even better than succumbing to one’s initial feelings.

Prager perhaps summed it up best by stating that life, by definition, is battling feelings.

3) Happiness is a moral obligation.

Following Prager’s point about feelings, happiness is often viewed in the wrong light. It is seen as an emotional state, rather than as a moral end. Happiness is contagious, according to Prager, and each person owes it to everyone else to spread joy, even when he or she is not necessarily feeling happy (and of course, as the second point illustrated, acting happy can make one feel happy).

Because Prager has been criticized for promoting people being “inauthentic” by acting happy when they are not, he hilariously drew a comparison to personal hygiene. The reason most people take a shower every day, said Prager, is not because they need to for health reasons; it is because they owe it to those around them to do so! Likewise, each individual should make it a point to behave positively with each and every person he or she encounters.

4) Race is irrelevant.

The political left promotes itself as the one and only force of opposition to racial hatred, yet it ironically does so by elevating race above morality. In a leftist culture which judges people according to race, asked Prager, how can Americans overcome racial prejudice?

Race, said Prager, should not be honored. The Nazis, who committed genocide against people of Prager’s religion, honored race. Instead, personal character should be honored. Goodness should be honored, for it is rare among flawed mankind.

5) Get married and grow up!

According to Prager, one of the most profound ways that leftism has infiltrated American society has not been via its influence on popular culture, but via its influence on religion. Prager spoke of his surprise at the alarming number of young people who, when asked if they would rather be guaranteed a happy marriage or a successful career, answered that they would prefer the career. Among the young people he asked, many were devout, active Christians, yet many placed no higher value on marriage than they did on material success.

One of the ways in which the times actually were better prior the 1960s, according to Prager, was due to the popular understanding of the importance of marriage. It was seen as the definition of adulthood, said Prager, to separate oneself from one’s parents, commit to a spouse in marriage, and raise a family.

Leftism introduced the idea that men and women did not need each other. Prager pointed out that in the creation story of Genesis, the only thing God said was bad was that the man was alone. Thus, no man is complete without a woman, and no woman is complete without a man. Imagine a young person hearing that from an adult today!

Dennis Prager hopes that with these five points of wisdom in mind, young people will begin to seek the wisdom that their parents, grandparents, and professors perhaps did not. Americans will be a wiser, happier, and more moral people if the rising generation once again rebels—this time, not against tradition but for a return to wisdom.

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