This past week, all over the Internet news and in the inbox at my Web site were reports about a bakery in Croatia that is using a life-size photo of me to ward off burglars who were ransacking the business weekly. The message under my photo in the store's window says, "This shop is under the protection of Chuck Norris."
First, I am very honored to help reduce crime anywhere on the planet, even from a photo. (How we all wish it were always that easy!) But I want to protect not only the pastries but also the posterity of America and the world.
Consider these statistics, which speak of the obstacles that confront people from infancy through their teenage years. In 2007, MySpace found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders on its site. Teenage pregnancies in the U.S. (52.1 for every 1,000 of those ages 15-19) are the highest in the developed world (four times what they are in the European Union). Every day, more than 6,000 students drop out of the approximately 94,000 public schools in America. Twenty-five percent of kids are overweight or obese, and most parents don't even know it. Thirty percent of parents say it is a "major challenge" to help their children become more spiritual. Juvenile violent crime has increased 48 percent in just the past 11 years. (I've counted at least 14 different murderous shooting sprees at academic settings across our nation just since 2000, resulting in at least 60 fatalities and dozens more wounded.) The FBI estimates that more than 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today, ranging from 9 to 19 years of age, with the average age being 11. Need I say more?
Our Founding Fathers simply never could have imagined such rampant degradation and utter disarray among younger generations. Proof of that is seen in Ben Franklin's 1787 pamphlet, "Information to Those Who Would Remove to America," which was a guide for Europeans who were considering relocating to America. In it, Ben said, "Hence bad examples (of) youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents." Can you picture a present-day politician saying, "Bad examples of youth are rare in America"? He or she would become the ridicule of pundits and politicians alike.
One way we can fight right now for our Founders' America is by going here and joining the several hundred thousand Americans who already have voiced their opposition to the passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, because in the end, it could not only criminalize opinions (an unconstitutional act) but also provide elevated protection to pedophiles. Is that how we want our government protecting our children and the Constitution?
I've felt honored to be reconnected to the younger generations through the "Chuck Norris Facts" proliferation. I hear from thousands every year, listen to their concerns, and do my best to carry their concerns to appropriate parties to implement change.
It doesn't take a sociologist to realize that the next generation of young people to pass the baton of America are wearing unique and heavy burdens. They are called the millennials -- 47 million young adults between the ages of 18 and 29.
The millennials have so much to offer our world. If we're going to win our culture wars, we need the millennials to do it. If we are going to reawaken and restore America, we need the millennials' help. There is no way around it. We need to re-engage with our young people in order to build a brighter future and better tomorrow.
Whether at work, in a college classroom or at a community event, can you identify someone to whom you can reach out and begin to build that generational bridge?
If you think protecting a bakery in Croatia is impressive, try protecting a youth in America from the onslaught of our cultural maladies. If you do, it's you who will be the superhero.