Unfortunately, in our day, we have discarded Washington's warning by not respecting and cherishing the role of religion, and in so doing, we've abandoned moral absolutes in lieu of personal expediency and selfishness. We've confused liberty and licentiousness. We've discarded the high value of human life in exchange for lower life forms. And we're paying the price for it, as Washington predicted; the ways we treat one another prove it.
So should we really be so shocked with the degradation in our own modern society?
My great friend Mike Huckabee said something very similar after the tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Huckabee asked: Why should we "be so surprised" at the violence in society when "we have systematically removed God from our schools"? Yet many in the mainstream media assailed Mike for repeating exactly what our founders believed.
That is why I believe that youths today need to return to America's core values. As Benjamin Rush -- a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a member of the presidential administrations of Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison -- wrote, "I had rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohammed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles. But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament."
We must return to being a nation where mutual respect is king -- where I am my brother's keeper and we agree to disagree agreeably. It's time to renew our commitment to the basic premises of humanity: Do unto others as you would have them do to you, and love your neighbor as yourself.
I might play a tough guy who protects victims from bad guys on screen, but in real life, I'm an advocate for those who are at-risk, too, particularly through my KickStart Kids foundation. My wife, Gena, and I consider KickStart Kids our lives' mission. KickStart Kids means building strong moral character in our youth through the martial arts. Its purpose is to help raise self-esteem and instill discipline and respect, which so many children are lacking today.
Two other warriors who are raising the bar of societal and youth decency are our dear friends Darrell and Sandy Scott, who spearheaded Rachel's Challenge and Columbine Redemption in memory of their beautiful and kind daughter, Rachel, who was murdered at Columbine High School more than a decade ago. Rachel said, "I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same."
KickStart Kids and Rachel's Challenge recently partnered to further help American youth and families, and we're doing it with a core values curriculum that reinstates civility and decency back into the souls of individuals and, hence, the soul of society.
On May 27, 1999, a month after the tragic shootings at Columbine High School, Darrell appeared before a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee to discuss what he believed could reduce violent crime in our country. In the midst of his eloquent and moving statement, he cited a poem he wrote that perfectly describes where the blame lies and our answers must come from:
Your laws ignore our deepest needs.
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped our heritage.
You've outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere
And ask the question, "Why?"
You regulate restrictive laws
Through legislative creed.
And you fail to understand
That God is what we need.