In Part 1, I revealed how rational and rewarding it would be to post armed guards at our schools. In Part 2, I showed how reducing the number of firearms in the U.S. would not curb violent crime. In Part 3, I began to discuss the first of two ways in which our Founding Fathers expected to produce and maintain civility and decency in society. They esteemed all human life as equal and possessing intrinsic value far above the rest of creation, albeit while struggling with executing their beliefs as much as any generation -- e.g., with slavery and the treatment of Native Americans and women.
The second thing our founders did was embed that value and care of humanity via the freedom yet accountability of moral absolutes -- codes of ethics, namely through religion. They believed in the absolute and imperative role of religion in society and that without it, civility and decency would vanish.
For our founders, moral fortitude was dependent upon the foundation of religion, not the laws of men. As John Adams, our second president, explained, "religion and virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in all the combinations of human society."
Gouverneur Morris, who, in 1787, represented Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and subsequently signed the U.S. Constitution, said, "Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore, education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God."
Benjamin Franklin put it this way: "That wise Men have in all Ages thought Government necessary for the Good of Mankind; and, that wise Governments have always thought Religion necessary for the well ordering and well-being of Society, and accordingly have been ever careful to encourage and protect the Ministers of it, paying them the highest publick Honours, that their Doctrines might thereby meet with the greater Respect among the common People."
Because our founders firmly believed that religion prevents liberty from turning into licentiousness, President George Washington warned the nation in his Farewell Address to beware of the time when leaders dismantle society's basis of morality: "And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
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.