Our nation faces a new generation of challenges that will significantly impact not just our national security, but also the core character of our society and the fabric of our American families.
We face these challenges with an understanding that, at the same time, there is a troublesome convergence of enemies aligned against our democratic institutions whose sole interest is defeating them and destroying the freedoms that we are afforded because of them.
At this critical time in our nation's history, we are confronted by daily reminders of the existence of evil. It would be foolish and irresponsible for us to believe that evil will simply go away. Hatred, as much as we want it to, does not always fade with each generation. To combat those who would perpetuate evil in the world, we must project our strength and our goodness, which rely in part on the strength of our people and culture.
Around the world, our goal should be to employ American strength, courage, fortitude and goodness. Our country leads in not only military technology, but in science, education, health care and innovation. It is time that we apply the things that make America the world's leader to making America a safer, freer, and more prosperous nation. By doing so, we can project America's strength and goodness to the world.
Where does our strength and goodness come from? Many Democrats would say that America is great today because of our great government. While our government is great, it is hardly the source of our strength. The source of America's strength is the American people – hard working, educated, risk-taking, God-loving, family-oriented, sacrificing and freedom-loving people. The American family has always been and will always be the source of American strength.
The fabric of our culture and the strength of the American family depend on our ability as a nation to be both unafraid and optimistic when promoting and protecting these ideals and principles.
I have great faith in the American people and in the American family. I have faith in our children and our grandchildren. At the same time, I am deeply troubled by the culture that surrounds them today. Following the Columbine shootings, author Peggy Noonan wrote a column describing what she called "the ocean in which our children swim." It was a cesspool of violence, sex, drugs, indolence, and perversion. She wrote that the boys who did the shooting had "inhaled too deep the ocean in which they swam."
We need to clean up the water in which our children are swimming. We need to keep pornography from coming up on kid's computers, and we need to keep drugs off the streets. We need less violence and sex on TV when kids are watching and in movies and video games that are marketed to young people. If we get serious about this, we can do a great deal more to clean the water in which our children swim.
Cleaning "the ocean in which our children swim" begins with ensuring that we have strong families. The most important work being done to strengthen America's future is the work that is being done within the four walls of the American home. Children need the guiding hand of responsible parents. As a child swims through our increasingly polluted and turbulent waters, there is no help more sure than that of a loving mother and father. Every child deserves a mother and a father.
At these times, many people feel pessimistic about the future. The new generation of challenges is daunting. Evil confronts freedom on far-flung battlefields, and our children must navigate troubled waters at home. Early in our country's history, Abigail Adams wrote to her son when he was concerned about the future of our democracy that "great necessities call out great virtues." It is the same today. I see these virtues in the American people as I travel across the country. I have seen them throughout my life.
If we are to confront evil, we must strengthen the American people and ensure that our children grow up in strong families. America is a nation of stature thanks to the great and noble men and women serving our country here and abroad. It is why we know that America will rise to face today's challenges. It is why we can be confident that, in the words of one great American, this nation will always remain a "shining city upon a hill."