(Editor’s note: This is Part 3 of Chuck Norris’ four-part series on reducing violent crime in the U.S.)
In the last two columns, I’ve highlighted ways we can absolutely reduce violent crime in the U.S. But I’ve saved the best and most powerful solutions for last because they work from the inside out.
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. will not curb violent crime.
Today and next week, I will discuss an age-old solution that America’s founders knew was key for producing and maintaining civility in our communities – a solution being mimicked by a few nonprofit organizations in our public schools.
We all know violent crime is on the rise in the U.S., particularly in our public schools. As Dr. Marisa Randazzo, a psychologist who contributed to an extensive study of school shootings for the Secret Service, concurred, “… the intensity and frequency of the attacks have increased since the events at Columbine.”
What many don’t appear to be accepting, however, is something I say ad nauseam everywhere I go because it’s absolutely true: As with most societies’ ills, the key to curbing crime is not more government expansion and spending. Neither is the answer dissolving our Second Amendment rights; countries with super strict gun-ownership laws have equal, if not surpassing, levels of violent crimes. Taking guns from good guys doesn’t prohibit bad guys from obtaining them.
Our founders had a far better solution than more government and taking away guns from law-abiding citizens. Though they believed in and established our government, they didn’t expect it or the law of the land to well up peace in the peoples’ hearts. As proud as they were of their newfound republic, they would rely upon core values to perpetuate decency, respect, morality, honesty and restraint, to name a few.
Our founders’ “human values curriculum,” if you will, consisted of two primary principles: 1) Human life has an intrinsic or inherent value esteemed far above the rest of creation; 2) Human life is to be respected and cared for via each person’s accountability to moral absolutes (that is, a moral creed to which they confess and cling). (I will discuss the first point today and the second in next column.)
When life begins was not always questioned as it is in our day. Early Americans’ value of human life did not fluctuate based upon their moods and personal preferences. Most people’s view and value of humanity were shaped around two beliefs: that God created us, and that we were created equal.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
That creed was codified in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The founders believed that equality would eventually give legs to everyone’s freedom, though they themselves struggled with its execution as much as any generation: with slavery, treatment of Native Americans, women, etc.
As John Adams, our second president, said, “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions … shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power … we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.”
Scholar Thomas West, author of “Vindicating Our Founders,” explained that, “The Founders believed that all men are created equal and that they have certain inalienable rights. All are also obliged to obey the natural law, under which we have not only rights but duties. We are obliged ‘to respect those rights in others which we value in ourselves’ (Thomas Jefferson).”
Jefferson also explained that preserving human value and life was even government’s primary role: “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”
So lofty was their view of human life back then that, in 1786, George Washington explained, “We have, probably, had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation.”
But gone are the days when such a pervading elevated value of human life existed. We’ve abandoned the past. We’ve left their core values. We’ve lost our way. We’ve traded in the Good Book for our pocketbook. We’ve completely redefined human life and its value, and the way we treat one another proves it.
Our endless debates over when human life begins and ends haven’t helped, either. Neither has science. We’re a product of random chance and selection – or so we’re told. Naturalism oddly has convinced most there is no Creator, or at least called it into question. Humans have gone from being the pedestal of creation to the trash piles of evolution. And the Blue Book value for humanity has gone from being a Mercedes to a monkey. In the grand scheme of things, we’re ultimately no different than dolphins or cockroaches.
The law of the jungle is what guides most today. Children disobey and disrespect their parents. Teens incite altercations with their teachers. Friends back-stab friends. Family members take one another to court. Gangs kill for sport. And the government involves itself in every type of subterfuge and coercion imaginable.
Honor is out the window. Disrespect and devaluing is the name of the game. Belittling and bullying are the king and queen of the playground and the blogosphere. And violent crime is the soul of digital gaming.
And we blame assault rifles for the proliferation of violent crime?
When you hear about belittling, bullying or someone being bulleted down, do you ever hear anyone appeal to Declaration of Independence? Ever hear someone say, “We must not treat others with contempt because they, too, are made in the image of God, and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights?”
Is the fight to treat all men equal still a part of our moral fabric?
Today, the Declaration of Independence isn’t living; it’s dead. It’s a historical document encased under bulletproof glass in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It’s something we tour to see, like all the relics of the past. It reminds us of a valiant time when men fought to gain our independence from Britain. But gone is its power to aid us in the fight for equality – to remind us of one another’s value and challenge us to treat one another fairly.
Do we still need the Declaration of Independence? More than ever before! We need to resurrect its content if we are to restore civility across our land – in our schools and in our homes. It is part of America’s values curriculum because it reminds us of our worth, which is established and echoed in the Bible.
America doesn’t need to “turn the page” on its past; it needs to reopen the pages of its history to our founders’ heightened views and rights of all human beings as documented in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. And we need to revive and re-instill that value of humanity back into society, our children and our children’s children.
We need to resist the rabbit trails of blaming rifles, as well as avoid the temptations to discuss our founders’ flaws in carrying out their own creeds. And instead follow their lead in (re)establishing the high value of human life.
We must question with boldness and ask ourselves: What are we and others teaching our children and grandchildren about their intrinsic worth and value? And are we and they treating them according to their high appraisal and calling them to treat others with the same value?
(Next week in Part 4, the last installment in this reducing violent crime series, I will not only discuss the second core value our founders utilized to maintain civility but also show you how two nonprofit organizations are utilizing core value curricula to do the same.)