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Editor’s note: Chuck Norris’ weekly political column debuts each Monday in WND and is then syndicated by Creators News Service for publication elsewhere. His column in WND often runs hundreds of words longer than the subsequent release to other media.

In Parts 1 and 2, I explained the comparative dangers and health risks of alcohol and marijuana. To elevate one over the other is like saying a glazed donut isn’t as bad as a plain one. The point is, neither is good for us or our culture.

We examined both of their addictive nature, withdrawal symptoms and the hazards they create when those using them operate motorized vehicles. We then looked at what science has concluded about their effects on our minds, bodies and relationships. (Of course, there are many other arenas that are impacted by alcohol and pot use – especially if the latter is legalized in even more states: such as on-the-job repercussions, health-care impact and other costs to citizens and society.)

Despite its risks and dangers, however, many proponents ask regarding marijuana: “But isn’t legalizing pot really an issue of freedom and removing government tyranny over our choices?”

First of all, we can play the freedom card on any issue under the sun. From polygamy to pedophilia and heroin use to smuggling, but some form of societal civility must be enforced lest the combustible mixture of hedonism and liberty lead to self and societal mastication.

Second, we must bear the weight of ensuring societal safety and handing down a republic that is preserving its posterity rather than placing more obstacles in its way. The nanny state is one problem, but so is the guise of liberty that is in reality rampant licentiousness.

Thomas Paine once wrote, “The rights of minors are as sacred as the rights of the aged.” But he – like our other founders – didn’t believe in throwing our youth to the wolves and whims of culture, but rather to develop them into well-rounded moral and responsible citizens.

Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration who served under three presidents, helped found five universities and colleges, and is given the title of “The Father of American Medicine,” wrote about the importance of not exposing young people to corruption before they can handle it. He noted: “In order to preserve the vigor of the moral faculty, it is of the utmost consequence to keep young people as ignorant as possible of the crimes that are generally thought most disgraceful to human nature.”

Of course, developing responsible youth is not about keeping them in a monastic bubble. However, it is about possessing enough parental wisdom to expose them gradually to societies’ amenities and temptations with the tools to overcome and control them. But when a hedonistic culture bent on personal license overexposes adolescence to nearly everything in culture, shall we expect them then to bear the baton of discipline and responsibility?

Many know George Washington as general of the Continental Army and first president of the United States. But fewer know that, at just 14 years of age, young George wrote out in freehand by his own volition, “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” At age 17, George’s first official job was as official surveyor of Culpeper County, Va.

Washington epitomized responsibility, service and courage his whole life. While others were frightened by signing the Declaration of Independence, Washington was on the front lines battling for its tenets. He faced his fears and endured grave hardships, repeatedly staring death in the eyes while helping others to do the same.

I think Washington’s greatest challenge was when he stepped away from public service and warned America what could happen if future generations drop their guard and discard the pillars of our country’s foundation to justify self-indulgence. He was concerned that freedom would be turned into an excuse for licentiousness. With the founders counting on religion in our republic to bridle barbarianism, Washington was profoundly worried that such a great pillar would be discarded, opening the floodgates for individual immorality and societal decadence.

So as Washington bid adieu to his presidential office and public service, he extended this challenge to our entire country – one that still echoes even now from his grave at Mt. Vernon:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? 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.

So what message does legalizing pot send the youth of America? And what are we expecting them to do with such a universal decree? Do we really think legalizing drugs are the laws for which our founders purposed and paid the price to give us constitutional law and liberty?

I’ll say it again: When liberty becomes licentiousness, it’s time to reconsider why we’re doing what we’re doing. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. And if that’s the case, what other illicit passion is going to be next in the lineup of legalization or liberty?

Maybe it’s time we start fighting to show America’s kids that life can be good on its own merits without altering reality with any drug. Rather than driving their lusts toward satiation and self-indulgence, maybe it’s time we help redirect their passions to understand the power of restraint and discipline. Maybe it’s time we raise the bar and expect them, like young George Washington, to freehand on their own volition works such as the list of 110 “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.”

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