Take Care of America
Thank you for your overly generous introduction. And thank you for the work that you are doing here in Alabama to advance the frontiers of thought. There are few endeavors so noble. When I think of the work being done here, I think of what Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once wrote. "The ultimate good desired (for our land)," he penned, "is better reached by the free trade of ideas. ...(and) the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market." Thanks to your work, this land we love is seeing the truth of our beliefs validated in the marketplace of ideas.
During the course of my life I have had the privilege and the honor of seeing this great land of ours overcome the obstacles to liberty and the threats to freedom. I have seen the evil powers of the world that hid behind the names of fascism and communism thrown into the abyss. I have seen the wrong of racial hatred righted. And I have seen our land grow in prosperity beyond anything that the fairy tales of old dreamed of.
We should be proud of our "American Century." We should be proud of our people, hopeful about our future, and profoundly humbled by the awesome favor that God has shown to this nation.
Today it is that future that I want to talk about - about where we are headed as a nation, about the challenges that we face, and about the real hope for creating a new American Century that surpasses the last.
1. The Course of a Nation
Today our economy is the stuff of legends from long ago -- an economy beyond measure, wealth beyond calculation, prosperity beyond dreams. And our economic future is even brighter than our past, as unlimited as the countless grains of sand in the desert -- the infinite silicon packages that make the micro-chip possible.
Think about it. Where it took Dow Jones decades to pass the 1,000 point marker, it has grown to more than 7,000 in just the past two decades -- and a mark of 10,000 is now considered a certainty -- the only question being "when?" not "if?" The American economy dwarfs the economy of any other single nation. And our individual prosperity is unprecedented. Our cars are more luxurious, our lives more comfortable, and our chance of living longer better than it has ever been. Few things evidence this trend more than this single, simple fact: Today's average new home is nearly 40 percent larger than a new home in 1970.
But the true measure of our nation is a measure beyond balance sheets. That measure is of our character and our moral strength. And on that front, there are areas of deep concern. For today, our social pathologies are not dreams, they are nightmares.
Here are some of the numbers:
One popular book, Secondary Math: An Integrated Approach features color photos and essays on the Dogon tribe of Africa and pictures of Maya Angelou and Bill Clinton. It asks questions like "What role should zoos play in today's society?"
In one Northridge, CA, middle school, classes are taught on baseball card collecting, jigsaw puzzles, and crocheting.II. The Challenges We Face
What to make of these conflicting signs? Is our future one of hope or despair? Some would seem to side with Woody Allen who, in addressing university graduates said, "You face a fork in the road. Down one path is despair. Down the other destruction and chaos. Choose wisely." But that is not our choice. Rather, our choice is to do for our culture what we have done for our economy -- create the strongest, best, and greatest that the world has ever known.
The great American novelist Walker Percy once wrote that his nightmare was "The fear of seeing America, with all its great strength and beauty and freedom ...gradually subside into decay through default and be defeated not by the Communist movement but from within by weariness, boredom, cynicism, greed, and in the end helplessness before its great problems. " There are some in the Republican party who would scoff and mock at Percy's horrendous vision. There are some who believe that to take on the so-called "social" issues is a recipe for political death. I believe that to ignore these issues is a recipe for political suicide!!!
Consider this. In separate polls taken this spring, the vast majority
of the American people listed a concern over moral decline as the number
one concern in America. In one poll by Frank Luntz, more than 80 percent
said that they were "deeply concerned about the moral and religious
well-being" " of America. And in another poll by Public Opinion
Strategies, concern over our morality and our culture was the top concern
of voters -- followed by crime, education, and jobs -- in that order.
The American people are not concerned about marginal tax rates, interest
rates, or basis points. Their concern is for the moral fiber of our
Is it any wonder, therefore, that the American people are so turned off by the state of conservative politics today? The only real moral message that they hear comes from the White House. Given the 9-0 Supreme Court decision in the Paula Jones case, morality from the White House does seem an oxymoron at best.
Today, our political leaders are afraid to address the gravest and
deepest concerns of the American voter. Today, the real "gap"
in American politics is not the "gender gap," nor is it the
"soccer mom gap. " It is the "character gap" --
the timidity of our elected leaders and their unwillingness to speak
to America' s greatest problem -- the moral decline of our nation.
III. Hope for the Future
Despite these challenges, however, our hope for the future is certain. All across this land, there is a stirring of the spirit -- a growing wave of spiritual yearning and hunger. It is the hunger that is filling football stadiums with scores of thousands of men who seek to be reconciled with their God, their families, and their neighbors. It is a yearning that is filling church pews with baby-boomers who are looking for a firm foundation in their lives. And it is a hunger that has mobilized millions of men and women of sincere faith to get involved in the political arena. These forces are changing the face and the tenor of politics -- they are demanding of their political leaders that they address the real problems of America, not just the easy ones!!!
We can restore our culture. How? It begins at home. Those many people who have said that the family is the first and best Department of Health, Education and Welfare ever created are right. ...
It extends to our communities. Our churches and other houses of worship are the backbone of any community. They deserve not only our respect but our lives. Our schools educate our children -- we need to work with them to ensure that our children get the best education they can not a social laboratory. Give schools back to parents and take them away from the leaders of a powerful left-wing labor union.
We need to demand from our national political leaders true leadership. That means the courage to tackle tough issues. They should do it because it is right. But they should also do it because it will get them reelected. In a poll done the night of the election, the Wirthlin Group revealed that the moral and cultural issues were the issues that could have turned the election toward a different result.
Put God Back Into The Public Life Of Our Nation Once Again.
A final thought. Standing in front of the Statue of Liberty a decade ago, the great Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa was asked about America. "Take care of her," he replied, "the world needs her to lead for if she doesn't do it, who will?" Our job is to take care of America.
I offer all of us today that challenge. Before God we will take care of the precious gift that is America.
God bless you!
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.