To this day, I try to behave the way my mother wanted me to - not because I'm afraid of being grounded (my wife does that now) but because she taught me the difference between right and wrong and showed me by example how to behave. These principles originate, of course, from the family.
Okay, let me say it before you do: No family is perfect, and even children raised in wonderful families can turn out to be like wolves.
Still, it makes sense that children nurtured with rules are far more likely to follow them than those given free rein to follow their most primal instincts of "self fi rst, others second." In the national ongoing conversation about how to change "government" and make "society" better, I rarely hear a reference to the obvious starting place: the creation and nurturing of functioning families, in which a mother and a father bring up their off spring with the understanding that the older generation is training the younger to be their replacements.
This essential belief is not (at least it shouldn't be) a partisan issue, butsometimes it can seem like one. For example, President Obama, speaking to the West Point graduating class on May 22, 2010, said, "American innovation must be the foundation of American power." Yes, innovation is important (as I will discuss in later chapters of this book), but, to repeat, I believe that the foundation of American power has always been and must continue to be...(drum roll, please!)...the American family.
On this issue, as on so many others, I cast my lot with Ronald Reagan, who said, "The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedom."
It should surprise no one - certainly it would not have surprised President Reagan - that those who now want to "transform" traditional America recognize this truth from the opposite direction and have placed the American family smack in the crosshairs. You know this. You see it every day. Th e family structure that made this country the most powerful and prosperous in the history of the world - father, mother, children - is under assault today as never before.
As parents and even grandparents, what can we do? Simple. We fight back. What happens in our day to the traditional family will determine whether we remain a morally healthy nation of self-reliant families, for the most part, or degenerate into a decadent welfare state of shattered, chaotic, and dependent families.