America has a big problem, and I don’t mean gun violence. In fact, gun violence is just a symptom of the real problem. The French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville famously wrote that “America is great because it is good.” America’s problem—thanks to the secular-humanist thinking of liberals—is that our country is no longer good, at least not to the extent that de Tocqueville observed in his travels across the United States. The crisis in contemporary America is not gun violence it is the breakdown of moral character in our country.
Economist Walter Williams describes the current situation in America as follows: “For well over half a century, the nation’s liberals and progressives—along with the education establishment, pseudo-intellectuals and the courts—have waged war on traditions, customs, and moral values. These people taught their vision, that there are no moral absolutes, to our young people. To them, what is moral or immoral is a matter of convenience, personal opinion or consensus.” For example, when I was a teenager abortion was a criminal offense. If caught, the mother, the father, and the physician performing the abortion could all go to jail.
When I was in tenth grade a neighbor’s girlfriend became pregnant. For weeks my neighbor—who was also in tenth grade—and his pregnant girlfriend were consumed with worry and fear. Finally, when they could no longer hide their distress they went hand-in-hand to the girl’s parents and confessed. After the initial explosion of emotions and recriminations, the parents sent their daughter away for a couple of weeks. My neighbor was sworn to secrecy and told he was never to talk to the girl again. When the young lady returned, she no longer had a problem. Being a naïve tenth grader, it took me a while to realize that the parents had somehow arranged an illegal abortion. For as long as I knew the family there was never a hint of the pregnancy or the abortion—the former of which would have brought shame on the family while the latter could have resulted in prison time. Fast forward to now and consider the same predicament. The young girl not only could have arranged an abortion, she could have done so without even telling her parents.
Now not only is abortion legal, there is no shame in undergoing or performing one. Mothers have their babies aborted for the sake of expedience and certain physicians specialize in performing abortions on demand. Worse yet, abortion advocates lobby continually for laws that will make late-term and even post-birth abortions legal. In my lifetime we have gone from rejecting abortion as an immoral, illegal act to accepting it as the right of not just women but under-aged girls and to viewing abortion as a woman’s choice as if she were deciding nothing more important than what to eat for breakfast.
Consider once again the words of Walter Williams: “Customs, traditions, moral values and rules of etiquette, not laws and government regulations, are what make for a civilized society. These behavioral norms—transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings—represent a body of wisdom distilled through ages of experience, trial and error, and looking at what works. The importance of customs, traditions and moral values as a means of regulating behavior is that people behave themselves even if nobody’s watching.”
A nation that is willing to see its tax dollars used to kill innocent unborn babies as a form of birth control should not be shocked when the moral degradation of society leads to gun violence. What do we expect when we place so little value on human life? What do we expect when school children are taught that there are no moral absolutes and that right and wrong are relative concepts? What do we expect when societal mores that governed behavior for centuries are cast aside because they are too inhibiting and confining? What do we expect when young people think freedom means the right to do anything they want whenever they want regardless of how destructive their behavior may be?
So now we have a rash of gun-violence incidents and the best liberals can do is call for stricter gun-control laws and placing police officers in schools. I will give Walter Williams the last word on this issue: “Police and laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct so as to produce a civilized society. Many customs, traditions and moral values have been discarded without any appreciation for the role they played in creating a civilized society, and now we are paying the price. What’s worse is that instead of a return to what worked, people want to replace what worked with what sounds good.” What sounds good to liberals is blaming guns instead of the people who use them for violent purposes. Guns are just inanimate objects that can do no harm to anyone unless used by individuals who lack the moral character to use them properly. Since we cannot keep guns out of the hands of immoral and mentally-impaired people, Americans are well advised to start doing the hard work of re-establishing our moral character—those traits that de Tocqueville said made us “good.”