April 15, 2005 | Commentary on Family and Marriage
The following is an excerpt from Rebecca Hagelin's new book, Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture that's Gone Stark Raving Mad, which hit Amazon.com's best seller list within 24 hours of release.
The emerald green and turquoise waters, the soothing sound of waves crashing on the shore, the gentle breeze blowing through the hot summer afternoon-all these remind me of a simpler time when I used to vacation as a child on this quiet Florida beach. Seemingly untouched by our culture, this truly is an island paradise. On this trip, I have brought my three children and three of their friends. Because the only access to the beach is by boat, I feel we're safe here-safe from a culture that's gone stark raving mad.
Or are we? Is there any place in America where families are truly safe? Where children can grow up in innocence? Where moms and dads can know that it is their influence over their children's lives that will shape their values, choices, and futures? There was a time in America when parents raised their children with high morals, when adults instinctively created a protected space in childhood, free from exposure to "adult" issues. I fear that America is all but gone. Even here, on this beautiful, isolated island, the culture creeps. It creeps insidiously with the goal of invading the hearts and minds of our children and our families. One need only dial up on the Internet or turn on one of the hundreds of televisions connected to the satellite dishes that now adorn the roofs of virtually all of the beach houses to see the depths of depravity to which many Americans have become addicted over recent years-depravity that is robbing our children of their innocence and their future.
In my twenty years of marriage and seventeen years of being a mother, I've lived in glass and steel high-rises in the hustle and bustle of the city, on the outskirts of large metropolitan areas, and in the quiet cul-de-sac neighborhoods of suburban America. And in every single neighborhood, regardless of its proximity to a big city or its location relative to the country, still the culture creeps.
Millions of American families flock to cul-de-sac streets, envisioning them as safe havens in which to raise their children. Down on the circle at the end of the road, you don't have to worry so much about traffic. Your street is surrounded by houses owned by other families whose children join yours in playing safely-or so we imagine. The cul-de-sac street, so the legend goes, provides a quiet place for children to grow up with all the conveniences of the city nearby, yet protected from its dangers. On some level, we imagine the two-story homes, all nestled together in a circle, as the historic wagon trains of the Great West that encircled the fire at night providing safety for all the families, ready to fight off any outside forces who threatened the lives and dreams of the weary travelers. And while our modern house trains may provide some safety from vehicular traffic, statistics reveal the sad reality that a cruel enemy that attacks and often destroys the dreams of a better life has invaded even these neighborhoods.
Even the best of families have fallen victim to a Home Invasion-not by a pack of criminals who brazenly and forcefully assault us in order to rob us of our possessions, but by a culture that has slyly slithered into our senses in order to rob us of our souls.
The purpose of this book is to encourage you to listen to that inner voice, that deep feeling that tells you something is amiss in the culture, and to act on it. Parents around the world are equipped with an instinct to protect their young-we know in our hearts basic truths about child-rearing and what characteristics are desirable in our kids. However, due to the constant onslaught of a culture that attacks basic moral principles and entices us to compromise, give in, and cast our good judgment aside, many of us have silenced our hearts through our own refusal to listen to what we know is true.
Far too often, parents thwart their protective instincts because of the peer pressure put on them by other parents who have long ago shrugged off the responsibility to follow that inner voice. I have received thousands of a-mails from moms and dads, grandparents too, over the several years that I have been writing my weekly column, "Heart Beat," for WorldNetDaily.com and Townhall.com. The common theme is often, "It's so hard to fight the culture. I know I need to do it; I just need help in knowing how."
Home Invasion will encourage you to stand up and protect your children. Not by building walls that shut them off from everyone around them, but by building within you the strength of conviction and courage to raise your children with purpose, finding guidance from your own values rather than defaulting to those of a crazy world. In so doing, you will not only protect your children in the present, you will also raise them to become men and women of courage and conviction, with an unmistakable sense of who they are and what they believe.
Rebecca Hagelin is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared on Townhall.com