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March 7, 2007
Column #1,332
The Joshua Generation
by Michael J. McManus

What political candidate seeking to lead his nation recently made these remarks?

"I think it is time we recognized that family breakdown is the central factor in the social breakdown we are seeing in our country today. Take crime. Seventy percent of young offenders come from single parents.  Children who suffer family breakdown are 75 percent more likely to suffer educational failure.

"This is not about saying single parents do a bad job. They do the hardest job in the world.  It is simply saying kids do best when mom and dad are both there for them." (His audience applauded.)

"And we should not ignore one compelling fact.  Nearly one in two cohabiting parents split up before their child's fifth birthday. The figure for married couples it is one in 12. That is why we support marriage, and yes, back it with the tax system."  (Strong applause.)

Furthermore, he urged a change in culture that would "apply the full force of shame to fathers who run away from their responsibilities when their children are born." Cheers erupted.

Guessed who made those remarks?

A parade of Republican presidential hopefuls spoke to the Conservative Political Action Caucus met last week in Washington. Was it Rudy Giuliani? Mitt Romney?  Sam Brownback?

No! None of those candidates made this speech.  

However, Senator Brownback has asserted that stronger families" will reduce poverty" and strengthen the nation.  He has said, "We should support marriage, not tax it.  It is wrong to tax welfare benefits just because someone gets married.  Marriage remains the best place to raise children not the only place, but the best."

However, he has not directly addressed the need to discourage rampant cohabitation and the subsequent soaring numbers of children born out-of-wedlock.

President Bush could have spoken about the issue and taken credit for creating the first federal program to strengthen marriage, providing $100 million a year, his greatest domestic achievement.  Yet, curiously, he has not.

The speaker deploring family breakdown as a cause of social ills was David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party in Great Britain, who hopes to be the next Prime Minister. He concluded, "Building a family-friendly society is the first step in fighting crime, in fighting poverty and improving the quality of life."

However, Sen. Barak Obama said similar things on Sunday in Selma, Alabama, in a speech laced with biblical imagery. He opened by praising the "Moses Generation" of civil rights leaders who marched in Selma, who saw rows "of state troopers facing you, the horses and tear gas."  Yet that generation walked "towards them, unarmed, unafraid."

He spoke personally, "It is because they marched that I stand here before you today...My grandfather was a cook to the British in Kenya, a cook and a house boy. And that's what they called him, even when he was 60 years old."  Selma inspired the Kennedys to bring young Africans to this country and "give them scholarships." One who came was his father, who married a white woman, a descendant of slave owners. " Their son was Barak Obama.

He recalled, "As great as Moses was, leading a people out of bondage, he didn't cross over the river to the Promised Land." That task was left to the "Joshua Generation."

Yesterday's Moses Generation won civil rights battles and many blacks entered the middle class.  Yet others remain poor, are badly educated, lack health care, live shorter lives.

He said today's Joshua Generation seeks "economic rights," such as health insurance, better schools and overcoming a "hope gap."

While he fights for laws to help, he paraphrased Kennedy, "It's not enough just to ask what the government can do for us. It's important for us to ask what we can do for ourselves."

"Don't tell me it doesn't have a little to do with the fact that we got too many daddies not acting like daddies. Don't think that fatherhood ends at conception. I know something about that because my father wasn't around when I was young and I struggled...Don't tell me we can't take more responsibility for making sure we are instilling in (our children) the values and the ideals that the Moses generation taught us about sacrifice."

More than half of Western couples live together before they marry and many never marry. However, it is ironic that some politicians are speaking up, but most clergy have remained silent.
 
They too should speak out. Obama reminds the Joshua Generation that Joshua was scared. "The Lord said to him, "Be strong and have courage, for I am with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:6)

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