Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Has Sprung, The Grass Has Riz...

Spring is an incredibly amazing time of year. After endless days of frigid, brooding skies, the flowers and trees begin this amazing transformation. Think about it. A huge tree freezes all Winter, then miraculously, it starts to bud and evolve into a giant of dappled greens and browns. It can survive chilling days of Winter and continue to thrive the rest of the year, but if it freezes in the late Spring or Summer, it would die! I shake my head in wonder and awe contemplating this one of myriad wonders on Earth.

Some try to convince us that Earth and the Universe are random occurrances generated by some self-initiated burst of energy? It's harder for me to comprehend that theory over the truth of a loving creator who masterfully orchestrated and monitors these elements! I love the words of Alma, the prophet “and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.”

At times, I get wrapped up in the frustrations and discouragements of life, but today I remebered to appreciate the sights, colors, sounds, and music of Spring. Soon they will morph into another amazing season and be gone until next year!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crazy Nut-Jobs!

The other day, I was reading a post which opined that the Press is failing to hold politicians accountable for things they say, do and don't say, don't do. Their complaint was that neither political party appears to be much different, and now the Press is looking much more like the political parties, and less like an institution determined to keep the politicians “honest.”

As I thought about this concept, I reflected that I no longer trust the traditional Press for my source of political happenings and insight. Rather, I've come to rely on the likes of Glen Beck, Michael Savage, and Mark Levin to get a perspective that, to me, is much more founded in a purist-Constitutional vein. Using this template to evaluate the current political landscape, the gap between what is said by either party and it's 'leaders' and the intent of the Founders is phenomenal.

It is the nature of us, Americans, to assume the most positive, innocent perspective when it comes to the motives of our elected officials. Partially, because we are a bit apathetic, and partially because we don't have the time to assume every politician is a self-serving, ideologue. However, it appears that we've let the inmates run the assylum a bit too long, and if we don't act soon, we'll all be lab rats for the lunatics!

There is an old adage referencing the German citizens' indifference during the Holocaust experience, which we should consider very carefully:
"Pastor Niemoller spoke for thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something--but then it was too late."

We have lived in freedom so long, we take it for granted; we will always have it, no matter who is elected, or how they govern, right? Currently, the voting population seems to only vote for a candidate who is slightly different than the incumbent. Unfortunately, the way to balance things is to take a significant step as exemplified by someone like a Ron Paul. However, when some one like him speaks, people think he's a 'fringe' 'nut-job', or a radical. We think “oh, he's just exaggerating to make a point.” So we dismiss him and his message, because it seems to be such a contrast to the incumbent situation. Thus continues the cycle of insanity.

Sadly, minor changes in the wrong direction have been on-going for nearly a century. Making incremental changes in the right direction, now, is too little, too late. We need to make some fairly drastic changes in the other direction, if we are to bring some sanity back into government and politics. Some have suggested a type of revolution.

Is revolution the answer? Well, perhaps not a war, but a revolution of electing real-people who love the Constitution and will serve the Country, not their party or themselves. People who will do what they say, and admit when they were wrong.

We must refuse to be impressed with slick posters, fancy campaign slogans, and guys dressed in the perfect suits. These props have been exploited by Madison Avenue ad campaigns to create a candidate that looks and sounds like the kind of person we want to run our country. But, like Christ accused the Jewish leaders of his time, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness," once they are elected, our officials take off the mask and show their ego, attitude, arrogance, and narcissism.

We need to elect more of our next-door-neighbors. People who are normal; who don't NEED to be the class president. Those who don't feel they always know what is good for everyone, and will admit it. Someone who believes we have plenty of laws; that new laws should be enacted sparingly. Perhaps they even support a balanced-budget for laws--for every new law passed, ten old laws should be repealed! People who don't have egos that need to be babied, pampered, and cajoled all of the time.

Sound crazy? If this is crazy, could it be we need a lot more crazy?

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Walmart Discount?

While listening to the radio in Cumberland, MD the other day, I heard an ad on the radio that went something like this " Walmart, 94% of our associates, including part-time, have some form of health care coverage, but we won't rest until new national legislation is passed which will provide health care to all americans."

The more I thought about this, the more frustrated I became. To the point that I decided to send the following email to Walmart's website:

It is with extreme dissatisfaction I write to express my frustration and anger regarding a recent Walmart commercial I've been hearing on the local radio in Cumberland, MD. While I believe Walmart has generally been a decent and caring company, providing value-based merchandise, and acting as a responsible community neighbor, I am saddened that Walmart has chosen to endorse the recent US national health care legislation. I believe this to be completely contrary to the fundamentals Walmart has portrayed in the past. It smacks of "we'll do anything to make a buck" mentality.
While I can understand the motivations that may drive Walmart to support this type of legislation, like lower employee costs, it will only backfire and cause the very people Walmart serves to loose the economic freedom to patronize your stores. I agree that some changes need to happen with regard to health care in the US, but recent attempts by lawmakers have all shown to be dangerously expensive and potentially devastating to our national wealth, economy, and personal liberty.
Because of Walmart's support of this current legislation, I, my family, and friends will choose other companies to give our patronage to. If and when, Walmart changes its stance on this significat and broad-reaching national issue, we will reconsider shopping at Walmart.

While I don't expect others to follow my lead, it has caused me to think about the need for serious discussion regarding this and other national topics. Now is not the time to rush to solutions for problems that are not well understood. There are unintended consequences with just about every rushed decision; especially political ones! Remember the recent law in Nebraska, the one intended to protect newborn babies from being tossed in dumpsters? It said that any child could be left at a hospital, fire station, police station, or other public building, no questions asked. Sounds great, right? Well, it was until a few teenagers were dropped off; seems the parents couldn't deal with their kid anymore, so they folllowed the new law, and dropped the kid off at the station! The lawmakers were extremely disturbed, stating they never intended for this to be the outcome. But it happened; it really happend! These are smart people, right?

You'd think the legislators would have been a bit more careful writing such a law; think it through perhaps? Many lawmakers are lawyers, and should know better. Can you imagine the unintended consequences of a $1 Trillion health care bill, so large that many legislators have admitted they probably won't read this bill! Why? Things are not so bad with health care in the US, that we need to jump before we look, are they?

Let's take this one slowly. Let's discuss it. Let's argue about it. Let's compromise. Let's figure out how to pay for it. Let's run some trial programs, and work out the kinks before we go full speed ahead, and open our eyes later.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Grass is Greener?

While traveling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania on business, this week, I had the chance to visit Amish/Pennsylvania Dutch country. To you, that might not seem like much, but I really enjoy any opportunity to get acquainted with the culture and life-style. Their work ethic is amazing, and their fierce independence from the ultra-modern conveniences is admirable.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on throwing it all away and buying a farm complete with draft horses, straw hats, and suspenders! I’d probably starve to death before I figured out how to make it work. But, there is something intriguing, fascinating, to me about Amish culture. Here we are in the 2009, computers, cell phones, airplanes, etc, literally surrounding the Amish. As we “Englishers” sprawl more and more, buying up the farm lands and rural country side in the areas where they live, the Amish drive horse and buggy down a busy county road, live with little or no electricity or gasoline powered equipment. These people wear simple clothing, shun attention, and work very, very hard. They truly live in a different century!

Lest you think Amish are backwards and frozen in time; Think again. They are amazingly adaptable! Instead of cursing the “Englishers” and our intrusion into their traditional domain, they have adjusted. Since farmlands are harder and harder to find, they’ve discovered more ways to make a living; take advantage of the tourists. Amish bake food, grow vegetables, make quilts and other sewn goods, and sell them at tourist stores and shops, roadside stands, and even their own homes.

I knew I was on The Peoples’ turf, when I stopped at one of these shops located in the bottom floor of an Amish home. Following a sign on the county road, I drove down the gravel drive and pulled up to the house surrounded by vegetable and flower gardens, barns, sheds, and garages, I parked in a drive way. Between me and the garage (no car in their garage), there was a traditional horse drawn buggy. The horse was elsewhere. As I opened the car door and got out, I put my foot in an oil spill from the Amish horse—a nice pile of horse droppings! For a split second, I wanted to be angry, instead I just chuckled! How could I be angry? I wanted to revel in the simple life, and I got it—up close and personal!

I think there are things we can learn from these independent, industrial, simple people. They contribute and depend on community for physical, social, and emotional survival. Their life is full of physical work and focused determination. Providing for themselves and extended family is assumed. They value faith and religion and expect it of others. Physical possessions are not all-consuming.

So much of our modern society represents the antithesis of the Amish life; look at all the mental, physical, and psychological diseases we carry. Amish are humans, so they are not perfect. There are things they do and believe, I think are strange, obscure, and contradictory, but we could learn some valuable lessons from these folks!

Food for thought.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sushi or Fish Bait?

There is an addage, I know you’ve heard in one of its various forms: Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. This concept has been used explain the need to help people help themselves. People, when approached this way, will usually thrive personally, become more positive and hopeful, and develop as vibrant members of society. `What about the opposite side of the coin?
What happens to people who are not taught to fish, but given a fish, not once, but day after day? What happens to their drive, creativity, and self esteem? Evidence is strong; these people become un-creative, un-motivated, and cynical. Worse yet, they begin to believe that they have been cheated, mistreated, and abused by society. How can this be? How can the givers of the fish become the object of the fish recipient’s dissatisfaction and anger? I can’t claim to understand the mechanism of the human spirit, but I do see the result. People need to be challenged to take responsibility for those things they are capable of managing in their sphere of interaction. When not challenged in this way, people turn selfish, self-centered, and angry.
It gets even more twisted. After a while, the fish-getters begin to believe the fish-givers have a duty to continue to give the fish. No, no, no, teach me not to fish, you must give me the fish. Since eating fish can get mundane and bland, givers must also provide bread and a little something to drink as well. It’s only humane. When the givers begin to recognize the lazy, demanding nature of the getters, they decide it is time to change the game. It’s time for the getters to become givers, buy learning to fish.
Some of the givers begin to feel sorry for the getters; their life is hard, they didn’t have the same chances as the rest of us, we can’t expect too much from the getters. We should just continue to give. Besides, the fishermen have plenty of extra fish, a few fish to the getters is not so bad. Of course the fishermen object, explaining the work, sweat, labor, risk and danger involved in catching fish, and want to be treated fairly in this exchange. Sadly, there are too many givers that believe the fishermen should ‘do their part and make a sacrifice’ for the good of society, so they vote that the fishermen must give even more of their fish to the getters. Enter the Takers.
Takers envision themselves as wise, caring, and charitable. They believe it their calling to make things “fair”. That taking from the givers, can be rationalized in the context of the “greater good.” They convince the getters that getters are helpless and need the takers to stand up for their cause. They convince many of the givers, through guilt, lies, and even intimidation, that taking is justified, as long as the takers do it with the right intentions. (It’s kind of like those daredevil shows on TV. They put out a disclaimer that these stunts were performed by professionals, so don’t try this at home! We’re professional takers, don’t try this at home.) They tell the givers that the takers don’t want to be takers, but someone has to balance out this unfair world. Isn’t a little sacrifice worth that?
Imagine another situation. A professional football star breaks a leg in an accident. The giver and the taker both want to help. The approach to the solution is what makes them so different. The taker tells the player to stay in bed as long as he wants. The giver encourages the player to get physical therapy, and start the long, strenuous, painful rehab process. The player, frightened of his future, and tired of pain and stress, likes the taker’s approach; it involves resting, and a whole lot less pain and inconvenience! The taker tells the player that the givers are mean, stingy, people who only care about how much money is being spent at the hospital. They don’t care about the player’s pain and misery. The player falls for the rhetoric, and postpones the therapy. But what happens to the leg, and the player’s mind?
As the player follows the takers approach, his leg heals poorly, with pain and disfigurement. The player is unable to play football, so the taker sues an insurance company, and blames the doctors and the hospital, and even the givers for being mean, uncaring, and of committing malpractice. The player is so grateful for the taker. The takers understand him, they care, and they were nice to him when the givers were mean and harsh.
The givers are astonished. If only the player had listened to them, he could be playing ball, doing what he loves, making a great living. But instead, he blames the givers, and thanks and praises the takers.
As observers of this scenario, we would support the givers. Why then are we fooled by the takers, when it comes to our Constitution? The founders of the Constitution were givers. They warned us about the danger of listening to the takers and getters. The Bill of Rights was written from the perspective of the givers. That is why it is attacked by the takers; they can’t understand it, so they want to change it to something they can understand. The founders understood human nature. They knew that society can turn into getters and takers very quickly and such a nation will be crushed under its own misunderstanding of human nature.
The founders relied on the majority to always understand the giver mentality. They tried to create a government that would always keep the getters and takers in the minority. Right now, we are seeing a phenomenon where the takers have won the hearts of a majority of the people. Their rhetoric is like the words of the taker to the football star, or the getters. It sounds so good. Wouldn’t it be great to live where there was no poverty, hate, anger, and hostility? Who wouldn’t like to live in that world? Those givers are mean, they hate poor people, they want to let people think bad thoughts and not be punished. They think its okay for some people in society to be terribly rich, while others are poor. We can’t trust people to be good on their own. We must allow the takers to determine how things are done, how wealth and prosperity are shared. After all, they are professionals, and they care!
Have you ever smelled pure vanilla? Have you ever tasted that same pure vanilla? Pure vanilla offers an amazing aroma, a tantalizing experience for the nose. Upon tasting, pure vanilla alone is revolting, nasty, and unpalatable. Such are the words and the results of the takers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaguration or Coronation

Like so many others, I listened to the inauguration of Barack Obama, as the 44th President of the United States. Many people are full of hope and anticipation of the changes this new President promises to make. Let us remember, he is a president, not a king. It is important to remember this very important point.

With a president, we see the interplay of the Legislative and Executive branches. Each has responsibilities to the people that elected them, each has limitations placed on it by the Constitution. With a king, the people are subject to the whims and desires of the monarch, with the only limitations based on the ruler's imagination. The good thing about a president, is that they can be replaced every four years; with a king, the deal is for life. The good thing about the king, is we don’t get to make choices about many aspects of our life. The bad thing about a king, is we don’t get to make choices about many aspects of our life.

I wish for this Country’s success. I can’t say, yet, I wish for President Obama’s success. Why? Because, I’m not sure what success means in his eyes vs the eyes of the Constitution. I wish for the success of this Nation and its people. As for an individual president, this could be a time when it’s patriotic to wish for failure of his policies and programs.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned....

Recently, the Mormon Times reported "James Dobson's Focus on the Family ministry has pulled from its CitizenLink Web site an article about talk show host Glenn Beck's book "The Christmas Sweater" after some complained that Beck's LDS faith is a "cult" and "false religion" and shouldn't be promoted by a Christian ministry."

I posted the following on the Focus on the Family website. My purpose is not to confront James Dobson or other Evangelicals on their doctrines. I hoped to challenge them to realize the danger of in-fighting and alienation of those who share family and other conservative values. Just after the election, I posted regarding the failure of conservatives to win any significant victories. I believe this event with Glenn Beck's book interview, is evidence that conservatives may as well give up and turn our lives over to secularist and social engineers, unless we are willing find and exploit good, wholesome, common purposes, and leave the disagreements on doctrines to another day and another forum. Even if it were true that Mormonism is a cult, everyone that knows the LDS Church, realizes it champions the family, marriage, and moral decency. All of these are central to Mr. Dobson's organization as well. Has evangelical Christianity amassed a sufficient body of supporters and string of moral successes, that it does not welcome more strength on these key issues? Do not all God-fearing people need the support and strength of other like-minded believers?

I had hoped that the recent presidential elections would have taught all conservatives and Christians, that we need to spend more time working together on common-ground issues. It is clear to me that without this cooperation, conservatism will be destroyed by factions and single-issue agenda groups. If your goal is to only work with people that agree with you on 100% of the issues, you will NEVER find enough support to defeat those who wish to destroy our constitution and religious freedoms. Your decision to remove Glenn Beck's interview from your website because of his being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is a very disappointing and ultimately self-destructive act. Your bigotry and bias is a classic example of the reason Christians and conservatives failed to make in-roads during the presidential elections. Squabbling, arguing points of doctrine and methods of worship, will destroy from within.

Even the best of elected officials cannot, and will never, agree on 100% of their colleague's personal or political beliefs. However, for the good of the nation, they work together on common-ground issues, to which they can agree. Our democracy was created with the understanding that compromise and cooperation are required to run the affairs of the Nation. Democrats and liberals have shown they are willing to "hold their nose" on some issues, in order to further their general agenda. If Christians and conservatives don't learn to do the same, we will be just a 'sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal' back in some obscure, forgotten corner of the political landscape. We will be powerless to fend off even more daring and despicable legal maneuvers by evil and wicked men and institutions.

Your organization has repeatedly made it clear that you strongly disagree with doctrines of the LDS church. However, you were perfectly agreeable to the support of thousands of LDS members and the Church on the Proposition 8 battle in California. Is this an example of your integrity? When times are tough you'll take the help, but once the battle is won, you'll turn on your allies? Glenn Beck has been a champion of family, country, and liberty. His being a member of the LDS church, shouldn't be a justifiable reason to remove his interview from your website.

One thing I learned in the recent elections is that many people showed their true colors. The sheep's clothing was removed and the wolves were revealed. Did the Glenn Beck interview do the same for Focus on the Family and its blatant bigotry and hatred for others who don't exactly believe as you do? I hope not, but it appears to be so.