Friday, September 11, 2009

our failure in rebuilding the country shows in our failure to rebuild the World Trade Center

I was just driving home from the store and on the radio was a montage of different broadcasts from September 11th, 2001. I was not prepared for my reaction...we have already had 7 anniversaries of the day...why should today be different than the last ones. I couldn't be more wrong.

As I listened to the newscasters, disk jockeys, cell phone calls, I felt the tears well up in my eyes. Fortunately, I was in some pretty heavy traffic, because I actually had tears rolling down my cheeks for almost the whole montage. I remembered what it was like on that day as the news started coming in.

I remember this vividly because I was feeling pretty sorry for myself on that day. I was out of work at the time, but was picking up odd jobs here and there. On the night of my birthday, I had to work an overnight shift replacing RAM in computers at a call center. As I was doing this, I realized that just the year before, I was the one that was hiring people like me to come in and replace RAM in our computers. I was extremely overqualified for the job I was doing and I was miserable. It was my birthday, and I had to work all night at this miserable job for miserably low pay. I was not in a good mood and was feeling pretty down because of my situation.

I got home at about 7am, and started helping get kids up and ready for school. I couldn't take it any more so I went to bed leaving Gusti to deal with it. I had only been asleep for a short time when a friend called me and told me I needed to turn on the television. I told Gusti to do it and kinda went back to sleep. It didn't last long. I spent the rest of the day in a stupor...I was exhausted, but I couldn't quit watching the screen. I went to the internet, watched the news, waiting for any new information. I, like many others in the world, was shocked. Not that I thought it could ever happen, but that it finally had and now our world was going to change.

I remember how everyone pulled together...I remember the vows to rebuild the city, to make sure the terrorists knew that their act was in vain and that now they had made a big mistake. Similar to the attacks on Pearl Harbor, this act had awakened the sleeping giant. We were united, we were resolved.

I sit here today wondering where that has gone. To me, the first sign that this was not going to be a lasting change was when the bickering started over what to place at the grave of the Twin Towers. The politics started again, the divisiveness started again, the apathy and cynicism started again. I know, because I was one of those who participated in those feelings. I realized that everything was going back to normal and started not caring or paying attention to what the politicians were doing because I just didn't want to hear it any more. I became more partisan as the attacks grew more partisan. I wondered aloud if anyone at the national level of politics could even be called a moral person any more. I was right where they wanted me.

Fast forward to today. It has been eight years...and I see a symbol of our country and the state of affairs we are in while looking towards what used to be the World Trade Center. Eight years and the spot is still empty. Eight years and people don't seem to care any more what we do about it. Eight years and we are more divided than we have ever been in recent memory. Wow, time flies when you're apathetic.

Politicians...are you listening? Want to unite this country? Want to put the positive energy of millions of people to work building back the American spirit? Want to show that you are more than just a power hungry slimeball who doesn't really care about he country or the Constitution? Rebuild the towers.

We need a symbol in this nation. We need something to look to that reminds us of where we came from, who we are, and what direction we need to be moving. We don't have that right now. We have symbols of individuals and parties, but those don't matter. Rather than focusing on one person's achievements (or potential achievements), let us remember what our country stands for. We are a melting pot, that means that when you become an American, you become an American. We are not Irish Americans, we are not African Americans, we are not Catholic or Jewish Americans. In my mind, those things don't exist. We are Americans, that is enough for me. As a country we need to join with those around us who are different, who have strange ways. We invite you to bring us your positive customs, leave the negative ones, and join with us as one. You want to achieve that? Then quit politicizing things that matter, quit pitting us against our neighbors, quit the destructive behavior that you have fostered for so long.

We need a symbol, and this is the one that I see when I think of unity in our country...

And here is another one...

Somebody create me an image like the bottom one, including the top one, and an image of what the new buildings are going to look like.  Post it everywhere, put it up in Post Offices, show it on the evening news...
The failure to rebuild the World Trade Center is a sign of our lack of resolve and unity.  Someone in power needs to stand up and call it like it is and do something about it.  The time is now, we need that symbol.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I find myself agreeing with the darndest people...

If you haven't noticed, an underlying theme of my posts has been the lack of willingness by us to discuss issues in a rational way. I believe that the politicians of this country have been successful in one main thing over the last century...

Want to know what it is? I could go on and on about the failings of the political elite in the United States, about the corruption, the waste, the power plays and the outright corruption (oh wait, I already said that one...). I could go on about those things, but I will not. I am going to focus on the positive today. What is this one success that has trumped all else? What great thing have the politicians of America done that has been so successful?

They have succeeded in turning us against our friends and neighbors. They have succeeded at convincing us that Republicans want to take away your right to an abortion. They have succeeded at convincing us that Democrats want to take away our right to bear arms. The have succeeded at polarizing the nation to the point that a part of our identity is now our political party. When you identify yourself as a Democrat or Republican, a whole slew of generalizations are instantly attached to you. How convenient it is to have a ready definition of all my beliefs that someone else plugs into their database as soon as I disclose my political leanings.

I'll tell you right now...I am what is called in Utah, Undeclared. I was a member of the Republican party for many years. I felt the beliefs of the party most closely resembled my beliefs, and I had to choose. That is part of our identity, you can't be neither. A few years ago, things started changing for me. I started noticing the way politicians were successfully dividing us in order to stay in power. I noticed that when your party is in the minority, they promise to change everything about the way things run in more corruption, we will work with the other party when WE are in power, etc. I then noticed that once that party was successful in obtaining the majority, it didn't take long for them to imitate all the worst behaviors of the previous party. Could this really be happening over and over again and we as citizens never notice? I couldn't believe it, yet there it was, right before my eyes. I researched, I read books, looked on the internet, talked to others. This pattern has been going on for many decades. Politicians in certain areas always promising the same thing, yet 30 years later, they are still in power and have not done anything to fix the problems that they promised to fix 30 years ago.

I have wondered for a while now if there was even the possibility that we can ever agree on anything for more than a day. After the attacks of September 11th, we seemed to put away the partisan bickering for a while. We were all Americans, we had been attacked, all of us. Not just the thousands in NY or the Pentagon or in a field in Pennsylvania, we as Americans had been attacked. We rallied together in a way that we had not done for 60 years. I wondered at that...why is it that in order for us to pull together and remember that we are Americans before we are Democrats or Republicans we have to feel threatened externally? Why is it that the only thing that seems to unite us is war? Why can't we realize what is happening and start uniting our country without these external forces pushing us to do it?

I fear that we have not learned our lesson in the past, so we will not learn our lesson this time. I fear that the country has been irreparably harmed and divided. The politicians have succeeded in polarizing this country in a way that our external enemies only wish they could have done.

Then, I read this article. I don't usually agree with Pat Buchanan. He is not somebody I have looked to as someone who wishes to unite us. But on this topic, I find myself agreeing with it and then come back...

Well, I tried to link to this story, but it didn't is the article:

Is America coming apart?
Posted: September 10, 2009
7:53 pm Eastern
Patrick J. Buchanan

© 2009

Flying home from London, where the subject of formal debate on the 70th anniversary of World War II had been whether Winston Churchill was a liability or asset to the Free World, one arrives in the middle of a far more acrimonious national debate right here in the United States.

At issue: Should Barack Obama be allowed to address tens of millions of American children, inside their classrooms, during school hours?

Conservative talk-show hosts saw a White House scheme to turn public schools into indoctrination centers where the socialist ideology of Obama would be spoon-fed to captive audiences of children forced to listen to Big Brother -- and then do assignments on his sermon.

The liberal commentariat raged about right-wing paranoia.

Yet Byron York of the Washington Examiner dug back to 1991 to discover that, when George H.W. Bush went to Alice Deal Junior High to speak to America's school kids, the left lost it.

"The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props," railed the Washington Post. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander was called before a House committee. The National Education Association denounced Bush. And Congress ordered the General Accounting Office
to investigate.

Obama's actual speech proved about as controversial as a Nancy Reagan appeal to eighth-graders to "Just say no!" to drugs.

Yet, the episode reveals the poisoned character of our politics.

We saw it earlier on display in August, when the crowds that came out for town hall meetings to oppose Obama's health-care plans were called "thugs," "fascists," "racists" and "evil-mongers" by national Democrats.

We see it as Rep. Joe Wilson shouts, "You lie!" at the president during his address to a joint session of Congress.

We seem not only to disagree with each other more than ever, but to have come almost to detest one another. Politically, culturally, racially, we seem ever ready to go for each others' throats.

One half of America sees abortion as the annual slaughter of a million unborn. The other half regards the right-to-life movement as tyrannical and sexist.

Proponents of gay marriage see its adversaries as homophobic bigots. Opponents see its champions as seeking to elevate unnatural and immoral relationships to the sacred state of traditional marriage.

The question invites itself. In what sense are we one nation and one people anymore? For what is a nation if not a people of a common ancestry, faith, culture and language, who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays and share the same music, poetry, art and literature?

Yet, today, Mexican-Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a skirmish in a French-Mexican war about which most Americans know nothing, which took place the same year as two of the bloodiest battles of our own Civil War: Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Christmas and Easter, the great holidays of Christendom, once united Americans in joy. Now we fight over whether they should even be mentioned, let alone celebrated, in our public schools.

Where we used to have classical, pop, country & Western and jazz music, now we have varieties tailored to specific generations, races and ethnic groups. Even our music seems designed to subdivide us.

One part of America loves her history, another reviles it as racist, imperialist and genocidal. Old heroes like Columbus, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are replaced by Dr. King and Cesar Chavez.

But the old holidays, heroes and icons endure, as the new have yet to put down roots in a recalcitrant Middle America.

We are not only more divided than ever on politics, faith and morality, but along the lines of class and ethnicity. Those who opposed Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court and stood by Sgt. Crowley in the face-off with Harvard's Henry Louis Gates were called racists. But this time they did not back down. They threw the same vile word right back in the face of their accusers, and Barack Obama.

Consider but a few issues on which Americans have lately been bitterly divided: school prayer, the Ten Commandments, evolution, the death penalty, abortion, homosexuality, assisted suicide, affirmative action, busing, the Confederate battle flag, the Duke rape case, Terri Schiavo, Iraq, amnesty, torture.

Now it is death panels, global warming
, "birthers" and socialism. If a married couple disagreed as broadly and deeply as Americans do on such basic issues, they would have divorced and gone their separate ways long ago. What is it that still holds us together?

The European-Christian core of the country that once defined us is shrinking, as Christianity fades, the birth rate falls and Third World immigration surges. Globalism dissolves the economic bonds, while the cacophony of multiculturalism displaces the old American culture.

"E pluribus unum" – out of many, one - was the national motto the men of '76 settled upon. One sees the pluribus. But where is the unum? One sees the diversity. But where is the unity?

Is America, too, breaking up?
I end tonight with the final words from this article...

"E pluribus unum" – out of many, one - was the national motto the men of '76 settled upon. One sees the pluribus. But where is the unum? One sees the diversity. But where is the unity?

Is America, too, breaking up?

I fear it is...I fear we as Americans don't have the courage or strength any more to make this article something that we look at in 20 years and think..."wow, I can't believe we ever thought this was a possibility". I hope I am wrong. I know that for my part, I am going to try very hard to invalidate the claims in this article.

I hope that many of you will join me in becoming Americans again, not just Republicans or Democrats.

Will I ever get to Healthcare?

OK, something I need to clarify...

In reading a lot of my own stuff, I realize that there might be a tendency by some to see a callousness in my viewpoint. I think I need to explain that I am generally a shy person with regards to what I do for others...I don't like to toot my own horn. This may lead some to the feeling that I care only for myself and let all others be damned. This couldn't be further from the truth. Let me explain this once and then hopefully I can be done with it.

I believe that we have a moral obligation to help those around us. I don't believe it is the governments role to take that obligation and follow through with it. I believe that the reason our country has been so strong in the past is because we cared about our neighbors...not in a "your lawn isn't nice enough" or "your daughter was out late last night" type of way, but in a way that we genuinely care for their welfare. If our neighbors need help, we help them. When natural disasters hit, when financial disasters hit, when personal tragedy is at our doorstep, we as neighbors are there for support. That is what forges the ties of community together, that is what makes us strong. Not because we all go to the same church or believe the same things (we don't), but because we are all human beings and there is an incredibly strong bond there that is difficult to break.

I volunteer my time to many people and many causes. My skills happen to be in the area of computers mostly, so that is what I help others with. I have a brother-in-law who is a doctor. When he is here visiting, he asks me to help him with computer stuff and we ask him about medical stuff. That is how it works. So, most of my "community service" comes in the realm of computers. That may not seem significant to most of you, but for someone whose hard drive just failed and there are ten years of family pictures on it, I can guarantee that they are grateful for the help.

In addition to computer help, I can swing a hammer or push a broom. I spent a few hours last night helping on a house that our community is rebuilding for a family who recently found out their son has muscular distrophy. Their house was not adequate for the new needs they had, so the community is pulling together and making changes to the house so that as his disease progresses, they will be able to deal with his physical limitations. Last night I was there with about twenty others who had voluntarily taken time to help. The leader of the project is a very successful home builder who has taken an amazing amount of his time to make sure this project is successful. He has spent time and money that most of us never could in this endeavor. I have been there multiple times helping out with my limited skills. We all benefit from the work that we do there.

I believe that what makes us a strong community and nation is not that we all believe the same things as far as religion or politics go, but that we all believe in the idea that we are a family. We help because we want to. Are there those that don't or won't help others around them? Absolutely. Do I wish they would assist? Absolutely. Am I going to make a law to force them to help? Absolutely not. I would hope that they would see the benefit to all of us (including ourselves) and then act appropriately. The only people that I will force to help others are my children. They don't have a choice. When I say we are going to help someone, they do it (or suffer the consequences). Do I have to force them very often? Not really. They have had experiences in helping others that have made them want to do it again. It is a positive experience that enlarges our soul and our circle of influence. Those commercials that talk about how one kind action can cause a chain reaction that goes on and on are true (sometimes a little corny, but true nonetheless).

I give to local food banks, I participate with my scouts in collecting (and in donating myself) food for those in need. I never throw anything away that could be used by someone is always put in a pile that is then given to a thrift store so that others can get the benefit of it. I turn off the lights when I leave a room, I have replaced most of my light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs (of course now I realize they are more toxic than incandescent ones, now I have to change to LED). I make sure the tire pressure in my vehicles is correct, I drive in a way that maximizes my fuel economy. I wear my seatbelt. I am actively pursuing a solar option for my house, I already tried a windmill and the city won't let me put one up. I have two garbage cans in my kitchen, one for trash, the other for recycle. Do I need to go on?

I think I am very typical of many out there. We are not who the politicians like to say we are...right wing nutjobs, left wing wacko's. We are practical people who want to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to us. If that also is pleasing to God or community or nation then that is even better. I cannot force you to be a patriot. I cannot force you to be a moral person. I cannot force you to believe the way I do. I can only show you through my actions that the things I believe are beneficial and if you want that...great. If you don't want that, I am fine with your decision.

All right, I'm not sure how much sense this makes, but it is on my mind right now. I'll just have to come back and look at it in a few hours to see if it makes sense to me. Time to get back to work...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama healthcare brings this blog back from the dead

OK, if Obama's healthcare plan can bring this blog back from the dead, maybe it can do something positive for this country...Well, that is a little far fetched.

My life has been so busy over the last year that I decided that this blog (which had barely started) was an unnecessary distraction that I needed to let go. Over the past few months, something has been growing and growing inside me though, and I now have to follow my gut. So, without further ado, I am re-entering the blogosphere and voicing my concerns and triumphs, my pain and sorrow, my happiness and joy (hopefully there will be lots of that, but I sincerely doubt it).


Against my better judgement, I listened to the speech given tonight by President Obama on healthcare. An interesting thing happened to me as I listened...I grew more and more frustrated and realized that I cannot keep my mouth shut any longer. There was a particular line in there that really irked me and got me thinking...

"We are the only democracy, the only advanced democracy on Earth, the only wealthy nation that allows such hardship for millions of its people."

First of all, we are not a democracy, we are a republic. There is a big difference, but that is not what I want to focus on right now. When I heard this line, I immediately thought about the uniqueness of our country. We are different from everyone else...we allow people to fail. We allow people to make decisions and then pay the price or gain from those decisions. That is why the United States has made the incredible strides in quality of life and science and business and everything else. We allow people to succeed.

Well, maybe I should say that, in the past we have allowed anyone to succeed or fail as they chose. I don't believe we are that same country now that caused the cry of liberty to be heard around the world so many years ago. We have become great because of our freedom to become great. With that freedom to become great also comes the freedom to fail. That is a hard lesson for most of us. I have experienced both the failure and the success of my choices. I left a very good job with excellent benefits to join a startup company that I strongly believed in. Six months after joining them, we ran out of money. For the next year and a half I worked many long days trying to get a product out the door that I thought would change the world. For over a year and a half, I was either not paid or paid a tiny fraction of what my salary was supposed to be. By the time that product was ready for market, we had no money to let anyone know. Through management decisions and a market climate that was hostile to our idea, we eventually failed. My life savings was 401k was down to $152...we had nothing left except our house (which we were able to save). The only job I could find was as a temp working in a job I had done 7 years earlier. It was a job I hated with a passion. I had quit that job twice when I was doing it before. I took the job...I felt a responsibility to take care of myself and my family. From that job came another about 30% less salary that I had been making the year earlier. I took it. I worked my way up in that job, I went to another one. It took me 6 years to get back to the salary I had left when I went to the startup...but I did it. It was not easy...but I did it. I did it with the support of my family and my wife, my church and my friends. I am successful not because of the skills I possess, but because of the work I do continually to gain those skills.

OK, that was a really big sidebar to what I really meant to talk about, but it shows you what I believe in the core of me, that the Constitution of the United States of America gives me the freedom to achieve whatever I want to achieve...if I work hard enough. But, I said earlier that I'm not so sure that this is the country I am currently living is an article that supports that opinion...

Swiss topple U.S. as most competitive economy

Because of the policies of this nation for the last 12 years at least (yes, I include George W. Bush in this) and the what had been a slow march to socialism until recently, I believe the U.S. has lost much of it's competitive edge. I still believe very strongly that even though many of our freedoms have been taken away (both directly and indirectly through legislation and judicial decision and our general laziness) we still live in the greatest country on this earth. People from all over the world want to come to the United States for the opportunity it provides. I don't know how long that can last though. The reason we have been so successful over the years is because we have generally been free to pursue our goals and dreams. I am afraid this will soon be over.

Obama lamented that we are the only country in the world that could allow suffering like this to happen...I see that not as a mark of shame, but a badge of pride. With potential for greatness comes potential for failure. Those of us who are successful should absolutely help those who are having difficulties, but if you want to see more about my feelings on that, look at my earlier post on my belief on giving.

Wow, maybe my daughter is right...I could never be a teacher because my class would never get out on time. I never even made it to healthcare. I will pick up on that tomorrow. If I don't stop now, this post will have to be put into chapters...


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The dangers of socializing our country

I have thought long and hard about putting this posting up. Many of you are not going to read the whole thing (because it is very long, even for me), but I wanted those of you who so desired to be able to read this talk in its entirety. I tried many times to cut things out, to pare it down, but I think it is most effective when read all together. I have been increasingly worried about the move of our country towards socialism. It has been happening slowly in the past, but the events of recent days have shown that we are more than willing to move to a socialist society much quicker than I thought possible. We have turned into a country that wants the government to take care of us. Some time ago, I had come across a talk given by then Apostle Ezra Taft Benson. What impressed me so much about this talk is that it was given in General Conference in October of 1961. Talks in General Conference are considered to be right up there with scripture as far as revelation goes, so this talk carries a very powerful message. Read it and ponder it. I will post again in a couple days with some comments.

Here it is:

Elder Ezra Taft Benson
Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles

My brethren and sisters and friends, in keeping with the spirit of the keynote address of our beloved President, I desire, if the Lord will bless me, to speak to you about the American heritage of freedom-a plan of God.
I direct my remarks particularly to the men of America and more especially to those in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who hold the Holy Priesthood of God.
Every member of the priesthood should understand the divine plan designed by the Lord to raise up the first free people in modern times. Here is how scripture says it was achieved:

First: Prophecy is abundant that God deliberately kept the American continent hidden until after the Holy Roman Empire had been broken up and the various nations had established themselves as independent kingdoms. Keeping America hidden until this time was no accident. (2 Nephi 1:6, 8.)

Second: At the proper time, God inspired Columbus to overcome almost insurmountable odds to discover America and bring this rich new land to the attention of the gentiles in Europe. (1 Nephi 13:12; Admiral of the Ocean Sea, by Dr. Samuel Eliot Morison, pp. 46-47.)

Third: God revealed to his ancient American prophets that shortly after the discovery of America there would be peoples in Europe who would desire to escape the persecution and tyranny of the Old World and flee to America. ( 1 Nephi 13:13-16.)

Fourth: God told his prophets that the kingdoms in Europe would try to exercise dominion over the people who had fled to America, but that in the wars for independence the American settlers would win. (This is a remarkable prophecy in that 2,300 years before the Revolutionary War was fought, God through his prophets predicted who would win it.) (Ibid., 13:16-19.)

Fifth: The prophets were told that in the latter days when the gentiles came to America they would establish it as a land of liberty on which there would be no kings. The. Lord declared that he would protect the land and whosoever would try to establish kings either from within or without would perish. (2 Nephi 10:8-14.)

Sixth: Having declared America to be a land of liberty, God undertook to raise up a band of inspired and intelligent leaders who could write a constitution of liberty and establish the first free people in modern times. The hand of God in this undertaking is clearly indicated by the Lord himself in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in these words
". . . I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose...." (D&C 101:80.)

Seventh: God declared that the United States Constitution was divinely inspired for the specific purpose of eliminating bondage and the violation of the rights and protection which belongs to "all flesh." (Ibid., 101:77-80.)

Eighth: God placed a mandate upon his people to befriend and defend the constitutional laws of the land and see that the rights and privileges of all mankind are protected. He verified the declaration of the founding fathers, that God created all men free. He also warned against those who would enact laws encroaching upon the sacred rights and privileges of free men. He urged the election of honest and wise leaders and said that evil men and laws were of Satan. (Ibid., 98:5-10.)

Ninth: God predicted through his prophets that this great gentile nation, raised up on the American continent in the last days, would become the richest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth; even "above all other nations." (See 1 Nephi 13:15, 30; Ether 2:12.)

Tenth: Concerning the United States, the Lord revealed to his prophets that its greatest threat would be a vast, worldwide "secret combination" which would not only threaten the United States but also seek to "overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, (Ether 8:25.)

Eleventh: In connection with attack on the United States, the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith there would be an attempt to overthrow the country by destroying the Constitution. Joseph Smith predicted that the time would come when the Constitution would hang, as it were, by a thread, and at that time "this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction." (Journal History, Brigham Young's Speech, July 4, 1854.)

It is my conviction that the elders of Israel, widely spread over the nation will at that crucial time successfully rally the righteous of our country and provide the necessary balance of strength to save the institutions of constitutional government.

Twelfth: The Lord revealed to the Prophet Nephi that he established the gentiles on this land to be a free people forever, that if they were a righteous nation and overcame the wickedness and secret abominations which would arise in their midst, they would inherit the land forever. (1 Nephi 14:1-2.)

Thirteenth: But on the other hand, if the gentiles on this land reject the word of God and conspire to overthrow liberty and the Constitution, then their doom is fixed, and they ". . . shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant." (1 Nephi 14:6; 3 Nephi 21:11, 14, 21; D&C 84:114-115, 117.)

Fourteenth: The great destructive force which was to be turned loose on the earth and which the prophets for centuries have been calling the "abomination of desolation" is vividly described by those who saw it in vision. Ours is the first generation to realize how literally these prophecies can be fulfilled now that God, through science, has unlocked the secret to thermonuclear reaction.

In the light of these prophecies there should be no doubt in the mind of any priesthood holder that the human family is headed for trouble. There are rugged days ahead. It is time for every man who wishes to do his duty to get himself prepared-physically, spiritually, and psychologically-for the task which may come at any time, as suddenly as the whirlwind.

Where do we stand today? All over the world the light of freedom is being diminished. Across whole continents of the earth freedom is being totally obliterated.

Never in recorded history has any movement spread its power so far and so fast as has socialistic-communism in the last three decades. The facts are not pleasant to review. Communist leaders are jubilant with their success. They are driving freedom back on almost every front.

It is time, therefore, that every American, and especially every member of the priesthood, became informed about the aims, tactics, and schemes of socialistic-communism. This becomes particularly important when it is realized that communism is turning out to be the earthly image of the plan which Satan presented in the pre-existence. The whole program of socialistic- communism is essentially a war against God and the plan of salvation-the very plan which we fought to uphold during "the war in heaven."

Up to now some members of the Church have stood aloof, feeling that the fight against socialistic-communism is "controversial" and unrelated to the mission of the Church or the work of the Lord. But the President of the Church in our day has made it clear that the fight against atheistic communism is a major challenge to the Church and every member in it.

During the general conference of the Church in October 1959, President David O. McKay, in discussing the threat of communism, referred to W. Cleon Skousen's book, The Naked Communist, and said, "I admonish everybody to read that excellent book." He then quoted the following from the flyleaf: "The conflict between communism and freedom is the problem of our time. It overshadows all other problems."

The fight against godless communism is a very real part of every man's duty who holds the priesthood. It is the fight against slavery, immorality, atheism, terrorism, cruelty, barbarism, deceit, and the destruction of human life through a kind of tyranny unsurpassed by anything in human history. Here is a struggle against the evil, satanical priestcraft of Lucifer. Truly it can be called, "a continuation of the war in heaven."

In the war in heaven the devil advocated absolute eternal security at the sacrifice of our freedom. Although there is nothing more desirable to a Latter-day Saint than eternal security in God's presence, and although God knew, as did we, that some of us would not achieve this security if we were allowed our freedom-yet the very God of heaven, who has more mercy than us all, still decreed no guaranteed security except by a man's own freedom of choice and individual initiative.

Today the devil as a wolf in a supposedly new suit of sheep's clothing is enticing some men, both in and out of the Church, to parrot his line by advocating planned government guaranteed security programs at the expense of our liberties. Latter-day Saints should be reminded how and why they voted as they did in heaven. If some have decided to change their vote they should repent-throw their support on the side of freedom-and cease promoting this subversion.

When all of the trappings of propaganda and pretense have been pulled aside, the exposed hard-core structure of modern communism is amazingly similar to the ancient Book of Mormon record of secret societies such as the Gadiantons. In the ancient American civilization there was no word which struck greater terror to the hearts of the people than the name of the Gadiantons. It was a secret political party which operated as a murder cult. Its object was to infiltrate legitimate government, plant its officers in high places, and then seize power and live off the spoils appropriated from the people. (It would start out as a small group of "dissenters" and by using secret oaths with the threat of death for defectors it would gradually gain a choke hold on the political and economic life of whole civilizations. )

The object of the Gadiantons, like modern communists, was to destroy the existing government and set up a ruthless criminal dictatorship over the whole land.
One of the most urgent, heart-stirring appeals made by Moroni as he closed the Book of Mormon was addressed to the gentile nations of the last days. He foresaw the rise of a great world-wide secret combination among the gentiles which " . . . seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; . . ." (Ether 8:25. Italics added.) He warned each gentile nation of the last days to purge itself of this gigantic criminal conspiracy which would seek to rule the world.

The prophets, in our day, have continually warned us of these internal threats in our midst-that our greatest threat from socialistic-communism lies within our country. Brethren and sisters, we don't need a prophet-we have one-we need a listening ear. And if we do not listen and heed, then, as the Doctrine and Covenants states,
" . . . the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people." (D&C 1:14.)

The prophets have said that these threats are among us. The Prophet Moroni, viewing our day, said, "Wherefore the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation." (Ether 8:24.)
Unfortunately our nation has not treated the socialistic-communist conspiracy as "treasonable to our free institutions," as the First Presidency pointed out in a signed 1936 statement. If we continue to uphold communism by not making it treasonable, our land shall be destroyed, for the Lord has said that " . . . whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold they shall be destroyed; . . ." (Ibid., 8:22.)

The Prophet Moroni described how the secret combination would take over a country and then fight the work of God, persecute the righteous, and murder those who resisted. Moroni therefore proceeded to describe the workings of the ancient "secret combinations" so that modern man could recognize this great political conspiracy in the last days: "Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain-and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you,
"Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; . . .
"For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; . . ." (Ibid., 8:23-25. Italics added.)

The Prophet Moroni seemed greatly exercised lest in our day we might not be able to recognize the startling fact that the same secret societies which destroyed the Jaredites and decimated numerous kingdoms of both Nephites and Lamanites would be precisely the same form of criminal conspiracy which would rise up among the gentile nations in this day.

The stratagems of the leaders of these societies are amazingly familiar to anyone who has studied the tactics of modern communist leaders.
The Lord has declared that before the second coming of Christ it will be necessary to
". . . destroy the secret works of darkness, . . ." in order to preserve the land of Zion-the Americas. (2 Nephi 10:11-16.)

The world-wide secret conspiracy which has risen up in our day to fulfil these prophecies is easily identified. President McKay has left no room for doubt as to what attitude Latter-day Saints should take toward the modern "secret combinations" of conspiratorial communism. In a lengthy statement on communism, he said:
". . . Latter-day Saints should have nothing to do with the secret combinations and groups antagonistic to the constitutional law of the land, which the Lord 'suffered to be established,' and which 'should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh according to just and holy principles.' " (Gospel Ideals, by David O. McKay p. 306. Italics added.)

There are those who recommend that the clash between communism and freedom be avoided through disarmament agreements. Abolishing our military strength and adopting an unenforceable contract as a substitute to protect us would go down in history as the greatest mistake free men could make in a time of peril.

President McKay declared:
"Force rules in the world today, consequently, our government must keep armies abroad, build navies and air squadrons, create atom bombs to protect itself from the threatened aggression of a nation which seems to listen to no other appeal than compulsion." (Ibid., p. 304.)

This parallels the historic statement by George Washington when he vigorously warned:
"There is a rank due the United States among the nations that will be totally lost by the reputation of weakness. If we would avoid insult we must be able to repel it, if we would secure the peace it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."

Some timid, vacillating political leaders proclaim that communism is something we will have to learn to live with . . . whether it is Khrushchev, or some other leader. The present communist system, they declare, will continue because there is no alternate system to replace communism. The policy of increasing power, of pushing their system outward and using the communist party, they say, will go on.

Such a negative attitude writes off the hundreds of millions behind the iron curtain as a lost cause. Surely no courageous, liberty-loving citizen will treat the communist secret combination as "something we will have to learn to live with."
There is a more courageous and sounder point of view.

President McKay expressed it in these words:
"Men will be free. I have hoped for twenty years that the Russian system would break up. There is no freedom under it, and sooner or later the people will rise against it. They cannot oppose those fundamentals of civilization and of God. They can't crush their people always. Men will be free." (Church Section, Deseret News, November 6 1957, in an article entitled, "President McKay receives Senator Kennedy at Church Offices.")

What is the official position of the Church on communism? In 1936 the First Presidency made an official declaration on communism which has never been abrogated. I quote the concluding paragraph:
"We call upon all Church members completely to eschew communism. The safety of our divinely inspired constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that communism shall have no place in America"
We must ever keep in mind that collectivized socialism is part of the communist strategy. Communism is fundamentally socialism. We will never win our fight against communism by making concessions to socialism. Communism and socialism, closely related, must be defeated on principle. The close relationship between socialism and communism is clearly pointed out by Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, of August 6, 1961, in these words:
". . . Both socialism and communism derive from the teachings of Marx and Engels. In fact, the movements were one until the split over methods of approach, which resulted after the Russian revolution in 1905.... The aim and purpose of both was then and is now world socialism, which communism seeks to achieve through revolution and which socialists seek to achieve through evolution.
"The industrial achievements of the U. S. are the result of an economic system which is the antithesis of socialism. Our economic system is called 'capitalism' or 'private enterprise' and is based on private property rights, the profit motive and competition.
"Both communism and socialism seek to destroy our economic system and replace it with socialism; and their success, whether through evolution by socialism or through revolution by communism or a combination, will destroy not only our economic system, but our liberty, including the 'civil' aspects as well....
". . . The 'common ground' of socialism and communism is a factor to which the American people should be alerted. Without a clear understanding that communism is socialism, the total threat and menace of the cold war can never be comprehended and fought to victory."

When socialism is understood, we will realize that many of the programs advocated, and some of those already adopted in the United States, fall clearly within the category of socialism. What is socialism? It is simply governmental ownership and management of the essential means for the production and distribution of goods.

We must never forget that nations may sow the seeds of their own destruction while enjoying unprecedented prosperity.

The socialistic-communist conspiracy to weaken the United States involves attacks on many fronts. To weaken the American free-enterprise economy which outproduced both its enemies and allies during World War II is a high priority target of the communist leaders. Their press and other propaganda media are therefore constantly selling the principles of centralized or federal control of farms, railroads, electric power, schools, steel, maritime shipping, and many other aspects of the economy-but always in the name of public welfare.

This carries out the strategy laid down by the communist masters. John Strachey, a top official in the Labor Socialist party of Great Britain, in his book entitled The Theory and Practice of Socialism said:
"It is impossible to establish communism as the immediate successor to capitalism. It is accordingly proposed to establish socialism as something which we can put in the place of our present decaying capitalism. Hence, communists work for the establishment of socialism as a necessary transition stage on the road to communism."

The paramount issue today is liberty against creeping socialism. It is in this spirit that President McKay stated:
"Communism is antagonistic to the American way of life. Its avowed purpose is to destroy belief in God and free enterprise.... The fostering of full economic freedom lies at the base of our liberties. Only in perpetuating economic freedom can our social, political, and religious liberties be preserved." (Excerpt from Inaugural address for Dr. Henry A. Dixon, President of USU, delivered by President McKay at the USU fieldhouse, Logan, Utah, Monday, March 18, 1954.)

Again President McKay warned, citing the words of W. C. Mullendore, president of Southern California Edison Company:
"During the first half of the twentieth century we have traveled far into the soul-destroying land of socialism and made strange alliances through which we have become involved in almost continuous hot and cold wars over the whole of the earth. In this retreat from freedom the voices of protesting citizens have been drowned by raucous shouts of intolerance and abuse from those who led the retreat and their millions of gullible youth, who are marching merrily to their doom, carrying banners on which are emblazoned such intriguing and misapplied labels as social justice equality, reform patriotism social welfare." (Gospel Ideals, p. 273.)

It is significant that 118 years ago this month the Prophet Joseph Smith, after attending lectures on socialism, made this official entry in church history: "I said I did not believe the doctrine." (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 33.)

No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist or support programs leading in that direction. These evil philosophies are incompatible with Mormonism, the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

What can priesthood holders do? There are many things we can do to meet the challenge of the adversary in our day.

First, we should become informed about communism, about socialism, and about Americanism. What better way can one become informed than by first studying the inspired words of the prophets and using that as a foundation; against which to test all other material. This is in keeping with the Prophet Joseph Smith's motto, "When the Lord commands, do it." (Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 170.)

The Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York on which President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., served as a board member, continues to supply sound freedom literature. We should know enough about American free enterprise to be able to defend it. We should know what makes it possible for six percent of humanity-living under our free economy-to produce about one-half of the earth's developed wealth each year.

We should know why paternalism, collectivism, or unnecessary federal supervision will hold our standard of living down and reduce productivity just as it has in every country where it has been tried. We should also know why the communist leaders consider socialism the highroad to communism.

Second, we should accept the command of the Lord and treat socialistic communism as the tool of Satan. We should follow the counsel of the President of the Church and resist the influence and policies of the socialist-communist conspiracy wherever they are found-in the schools, in the churches, in governments, in unions, in businesses, in agriculture.

Third, we should help those who have been deceived or who are misinformed to find the truth. Unless each person who knows the truth will "stand up and speak up" it is difficult for the deceived or confused citizen to find his way back.

Fourth, we should not make the mistake of calling people "communist" just because they happen to be helping the communist cause. Thousands of patriotic Americans, including a few Latter-day Saints, have helped the communists without realizing it. Others have knowingly helped without joining the party. The remedy is to avoid name-calling, but point out clearly and persuasively how they are helping the communists.

Fifth, each priesthood holder should use his influence in the community to resist the erosion process which is taking place in our political and economic life. He should use the political party of his choice to express his evaluation of important issues. He should see that his party is working to preserve freedom, not destroy it. He should join responsible local groups interested in promoting freedom and free competitive enterprise, in studying political issues, appraising the voting records and proposed programs, and writing to members of Congress, promoting good men in public office and scrutinizing local, state, and federal agencies to see that the will of the people is being carried out. He should not wait for the Lord's servants to give instruction for every detail once they have announced the direction in which the priesthood should go. Each member should exercise prayerful judgment and then act.

Sixth, and most important of all, each member of the priesthood should set his own house in order. This should include:
1. Regular family prayer, remembering especially our government leaders.
2. Getting out of debt.
3. Seeing that each member of the family understands the importance of keeping the commandments.
4. Seeing that the truth is shared with members of the family, with neighbors, and with associates.
5. Seeing that each member is performing his duties in the priesthood, in the auxiliary organizations, in the temple, and in the civic life of the community.
6. Seeing that every wage earner in the home is a full tithepayer and fulfilling other obligations in financial support of the kingdom.
7. Providing a one-year supply of essentials.

In doing these things a member of the Church is not only making himself an opponent of the adversary, but a proponent of the Lord.
In the prophecies there is no promise except to the obedient. To a modern prophet the Lord said:
"Therefore, what I say unto one, I say unto all: Watch, for the adversary spreadeth his dominions, and darkness reigneth;
"And the anger of God kindleth against the inhabitants of the earth;
". . . I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.
"I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (D&C 82:5-6, 9-10.)

May God give us the wisdom to recognize the threat to our freedom and the strength to meet this danger courageously.

Yes, perilous times are ahead, but if we do our duty in all things, God will give us inner peace and overrule all things for our good. God grant it may be so, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

More on my idea of giving

There is something that I thought of as I was doing my last post, but it didn't make it into the message. It was brought home a little more today as I taught a lesson on Fasting.

In the church I belong to, there are two main types of offerings that we make (money wise that is). We have tithing and fast offerings. There is a big difference in them and i want to bring that out. First of all, tithing is an all or nothing thing. Do you pay 10% of your increase or do you not. If you do, then you receive the blessings that the Lord has laid our for obedience to that commandment. It is a wonderful blessing to all those who follow it. I strongly believe that if you live the law of tithing, that the Lord will bless you to be able to take care of your family and financial obligations as long as you are wise in your actions.

The second portion of the offerings we give are fast offerings. When we fast, we then give to the church (at a minimum) the amount of money we would have used for those 2 meals that we have skipped. That money is used to help those in need financially, first in the area that you live in, but if there is extra and others are in need further away, that money can go to help them. This is one of those interesting commandments. There is some leeway in this one. It is one of the ones that the Lord uses to see how faithful you are willing to be in following the spirit of the law.

Take me for instance. I usually skip breakfast, so I don't have to do anything there, and my lunch usually amounts to a sandwich and top ramen on Sundays. Top Ramen is about 8 for $1 and my sandwich is maybe about a dollars worth, if that. Technically, I could pay $2 and say that I was paying my fast offerings. Technically, that is really all the Lord has asked me to do. However, what is the spirit of the fast? Why do we do it?

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been the beneficiary of these fast offerings when I was out of work. It was a great blessing, it allowed us to stay in this area and keep our house. If everyone in the congregation was only giving the types of offerings I was mentioning earlier (my $2), there is no way the Bishop would have been able to help me out. The great thing about fast offerings is that you can give as much or as little as you want. There are times in my life that I have not been able to give, but now is not one of those times. We as a family give more than the minimum because we can. It is a way that we can help those around us above and beyond our normal capacity. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to pay more in fast offerings than I need to. I firmly believe that as we are generous in our fast offerings, the Lord will bless us above and beyond our wildest dreams.

Most of the time these blessings are not monetary in nature. I cannot tell you of the feeling I get when I know that someone who is having a hard time is able to last a little longer because of my help. When we tie the monetary offerings with an offering of service, the reward is immeasurable. Because I choose to willingly help others, I am blessed in return with a clear conscience and a glad heart. Because I am willingly giving of my substance and time, how much better off I am. There is nothing better than a glad heart and clean hands.

I have been impressed over and over again at the willingness to help others that I have seen around me. Because we have the freedom to give, we do, and it makes us happy. It is so completely opposite the feeling I get when I am forced to pay for something that someone may or may not need. When it is forced upon us, we resent and become less willing to give. I guess this is going to get political again (tis that season), but this is the difference I see in the two major sides of the debate (conservative and progressive, not Republican or Democrat). Progressives believe that it is right and just to take away from one group in order to help another. Conservatives believe that, left to themselves, people will help those around them. In forcing to give, we have the blessings of given taken away from us.

I hope that we all will give our time and talents to support those around us who are in need. I hope that we can, through our example, help others to see the joy that we receive through willing giving. I hope that the government can learn to get out of the giving cycle and allow us to once again be the beneficiaries of the blessing that come from happy giving. Those blessings come to those who give and who receive. We have facilitated in the enslavement of millions as we have pushed off our responsibilities to the government. Many are now enslaved by chains that are difficult to shake off, chains they will pass and have passed onto their children. Too many are enslaved by the chains of reliance on government. We too often let others do what we can and should be doing for ourselves. It is time to stop. If you have to rely on someone other than yourself, let it be your family. If your family cannot help, let it be your neighbors or church. If they cannot help, then gird up your loins and dig in and do it yourself. There is nothing in this life that you can't overcome with the help of God and a little elbow grease. The scriptures say to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". I say that this relates not only to our spiritual salvation, but our temporal salvation as well. It is time to work out our own salvation. Work as if everything in this life depends on you, then pray as if everything in life depends on God. Where we fall short, that is where the Lord picks up and allows us to go farther than we ever thought possible on our own.

Wow, I get preachy sometimes. Oh well, it is your fault for reading it. Let's get away from the tithing attitude (boy that sounds bad...) and get into the fast offering attitude of giving all that we can, not just what we are required to do. All of us will benefit from that.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Why I am a liberal...

That may seem a strange title to a post by me. Before any of you start worrying that I have become a pod person and you need to come save me, let me explain. The definition of a liberal or conservative has changed from time to time over the years. Prior to FDR, a liberal had the following ideals:

-individual freedom
-limited government
-individual property rights
-natural rights (inherent in being a human being)
-the protection of civil liberties
-constitutional limitations on government
-free markets

Now in case you think I am just a walking encyclopedia, I am using resources such as Wikipedia and other online sites as reference material. With that disclaimer, let me get on with my explanation.

I believe that government was made to serve the people, but not to take away the ability of its citizens to act for themselves. A different way of saying this could be that the government is to protect us from outside hostile influences, not protect us from our own decisions. We should be free to act for ourselves, free to make choices in our lives, free to be all that we can be, or free to fail if our choices are bad ones. The only way we truly learn is by failing and then picking ourselves back up again. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. Just like it took thousands of tries to come up with a reliable filament for the lightbulb, our path to success will be littered with the results of our failures. Is it bad to fail? As painful as it may be at the time, that is truly how we learn. If we don't learn the first time, then we have the chance to fail again, and again, and again until we get it right. Through the process of failure comes success. When we take away a persons right to fail, we also take away their right to succeed. You don't hear that every day, but if you think about it, I think you will find you agree.

Are there times in life where we need help to get through our situations? Absolutely. A few years ago, I found myself without a paying job, many financial obligations, and no real prospects for a paycheck. It was a dark time for me. With our savings dwindling away and no money coming in, I was faced with a difficult decision. Well, it wasn't really a decision per se, it was more of a dilemma. I needed to go to my church and ask for help financially. It was against everything I believed in to go and ask for money that I didn't earn. There was an element of shame and embarrasment that I had not felt before. I had failed in my responsibilities as a husband and father. It was a difficult meeting to say the least. They helped me, I later got a job, and now I give more than I did before because of the feeling of obligation I have. I was helped in a time of need, and now I can help others and I choose to do so.

I have thought about that experience often and I have wondered if I should have felt the way I did about taking that help. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the shame and embarasment are there for a reason. We should not feel comfortable taking from someone else the substance that they have worked for. It should be with great soul searching and agony that we make the decision to take from others what is rightfully theirs and that they have received as reward for their labors. That should only be taken when it is willfully given. What right do I have as someone in need to take forcefully that which has been legally and rightfully obtained by someone else. The only way that their substance should be given to me is if they willingly give it, and once it is given to me, I should feel the solemn obligation to spend that wisely.

We often talk of how we should help others in times of need. Unfortunately, the definition of liberalism has been twisted to now say that we are in need of a "benevolent dictator" to take forcefully from those that produce and give to those that do not. In doing this, we take away two very important concepts in our society: personal responsibility, and the joy of giving. There is a spiritual reward for giving, and I am not talking about some churchy thing. It is a natural law, with the benefits available to anyone. When we willingly help someone else, we help to make ourselves whole. I firmly believe that we have a mechanism built into us that when we are helping someone else, we are happier. If you are ever overwhelmed by the problems in your own life, see what happens when you willingly and lovingly forget yourself for a minute and help someone else. You will see what I mean very quickly.

The second part of that is the personal responsibility. We are all responsible for our own well being (well, we should be at least). Unfortunately, we have decided that the role of government is to save people from their mistakes. That could not be further from the truth. If it is true that we have inherent rights endowed upon us by our creator, and that those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then how can we justify the current attitudes towards the role of government? I especially like the way they phrased this. The concepts of life and liberty cannot be taken away. By our choices, we may lose either of those, through recklessness or disdain for the law. The last concept is the pursuit of happiness. We are not guaranteed happiness, it is not a right. Through our decisions and the attitudes we have, we may be happy and we may not be. Some may think that to be happy means to have a yacht and 3 vacation homes and a house with 8 bathrooms (in my case, having to clean 8 bathrooms puts a big damper on that for me). If this is your desire, you are free to pursue that dream. Others may think that happiness is a small cabin on a lake with no contact with the outside world. If you can do it, go for it. Nowhere in any of the founding documents of our country does it mention our right to happiness. There is a reason for that. Nobody but yourself can decide whether you are happy or not. If I were to give you everything you ever wanted, that would still not guarantee your happiness. Happiness is a state of mind, not a tangible thing. I have know truly happy people that have none of the things that you or I think are necessary for happiness. I have know truly unhappy people who seem to have everything you could ever want. What is the difference? The difference is their attitude.

So, now we have come down to what I think the difference between a classic liberal and a liberal (or progressive) is. Attitude. I believe that a classic liberal looks at the world as full of opportunity and possibility. We can achieve anything our heart desires as long as we don't have government interfering in it. A progressive believes that the world is full of inequities and the only way to make things fair for everyone is to have the government level the playing field. It is the old cup half empty/half full argument. Are there inequities in the world? Absolutely. Are there injustices? Are there people who have more challenges than others because of their color, religion, sex, or because they are not as good looking as someone else? Surely. Is it the job of government to "level the playing field" by mandating equal results for all? No way. It is the role of government to protect our freedom. Our freedom to thrive, our freedom to fail. The government should protect our land by sticking to the concepts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We should not let anyone take those freedoms away, whether it be foreign foe or our own government. The role of government is to protect our borders so that we can have the freedom to follow our dreams.

OK, that is a really long post. It appears that you will rarely get a short one from me, no matter how hard I try. I now have to go to work so I can continue to pursue what I think will make me happy...