Questions about Consent

When addressing “consent”, it is important to make a distinction between consenting to an action or behavior and giving consent to a person. It seems that whichever perspective is used depends less upon the actual intent of the person choosing, and more on the political agenda of those using the argument. (An obvious, to me, example is the bakers and florists who refused consent to creative acts which they found morally objectionable, yet these situations have been manipulated into discriminatory refusals to individuals because of who they are. This may seem to not apply to what I am about to discuss, but that is my point.)

The Dance

A seemingly innocent situation of a simple 6th grade Valentines Dance resulted in local media attention and outrage. Of the many issues involved with potential for outrage, one in particular emerged and became THE ISSUE, due to it being associated with the currently in vogue outrage – #MeToo.

In an effort to promote inclusion, the students were told not to refuse to dance with anyone. Both boys and girls would have certain dances for which they would do the asking. One girl’s mother protested, saying her daughter should have the right to say no to any boy. This turned into an example of the need to empower girls to say no to boys to prevent future abusive #MeToo situations.

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5 P’s of Improvement

Improvement

At the beginning of a new year, many of us reflect and set goals or make resolutions. We think about making changes which hopefully will be an improvement or progress toward something better. Real progress involves processes, is based on sound, true principles, stays true to purposes and truly improves.

Progress

C. S. Lewis said, “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” (Mere Christianity)

In our world and our lives, things are constantly changing. But change does not always mean progress. If change does not improve us or something, it is not progress at all. Progress implies forward and upward movement toward something better, higher, more noble. Thinking that anything new is positive or progressive implies that everything from the past has been somehow inferior. Anything new is better than the old. The reality is that much change in the name of progress can actually take us in the wrong direction. Too often changes proposed as progress are more of an attempt by a person or a group to change things to suit themselves, merely because they are in a position of power to do so. Pride can play a part in assuming that “my way is the better way”.

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Charity – Five Lessons about Charity

Five lessons about Charity that I have learned through life and study: what it is, what it is not, how to obtain it, and why it is so critical.

Charity 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Many years ago I made a serious study of charity. I gave some talks and presentations on the subject and wrote about it. I even entertained thoughts that there might be a book to be written on the subject. At that time, I thought I had some insight into charity, but as time and life continued I realized my shortcomings in living the principle. Through some experiences I have had more recently, I think I am beginning to have a better understanding of charity. Though I am sure I have much more to learn, I will share a few lessons.

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Common Feelings of Differentness

I recently read some biographical accounts from people who struggled with various issues. They all pointed out feeling different from other kids as they were growing up. These and other experiences of my own and of people that I know caused me to wonder:

Is there anyone out there who has made it through adolescence always feeling like they were Okay, they fit it perfectly and had a wonderful time? If so, I would love to hear your story.

I have made the transition from Soccer Mom to Soccer Grandma. I enjoyed watching my girls play and now get to watch my grandchildren. As the oldest, my ten year old grandson, finished his last game of the season and was walking with his teammates off the field, it caused me to reflect a bit. This group of boys made a good deal of improvement from the beginning of the fall season to this last game of spring. When they began, some of them didn’t even know each other. Fortunately they had a good coach who encouraged them each individually, and also managed to teach them to work together as a team. They easily won their spring games. Watching them play, I got to know a little of their personalities. They are all unique with different strengths and quirks. It has been rather entertaining to watch them play. As they left that day, I wondered about where their future paths would take them.

The field they were leaving just happens to be across the street from the Junior High School which I had attended. Junior High was not a highlight of my life. In fact, sometimes I wonder how I survived it at all. I realized that in a very short time, these boys would be entering Junior High or Middle School. I wondered how they would navigate it and what experiences awaited them.

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Prosperity

“Inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper in the land.”

In the Book of Mormon we repeatedly hear the admonition given to residents of this continent: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land.” In that Book we also see this played out in what is commonly known as “the pride cycle”. With righteous living there is prosperity. This is first seen in growth, development, progress, and general contentment without conflict. Gradually it tends to grow into wealth, at least for some. Then the cycle turns as the focus on material wealth creates divisions with the haves seeking more and feeling superior to the have-nots. Eventually it leads to destruction, either through conflicts within or weakening and vulnerability to attacks from enemies. In the Book of Mormon this often cycled back when war and devastation humbled everyone.

It is common for us to equate prosperity with wealth. Recently I heard a comment that prosperity is more about happiness than money. Definitions of prosper include synonyms like succeed, thrive, flourish, and grow in a vigorous way. Wealth may be a by-product of prosperity, but it can be dangerous to think of it as the sole definition or the ultimate goal.

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A Good Life

During my life, I have found myself repeatedly in situations where I have been among people older than myself while involved in work or service. This has provided me many learning experiences and it has helped me feel young to hang out with old people. You would think that as I have become one of those “older people” myself, I might have fewer of those opportunities, but once again I have found myself mingling with a wonderful group of “mature adults,” most of whom are older than I am. The majority of these people are retired and considered senior citizens. We work together in a volunteer service capacity.

As I have gotten to know some of these people, I have been somewhat surprised to learn about their “previous lives,” which include some pretty prestigious accomplishments. They have had successful businesses, careers in education, medicine, and law. Some have served in public service and community organizations. When they talk of these things however, it is in a matter of fact manner, without any bragging or desire to go into much detail. What I have found instead, is that the preferred conversations with them are about their families – their children and grandchildren. There was probably a time in their lives when their minds and conversations were centered on those worldly activities, interests and accomplishments, and perhaps it is because they are no longer immersed in those things that talk about them is not a priority. I have to wonder that if in the passing of time and approaching the end of life, the focus has shifted to the things that hold more lasting importance. Maybe for some of them however, families and faith were always were the priority.

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Awareness, Insight and Impaired Brains

I like to believe that there is some purpose for the things we go through in life. As I find myself now surrounded by people I love, who for different reasons and with some variety in expression, have impaired mental functions, I am wondering what it is I am supposed to be learning from this. Of course, there is the obvious patience, of which much more is required than I naturally have, along with tolerance and compassion. You would think that one impaired brain would be sufficient to teach me, but apparently I am in need of more.

Sometimes I wish for more associations with intelligent, educated people with which to have deep conversations and share great insights. I find myself pondering about how the brain works, and sometimes doesn’t work, and how that relates to the human quest to learn and understand. So I will share some of my “insights” about things like insight and understanding.

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Understanding

“And with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7)

I have tried to ask questions with a sincere intent to understand other people’s perspective and reasoning on issues. I have generally been disappointed by the answers I have received, especially from liberals. In response, I have received slogans, sound bites, quotes, memes, twitter hashtags, or given a link to some article by a leftist “expert” or commentator. But I rarely receive any real explanation of that person’s own understanding of a position and the reasoning behind their personal beliefs. I have also not seen much in the way of attempting to understand an opposing position – particularly ones that I have voiced. I have received condescending comments that imply that I don’t understand the facts, that I have been misled or have been listening to false ideas, but no indication that those commenting have even read or listened to arguments from the other side with anything resembling an open mind. I am sure that this happens from both sides, but I have noticed a more “haughty” attitude from liberals and a tendency for them to point out that the religious accept what they are told without question, though they seem to be doing the same thing in echoing standard liberal positions without explanation. The questioning I have received when I have voiced an opinion has felt like an attempt to tear down my beliefs or imply that I am stupid or uninformed, rather than any desire to gain an understanding of how I arrived to my conclusions.

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Reacting to Criticism

Being criticized may not be such a bad thing, if we take time to reflect on our own reaction and our reasoning.

At a few times during recent months, I have found myself feeling some familiar but unpleasant feelings. This happened when comments or criticism “hit a nerve” or triggered a defensive reaction. Usually we just react, but I forced myself to stop and think about why. Why did that comment from that person cause such a strong emotional reaction? No one really likes to hear criticism, but there are different kinds of criticism. It is one thing to have a mistake pointed out. Errors can be corrected, often without major damage to the ego. But often, as I think in these cases, the criticism is not so much about what was done or said, but includes an element of shame. There is some inference (maybe intended, but also possibly just perceived) of judgement associated with it – an underlying message that we are somehow a bad person, an idiot, or a fool. The feeling is that we are being personally attacked. The feelings may be more intense when the giver of the message is someone we feel has no position of authority or superiority to judge us. “How dare they” we think and want to strike back. We may also feel a need to defend ourselves and our position.

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Commitment

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What is your word worth – whether a resolution, oath, legal contract or verbal promise?

“I solemnly swear. . .” This month of January there will be many people taking oaths – primarily an oath of office for those newly elected to leadership positions in Government. I recently joined an organization where the process of becoming a member included taking an oath to uphold the purposes and goals of the organization. In court, witnesses take an oath that their testimony will be the truth. How much do we think of these oaths and how seriously do we take them?

An oath is defined as a covenant, pledge, promise or vow to do certain things. It is a public proclamation and manifestation of what should also be an inner personal commitment. Though taken before other people and often with much ceremony, the purpose is much more than to satisfy others that our intentions are good and honorable. It is a solemn and sacred promise, usually pledged in the name of God. When we swear in His name, we recognize a need for His help to fulfill responsibilities – “so help me God” – and we recognize that He is our witness to this commitment. Implied is the realization that we will be judged by God as to how well we keep this pledge. God knows and judges the intents of our hearts as well as our sincere efforts.

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