God Bless America!

God Bless America

God Bless America! Is a familiar refrain. How often have we heard these words at the conclusion of public addresses. Has it become so common that we pay no more mind than it being a signal that the speech has finally come to an end? How much thought do we give to those words and the meaning behind them?

Remember

God played an central part in the formation of this Country. Any serious study of the American Revolution will leave one baffled that a rag-tag army of farmers and merchants managed to defeat the greatest military power in the world. Was it chance or luck? Was it because of superior intellect and skills among the colonists? Or is it obvious, as it is to me, that “God shed His grace” on them? They sought and recognized the hand of God in the events of that day. How could flawed mortal men begin to form a more perfect union without the guidance of a perfect God?

Putting God First

How arrogant to think that all of our prosperity is due to our own superiority, and our protection because of our great strength. Today we have those eager to point out faults and failings of those in our past, as if they would have done everything right in their place. We even have those who set themselves up as their own god, preaching “my truth” over His truths, and condemning those who don’t agree with them.

Tolerance and acceptance are preached as supreme virtues. As important as love of neighbor is, we need to put the First Commandment first as was intended – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). We need to put God before all of the causes about which we are passionate and which too often divide us.

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land” (2 Nephi 1:20) is still in force. We need to return to acknowledging and then keeping God’s commandments above those woke social justice rules which have been replacing them. If we internalize and conform to God’s commandments, there is little need for silly social rules. If people are truly good and motivated by love of God, they will love others and treat them well.

The Ways of God

If one knows a little about God and how God works among men, then it is easy to see in hindsight the upward progression of those who turn to God for assistance. God tends to work incrementally with his children, giving them “line upon line” and “precept upon precept” according to what they can understand and deal with at the time.

. . . by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise . . .

Amla 37:6-7

It is not surprising then, that the Constitution of the United States did not solve every social problem. Steps were required before people were ready for the abolition of slavery, just as small steps had lead the colonists to be prepared to declare independence from Great Britain.

It is not so much that God does not want us to have all freedoms and blessings immediately, as it is that men and women must be prepared to appreciate and use those freedoms and gifts. He allows us to struggle to learn, grow, and work together, blessing our efforts along the way, until we can look back and see that small things have worked together to become something great. Progress is cumulative, building upon small efforts to do good with God’s help.

“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great”

D & C 64:33

Patriotic Americans and great leaders have repeatedly pled “God Bless America”. It is a prayer that should be on all our lips for we need God’s blessings and grace now more than ever.

An Experiment in Democracy

I am very concerned about the future of our country, perhaps more so than some because I am aware of some parallels to past events in other civilizations and the outcome of those.

An Ancient Experiment in Democracy

There was at one time an ancient society which started an experiment in democracy – a rule of Judges chosen by a vote of the people. Within a few short years, there was a movement to return to a monarchy. One group wanted a King, or more particularly a man wanted to be King and had gained the support of others.

There had been Kings in their past, some good, and one in particular who was very bad. He ruled autocratically and tyrannically, glutted on the labors of his people with he and his favored few living riotously, while the masses suffered. Lessons from that experience had influenced one wise King to set up this system of Judges when his own sons refused to take the throne.

With this first attempt to re-establish a King, the matter was put to a vote of the people. The majority voted against having a King. Those who wanted a King, rather than accept this democratic resolution, made this man their King anyway, and the matter was finally resolved militarily through a civil war. Those who wanted a King were defeated, but enough of them remained, and they continued to cause difficulties by forming an alliance with their enemy. (Alma 1-3)

Later during a time of war with their great enemy, another movement of King-Men actually took over the seat of government, sending the Chief Judge into exile. This attempt to overthrow democracy was also put down militarily at great cost. (Alma 61-62)

But it was not these movements to install Kings that brought the eventual downfall of this democratic experiment, though that brought much blood-shed and suffering. The destruction began with secret conspiracies which eventually infiltrated the government. Chief Judges were murdered as others conspired to take power, and those in power became more corrupt.

“For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.”

Helaman 5:2

The situation with these corrupt leaders was described as:

“Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills”

Helaman 7:5

Eventually this government did fall apart.

The American Experiment

The American Revolution began as an attempt to become free from a monarchy and establish a government based on principles of liberty. I believe there was divine intervention in the ability of these early patriots to win their freedom from such a powerful empire. The process of forming a government was not easy. Even after a Constitution was written and approved and the government began to function, there were still problems. Some wanted our first President George Washington to serve for life, thus returning to kind of a monarchy.

It was not many years into this Republic that we were again at war with Great Britain, fighting again for our freedom. There were conspiracies and conflicts. Then less than a century after our founding, some states seceded from the Union and we had a horrible civil war.

Our Republic has survived for almost 250 years, much longer than this earlier government did. It is very disturbing however, to see history repeating itself. There were many opportunities for these people to turn things around. It always was centered on a return to God. When they focused on God and kept His commandments, they prospered and enjoyed peace. When they turned from God, they destroyed themselves. There are lessons here for us.

Has Patriotism Become Partisan?

Four years ago I joined a patriotic lineage society. One of the main purposes of this organization is to promote patriotism. We, as a group, are proud of our heritage: we descend from patriots who championed the cause of freedom and fought for our independence from Great Britian. We share a belief that their sacrifices and struggles not only broke bands of tyrany, but established a government designed to recognize, promote, and protect freedom and God-given human rights.

Those who have studied history and the lives of our founding fathers and other patriots, are well aware that they were imperfect human beings. The fact that they were able to accomplish what they did in spite of those faults and frailties makes the resulting Nation all the more remarkable.

A study of history also makes it apparent that there has been much discussion, dispute, and disagreement concerning the details of government. But differing perspectives, priorities and approaches did not alter the fact that all were Americans. Americans have stood united by principles, ideals and a common history. Together we have sung and felt “Proud to be an American.”

People from other countries have recognized that there is something exceptional about the United States of America. It has been a beacon of freedom to the world. Immigrants have flocked here seeking refuge, freedom, and economic opportunities lacking in their homelands. Other countries have modeled governments after ours, hoping for the kind of prosperity we have enjoyed.

Yet, today we have Americans who seem ashamed of our Country, reject our heroes, seek to destroy our history, and even dismantle the whole system. Affirming the greatness of our Nation somehow seems to place one on what others claim as the wrong side of a great divide. Has patriotism become partisan?

A Plea, and a Dilemma

Please show me that there are Americans of both political parties who love America, cherish our freedoms and are proud of our heritage. I want to believe that those who speak hatred for our country are a small, though loud, faction. How wonderful it would be to hear all Americans unite in proclaiming the affirmations William Tyler Page wrote in The American’s Creed:

I, therefore, believe it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its constitution; to objey its laws; to respect its flag; and defend it against all enemies.

The American’s Creed – William Tyler Page

My dilemma is that the patriotic society I belong to is also non-political and non-partisan. I don’t want to be left wondering how to promote patriotism and share my love of country without appearing partisan. For over one hundred years this has not been a problem, and never should be.

A More Perfect Union

The framers of the Constitution stated their intent to establish “a more perfect union.” I recently heard Stephen Fried, author of a wonderful biography of Benjamin Rush, say those words with the emphasis on “more.”

A truly perfect union could only be possible with perfect people. Unfortunately people are not perfect, and governments created by people are not perfect either, especially a union of states with conflicting, interests, lifestyles, and cultures. Striving for unattainable perfection, the founders realized all they could do was establish a union better than that which they had before.

Prior to this Constitution being written, the new “United States” were functioning under Articles of Confederation. Many had come to see the flaws and imperfections with that system. They had just revolted from a Monarchy and were painfully aware of the problems with that system of government. Having an opportunity to start fresh, they put much thought, discussion and effort into framing a government that would be as “perfect” as man could conceive and execute.

Unity Around Principles

Unity among diversity is possible not by somehow making all the same, or forcing conformity to a specific set of actions. It is only possible by unifying around commonly accepted principles, ideals, and values. There may still be much disagreement about the “how”, the specific practices and processes in working toward those ideals. But keeping those principles and values always in mind keeps unity forefront as a goal.

I think it is important to remember, and I think the framers of the constitution realized this, that it would be impossible to form a government anywhere near “perfect” without assistance from a perfect God. With that in mind, the principles upon which a government is founded should align with eternal, God-given principles to be as perfect as possible.

John Adams, in a letter to Benjamin Rush in 1805 stated:

“Is virtue the principle of our Government? Is honor? Or is ambition and avarice adulation, baseness, covetousness, the thirst of riches, indifference concerning the means of rising and enriching, the contempt of principle, the Spirit of party and of faction, the motive and the principle that governs? These are serious and dangerous questions; but serious men ought not to flinch from dangerous questions.”

Quoted in Rush: Revolution, Madness and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father, by Stephen Fried

Remember

I hear the judgement of “divisive” being thrown out much these days and specifically after a reaffirmation of those principles under which our country was united. How is remembering the values and ideals held dear and fought for by our founders and defended by courageous people again and again divisive?

We have a shared history as Americans. Remembering that history should unite us. Sure, the remembering of history needs to include diverse voices, but that should add to history, making it more complete. Including many voices should expand understanding and unity. Attempts to erase history or rewrite it to please a few can never be unifying, for it seeks to discredit and forget too many others and their sacrifices for all.

Remembering our history and the sacrifices of previous generations should fill us with gratitude. People in other nations look to us and our government as an ideal. They see in our government a “more perfect union” than what exists in their countries. We as such blessed, favored and privileged citizens should be proud to be Americans.

The American Dream is reaching upward and forward, striving individually and collectively toward perfection. Of course we face problems, but the solutions should move us upward, not backward. Why would we want our union to be “less perfect” – to lessen it in any way through divisiveness?

We are all Americans! We should stand united behind our government, as imperfect as it still is, while striving to continue to perfect it. We should stand united by our shared history, for it is the legacy we have been given. We should stand united around the principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity and respect the symbols which represent them. We should be united as Americans!

Thoughts on Freedom of Assembly

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Ammendment 1

Through experiences of the past months, I am seeing that there is something profoundly valuable about being able to assemble as a group of people with a common purpose. Though business can and has been conducted remotely, there are added benefits to gathering together–feelings of unity, bonds, and synergy, that are lacking in the virtual world.

I remember back some decades to my time as a social worker. I observed that dysfunctional, and especially abusive families, were often isolated. This is largely due to efforts by abusers to maintain power and control. There are the obvious dangers of a lack of a support system or the ability to seek help, but there is another less obvious danger–isolation.

Isolation deprives us of needed reality checks. It is the casual observations and exchanges with others that give us our sense of what is normal. They give us opportunities to question our perceptions when they are different from others. We see common feelings and ideas and relate to shared experiences. Without these outside interactions, abused spouses and children come to see their restricted, abusive world as normal. Fears of outside dangers become magnified when interpreted only through the abuser.

After months now of social isolation and the absence of many of our routine group activities, the few and rather small gatherings of late have given me an unexpected emotional boost, almost like a cold drink after a long hot day makes me realize how thirsty I was. It feels wonderful! It brings back a feeling of normal. I suddenly have again a chance to feel validation for my thoughts and feelings through hearing others share theirs, with emotion conveyed as it only can be in person. An emoji can never convey what a smile, slightly raised eyebrow, or the hint of a tear in an eye can.

Humans are social beings. We need to be with each other. This is how it is supposed to be. There is great wisdom in the Founders recognizing and protecting the inherent rights of citizens to assemble for various peaceful purposes. Probably the most important purpose being to gather for the free exercise of religion. My soul is starved for that interaction now.

Division and fears are magnified when we are kept apart. Through isolation, governments can too easily exercise excessive power and control and in the process deprive us of those experiences which reinforce our shared humanity and foster unity. I hope this is a lesson from this experience that we do not forget.

Governing Through Principles

“I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”

Joseph Smith.

This statement was given by Joseph Smith as an answer to a question about how he governed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think it is very applicable to a secular “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” I have reflected on this statement as I have become very concerned about what is happening in our country during this time of crisis.

Founding Principles

The principles which should guide all actions by our government are outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Correct principles also include principles such as those in the 10 Commandments. People should treat others with respect and kindness, as they would want to be treated. Life is sacred and should be protected. Self-direction and self-reliance are sound and valued principles.
At times of crisis like this we see situations where some needs become urgent and some principles take precedence over others. The challenge of meeting urgent needs while maintaining rights according to those principles is a role of government.

Principles in the constitution affirm individual rights of liberty, exhibited in the opportunity to travel, to engage in business, to participate in activities of our choice. The Bill of Rights specifically spell out rights to assemble and to practice religion. People need to be able to work and provide for themselves and their families. They have need of goods and services to preserve life. Generally, government should not interfere with these rights. This is a basic principle of the Constitution.

Yet, government has responsibility to keep its citizens safe, to provide defense against that which would cause harm and endanger life. There may be times when the suspension of individual rights may be necessary in order to protect us, but those situations should be very rare and action taken with great caution. The reason for caution is human nature and the tendency among those with power to exercise “unrighteous dominion.” When people in power seek more power, they put themselves and their wisdom above others and use power to order actions and suspend individual rights. If successful in a crisis, there is not much to stop this from occurring without a crisis, with orders being self-serving, rather than for public good.

Maintaining Balance Through Mutual Trust

Maintaining a balance between preserving inherent and constitutional rights and providing protection can be complicated. Mutual trust is vital, yet sadly lacking today.

Allowing citizens to “govern themselves” requires that government trusts them to do the right things. It includes an assumption that the majority of citizens are morally upright, good people, who want to do good. When good, intelligent people are given accurate and sound information they generally will make choices to benefit all, even when those choices might limit their own freedom to do what they want.

If government trusts their citizens, they need only provide clear, accurate information and make recommendations for action. Then citizens can freely, with their own agency intact, act to make things better or at least not worse.Sure, there will always be those who are not trustworthy, who will selfishly do stupid things that endanger others. They are the ones laws are written for anyway. But to impose orders and threaten penalties upon law abiding citizens shows a dangerous lack of trust.

Trust of the government by the people is also necessary. Governments are mandated to educate their citizens, and that education should include the teaching of correct principles–not only the principles underlying our government, but correct principles about science, history, and human nature.

Teach Correct Principles

Besides being well educated, citizens need to be well informed about current situations in order to be able to use their agency to make wise decisions. This is where a thorough and impartial media is critical. We should be able to trust the media to give us accurate and unbiased information. I see a lack of trust today in both directions.

Public education has been influenced by those who would promote certain agendas over teaching truth. Education about the history of this country is no longer a priority, so we are lacking in understanding about those founding principles and the sacrifices made by those in the past to secure the freedoms we enjoy. Moral education, which early in this country was a significant part of education, has been dismissed as unfairly promoting religion. The ability to regurgitate facts through tests is now preferred to teaching students how to think and reason. What we have now are many citizens blindly following the teachings and direction of whatever factions they trust and suspicious of all other sources.

Back to Trust

Which leads back to trust in the other direction. By creating an educational system which lacks moral training, we have citizens lacking in moral judgment, and a government which does not trust them to make wise choices in a crisis. Add to that people in government more concerned about power than the welfare of citizens issuing orders that restrict individual freedom, which increases distrust of government.

I hope we come out of this crisis with our freedom intact and a greater appreciation of that liberty.

Self-Determination

Self-Determination Starts Early

During the past few months of living with my now 18 month old granddaughter, I have been reminded of the innate human drive toward self-determination. Even at a very young age, little humans show individual will and a desire to do what they want. As soon as they have some mobility they will move toward an object that they desire. As small motor skills develop they grasp and manipulate objects to explore them. They want to go where they want and do what they want.

One large drawback for this is the lack of ability to communicate what one wants. One of the first, and probably most used word for children is “no”. Though they might not be able to articulate what exactly they want, they are able to let you know exactly what they do not want.

“No” is also used frequently toward children as they seek after what they want. Parents have a challenging role to provide an environment for children to learn and develop while keeping them safe from danger. Some are better than others at balancing this. There are parents who provide more than needed direction and restriction in the name of protection.

Maintaining Balance through Trust

Key to maintaining a good relationship through this balancing act is trust. If children feel loved and secure they learn to trust that their parents want what is best for them. Parents and others can try to teach children about dangers and how to avoid them, but sometimes the best teacher is experience. Unfortunately, over-protection often deprives children of such experiences. There are always some children more inclined to be obedient who might become overly dependent. And others more independent might resist restrictions and become rebellious.

Self-Determination Applied to Government

The founders of the United States of America recognized the human need for self-determination. They saw monarchy and the systems of the old world as working against that. In forming a government “of the people, by the people and for the people” they realized the value of individuals and the importance of individual rights. Many resisted ratifying the new Constitution because of the lack of a Bill of Rights. Why was this so important? They wanted to make sure that governmental powers were limited and preserved the rights of individual citizens toward self-determination.

Government also has a stated role to provide protection to citizens from threats and defense from attacks. This requires a balance not unlike the parental balance between encouraging development while protecting. There may be times when safety would require limiting individual freedom to do certain things. This is the argument given at the present time regarding this pandemic. Yet, there are others pointing out the dangers of increased government control.

Trust in Government

If the underlying condition with parenting is trust, then it would seem that trust of government would be essential for citizens to accept restrictions in the name of safety. But government is really people. We have elected officials who are supposed to act in the public interest, but too often act according to the own self-interest. We have officials who seem to thrive on excessive use of power. Just because someone has been elected to an office, does not mean that they have superior intelligence or knowledge and know best what to do. Yes, they often rely on “experts” for information, but do these experts also have other motives?

Our constitution allows for the people to vote to remove from office those who they feel are not representing them and their interests. Unfortunately a huge bureaucracy consisting of officials, not elected by or accountable to the people, is in the position of making and enforcing regulations.

Once power is used to limit individual freedoms, even in the face of a real threat, it can become easier for those in power to see other “threats” warranting further limits of freedom. Over-controlling government, just like over-protective parents, can restrict growth and foster dependence, especially among those inclined to be trusting and obedient. But it also can provoke those inclined toward independence and lacking trust in government to the point of rebellion.

Maintaining Balance

The federal government is furthest removed from the people and much less in tune with the diverse situations in various parts of the country. It would make sense that elected officials on the most local levels would know best their own constituents and their situation and needs. They would seem more receptive to input from their neighbors about what is needed. It is easier for constituents to communicate directly with them and be more involved. This is one reason the founders created a Republic and left certain rights with States.

Though we are experiencing something dangerous today, I think it important to keep in mind the possibly greater danger to our freedoms by extreme restrictions imposed by government. The survival of individual citizens is of course important, but so too is the survival of our freedoms and form of government.

Principles & Personalities

“Principles before Personalities” is one of the often heard phrases in 12-Step Programs. The idea is closely related to “Content is more important than presentation” and “The message is more important than the messenger”.

Yet, we live in a world immersed in entertainment. We tend to worship celebrities, hanging on their every word, as if they know anything about what they are talking about. We want to be entertained, emotionally moved and excited. We are drawn to charismatic people who say things that make us feel good.

Celebrities and politicians are expert in using “flattering words”. It is easy to get caught up in the emotion of a speech and a crowd, until we find ourselves thinking, “wait a minute, what am I cheering?” Unfortunately, many never do pause and think. They just get carried along, repeating slogans and sound bites without thought of what they really mean or what principles they promote.

Founding Personalities

The founders of the United States knew well the range of personalities among themselves, with their unique strengths and weaknesses. These strong personalities provided challenges, especially during the writing of our Constitution. But they also provided differing, yet valuable, perspectives.

The founders probably anticipated that throughout the history of this new Nation, there would be a variety of personalities, abilities and even character among it’s leaders. They designed the government to be able to withstand occasional bad leaders. The Constitution was built upon sound principles, with a system of checks and balances.

Possible Combinations of Principles & Personalities:

Good Principles & Personalities. The ideal situation, of course, would be a having a leader with not simply a strong personality, but more importantly a strong and good character, combined with government based on good sound principles.

Good Principles & not so good Personalities. If we happen to elect a weak leader, or one of questionable character, we still may be on safe ground if all those in government adhere to good principles. A weak leader may try to promote unsound principles, but his weakness might make him ineffective, especially with other good leaders around to keep things under control and the checks and balances within our government.

Bad Principles & Personalities. The worst case would be a strong and charismatic but morally corrupt leader promoting principles that are not sound or good. This would be a potential tyrant.

The Greater Danger

There is so much focus on words in our world today. More important than what a politician says is what he actually does. All politicians make campaign promises, many very unrealistic. While this can give one an idea of what principles they promote, the better barometer is to look at what they actually do. Are their actions consistent with principles we as Americans hold dear? Do their actions predict that they will uphold the Constitution or attempt to alter it?

Our Constitution was constructed to withstand a term with an unlikeable, unpopular or ineffective President. Every four years we have the opportunity to choose someone else – someone we may actually dislike just as much for other reasons.

What our nation may not withstand is a President who abuses his power to undermine and alter the principles within the Constitution. That is a much greater danger than being led by someone we dislike.

The current promotion of unsound principles which are contrary to those principles underlying our constitution and government, seriously threatens freedom. This is especially so with those efforts which are aimed at revoking some of the bill of rights and promoting socialism.

Some Suggestions

Don’t vote for someone just because you “like them” more than others, or because you “hate” someone else. Elections are not popularity contests. We are not choosing someone to socialize with. We are choosing someone to lead. Listen to their messages and the principles they are promoting. Look at what they have done.

Study the Constitution and the principles upon which it is founded. Use those principles as your standard against which to judge the slogans and promises and proposals of politicians.

Study the history of our great Nation. Become familiar with the principles for which our founders and many since have sacrificed their lives and honor. Don’t make their sacrifices in vain by rejecting those principles and undoing their work to preserve our freedoms.

Good leadership is important. Preserving our freedoms through adhering to the principles upon which this nation was founded may be ultimately more important.

Public Panic as a Political Tool

Youthful Hysteria

Today, we have young people taking to the streets protesting in panic that they might not have the chance to grow up unless drastic measures are taken now. I remember. I was there, back in the 1970’s. I sacrificed to ward off the crisis. But now I am old. I grew up. The world is still turning. The hysteria has returned.

Panic is used to shift political power. It can make ordinary, reasonable citizens willing to give up their rights in exchange for protection and security. Politicians don’t usually panic themselves. They stir up panic among the people, then when people demand action, they are ready to step in to do what they wanted to do anyway– things that increase their power.

Panic fuels mob mentality. By pointing fingers at the perceived source of the crisis, we divide into us and them. Hitler was master of this. He used words to create fear about Jews taking from the rightful citizens of Germany. His words made them the enemy and justified their dehumanization.

Crisis?

Of course, there are genuine crises. But not all result in panic and panic usually does not do much to resolve them. The worst thing that can happen in a real emergency is panic. When people panic they don’t think clearly. They do stupid things which make things worse. Emergency training always involves learning to stay calm and prevent panic.

Some crises do require swift, decisive action. Pearl Harbor was such a situation to spur the entrance of the United States into World War II. But the public panic that ensued encouraged and justified the denial of basic rights to Japanese Americans.

Most crises do not happen in a moment. The drug crisis has been ongoing for decades, yet it has not engendered panic. I saw the opiate crisis coming over 20 years ago. Why did others not see then? Why was nothing done to prevent its spread? Who benefited from it continuing? Who influenced the lawmakers who define crisis? These are questions which could be asked of any “crisis”.

The breakdown of the family is a genuine crisis that has been ongoing and worsening for some time. It is a contributing factor to other crises, which have resulted in panic. But the panic is often directed to promote political causes, not to address core issues.

What to Do– or Not Do

Sure, it is wise to see potential dangers and take action to prepare for what might be devastating. Preparation is best done with thoughtful planning way before the crisis is upon us. “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” (D & C 38:30) Such preparation involves thinking through possible scenarios and planning ahead for those contingencies, making it possible to react to a real crisis cautiously and purposefully rather than in panic.

Sometimes the goal of inciting panic is continuing a crisis, because that justifies the need for whatever action is politically advantageous. Being able to keep pointing fingers of blame to the other side is more important than resolving the problem.

True crises require action. But they are complicated and seldom have one single solution. They are best dealt with through thoughtful discussion and consideration of all factors and interests of parties involved. This process takes time and effort. This is what a healthy two-party legislative process is supposed to do. But what we have instead is each side rushing to create panic that will serve their purposes. Both sides do this, but one side seems to be more practiced and possibly more skilled at it. In fact, they were able to turn around the attempted panic about our southern border being invaded– actually mocking it as false panic– into panic of a different sort. Neither resolves the real issues.

Though politicians usually encourage public panic, they often don’t panic themselves. I doubt they are having nightmares about human extinction over global warming. However, one party has been in a continual state of panic for over three years now. I expect that there are nightmares about a repeat of 2016. These politicians have encouraged public panic repeatedly for so long that they seem to assume that everyone in this country shares this panic. The media has worked hard to feed the panic. Yet, strangely life has gone on pretty routinely for the past three years for most of us. For those in panic mode, however, thinking is getting clouded.

Monument to Panic

There are water pumps out in the desert to serve as a monument to panic. A whole generation has grown up and another began without their need and without much awareness that they are there. Those old enough might remember the Utah floods of 1983. At great expense these pumps were built to pump flood waters into the desert. But more floods have not come– yet. The Great Salt Lake has shrunk. The panic subsided and areas previously flooded have now been developed.

Will younger generations look back with regret at what was done or what they gave up because of their panic today? Or will they forget in the face of new panic created for a new crisis and intended to shift power. The true crisis may be the loss of freedom and quality of life which the panic produced.

Celebrate The United States of America!

Flag of the United States of America

A Cause for Celebration

A big anniversary is coming– Our great United States of America is approaching its 250th! It is a privilege for me to become involved in very early preparations for this momentous event for one patriotic organization. I remember well the Bi-Centennial Celebration of our Nation’s founding in 1976. I felt pride and patriotism as I was able to visit sites of historical significance in Boston that year. Now as the 250th approaches, I reflect on some of the rapid and troubling changes in our country over the past decade. I begin to wonder if there may not be so much to celebrate come 2026. What will our Nation and our government look like then? I see things that threaten our Constitution and run counter to the principles upon which it was founded. Some have suggested that the deep divisiveness occurring now is a precursor of civil war.

I feel that there are some things that we as a Nation, and as individual citizens need to do, starting now or sooner, to ensure that when 2026 and its planned celebrations arrive, we will feel that our great Nation is something to be celebrated and to be proud of. Will we be committed to help preserve it for another 250 years? We owe that to our patriot founders and all who have sacrificed to preserve our freedom and government.

Remember

It is imperative that we remember our history. That, for many of our young people, means first learning about the history of our County. For others it requires diligent and honest study and reflection. The shift to include voices which had not been previously heard in the telling of history is noble and worthwhile. Yet, somehow this has become a re-writing of history with judgment and condemnation of our predecessors based on shifting social standards of today. The result is citizens, especially young ones, who are ashamed of our history – and ashamed to be Americans.

We need to remember the patriots who founded our country and those who have served her. They, like all of us, were flawed humans and products of their particular time and environment. We need to understand that context. Those patriots, in spite of or perhaps at times because of those flaws and conditions, showed great courage and made tremendous sacrifices to preserve and defend our freedoms. There is much we can learn from them. We will always be indebted to them and should be grateful for their contributions.

We need to remember the history of the world and other countries. An understanding of the government and history of other countries, will make obvious the contrast with ours. There is a reason that those early Colonists desired a different form of government than a monarchy. There is a reason that people from other countries have flocked to ours, escaping oppression. They recognize America’s greatness and see the freedom and opportunities that we too often take for granted.

We humans naturally have celebrations to help us remember significant events. Yet, somehow the significance of celebrations becomes faded or intentionally changed, and we are left with just another day off. We humans erect monuments to help us remember. Yet, we now have movements to remove monuments to erase memories that some feel are unpleasant. What will we have left to help us remember?

Remember, Remember– I hear the echos of these words from the mouths of prophets. Why? Because when we forget, history repeats itself– not the good parts of history– the destructive parts of history. We must remember to hold on to all that is good and to be grateful for it.

Return to Principles and Values

As we remember, we need to recognize and reaffirm the principles and values upon which our country was founded. These principles and values are the “why” of our government– the reason for its existence. Citizens of other countries may feel united over a homeland, predominant ethnicity, shared language or cultural identity. Since early colonization, America has been a melting pot of cultures, languages and ethnic groups. What unites Americans are those principles which we have treasured and fought for.

The principles are eternal and detailed in our founding documents, yet too many are losing sight of them. Do we still value life and liberty? Do we value individual self-determination, self-expression and self-reliance? Do we see government’s role in preserving individual rights, with all being treated equally, rather than controlling people and behavior?

Those core principles and values are being replaced by shifting standards, changing values, popular opinion, relative truth, political expediency. Without the foundation of shared principles we are vulnerable to those who would seek to destroy us.

Respect

We need to return to a respect of our country, its flag and other symbols, its elected offices, and each other. There is no good reason for any citizen of this country to disrespect duly elected officials or the process by which they were elected. Throughout our history we have had many great leaders, and many who were not. They are all human and flawed. The process embedded in the Constitution allows us to have a voice in our representation. It is our privilege, right and duty to hold elected leaders accountable through our votes.

We need to return to talking to each other with respect. There is way too much attacking and taking offense. This fuels divisiveness and hate. Have we forgotten how to talk to each other civilly? We need to listen– really listen with the intent to understandthose with whom we disagree, not just hear enough to come up with a stinging comeback to post on Social Media.

Breaking the Silence

Earlier this year, I wrote a number of blog posts about disturbing things happening in our country today. I shared articles and posts on Social Media and joined in discussions. As expected, there were some unpleasant reactions. Though I think I have a tough skin, I do have feelings. Mostly, I found it all very exhausting and unproductive. I felt I had better things to occupy my time. Other worthwhile things did keep me away from blogging for a good part of the year. At one point, a blog post kind of wrote itself, yet I did not follow through and post it.

I became one more of the many silent Americans. We all have a valuable perspective. We do have something worthwhile to say. Yet, too often, we don’t speak out of fear of being attacked, “educated”, or shamed because we don’t have the “correct” view.

So, I now feel that it is important that I speak up, regardless of the reaction. I have heard the call for some time, but I guess I needed to hear it at 4:00 a.m. on the night we were supposed to get an extra hour of sleep. I will now commit to myself to blog more about topics that I feel are important and in my small way, help to prepare Americans for our 250th in 2026. Who knows how many will hear my messages, or how they will react, but I can speak up. It is my right– even my duty– as a citizen of the United States of America.