It was by chance – or maybe not – that I read again in the Book of Mormon this week the prayer of the Prophet Alma as he and others began a mission to the wicked Zoramites. The phrase that jumps out at me and has at times pricked my conscience, struck me as such an important reminder today –
This wicked community turned out to be comprised of two groups. One was disadvantaged, marginalized, oppressed and excluded from full participation in society. Thinking of their situation does resonate with the concerns and objectives of #blacklivesmatter. Maybe #theirsoulsareprecious could be just as appropriate a reminder.
Yet, Alma’s prayer was not just for these poor, oppressed people. His prayer was for the whole community. It was also for the prideful, privileged who were persecuting the others. Their souls were also precious to their Father in Heaven. They were His children too.
I am aware of reactions toward #alllivesmatter and the feeling that it misses the point and trivializes the injustices of so many years. But can you say the souls of some who may not have been treated as precious, are indeed precious, without recognizing the preciousness of all souls?
Hasn’t the problem all along been the human tendency to put people into a category judged to be somehow worth less than others or inherently bad and then using that judgment as justification for depriving them of privileges or treating them badly? Is it really any different when that judgment is made based on the color or one’s skin or the uniform one wears? Or maybe even the color and words on a hat they wear?
Yes, some people do horrible things to other people and they do need to be held accountable for their behavior. Does this justify putting all who share some identifying characteristic with an offender, into a category judged as bad and therefore deserving of disrespect, contempt, attacks and mistreatment?
Does mistreating others make one’s soul less precious to their Father? I am sure such behavior offends and pains Him. Seeing all souls as precious and condemning unacceptable behavior are not mutually exclusive. Any good parent knows that the preciousness of the souls of their children is the very reason they must learn right from wrong, even at times through suffering hard consequences.
Maybe, whenever we have feelings other than love toward a group or an individual human being, or a tendency to ignore or discount someone, we need to get on our knees and pray to the Father of us all, acknowledging to Him as Alma did, that “their souls are precious.” Pray for them, for their needs, but also pray for ourselves, that our hearts may be softened and that we may see others as He sees them – as the precious souls they are.
“I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Like much of the world recently, I was deeply saddened to see the great Notre Dame Cathedral burning. It is sad to see destruction of anything historical or culturally and religiously significant, especially something that has stood as a symbol for Centuries.
Some thoughts, or rather questions, came to me while seeing these reports. Could God have prevented this fire? Could God rebuild this great building? Then followed the greater question: Would God rebuild this building? Not the question of His ability, but Why? What would be the purpose?
Destruction of Human Creations
I have read this week, the words of our Savior about the Temple in Jerusalem being destroyed and raised again the 3rd day. (See John 2:18-21; Matthew 26:61, 27:40; Mark 14:58) We of course, know that he was not talking about the physical temple, but His own physical temple, His body.
Those who heard him however, expressed disbelief that such as magnificent structure that had taken so long to build could so easily be destroyed. We have heard other similar reactions to prophesy about destruction of great cities. History has shown us that, yes the great Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed after all.
The reality is that anything man creates out of the elements of this temporal world is impermanent and can be destroyed. As much as we, with scientific knowledge and technical skill, try to create buildings to be able to withstand earthquakes, floods, fire and wind, some still are destroyed.
The building of physical buildings and creating material objects is the work of humans. At times God has commanded His people to build Temples and other structures. Whether He could create them Himself is not the point – after all He created the mountains which served as temples. The purpose and function of a building is more important than design or beauty. Part of that purpose being the obedience and sacrifice and offerings from us mortals to create something in His name.
While living His mortal life, Jesus the carpenter built things with His hands just like we do. Jesus didn’t use His power to create material things. Instead, His mortal work dealt with individuals. He healed bodies and ministered to souls. People were the subjects of His great power, glory and love. That should be a testimony to us that we, His children, are His priority.
That morning when Jesus rose from the tomb, gives perspective to our mortal experience – to creation and destruction, to life and death.
Through His resurrection bodies and spirits can be reunited and resurrected to a perfect immortal form. Through Him broken hearts are rebuilt and damaged souls healed. Through Him we can be restored to a sinless, pure, innocent state, able to live in His presence.
Ultimately, as significant as magnificent human creations may be to us, we are more important than buildings or objects to Him – the Creator of all things.
I share Martin Luther King’s dream of people being judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Sadly, I have seen that in recent years we seem to be moving further away from that dream.
The dream is of a colorblind world where are all given equal opportunity, with character and skill and ability forming the basis of determinations of accomplishment.
A dream of a world where job applications, promotions, scholarship and University admissions are based solely on ability and objective qualifications.
A dream where we all see and treat each other as individuals with the same consideration and respect.
Sure things like gender, ethnicity, etc are a part of what makes a person unique, but they are not what a person is. If we can’t get past those identity markers, we can not form real relationships with each other. In getting to know people and forming relationships, we come to see a person as a unique individual – we see their personality, character, strengths and weaknesses. Just as we would want to be known and treated well because of who we are, not what we are, we would treat others well.
The Privilege Pyramid based on Oppression Points
After I started writing this, I read an article by Matt Walsh where he describes “The Left’s Victimization Flow Chart.” White men are at the top, followed by white women, then non-whites, then various LGBTQ combinations. He explains leftist thinking as oppression can only go from the top down, with higher groups oppressing those lower down. It is impossible with this thinking for someone in a lower group to oppress someone in a group above.
One way to look at privilege and oppression is an inverse pyramid. The larger majority at the top have greater privilege and oppress the gradually smaller minorities toward the bottom. Those at the top – white males – are seen as the most privileged and the greatest oppressors. An inverse pyramid is top heavy – it looks oppressive.
What I see happening is that now that inverse privilege pyramid has been flipped. It now looks like a regular pyramid, with reversed privilege and oppression. “Priviledged” white men are now at the bottom, with non-white LGBTQ people at the peak.
This is because society now awards people “oppression points”. Those acquiring the most have greater actual privilege in the way of political power and social influence. These greatly oppressed are able to claim victimhood to get what they want – things ordinary and even formerly privileged people must rely on their own efforts to obtain, or may not ever be able to have or do.
These at the top of this new Oppression Pyramid (formerly the bottom of the flow chart) are automatically believed and do not need any facts or evidence to back them up. Their “oppressed” status gives them freedom to pretty much say what they want. They can spew hate speech. They can claim discrimination and accuse others. They can ruin people’s lives if they don’t get what they want. The thinking is that they can’t really “offend” anyone, because they are the most offended.
Conversely those who are considered “white privilege”, especially rich white males, find themselves now on the bottom – the most despised, least believed and less able to use what had been considered advantages to their own or to society’s benefit. Definitely judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character.
I don’t think this is what Dr. King had in mind – the oppressed turned into oppressors.
Irony of Diversity
I find it ironic, baffling and disturbing that this is all occurring at a time when diversity has never been so great. The US is especially a nation of immigrants. We have neighbors from all nationalities and ethnic groups. We have intermingled and produced people with all kinds of ethnic and racial combinations. We have easily accessible DNA testing providing evidence of our multi-racial and multi-ethnic combinations. There are fewer and fewer people who can claim to be pure anything. We are almost all mongrels.
Why then, are we putting people into pigeonholes of identity based on characteristics that have become blurred? How hard has it become to accurately identify someone on first glance – by race, religion, or even gender? Yet, assumptions and actions are taken based on such superficial instant judgments.
Why do some people have a need to identify as an oppressed group? Why do some judge people, and others want to be judged, by the hyphenated part before American or the alphabet letter they choose? Wouldn’t they rather be judged by their unique personality or character?
Why can’t we just see each other as individuals with multi-faceted identities? Why can’t we be a people who judge others based on their actions and the content of their character? It is the dream, after all.
Ominous Warning Signs
History provides some ominous warning signs. Looking back on the Holocaust, the Jews were initially targeted, not because of their oppressed position, but for their privilege. Rather, it was the perception of their privilege – having wealth and power and influence that they did not deserve. Resentment for their perceived privilege fueled and justified others oppressing them. Then having been stripped of all privilege they became totally oppressed.
The great communist regimes didn’t target those lowest on the socio-economic ladder, though peasants eventually suffered greatly. The largest regimes were largely racially homogeneous populations, so race was not really a factor. Communists and Socialists targeted the privileged – the elite, the wealthy, the educated.
The presumed oppressed became the oppressors – or were used by those with some power seeking greater power to remove and destroy those previously having social and political power. The results were disastrous. The elite were destroyed, the poor remained poor and oppressed now by the government. But the newly elite party leaders enjoyed the spoils.
The challenge and choice for us in America is to find a way to recognize and accept differences without value judgments and accusations. We need to return to the principles upon which our government and country were founded. We all have the same God-given rights. Justice requires that we be judged by our actions, not our identity. Can we give up the competition for victimhood? Can we replace identity politics with justice and liberty for all?
I wonder if liberals (Democrats and those leaning left) truly do not see media bias. It is understandable that when the media reflects your personal world view, bias would not be obvious to you. You would tend to see news as exactly that – news presented in a straightforward, factual manner. It is just the way it is.
I also think it is entirely possible for someone to remain fully within the Blue Bubble. If all the news and commentary about social issues you hear comes from liberal biased main stream media, how would one even know that there are other perspectives? It would be easy to see any mention of opposing views as being totally right wing nut stuff – tabloid journalism/fake news – and dismiss it without consideration.
There is No Red Bubble
Alternately, I think there really can be no real Red Bubble in America. While there is conservative bias, there is ever-present awareness of another perspective. Every time an American turns on a TV, opens a newspaper, glances at magazines in the rack at the store, or thumb through them in the waiting room of a Doctor’s office, they get left biased information.
So it is rather difficult for someone to stay within a Red bubble. You would have to live a very isolated life, with no internet or TV to even come close to avoiding liberal news. You can’t even watch a movie or a TV sitcom without being bombarded with liberal ideology.
It takes intentional effort to find, read and watch conservative news reporting and commentary. You have to become educated about reliable sources and where to find them. Google searches put liberal stuff at the top. You have to scroll way down to find something conservative. Some conservative information is actually filtered and censored by liberal platforms. You are just not going to see it at all. I have even read stories, then tried to go back for another look and it was nowhere to be found.
The Same Story?
For conservatives, there is constant awareness of the obvious left-leaning bias of main stream media. There have been times when I have read about a current event through a conservative platform, then later read an article or heard a news report about it, and I literally asked myself if this was about the same thing.
After seeing main stream media reports, there is little incentive for a liberal to seek out more conservative commentaries, and ample motivation to dismiss them before hearing them as right wing biased criticism. This happens all the time.
The media realizes that most people today don’t have the patience to read lengthy articles. They like short news reports. They mostly read headlines. So the headlines send the message. And those messages are not generally neutral. Look closely at the value based wording. They are telling us, through the headline, not really what happened, but more what we should think and feel about what happened.
Unbiased news should of course, present all sides of an issue in a neutral way. They should tell us the facts of what happened – the general facts in the headline, and critical details in the story. We can then think about and come to our own conclusions about whether it is good or bad.
Usually one must read an entire article to find somewhere, usually about 2/3 to 3/4 the way through, some critical details. There might be a brief statement about a counter argument or opposing point of view. Or these “hidden” details might actually lead one to question the conclusion of the headline. Such details might even lead someone to a very different conclusion. Media is counting on readers not making it to the point where they might encounter something which really makes them think. And they can feel justified that they presented both sides.
The more friends you have on social media, conservative or liberal, the more likely you will see articles that they share. Some of these are good sources and some may be radical. Unfortunately, it seems that liberals tend to throw all of conservative sources in the radical right-wing trashbin, because they are not what they hear from main stream media. It can be a good thing to read what others are reading. It might lead you to question whether your opinion is right. Even if it doesn’t change your mind, you at least might understand others better.
I find it sad to see someone “unfriend” those who post something they disagree with. This tends to shrink their pool of ideas and settle them more firmly into the bubble. Why can’t we have different perspectives and opinions and respect each other?
I have been pleasantly surprised by my local newspaper. Not too long ago, I think because of a change in editorial staff, they started including occasional conservative opinion pieces. Nothing like reading a few of those to realize how lacking those voices had been. It was almost like suddenly seeing colors among the gray. Reading a liberal and a conservative piece on the same topic next to each other is very enlightening – I highly recommend it. It gives one the opportunity to hear both sides and actually form an independent opinion. That is, of course, if one reads them with somewhat of an open mind.
I think it would be wonderful to have a civil discussion of all sides of an issue. But first, we must get out of bubbles and realize that there are multiple perspectives.
I am reminded these days about a little story I was told as a child. Maybe children of later generations missed it? It was about a chicken – Chicken Little – who ran around in a panic saying “the sky is falling”. Now we have little chickens running around in a panic saying the world will come to an end in 12 years if we don’t radically change our whole way of life.
I have a few things to say to those panicking young people. I was young once too. I believed things I was told, especially by knowledgeable professors. However, through time, more learning and life experience, I have come to see many of those things as erroneous, misguided or even deceptive.
Some Perspective from the Dark Ages – the 1970’s
I was a College student back in the 1970’s – almost the dark ages. Actually it was kind of the dark ages. I remember going to school in the dark. Someone, I think wise politicians, decided that perpetual daylight savings time would save great amounts of energy. So we went to school in the dark during the winter. I even recall the Bell Tower on campus playing “Oh, what a Beautiful Morning” as we found our way to class in the dark. I never really understood how that was supposed to work.
I also dutifully car-pooled to campus. There were seven in our car-pool who drove from across town. I had a Volkswagen bug. Yes, we crammed seven bodies into that and drove to school. Why? Because we were told that we would run out of fossil fuel, likely by the end of the century. Yes, we were told there would be no more. It would be all gone. And these predictions were based on “science.”
I also have recalled lately my Senior research project. It was titled “Attitudes of Weber County, Utah Residents Toward Government Intervention in Limiting Family Size.” I pulled it out the other day and read the summary of literature we studied at that time. It included lots of doomsday predictions. The world and its resources just would not be able to sustain increasing populations. We would all starve if something wasn’t done. And yes, there was discussion about forced – that means “anti-choice” – family planning measures.
I’ll share a little quote from the time defining Natalism as:
“The belief that individual couples have the right to have as many children as they please despite the scientific conviction that unchecked population expansion is by far the most potentially disastrous problem facing mankind in the middle of the Twentieth Century.”
(Silverman, Anna and Arnold. The Case Against Having Children. New York: David McKay Company, Inc.,1971 italics added)
What Has Happened Since
Somehow the disastrous problems facing mankind in the Twentieth Century did not destroy us. Overpopulation didn’t turn out to be the nightmare predicted. We haven’t all starved. Scientists were wrong, or at least not right. Maybe there was a reason we were deceived? Possibly it has more to do with politics than science?
The population hasn’t grown out of control without government intervention. Population growth rates have gone down. In fact, fertility rates in some countries have dropped below replacement levels.
The United States didn’t take steps to restrict family size. Legalizing abortion and changing attitudes accomplished that. Now we have young people too scared to have children because we are all going to die.
China did adopt and enforce – being communist made it easy to do the forcing – a one-child policy. Now four decades later, even they are seeing that it was not such a good idea. Not only did it destroy the family structure which took care of older parents, but the whole system is unbalanced, without sufficient young workers to sustain growing older populations.
We are not all starving to death. In fact, in the US we have a huge obesity problem. Yes, there are hungry people in the US and actual starvation in some countries. But that is not because we cannot produce enough food. This also, has more to do with politics. People are starving in Venezuela, while humanitarian aid is blocked from reaching them.
We have not run out of fossil fuels, but they are still the villain. It makes me wonder if this is just another attempt to shift power and wealth, because earlier attempts didn’t produce lasting results.
Power to Control Weather
I recently re-read the bible story of Jesus calming the seas. I recommend studying that one. (Matthew 8:22-27; Luke 8:22-25) My thought was this: Yes, there is one who can control the weather. He is the Creator. He has knowledge and power over the elements of this earth. He has power to change the climate. But He works according to laws and principles which may be foreign to scientific man. Those principles include faith and obedience. The elements obey Him. People don’t always.
The world mocks God and faith. Some laugh at the mere idea of appealing to God to temper the elements, as something primitive, uncivilized people would do.
The Choice to Believe
People, especially today, have made science and man their god. They willingly put their faith in scientists. The same kinds of scientists who misled us 40-50 years ago with their dire predictions. The same science that was used to convince us that tobacco was safe and that repeated concussions wouldn’t cause permanent damage.
People are willing to obey government over God. As if government really has our best interest in mind.
Why is it easier for some to believe the word of scientists and politicians than prophets of God? The world mocks prophets, but now people are paying attention to very similar “doomsday prophesies” from men in the name of science.
How consistent is it to believe that our world came into existence through totally random forces, yet we, puny humans, who randomly evolved from lower life forms, somehow have the power to control those random forces, change the course of nature and save ourselves?
I would not recommend totally disregarding science or attempts to be better stewards of this planet. We should use knowledge to make better choices and improve our environment. But why give in to fear-mongering and put blind trust in those who would ultimately cause more damage to our freedom and way of life?
Is there really a need to panic and rush forward with radical proposals that have not been well thought out? Some scientists have actually predicted that the proposed solutions may be more disastrous than the problems they supposedly address.
It seems reasonable to me that all things are in the hands of an omnipotent creator with a plan. Why then not appeal to Him? Why then not act consistently with His plan and laws? How could that possibly put us in a worse position?
Yes, the world as we know it will come to an end. Not necessarily in the manner or the timing now being pushed by the hysterical chickens. The end has been prophesied since the beginning. It has always been part of the plan. The result will not just be an end, but also a beginning of a better world. Whether you are around to enjoy the better depends upon individual choice – whether to believe and obey God or man.
As the end of the world approaches, I don’t think we will be saved by solar panels. I believe our salvation will come as we individually choose to turn to the power of The Son.