The Sky is Not Falling

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.”

Me and my VW in 1974

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?

The End

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.

Democratic Socialism

What’s in a Name?

I am alarmed by the promotion of socialism in America today. Proponents throw out definitions and make distinctions between socialism, communism and what they are calling Democratic Socialism and even Social Democracy. Does giving it a better sounding name makes it a better thing? Or do they think they have found a way to create a good version of an inherently bad thing? It is as if what makes socialism a bad thing is purely in the details of implementation. And they know a way to create the utopia without the oppression, starvation, and disasters that have historically followed previous attempts.

In reality, what makes any brand of socialism bad is the principles upon which it is based – principles which are directly in opposition to the principles upon which the United States was founded. To think that such conflicting principles can be merged into a successful system is unrealistic.

A Little History –
Foundations of American Government

I studied Karl Marx, and admit that some of his ideas sound rather good – in theory. This is especially so when understood in light of the system of aristocratic oppression of peasants from which he came. But this kind of oppression is a far cry from anything experienced in America today.

American colonists rejected this same aristocratic system in creating the United States of America. A fundamental principle of our government is the right to own private property and subsequent associated rights. It is true that this opportunity initially was not available to everyone, but it was available to many more than the “1 percent”-ish, wealthy land-owning class in the Europe they left.

Our government is based upon principles of personal choice and self-direction. It encourages initiative, innovation, free enterprise, personal development and prosperity. In such a system, some obviously prosper more than others, but otherwise there is little or no incentive for excellence or improvement. Consequences, positive or negative, are always connected to choice.

The Fallacy of “Rule by the People”

Our government was designed to keep a balance of power between branches of government and with representation of the people. Socialism presents itself as “rule by the people” because it sprung out of an effort to eliminate a elite ruling class, but the reality is that it creates an opportunity for a different, but very powerful ruling government entity.

Government is actually controlled by people – either “we the people” as a whole with each having some say in a representative manner, or a government controlled by a single dictator or a powerful group or “party”. The idea of “democratic socialism” is basically using democratic principles of choice/vote to get citizens to voluntarily give up control to a government, which most likely will become powerful and oppressive. There are always those waiting to take control and exercise power that citizens relinquish.

Democratic Socialism?

It is naive to think that you could take from socialism some good things and merge them with democracy and have something better. How could one guarantee economic benefits without decreasing liberty? How could one prevent the negative aspects of socialism becoming part of the system?

The costs of socialism would involve more than money, but also a loss of freedom. The distinction that “democratic socialism” is better than communism or plain socialism because it takes into account the choice of the people, is a misleading assumption. The majority might vote into effect socialistic laws, but then those laws become binding on everyone. There is no ability to “opt out” of compliance, but rather there are serious penalties for those who did not personally choose. Such socialism gives tremendous power to the state. In effect, the choice to vote for socialism is actually a choice to give away freedom.

If government becomes the giver of all good things to everyone, someone has to pay for all this. It is unrealistic to think that it will all be free. If the government is the giver of everything, it also becomes the taker. Taxes have to increase for everyone, not just the rich. The rich, being taxed more greatly, would be enticed to leave the country taking with them their earning potential, goods and services, and leaving employees without jobs and the government without their taxes.

Human Nature

The underlying issues and the reason socialism has and will continue to fail, is basically human nature. True economic equality can not be accomplished by compulsion or legislation when you recognize the core issues of selfishness and greed. You can’t cure the greed of the wealthy by taking away from them and giving to the greedy poor who want what they have not earned. Greedy politicians will always ensure that they get more than everyone else.

History has shown that even by physically eliminating (killing off) the wealthy, educated and prosperous, another group – government – steps in to assume the position of power and control, leaving the masses no better off and likely much worse off. The few, now government officials, will glut on the labor of the people. And history has shown that tyranny follows.

There will never be true equality in a society unless and until all of the people, especially those in leadership positions, are equally good, righteous and selfless. All must be willing to put the welfare of others and the good of society above their own self interests. I don’t see this happening in the USA of today. There will always be those individuals who thirst for and then abuse power. A socialist system gives them a great opportunity, which can easily be seen in a study of history.

Why this Generation?

The real irony to me is the support of socialism by a “me-generation” – one that has grown up being told how special they are, getting and expecting attention for everything they do, and feeling entitled to anything that anyone else has. How could socialism possibly work with such people? Do they really think that by all getting free stuff that they want, that it can still be “all about me”?

Communism/socialism treats the masses as “comrades” – all the same, nothing special about any, all insignificant workers, easily replaced by any other warm body. Is this really what they want – to be just a nameless number in a system? Or are they just short-sighted, thinking only of getting something without any personal effort? Did they really buy into the idea that they were individually that special when they all got the same participation trophy? Or did they just come to expect any reward that anyone else got because it would not be fair for some to get something that others did not?

Do they think that things like a guaranteed job with a living wage would mean that they – these young people who feel that menial physical labor is beneath them – get the kind of job they choose? Historically those government guaranteed jobs have been things like working in rice paddies, mines and factories.

Do they think that a house for everyone means they get the house they want in the neighborhood where they want to live? Historically government guaranteed housing has been government assigned sub-standard housing built by workers who have no incentive to do good work.

Maybe the appeal of socialism seems natural for those who have come to feel entitled, but that is a deceptive seduction. In buying into it, they may get what they feel entitled to, but it is an empty prize – meaningless because in accepting it, they lose any uniqueness, individuality or personal sense of accomplishment.

Agency and Liberty

The purpose of government should be to facilitate the free exercise of agency, to protect and promote liberty. Government guarantees however, tend to come with increased government control and less freedom to choose. This inconsistency of this with the value we Americans place on the rights of personal choice should be obvious.

Safe, Legal and Rare

Abortion has become a hot topic. I remember 1973 and Roe v Wade. I remember well the promise of “safe, legal and rare.” Though still legal – and I doubt that will change – the promises of “safe” and “rare” have all but disappeared entirely.

As I begin, I want to first make it clear that I have no intent, and have never had any intent, to judge or condemn any individual who has had an abortion. I feel bad for anyone who finds herself in a position to even need to consider it. It makes me sad to think any woman would feel that she had no choice. I know nothing of anyone’s individual circumstances. I will leave the matter of judgement between her and God.

My feelings are directed toward those who promote abortion – the industry and the supporting political platform. I talk of Democrats as the Political Party, not intending to judge any individuals. So, before any who identify as Democrat get all offended, know that I respect your right to your own opinion supported by whatever reasoning you accept. I am not judging or attacking you personally. But I also have a right to express my opinion and feelings and explain my position.

Rare

The numbers alone are evidence that abortion is not a rare occurrence. Sixty million babies have been aborted in the United States alone. That is staggering. There is no way that all of these were for reasons of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

Supposedly abortion is a necessary thing to help women who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances. But we all know that abortions are performed for just about any reason. Does a woman even have to provide a reason? It is her choice, after all.

In the really rare situation when a mother’s life is in danger, the solution is simply to remove the baby. This can be done through induced labor or if a real critical danger, through emergency C-Section. There is no need to poison the baby before removal or tear the baby apart in the process. If it is too soon for the baby to be viable, it will not survive. If it is viable, then a living baby is delivered and the mother’s life is saved. This was the supposed goal anyway.

If the mother’s life is truly in danger, she should be in a hospital with an operating room, trained staff, and life saving equipment. Women whose lives are in danger have no place in a clinic in a strip-mall.

Financial Gain

The reason abortion is not rare, but rather expanding is because of it’s potential for profit and power. Conspiring women and men learned early on that legalized abortion was a huge business opportunity. It has gone from being an occasional medical procedure to a booming industry. There are profits to be made – and ways to maximize profits. Expanding circumstances in which it is allowed means more abortions and more money. Promoting it, even with lies and misconceptions convinces vulnerable women that it is the best option.

The abortion industry also found a way to make money off the “by products” by selling body parts for research. When you are dealing with an industry built on the desperation of women and the taking of innocent lives, why is it even surprising that this would not also include bending the law to maximize profits?

The money made through abortion also buys political influence, which keeps the money coming, not only through more abortions because of laws expanding criteria, but also through public heath care dollars going to their clinics.

Safe

Legalized abortion was first presented as a solution to “back alley abortions”. The danger of women dying in such horrible situations would be remedied by having abortions performed by licensed medical professionals – by real doctors – in clean, safe facilities.

If safety was a real issue – a primary issue – then abortions would only be performed in hospitals by fully trained and licensed doctors. The recent New York law would now remove the doctor. Gone are the last remaining shreds of the “between a woman and her doctor” myth. Not only can an abortion be performed by someone the woman has never seen before – who knows nothing of her medical history nor has counseled with her about things like options and potential complications – but now that person does not have to be a doctor at all. Some states do not require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital, let alone perform abortions in a hospital. Now in New York, admitting privileges don’t even enter in, if the abortionist is not an MD.

The horrors of Dr. Gosnell are no longer a rare exception, but are now legally sanctioned in New York. Where is this trend headed? Will abortions soon be performed by CNAs or lab technicians? I can almost imagine in the near future the promotion of Full-Service Spas or Salons. You can get a mani pedi, bikini wax, Botox injection, massage and abortion all in the same place.

Yes, that may seem outrageous and facetious, but the direction is key. Rather than moving toward more medical safeguards, it is moving backwards toward the “back alley” situations which legalized abortion was supposed to eliminate.

A Word about Science

I must mention the expansion of scientific knowledge and increased technology since 1973. The lies that abortion clinics have told women about simply removing “clumps of cells” which are, of course, part of “their body” have been exposed. Women can see that this is a baby inside them – with all body parts and a beating heart. DNA testing provides a clear indicator that this baby is a unique person, from conception. This is a separate body, not part of a woman’s body. A separate human being. And science has shown that not only does this unique little person move around, he or she can hear voices and sounds from outside, and can feel pain.

As much as we are told that the Democratic Party is the party of science, they disregard science in this instance, just as they have discarded “safe and rare” in the practice.

Political Power

The bottom line about abortion at this point is that it is more about political power than anything else. The Democratic Party uses abortion as an indicator and as an extension of it’s political power. They take action to expand abortion rights – even in the face of sound scientific evidence contrary to their previous claims – when and because they can.

Democrats panic at the thought that Republicans and conservative Supreme Court justices might put restrictions on abortion, which they see as a threat to their power. They are making preemptive attacks to counter what they fear might come. I see the cheering after the New York law passed as their way of saying “yeah, Republicans, take that.” Gloating in that power is more important to them than the dead babies and distraught women they are tromping on in the process.

We are experiencing a war. It is a political war, but by seeing it only that way, the actual horrors of destroying human life are often ignored. I am encouraged by the Pro-life affirmations I have seen recently. Laws may not change in the direction we want, but like others, I feel a personal need to share how I see the situation and make clear where I stand.

American Dream vs Socialist Fantasy

We are hearing much about Socialism these days. A study of history should show that this does not turn out well. However those promoting Socialism in America propose that their version would bring all of the benefits without any of the problems.

Before we get all excited about getting free stuff, I think we need to understand some fundamental principles upon which our government and American society was founded. The principles underlying Socialism are in direct opposition to the principles underlying democracy and our way of life – the American Dream.

In the Beginning

The founders of our country wanted a government that didn’t interfere or impede personal pursuit of happiness. In the world they came from peoples’ lives were limited by the circumstances of their birth. They sought to eliminate those constraints and place everyone on the same ground. That does not mean there are not limits, but rather than limits imposed by culture or government, all are limited by their own personal desire, initiative and effort.

There were no guarantees of prosperity given to these new Americans by their newly established government. Just opportunity and guarantees that the government would not restrict their rights. The prosperity of the Nation was dependent upon the prosperity of its citizens. They prospered through their initiative and hard work. Their efforts benefited not only themselves and their families, but they also contributed to society. When everyone contributes, society prospers.

A Living Wage

One expectation of this new socialism is that everyone is entitled to an income sufficient for them not just to live – but to live comfortably, or in a manner in which they would like. They use the term “a living wage”. The reality is that people all over the world are “living” on very little income, especially compared to what most people in this country make. Even those living near poverty in this country live better than many in the world.

Wages are based, not on needs of the worker, but on what the work is worth – the value of it to an employer or someone seeking a service. Therefore, some jobs are “worth” more than others. Usually there has been a significant investment in time and effort and experience to meet requirements for certain jobs, therefore the pay for those is higher – they are worth more.

Adjusting the Wage Gap

There are two ways to approach insufficient income – decrease expenses or increase income. Many would simply suggest pay everyone more. But it is more complicated than that.

At times I have said, somewhat tongue in cheek, that the reason my husband and I enjoy relative financial security is that we “live like poor people”. Basically, we learned to live and be comfortable living “beneath our means”. We could have, like many other people, gone into great debt to have a bigger house, nicer cars, lots of toys and expensive vacations. We adjusted our “wants” to invest in our future, so that now retired, we are comfortable and have a sense of security.

This seems to be a hard concept for many, especially young people who have come to see as necessities many things that I easily lived without for years. When things get hard, there is a great distinction to be seen between “life sustaining” and “lifestyle maintaining”. So “living wage” based on the idea of “life sustaining” would include only basics. Heat and electricity and food are life sustaining. With limited income, adjustments can and should be made on expenses.

Of course, the other way to fix the disparity is to increase income. In other words, find a job that pays better. This of course, is easier said than done. Knowing that wages are based on the value of the work done, the way to do that is to increase personal work value. It likely will require gaining more education or training to qualify for a higher paying job. This is where initiative and effort come in. It also may require delayed gratification and sacrifice to increase one’s value to employers.

The idea of the same pay for menial labor that can be done by someone with no education or training and professional work by someone with a Degree and specialized training removes the value and worth of the education and training. It removes any incentive for people to better themselves to improve their financial situation. It would dumb down the work force.

Simply “giving” jobs to everyone without even the effort of applying – the effort to sell an employer on the “worth” of your labor – results in workers with no ambition. This is even greater when the jobs given are those the person has no interest, desire or ability to do. The quality of goods and services will go down. No one really benefits.

Free College Education

Education is an investment. It takes time and effort. It requires delayed gratification and sacrifice. Many in my generation and generations before really did “live like poor people” while pursuing an education. It may take years to finish the education process, then more years of experience to get the full benefit of that investment.

The idea of financial aid for education, in the way of scholarships, grants and even student loans, should also be seen as an investment. It is not a handout, a given, an entitlement. It is not simply based on need. Those receiving such aid must take some initiative and put forth effort to apply. They must give those providing the money some assurance that this money will be well spent. They are investing in someone who will eventually give back to society in some way.

To take away any requirements, any process involving effort to apply, also takes away any accountability for how that money is used. Where is the incentive to study and do well if the money keeps coming anyway? The idea that everyone is entitled to 4 years of extended adolescent partying, while taking some classes, does nothing to benefit society. Sure they may learn some things along the way and get a Degree, but without learning responsibility and accountability, what kind of citizens will they make?

Free Housing

The promise of housing for every American sounds too good to be true – because it is. The dream of the colonists and early Americans was to own property and be able to do with it as one chooses. In the Europe they came from, there were a few very wealthy people owning most of the property.

Early Americans of course, didn’t arrive on the frontier to find a nice house and well kept yard waiting for them. They obtained some land and then “improved” it. They sweated to remove trees, cultivate land, dig ditches, build houses and other buildings. It took a great deal of work. Because of that effort, they took pride in the results. They worked more to maintain, expand and continue to improve their property.

Homes, like jobs become better with effort. They are an investment. Having them given to you without effort, removes the responsibility and accountability. If “free housing” is given, it comes with the expectation of “free maintenance”. It is the owner’s responsibility, right? We often see this with rental property. What incentive is there for tenants to improve what does not belong to them? What incentive is there for landlords to improve what they do not have to live in?

There are many homeless people in our country, and varying causes for that homelessness. Some are homeless because the costs of housing are too high. So what is the solution for them? Have the government pay for them to live in a nice house? Or provide incentives for builders to build housing that they could afford? This may not be as big or nice a house as someone else’s, but probably much nicer than a cardboard box on the street (or the makeshift shanties many in other countries live in).

Some people are homeless because they choose to be. We value freedom of choice in this country. “Free housing” would eliminate choice of where, and often how one lives.

The Choice

So even though the idea of free stuff for everyone sounds wonderful, it is a fantasy. History has shown us that Socialism cannot provide benefits without cost. The costs may not be so much monetary as they are losses of freedom. We loose our right to choose – a right that ironically seems so vitally important to the same people who advocate Socialism.

This country and our government were built upon principles of individual liberty, self-determination, personal responsibility and accountability. The role of government essentially should be to insure those inalienable rights of life and liberty and allow us “the pursuit of happiness” as we see fit. It is indeed a dream. Maybe a dream not realized the same for everyone, but the dream is available to all.

The alternative is truly a fantasy. A fantasy that in practice likely will turn into a nightmare.

7 Things I Learned from My Social Media Fast

Removing social media from your life for a time can bring awareness of how time is spent, personal choices and preferences and even positive aspects. It was a learning experience for me.

The Challenge

President Russell M. Nelson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints challenged the sisters of the Church to take a 10 day Social Media fast. He had issued a similar challenge to the youth of the Church earlier. The timing of this challenge was after I had spent a week on a cruise ship in somewhat of an involuntary Social Media fast. I took the challenge anyway, though I kind of justified ending it at about day 5, taking credit for time already served.

I do feel that my fast was sufficient for me to learn several important lessons and make some changes in my habits, which I think was a main goal of the challenge. You might learn very different lessons from such a fast. This is what I learned:

Lesson #1 – It is important to be aware of YOUR Social Media habits and their impact on your life.

There is great variety in the personal social media habits of different people. Things that may be an issue for one person are not for another. I think some people have genuinely addictive behaviors, while others use social media very rarely or not at all.

Personally, I don’t Tweet – I really don’t get Twitter – so Facebook is the only Social Media I use. (Even though I do have a Twitter account and auto-share Blog posts to Twitter for you Tweeters) I must admit that my use of Facebook has been not only daily, but several times some days.

Positive change does not happen without first some awareness of a problem. Removing something for a time is helpful in gaining awareness of things like how much time is spent, personal choices and preferences, negative and even positive aspects.

Lesson #2 – Social Media can provide preferred and even more balanced news.

While on the cruise I was away from all media, not just social media, for most of the time. At one point on the ship I noticed a group of people gathered around a TV screen in a lounge watching CNN or some news show. It was actually a shock to my system at that point – I didn’t realize how nice it had been without TV news. Commentators were discussing something that had been in the news for some time before I left. I listened just wanting to know if it was resolved and what was the outcome. What I heard was more of the same kinds of arguments and discussion I had left days before.

I realized that I prefer my “news” in printed form. I want to hear the facts of what happened. Then I can decide if it is a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t want reporters or commentators explaining or interpreting what happened and especially I don’t want to be told how I should feel about it. Unfortunately, that is what I get most of the time – from Mainstream media news on TV and from AP articles in the newspaper. My husband likes to watch shows like PBS News Hour. I get irritated listening to obviously biased “experts” telling us not just what happened but what we should think.

I would much rather read a reasoned and well written analysis than listen to people who seem most interested in listening to their own wisdom. What I realized while “fasting” from social media – for me Facebook – is that most news I get from TV and the newspaper is very biased. There are some non-liberal news sources which I access through Facebook, which along with the liberal media I also read, help me to be better informed and form my own opinions.

Lesson #3 – I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, which is a good thing.

When starting the Social Media Fast, one of my concerns was missing out on what is going on with friends and family. I even started the fast with a Facebook post wishing people Happy Birthday in advance. Facebook allows me to keep in touch with family members and friends who live far away. I wondered what I missed in the way of birthdays, anniversaries, or other life events. Was someone having a hard time that I could not offer some encouragement because I did not know?

I have a friend who suffers from Lupus and has periods of time she is too sick to get out and do things. I can know how she is doing through Facebook. When she is well I see a number of likes of my posts, some going back many days or even weeks. When I see nothing from her for a time, I know she is not well.

I belong to several Facebook groups, some of which are vital for me to know what is going on – either events or activities of an organization or specific needs of people. They have discussions that I feel I can contribute to in a meaningful and helpful way. I can learn from these discussions as well.

Lesson #4 – There are many things I didn’t miss during the fast.

I don’t like to have ads constantly before me, so that was a nice break. It was refreshing not to get into any contentious discussions, which tends to happen when I dare to express an opinion about something. These can get me worked up and frustrated, which doesn’t help me and probably does nothing to convince anyone else to change their mind. I didn’t miss negative or critical posts. Sometimes it is hard to avoid these, but I can still choose whether and how to respond. I found I can get along quite well without cat videos and pictures of food.

Lesson #5 – Good, uplifting and inspirational things are shared on Social Media.

Much of what is on Social Media is positive. I follow some Pages that post inspirational thoughts and articles and stories. Many of my friends share uplifting things. It is interesting/ ironic that this challenge came from the President of our Church, when many of the posts I truly enjoy and missed were ones from Latter-day Saint focused Pages and groups. I love to read articles about scriptures, Church History, or spiritual topics.

President Nelson’s intent was to help us remove negative media from our lives. However by fasting from all Social Media, we can throw out the good along with the bad. Staying away from ALL social media also deprived me of things that could have benefited me.

Lesson #6 – Social Media does waste a good deal of time that could be better spent.

The worst thing of my social media use would probably be the time wasted. It is very easy to scroll through the seemingly endless social media posts. Sometimes I see again things I already scrolled though. I am a “multi-tasker” in the sense that I can scroll through Facebook while doing other things like talking on the phone with someone. This is a bad habit for not giving them the attention they deserve.  We have old-fashioned TV and have to watch commercials, so I tune those out by looking at Facebook.

During my fast, I found I could get much more done during the day. I also read some good books – my multi-tasking during commercials and other times I probably would have been online. I learned more from those books than I would have from some of the silly posts and articles I might have read.

Lesson #7 – Social Media use does not have to be all or nothing. We can be discriminating users.

Because of this fast, I have tried to make some changes in my use of Social media. I try not to spend so much time scrolling through Facebook, though that is probably my biggest remaining temptation.

I did figure out that I could be more selective in what I see. Facebook allows you to select posts you want to see first. I went through and selected close friends and family along with some positive Pages and groups that I don’t want to miss. I also “unfollowed” some friends whose posts tend to be negative or distracting. Selecting “Hide Ads” can eliminate some of those annoying ads that keep popping up. If I were more tech savvy, there are probably other things I could do to make my use of Social Media more beneficial and less distracting. It is a process and does take some self control. Ultimately, it is my own choice whether to click on something senseless or something uplifting.

A Spectrum of Spiritual Disorders

Could we all be suffering from different forms of the same basic disorder – each falling somewhere along a spiritual disorders spectrum?

The Process of Change

I recently read a book about a woman’s personal story of overcoming and changing her life in a positive way. As I read, I was flashing back to another book that I read almost 30 years ago by a man sharing his story of personal change and overcoming.

Though their challenges were different, both of these people went through essentially the same process – a spiritual process of rebirth, a change of heart, a spiritual awakening, and an accompanying change of their lives. At the time I read the earlier book, I was involved with a Twelve Step program and this book was recommended as an example of that process. This man’s issues did not involve substance abuse, but his recovery process was the same as those who did. The Twelve Steps have been successful for people with a variety of addictions, including things like gambling and addictive relationships.

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Agency & Accountability

Any attempt to separate consequences from actions or accountability from agency is in effect seeking to destroy agency.

Agency & Accountability

I first thought to do a word of the month on accountability, since that seems to be in short supply in some circles today. I had also considered using agency as a word of the month. The more I thought about it, I realized that agency and accountability need to be presented together. They are two sides of the same coin. One cannot really function without the other. I am also beginning to understand more clearly how Satan seeks to destroy agency by trying to remove accountability.

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The Dual Nature of Man and the Battle for the Soul

I am concerned about the battles raging in our society – the battles which divide us into opposing groups, and also the internal battles for individual souls. These are continuations of a war which began long ago. We have no recollection of it, but scriptural accounts can stir up feelings and give us a sense of the intensity and eternal significance of the struggle. (See Revelation 12:7-9, Moses 4:1-4, Abraham 3:27-28)

What makes this war is so challenging on an individual level – and that is the level that it really counts – are the realities of our current mortal existence.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I believe that we are essentially spiritual beings. We are actually the spiritual offspring of God, and as such have at our spiritual core a divine nature and potential. In order for us to be able to progress toward that potential, we have been given the opportunity of this mortal existence. We have been housed in physical bodies and placed in a temporal world. I do not believe that everything about these physical bodies and this world are inherently bad or evil. These bodies are marvelous creations and allow us to do wonderful things. Our world is filled with so much that is beautiful and good. However, being a spiritual being inside a physical body creates the basis of our test, and the core of the battle – will the spiritual overcome the physical and progress, or will the spiritual yield to the physical?

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Privilege

When did “privilege” become a dirty word? Is privilege a blessing or a cause of shame? The more I ponder on privilege and the way the word is being used today, the more I realize that the real problem is not privilege at all – it is pride.*

I have heard the word “privilege”, especially “white privilege” being hurled at people as an insult. I have had the phrase “your privilege is showing” thrown at me, as if that somehow meant I have no social conscience. This is not how I remember this word being used.

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Awareness, Insight and Impaired Brains

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

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

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