July 7th, 2006

The Proper Role of Government—A Commentary

I highly recommend the talk “The Proper Role of Government” by Ezra Taft Benson. The following is my thoughts on select portions of his talk. Warning: this post might be a tad long… :)

All too often, answers to these questions seem to be based, not upon any solid principle, but upon the popularity of the specific government program in question. Seldom are men willing to oppose a popular program if they, themselves, wish to be popular – especially if they seek public office.

Unlike the political opportunist, the true statesman values principle above popularity, and works to create popularity for those political principles which are wise and just.

Pres. Benson starts off with an excellent denunciation of the political popularity contest we see today. How often do we observe politicians changing course simply to cater to a group of voters, or to jump on a bandwagon on a hot topic to be seen on the popular side and not be criticized?

Pres. Benson is in line with the political understanding of the revolutionary generation, when “…the very notion that a candidate should openly solicit votes violated the principled presumption that such behavior itself represented a confession of unworthiness for national office.” (Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, p. 162)

If principles are correct, then they can be applied to any specific proposal with confidence.

This is what we need more of in today’s political arena. Men of faith. Men with principles. Men who understand the difference between right and wrong. Men who use principles as a litmus test for any legislation, government program, or court case.

Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government.

In this section of his talk, Benson discusses the possible sources of our liberties and freedoms. Some liberals, being fans of big government, seem to have instilled in their mind that the government is the institution that creates and provides these rights for its citizens. Benson refutes that notion as follows:

Since God created man with certain unalienable rights, and man, in turn, created government to help secure and safeguard those rights, it follows that man is superior to the creature which he created. Man is superior to government and should remain master over it, not the other way around. Even the non-believer can appreciate the logic of this relationship.

It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything.

In order for man to prosper, he cannot afford to spend his time constantly guarding his family, his fields, and his property against attack and theft, so he joins together with his neighbors and hires a sheriff. At this precise moment, government is born. The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves.

Here Benson shows that government only exists to serve the people, who are the very ones that give the government the power it wields. “WE THE PEOPLE…”, in the Preamble, clearly illustrates this point. The government only has its power because of the people it is intended to serve, and not the other way around. Indeed, the false idea that the government is the institution that affords its citizens the rights they enjoy is in complete contrast to the will and intent of the Founding Fathers of this great nation.

Quoting James Madison:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary.

This raises a very interesting point. In the last quote, people united and appointed a sheriff to protect them from evil-doers. But if there were no evil-doers, they would not need protection. If your son was angelic and had no disposition to do bad things, you would not need to give him any rules, for he would already be obeying them. Similarly, if we were all perfect and loved and served each other, God would not need to give us commandments. Indeed, the two greatest commandments, to love God and our fellow man, are all-encompassing commandments, for if I truly love my neighbor and God, then I won’t be murdering you, stealing from you, lusting after your wife, or doing anything else wrong.

So, government exists to protect the citizens from evil-doers. The Declaration of Independence says that “to secure these rights (Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness), Governments are instituted among Men”. Government exists to secure us these rights that we would already enjoy if everybody would just do what is right. Interesting thought. But, that isn’t the case (as is evident upon watching your local news channel, riddled with examples of evil and sin). And so, government is born.

Suppose pioneer “A” wants another horse for his wagon, He doesn’t have the money to buy one, but since pioneer “B” has an extra horse, he decides that he is entitled to share in his neighbor’s good fortune, Is he entitled to take his neighbor’s horse? Obviously not! If his neighbor wishes to give it or lend it, that is another question. But so long as pioneer “B” wishes to keep his property, pioneer “A” has no just claim to it.

If “A” has no proper power to take “B’s” property, can he delegate any such power to the sheriff? No. Even if everyone in the community desires that “B” give his extra horse to “A”, they have no right individually or collectively to force him to do it. They cannot delegate a power they themselves do not have.

In this example, Benson illustrates why socialism does not work. The redistribution of wealth cannot work (especially by moronic politicians who think they know what’s best for you) simply because the government can only operate based on powers given to it by its citizens. And, as Benson states, “the people who have created government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place”. So, as he illustrated in his example with the horse, people do not have the power to redistribute wealth (or health care or social security, for example), and therefore the government cannot and should not have such power.

This means, then, that the proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by man. No man possesses such power to delegate. The creature cannot exceed the creator.

When all is said and done, the essential role of governemnt is simply to protect its citizens from “all enemies both foreign and domestic”.

Quoting the Alabama Constitution:

That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.

Wow. How many of our nation’s leaders today’s are living and serving in accordance with this statement? How many government-instituted programs and taxes and laws could we drop kick into the category of “usurpation and oppression”?

Quoting John Locke:

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom.

Sound familiar?

I believe we Americans should use extreme care before lending our support to any proposed government program. We should fully recognize that government is no plaything. As George Washington warned, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master!” (The Red Carpet, p.142) It is an instrument of force and unless our conscience is clear that we would not hesitate to put a man to death, put him in jail or forcibly deprive him of his property for failing to obey a given law, we should oppose it.

I believe Benson is here endorsing skepticism, prudence, and thoughtful analyzation of all government-proposed programs. We should investigate, get our facts straight, and assess whether or not the program is something the government should have the power to implement—is it something that we would have the power to do ourselves, if there was no government?

Quoting Thomas Jefferson:

The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, law, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body.

AMEN! AMEN! The bulk of power should be centered in local government, where the “common” people can and do have the most influence and power to control and manage their government affairs. As noted earlier, federal government should be primarily concerned with the defense of the nation as a whole. All other matters that can be handled locally should be, but how often is this the case?

No one has the authority to grant such powers, as welfare programs, schemes for re-distributing the wealth, and activities which coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social planning. There is one simple test. Do I as an individual have a right to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal? If I do have such a right, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise on my behalf. If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me.

Again, this clearly explains that our government can only be vested with powers that we as inidividuals would possess ourselves in the absence of a governmental institution. I can’t force my neighbor to share his wealth and property with me. I can’t force him to give me free money when I retire. I can’t force him to pay my medical bills. So why should the government?

Quoting Thomas Jefferson:

With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens — a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it had earned

In this section, Benson is talking about “legalized plunder”, a term where the government taxes its citizens overbearingly to provide for its programs, the redistribution of wealth, and other “take from the rich and give to the poor” implementations. Jefferson’s quote is supportive of this in illustrating that government has no place in interfering with a man’s business with numerous taxes, tariffs, and laws which only end up impeding prosperity, creativity, and ingenuity. I can’t think of anything more stifling to a fledgling business than the IRS and DWS imposing all sorts of regulations, fees, and laws.

Quoting FBI Agent Dan Smoot:

“England was killed by an idea: the idea that the weak, indolent and profligate must be supported by the strong, industrious, and frugal — to the degree that tax-consumers will have a living standard comparable to that of taxpayers; the idea that government exists for the purpose of plundering those who work to give the product of their labor to those who do not work.
The economic and social cannibalism produced by this communist-socialist idea will destroy any society which adopts it and clings to it as a basic principle — ANY society.”

That pretty much describes America today. Stop stealing my money and giving it to the elderly, the sick, and the poor. Leave it up to me to be charitable with my hard-earned money. The Feds are not modern-day Robin Hoods. They don’t know what the best way to use my money is’I do. But I work four months a year, as do we all, to pay our bloated government, which thinks it knows best how to manage our money. Absurd.

Quoting Henry Grady Weaver:

Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own… The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional ‘do-gooders’, who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others — with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means.

This is an excellent point, yet again showing that the government, no matter how well-intentioned they are or claim to be, is not the right solution for helping the poor and the sick. What, then, is the solution? As Benson says:

By comparison, America traditionally has followed Jefferson’s advice of relying on individual action and charity. The result is that the United States has fewer cases of genuine hardship per capita than any other country in the entire world or throughout all history. Even during the depression of the 1930’s, Americans ate and lived better than most people in other countries do today.

Americans are good people. After 9/11 happened, there were millions of dollars raised to help those who had suffered (albeit much was given to organizations such as the Red Cross where some is wasted on overhead expenditures). The best way to solve the world’s problems is by letting them prosper (by reducing taxes and similar hindering burdens), educating them on how best to act and be involved, and letting them do so of their own free will and accord. Again, my money is my own. Do not tell me that you know best how to use it in the interest of the world over. Experience has shown that such is not the case.

This brings up the next question: How is it possible to cut out the various welfare-state features of our government which have already fastened themselves like cancer cells onto the body politic? Isn’t drastic surgery already necessary, and can it be performed without endangering the patient? In answer, it is obvious that drastic measures ARE called for. No half-way or compromise actions will suffice. Like all surgery, it will not be without discomfort and perhaps even some scar tissue for a long time to come. But it must be done if the patient is to be saved, and it can be done without undue risk.

Benson goes on to say that this can be done, in his opinion, in a twenty year time period. It involves letting government programs expire, finish their terms, not be renewed, and then cancelled altogether.

If only… if only there were national-level politicians out there who believed similarly to these principles and statements. If only there were enough people aware of these problems so as to rally together and to take action. If only…

The article is an excellent read. I could have easily cited each paragraph in the article for commentary, since every line was powerful, concise, and potent. I very, very highly recommend it to any and all persons interested in politics. I am grateful for the sound, inspirational wisdom given by President Benson, and for his clarion calls in the political arena.

July 7th, 2006

Alien Al Gore?

I was forwarded this email from my father (I’ve included links for reference purposes):

Here’s some Aviation History everyone should probably know:

You may remember that on July 8, 1947, witnesses claim an unidentified object with five aliens aboard crashed on a sheep-cattle ranch just outside Roswell, New Mexico.

This is a well known incident that many say has been profusely covered up by the Air Force and the US government.

However… what you may NOT well know is that on March 31, 1948, nine months after that historic day, Al Gore was born.

Oh, and lest we all forget, Gore believes that our air and water are at stake.. Perhaps his alien spaceship has special tools that have appraised him of this ever-important morsel of information?

July 7th, 2006

Wealth vs. Moral Sin

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

As members of the Church we often speak out quite audibly with respect to homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and similar moral sin. Holding Sodom & Gomorrah up as an example, we show what these things will bring to fruition in a society.

But the verses cited above clearly state that not only was Sodom guilty of these heinous sins, but they also were rich, greedy, selfish, and proud. Does this ring a bell?

We speak out against these sins in our society so boldly because they are easily identifiable targets. We all pat ourselves on our backs when we are in compliance with these commandments. But how do we feel, and what action do we take, when Prophets speak out against our sins that are not so easily identifiable, such as greed, wealth, pride, and selfishness?

“It has been said that it takes something spectacular to get folks excited, like a burning house. Nobody notices one that is simply decaying. But in America today we not only have decaying but burning before our very eyes.”
—Ezra Taft Benson, “Americans are Destroying America“, April 1968

I’m not saying that we should stop vigorously defending traditional marriage, or that we should be more sensitive or lenient towards moral sins of great magnitude. What I’m saying is that it seems a bit of a double standard to be so loquacious when it comes to moral sin, yet we are mostly mute when it comes to the other sin of Sodom: pride.

Please understand that this rant is directed as much towards me as it is anybody else. I think we all have a great deal of work to do in this area. We as Latter-day Saints are, for the most part, extremely financially blessed. To whom much is given, much is required. Let us, in addition to being outspoken on moral issues, analyze our own lives and assess how we are using our wealth, and where our heart truly is.

“It is our duty to preach the gospel, gather Israel, pay our tithing, and build temples. The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth.”
—Brigham Young, as quoted in James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer, Salt Lake City: Geo. Q. Cannon and Sons Co., 1900, pp. 122-23.

July 6th, 2006

The Rise and Fall of the Post-Christ Nephites

Tonight in institute we read in the book of 4th Nephi. This book, better than any other in the Book of Mormon, highlights the pride cycle which plauged the ancient Nephite/Lamanite civilizations.

In 36 A.D., shortly after Christ’s visit, we learn that everybody was converted to the Lord (v. 2). There were no contentions or disputations among them (v. 2, 13, 15, 18) and they had all things in common (v. 3). There were no social classes or labels (“-ites”) among them (v. 3, 17). They were in one. They were Zion. Indeed, as Mormon noted, there couldn’t be a happier people among all of God’s children (v. 16).

Fast forward 165 years. The people begin to be lifted up in pride, and wear costly apparel to distinguish themselves in a higher social class (v. 24). Six years previous to this time a faction dissented from the church, calling themselves Lamanites (v. 20). However, it isn’t until this time, in 201 A.D., that social classes arise among the people, and the law of consecration ceases to properly function, since they no longer had all their goods and substances in common (v. 25, 26).

It goes downhill from there. Much more downhill. But I stop to ponder… how can I apply 4th Nephi to our day? Is there a pattern to observe? Are people today divided into social classes? Do people wear costly apparel? Are people lifted up in pride, and looking down on others? Is the true Church and its followers persecuted? Are there secret combinations among the wicked?

It’s amazing what opposite ends of the spectrum this chapter touches. First, we had everybody being converted to the Lord, living peaceably, and having all their goods in common. Then at the end of the chapter and book, we learn that everybody, save for the Three Nephites, are wicked, the Gadianton Robbers infest the entire land, and nobody has any goods in common.

Where do we stand today? Are we lifted up in pride? Do we assist those of less fortunate circumstances? Are we infatuated with celebrities, the latest fashion, and buying more and more unnecessary things? Are we striving for Zion? Are we striving to live the law of consecration?

Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life. (Alma 5:28)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot to work on. There’s no better time to start than now.

July 6th, 2006

Steven Jones and the 9/11 Cover-Up

Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.
Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. (Ether 8:23-24, emphasis added)

Stephen E. Jones, a BYU physics professor (I was his student for one of my physics classes), has published a peer-reviewed paper, documenting his claims that the “official story” of 9/11 is a hoax, and a possible cover-up.

Now, before those of you reading this roll your eyes, try opening your minds to the possibility. Ask yourself “What if?“.

The implications of Jones’ allegations are far-reaching, thought-provoking, and of great importance. The fact that his critics seek to write him off as a nutcase instead of attempting to scientifically refute his claims is further evidence of their potential validity. Having taken a class from Dr. Jones, I know a little of his character, his spirituality, his personality, and his professionalism. I deem him to be a sane, humble, spiritual, intelligent man who is merely trying to seek the truth.

That being said, I highly recommend watching the following videos to learn more about what Dr. Jones has to say. The people who I’ve related his claims to are very shocked and surprised at their strength, logic, and potential for proof.

First, I recommend watching a 6 minute interview Dr. Jones did with Tucker Carslon, a political windbag, on MSNBC. It is interesting to note in this video how Tucker/MSNBC refused to air the footage of tower #7 falling, though Dr. Jones had previously provided the short clip to them. That clip can be watched here.

Second, I recommend getting a snack and sitting down for two hours to watch this UVSC lecture done by Dr. Jones late in 2005. Here he outlines the several points from his paper. It is very enlightening and informative.

Finally, it would be beneficial to also watching an hour-long clip of this meeting, in the style of a fireside of sorts, with some concerned citizens and church members in Provo in April 2006. They talk about, among other things, Jones’ claims in light of Book of Mormon prophecy.

Fact or fiction? As Fox News likes to chant, “we report, you decide”.

July 6th, 2006

Pedophiliac Putin?

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently kissed a little boy on the stomach after lifting up his shirt.

Why did he do this, you may ask?

“I tell you honestly, I just wanted to touch him like a kitten and that desire of mine ended in that act.”

Sounds more like a pedophile than a president to me…

July 6th, 2006

Consider the Constitution Party

While in a recent post I described the jeopardy that partisan politics has on our nation’s progress, I do also feel that a party, being a collective group of people with like-minded ideals and values, has a better chance for getting its leaders elected into positions in this country.

Sadly, voters aren’t going to vote for an independent based on his platform and sound bytes, just as many people won’t buy the knockoff toothpaste at the grocery store. We’ve been conditioned to judge things by their label, be it “Colgate” or “Republican”. The fact that somebody belongs to a certain party is enough for some people to vote for them, without caring to investigate what they believe and how they’ve voted in the past.

Click to the constitutionparty.com - Forging a Rebirth of Freedom

That being said, I’ve recently been looking into the Constitution Party. I, too, feel that our government needs to be purged and cleansed, and returned to its Constitutional foundation from which it has veered.

However, I have a problem with this party. The end of their party’s history says the following:

“We also oppose . . . both foreign aid and military interventionism.”

This is flagrantly unethical, and in opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Foreign aid is a must in our day of starvation, homelessness, and poverty. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is known and thanked worldwide for its humanitarian aid program. Christ himself has commanded us to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).

The same stands true for military interventionism. However, this is to only be done properly when the purpose and intent is transparent and true, and not when there are alterior motives. We cannot, as empathic human beings and brothers and sisters, stand by and watch people the world over suffer at the hands of insurgents, mercenaries, totalitarians, and fascists. It is our duty to get involved and defend these victims, just as the Nephites defended and protected the Anti-Nephi-Lehites (see Alma 27:22-24,26).

So, this demonstrates yet another problem I have with political parties. While I may agree with 90% of the Constitutionalist Party’s platform, there is still that 10%… I’m starting to realize how increasingly difficult it is to find a politician, platform, or party that agrees with me 100%. Perhaps compromise is what it’s really all about?

July 6th, 2006

New York and Georgia Ban Same-Sex Marriage

Two state courts today banned same-sex marriage. The first was a New York Appeals Court. The second was a Georgia Supreme Court.

The Georgia news story shows that 76% of voters in that state voted in favor of the ban in 2004. Similar statistics are abundant in other states. There seems to be a disconnect between the constituents and their elected leaders in Congress on this issue. And in the wake of certain activist judges and their executive rulings, I’m glad to see some courts upholding the will of the people and existing law.

July 5th, 2006

Secret Societies in Our Day

One of my biggest pet peeves is members of the Church who think that “all is well in Zion“. News flash: it’s not!

Here is a fact that I hope won’t be surprising to many: secret combinations exist. It is a naive and ignorant person who will chalk up this assertion to hogwash and speculation. The Book of Mormon, written for our day, is laden with stories about, and lessons learned from, secret combinations.

Care for an example?

The Skull and Bones society. In 2004, CBS (surprisingly) did a report on the society, which was rather fair and objective. A previously-aired TV Broadcast also sheds some light on the society. The New American has a great article about it.

President Bush is a member. So was his dad. So was his grandfather. So is John Kerry.

Check out a segment by Inside Edition about the society. Watch this nation’s President respond to a question about his Skull and Bones membership. Watch Senator Kerry respond to the same question.

Now that’s just disturbing. Notice how they shift the question so quickly? Knowing that our nation’s President, his father (and ex-President), and several other prominent political figures are members of this secret society is alarming and disturbing. Hearing a public figure maintain absolute secrecy on the subject is worse. Where is his true allegiance? Whom does he serve? Whom does he protect? What is he hiding?

I’ll let the curious reader google more on Skull and Bones, CFR, the Trilateral Commission, and the Rockefeller family. As a teaser for what you’ll find, here is a quote by David Rockefeller, Sr., concerning the theories of his involvement in these conspiratorial acts. Please note that this quote is in his own words, in his own book:

“For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
—David Rockefeller, Sr., Memoirs, 2002

I pray that we can all study these things out with the spirit of discernment, and read the signs of the times. I pray that we can all realize that all is not well in Zion. As individuals and in our families, we need to make sure that we are living our lives in accordince with God’s will, so that no matter what may come, we will be “standing in holy places“.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
—Abraham Lincoln

July 4th, 2006

Zion in the Midst of Babylon

“One of the greatest challenges we will face is to be able to live in [the] world but somehow not be of that world. We have to create Zion in the midst of Babylon”
—Elder David R. Stone, “Zion in the Midst of Babylon”, Ensign, May 2006, p.90-92

I loved the talk from this past general conference by Elder David R. Stone, titled “Zion in the Midst of Babylon“. Due to my studies in recent months I have become more and more troubled about the situation we face today. Corruption and conspiracy in our government, lower acceptable standards in the media, easily-accessible debauchery on the internet, a failing school system, and an overall attack, subtle or not, on Christ-like standards and morals.

There are two talks I have read recently that comfort me. One is “Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast” by Elder Holland. The other is this article by Elder Stone.

Both of these articles give me a sense of peace and reassurance, that despite the chaos around me, I can create Zion in my own home and in my own life. I can “cheerfully do all things that lie in [my] power; and then [I may] stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17).

Another interesting note in Elder Stone’s talk is the following statement:

“People in every culture move within a cocoon of self-satisfied self-deception, fully convinced that the way they see things is the way things really are.”

Wow. I have never heard this thought expressed so succinctly. How prone are we as Americans to believe 100% of what we’re spoon-fed by the media? Conversely, how often do we question the reports we hear on TV or the radio, or even worse, the internet? How firm do we grasp on to our so-called convictions on a given issue, without objectively researching them with an open mind and the spirit of discernment?

I fear that the majority of us are in this exact state Elder Stone describes. Wrapped up warmly in our cocoon, we savor the self-satisfied self-deception. Questioning the proposed truth is hard. Said Patrick Henry:

“We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth. . . Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not. . .? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth.”
—Patrick Henry, meeting at St. John’s church, March 23, 1775 (source)

I quote again from Elder Stone:

“We can live as a Zion people, if we wish to. Will it be hard? Of course it will, for the waves of Babylonian culture crash incessantly against our shores. Will it take courage? Of course it will.”

It will be hard. It wasn’t mean to be any other way. But with God, “all things are possible” (Mark 9:23). We must “be not faithless, but [believe]” (John 20:27).

I am grateful for the inspired leadership of a modern prophet. I know that he and those who serve with him are called of God, and are leading us today if we will only but open our eyes and ears and heed their call. Do we have food storage? Are we working hard to reduce our debt? Are we repenting earnestly of our sins?

Despite all the turmoil and chaos, despite all the reasons to be outraged, depressed, and fearful, let us have faith, and hope for a better world.

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. (Ether 12:4)

July 4th, 2006

Happy Birthday, America!

Today we celebrate our national and personal independence. In a day when there are so many raging forces that seek to undermine our Constitution (including, allegedly, our own president) it is increasingly more important that we be vigilant, informed, and proactive in assuring that our freedoms are not trampled.

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”
—George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

To be informed and appraised on key issues facing our nation and threatening our personal and national independence, you may find these sites, among others, to be of value:

I love our country. I love what it stands for. I am patriotic and fully support the principles established in our founding documents. But I am also a realist, and realize that our country and our personal freedoms are constantly under attack. We must inform ourselves, objectively research the issues that concern us, and do what is possible to take action and make our voices heard. Apathy, in this day and age, is tantamount to surrender.

My hat goes off to our Armed Forces who live and die to protect or freedoms. My hat goes off to genuine politicians who seek for the greater good, and not their own political and financial gain. My hat goes off to the men and women of this great country who take an active part in the political process so that our Republic may stand true to the vision our Founding Fathers had for it.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

“America, the Beautiful”, verse 4

God Bless America!

July 3rd, 2006

Protect and Honor Our Flag

Happy Independence Day, America!

Ben Stein recently published this article about the recently-voted-on Constitutional amendment to protect Old Glory.

He raises some excellent points. Critics of the amendment argue that it is free speech, and it is. However, our laws put constrictive limitations upon “free speech”, such as sexual harassment and racial slurs. So why shouldn’t we put a similar limitation upon the burning of our Flag, a national symbol of freedom and independence?

To those who don’t wish to pledge allegiance to our Flag or protect it from vitriolic acts of burning and similar desecration, I ask you: why are you in America? Why do you treat America’s symbols with such disregard and contempt? You are granted certain freedoms in this country, and you have every right to disagree with the government’s laws, policies, and issues. But those freedoms are provided to you because of the sacrifice and service of those who have given their all to defending our Flag. I call upon you to show reverence and respect for the symbols of our free nation.