Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Champion of Religious Freedom

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that religious freedom brings diversity into the social and political picture and brings growth in various other areas. While the world was facing down North Korea and the United States endured yet another eruption of violence, a religious leader received a World Peace Prize in India.

            Elder D. Todd Christofferson was honored for his “relentless mission of love, compassion and sacrifice” (World Peace University President Vishwanath Karad). This great honor was bestowed not only upon Elder Christofferson but upon The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The world today, with all its problems, it needs you, the church you represent and your work. It needs you more than ever” (Michael Nobel, a great-grandnephew of the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize). 

            Elder Robert Kumar William, an LDS Area Seventy from Bangalore, India, said: “Elder Christofferson has personally visited and worked with church members and government, civic and religious leaders in 80 nations” since he became a general authority of the Church in 1993.

            One of the reasons for the prize is that the Church gives so much in humanitarian aid throughout the world, $1.89 billion since 1985. Nobel gave the following explanation for the prize. The prize includes approximately $8,000, which Elder Christofferson will donate to a school for the disabled in India.

Why would they deserve (the prize)? … The members of the church have shown us that it’s possible to translate into worldwide action something that lies deep in the hearts of many of us, compassion for others. … The Mormon church and its organizations richly deserve this commission for its outstanding humanitarian accomplishments.

            Elder Christofferson focused on the good that is done by religion and urged world leaders to recognize this good and support religious freedom.

Failing to appreciate the good religion does society or the nation as a whole and to accommodate religion whenever possible results in social conflict….
Government officials and policy makers, like yourselves, who seek to establish lasting peace and prosperity for people of all faiths should understand why and how….

True religion offers a stable foundation for a just and healthy society. It strengthens and ennobles nations, communities and individuals. It is my hope that we will all recognize and appreciate the great good religion does and work together – as people of diverse faiths or no faith at all – to build more peaceful nations and ultimately a more peaceful world.

            Elder Christofferson obviously deserves the title “champion of religious freedom” as stated by one presenter. He promoted religious freedom on Friday in Cambridge, England, and echoed his remarks on Saturday when he said, “Recognizing and protecting faith is the path to peace” and added that it also can lead to prosperity.

Countries with strong traditions of religious freedom tend to be not only more stable and safe, but more prosperous. A recent study reached the remarkable conclusion that the presence of religious freedom in a country is one of only three factors significantly associated with global economic growth….

            This honor could not have come to a nicer, more pleasant, or humble man than Elder Christofferson. I appreciate the numerous times that I have had the opportunity to converse with him and his wife Kathy. I am pleased with his title of “champion of religious freedom.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Divide and Conquer

            The clamor about the violence in Charlottesville continues. Two groups of racist thugs clashed on Saturday, and the President is being blamed for it.  Donald Trump gave a thoughtful and presidential response to the violence with the information that was available at the time.

            The President gave a unifying speech, and he condemned ALL hatred, bigotry, and violence no matter the origin. This speech was not good enough for many people, particularly the mainstream media, liberals, and even some Republicans. They claim that the President’s words were not good enough and that he did not go far enough because he did not specifically condemn violence perpetrated by white people.

            The whites involved believe that the President did not name them because he supports what they are doing. He is not, and he made this clear in another statement two days later.

            Even though the President named some of the “criminals and thugs” in his second statement, he was still denounced once again. It was “too little, too late” to satisfy his opponents. He condemned racism on Saturday, but it was not enough to satisfy. He condemned racism again on Monday, but it was considered too late. It appears that to those who oppose him, nothing the President could say would satisfy them.

            An editorial at The Patriot Post explains that Trump was not too late because he was repeating the counsel given months ago.

So, on Monday, Trump decided to respond to the growing media-created fervor. He addressed the nation once again on the Charlottesville riot. Trump reiterated, “We must love each other, show affection for each other and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that brings us together as Americans.” And this time Trump added, “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Of course, that message is too little, too late for the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd.

But it’s not too late at all. In his Inaugural Address, Trump said, “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice…. Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of Patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag.” It’s been his message all along. The media just don’t want you to know it.

            There are people and factions in our nation who wish to destroy America in order to create a “one world government.” I call them “secret combinations” because they come out of darkness to destroy. One of their main tools is division. They know that a nation that is divided cannot stand for very long. This is why people have encouraged division (Barack Obama) and paid protesters and rioters (George Soros) to cause unrest and violence.

            The problem, as I see it, is that the loud voices in the nation claim that white violence is different than black violence. There is no difference. All of it must be condemned in order for it to stop. We all know that racism divides our nation. The only way to combat this hatred and division is to follow the counsel of President Trump. We must recognize that all races bleed the same color of blood and enjoy the same freedoms in America. We must unite and become one people, and we can do it by condemning and eradicating all violence in our nation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hate Groups and Racism

            Hate is hate no matter what group is spewing it or their reasoning behind their hatred. I do not understand exactly why there is such clamor about the latest hate movement. It seems to me that the clashes by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, are no worse than the riots caused by members of Black Lives Matter. Both groups are demonstrating hate for members of a different race and causing division in the nation.

            I suppose that one major difference is that white people are coming forward condemning the actions of the white nationalists and no blacks have ever come forward condemning the riots and other troubles caused by blacks.

            Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro has been one of the most vocal whites to condemn the white nationalists when he sent out a 12-tweet message. He says that the white nationalists or “so-called `alt-right’ movement [is] a far-right political movement that rejects conservatism and embraces white nationalism.” He also says that the “alt-right movement” is “evil” and has “nothing to do with constitutional conservatism.”

            According to Shapiro, the mainstream media is attempting to make people think that the “alt-right” movement is bigger and more influential than it actually is. He compares the “alt-right” movement to a “replay of brown shirts vs. reds in Weimar Germany. They’re even carrying the same flags.” He says that the only way to end this “alt-white” movement is for everyone, including the White House and media leadership, to condemn it.

            This makes sense to me. However, the same treatment should be applied to every hate group – white, black, Hispanic, Muslim, etc. – across the board and in a unified way.

            President Donald Trump tweeted his condemnation the violence that took place in Virginia:
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!

            I thought that the President sent a good message. “ALL of us are responsible to end this problem!” However, he was criticized because he blamed “many sides” did not specifically condemn the white nationalists and Nazis.

            Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee explained on “Fox and Friends Weekend” that there was little more that the President could have said because there was little information available when he sent his tweet. 

I think it was smart not to jump to a conclusion. We would have condemned him for that … Look, here’s the fact. No matter what Donald Trump said, there are going to be people who condemn his every word, his every action. Nothing will ever satisfy the Trump haters. And there are a lot of Trump haters within the Republican Party who jumped on him as well.

Let me just be clear. Donald Trump is no more responsible for Charlottesville than Barak Obama was personally responsible for Baltimore and Ferguson.

            All Americans are responsible to eradicate hatred and evil from the United States. Right or left, conservatives or liberals, we must come together and make it clear that we condemn violence and racism. We must be unified as Americans.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Kim Jung-un

            The news cycles are full of information about Kim Jung-un of North Korea and his threats to nuke the United States. I have not paid too much attention to his threats, but I decided to learn a little bit more about him. 

            Kim was born on January 8, 1982-84 or July 5, 1984. There is little known for sure about this man, not even his birthday for certain. He is son and second child of Kim Jong-il (1941-2011) and his consort Ko Yong-hui. He became the leader of North Korea on December 28, 2011, after his father’s state funeral. He holds at least five titles. He also holds two degrees, one in physics and one as an Army officer.

            The first leader of North Korea born after the nation was founded, Kim seems determined to hold onto his power. He ordered the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek in December 2013. He is believed to be behind the assassination of his brother Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia in February 2017.

            Many people find it easy to think that Kim is a crazy lunatic for threatening to crush the United States. Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, South Korea, and the author of several books on North Korea, says they are mistaken. He claims that Kim is a survivor, just like his father and grandfather before him. He states that the nuclear program in North Korea is for defense and that Kim acts crazy on purpose. 

Kim Jong Un sees the nuclear program as purely defensive. Conquering the South would be nice in theory, but this task is completely beyond his reach, both due to the U.S. commitment to protecting South Korea and Seoul’s own huge advantage in economic and technological power. He knows that any unprovoked North Korean attack against South Korea or the United States will end badly, perhaps in his death, and he is certainly not suicidal. However, he also presumes that no great power would risk attacking a nuclear state or sticking a hand into its internal strife – especially if it has delivery systems and a second-strike capability….

While North Korea’s nuclear program is defensive, it still makes sense to remind the world about its existence and use what President Richard Nixon once described as “madman strategy,” that is, to appear to one’s opponents to be irrational, volatile, and willing to disregard costs. That’s why North Korean propaganda uses such fiercely colorful language. When North Korean TV promises to “make Seoul into a sea of fire,” or threatens to nuke Canberra, or shows Kim Jon Un in front of a map of the United States with cities marked as targets of nuclear strikes, they are delivering the same message: “we are here, we are volatile, and will stop at nothing if our opponents do something threatening.”

            It appears from Lankov’s article that Kim’s threats sound terrible but amount to nothing more than letting the world know that North Korea has the capability of sending nukes to other nations. He is basically saying, “Do not attack us or mess with us!”

            I thought he might be trying to provoke an attack for some crazy reason, but I can understand why he feels the need to show power. As Lankov points out, Kim saw what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, and Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya and wants to protect himself and his nation from a similar circumstance. This explains his desire for nuclear ability and his show of strength.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Amendment 25: Presidential Disability and Succession

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is Amendment 25 to the U.S. Constitution. The title of this Amendment is “Presidential Disability and Succession.” It was proposed on July 6, 1965, and ratified on February 10, 1967. Section 3 was used after President Ronald Reagan was shot and while he was in surgery and recovery. As Section 4 is relevant to our current day, I am including the entire amendment as follows.

1. In case of the removal of the President [Donald Trump] from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President [Mike Pence] shall become President.

2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate [Senator Orin Hatch] and the Speaker of the House of Representatives [Representative Paul Ryan] his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

            This amendment is relative to the present time because liberals want to use Section 4 to remove Donald Trump from the office of President of the United States. The President’s opponents wish to have him “declared incompetent because they say he concentrates so much on his tweets and doesn’t properly take care of his presidential duties.” 
            Section 4 is meant to be used in cases of injury, stroke, dementia, or other illness of the President. Liberals wish to use it to escape from dealing with Donald Trump. They wish to have the President declared crazy because he is driving them crazy – as illustrated by performances by Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, John McCain, etc.

            Numerous people are calling for this amendment to be invoked to remove Trump, including television hosts, newspaper columnist, and even members of Congress. A bill to do this already has 23 Democrat co-sponsors. Section 4 of this amendment has never been invoked and most likely will not happen now. Invoking Section 4 would require the consent of Vice President Pence and more than half of the President’s cabinet, plus the consent of the Republican-controlled Congress.

            The idea that so many people want to use Amendment 25 to remove President Trump from office is frightening. Liberals have gone crazy since Trump won the election – or Hillary Clinton lost it, whichever way you wish to think about it. His opponents cannot accept the fact that Americans chose Trump over Clinton, and they are still fighting against him.

            On the other hand, the same Americans who put Trump in office are still supporting him. He is basically the same person that Americans saw on the campaign trail and liked. Trump is not the average politician, and Americans like that he is not.

            There is a right way to remove a President from office, and there is a wrong way. The 25th Amendment was put in place for an emergency, not for political purposes. If you do not like what the President is doing, then you should speak out against him, elect other politicians who will oppose him, and vote against him if he runs for re-election in 2020. Forcing him out of office by a coup or a civil war would make the United States no better than a Third World country.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Consecrating Our Lives

            The visiting teaching message for August is about living a consecrated life. I recently wrote notes to the sisters on my letter route, and I thought that I would share the message with my readers. I am using quotes from several members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as one from a former Relief Society leader of the importance of consecrating our lives and how to do it. 

            Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on this topic and gave a definition of consecration. “To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives – that is, our time and choices – to God’s purposes.” (See D. Todd Christofferson, “Reflections on a Consecrated Life,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 16.) 

            Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles enlarged on this meaning when he said, “We tend to think of consecration only as yielding up, when divinely directed, our material possessions. But ultimate consecration is the yielding up of oneself to God.” (See Neal A. Maxwell, “Consecrate Thy Performance,” Ensign, May 2002, 36.) 

            We can increase our faith in Jesus Christ and in His atoning sacrifice as we consecrate ourselves to the purposes of God. We can become holy step by step as we live a consecrated life.

            Sister Carole M. Stephens, former First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, quoted Elder Robert D. Hales and then shared her understanding of consecration.

“When we make and keep covenants, we are coming out of the world and into the kingdom of God.”

We are changed. We look different, and we act different. The things we listen to and read and say are different, and what we wear is different because we become daughters of God bound to Him by covenant. (See Carole M. Stephens, “Wide Awake to Our Duties,” Ensign, Nov. 2012, 115-16). 

            Consecration is the covenant God makes “with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33). We can bring our lives into harmony with God’s plan for us by living a consecrated life.

            My spirit longs to have the word of God written in my hearts, but my physical tabernacle is not always willing. However, I can see myself slowly changing and becoming more like Heavenly Father would have me be. I encourage you to consecrate your life to God and reap the blessings of doing so.

Friday, August 11, 2017

What I Like Best about My Siblings

            Families are strengthened when siblings have good relationships. Parents can encourage good sibling relationships by treating their children fairly and honestly. There is much truth in the title of a hymn, “There Is Beauty All Around when there’s Love at Home.   
            I received a different but interesting and appropriate gift for Mother’s Day. One of my daughters gifted me with a subscription to “StoryWorth.” The idea behind the subscription is for me to write the stories of my life. Each week my daughter will select a question, and the company will email it to me. I am supposed to write the answer to the question and send it back. The company will send the answer to my daughter as well as combining the answers into a book at the end of the year. Here is another picture into who I am.

            The question for week 12: What do you like best about your siblings? This is an easy question for me to answer because I love my siblings and love to be with them. The thing that I like most about my siblings is the unconditional love that I receive from them and feel for them. I enjoy being with my siblings more than anyone else in the world other than my immediate family. I know that they accept me and love me in spite of my many weaknesses and problems. I also know that they will support me at any time in anything that I might ask of them.

            I like the way that my siblings boost my self-esteem and make me feel good about myself. I like the way that our communication with each other is always positive. I like the way that we can joke and laugh with each other about the silly things we do and not be offended. I like the way that my siblings share their talents with me, whether it is family history work, quilting, or whatever.

            The only thing that I do not like about my siblings is that we do not have regular communication with each other. We tend to stick to our own lives and never make contact with each other unless there is a problem or need. If a telephone call is made, it is usually me that makes it. Even with the email and Facebook, it is like pulling teeth to get a response out of some of them. I wish that we had more frequent communication. I envy women who have regular outings with their sisters – which would include my sisters by marriage. My dream would be to live in a community with all my siblings and see them weekly or even more often. My dream would be to live in a community with all my siblings and see them weekly or even more often.

            Even without frequent communication and visits, the unconditional love that we have for each other makes us better people. Families are strengthened when there is unconditional love in the home. When siblings truly love each other, they are happier and the family is stronger. Strong families strengthen communities and nations.