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.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Founders and Guns

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This discussion is critical in view of the increasing numbers of liberals calling for more gun control. Why did the Founders consider the “right to keep and bear arms” as being so important as to enshrine it in the Constitution?

            Jimmy Kimmel suggested that the Founders did not anticipate the new technology that makes guns more lethal in our day. However, Jarrett Stepman at The Daily Signal calls the idea a “straw man.”

The Founders did not design the Constitution so that it would only be applicable in their own day. The rights they aimed to protect weren’t tied to a specific time or era, but were timeless and universal.

The Second Amendment was not made up out of thin air. The Founders saw it as a legal expression of a citizen’s natural right to self-defense and preservation, and his ability to resist governmental tyranny.

            Stepman did not stop at the above explanation, but he continued a discussion about the fundamental right to defend oneself.

Self-defense is among the “God-given rights” that the Declaration of Independence refers to. These principles are grounded in Western tradition and are at the cornerstone of our civilization – though they are increasingly dismissed as radical and “fundamentalist” by some in the modern media.

If one believes “rights” come from government, not God or nature, it is easy to see why those like Kimmel believe this ever-evolving set of rights simply needs to be legally updated from time to time.

But this is not how the Founders thought, nor is it what they conceived when they decided to protect the blessings of liberty for themselves or their posterity….
This logic of self-defense has been at the heart of recent Supreme Court rulings that have sided with the right to bear arms.

            Stepman continues his discussion with an explanation about technology and why more gun control will not make Americans safer. He closes his post by explaining that more gun control has done little to decrease gun crime.

Americans are simply unwilling to surrender their God-given rights based on dubious claims that the government can make us perfectly safe from evil-doers…. So while those on the left … make passionate pleas for this country to “do something,” like pass gun control to stop violence, few besides the already-converted are going to buy it.

            Even though liberals are slow to realize it, Americans are not stupid. We can read the news reports about the many gun deaths in Chicago even though there is strict gun control there. We can read about the relative safety of Switzerland where every citizen carries a gun. We can read of the atrocities that have taken place in nations after their governments took “control” of all the guns. No, Americans are not stupid. More and more of us want our guns and the right to use them in self-defense.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Coming to Know Jesus Christ

            I recently started listening to the scriptures and General Conference talks while going about my tasks. I find that the practice not only increases my knowledge but also calms my spirit and keeps my thoughts more appropriate.

            One day I listened to a talk by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and found it so enlightening that I listened to it several times. He gave this talk in the October 2016 General Conference. It is titled “If Ye Had Known Me.” 

            Elder Bednar begins his talk by reminding us of an eternal principle: The only way that we can receive “the saving grace of the Son” is to do “the will of the Father.” After giving His Sermon on the Mount the Savior said the following.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23). 

            After reading the above scripture, Elder Bednar gives the following explanation before moving on to the parable of the ten virgins where there is similar wording.

Our understanding of this episode is enlarged as we reflect upon an inspired revision to the text. Significantly, the Lord’s phrase reported in the King James Version of the Bible, “I never knew you,” was changed in the Joseph Smith Translation to “Ye never knew me” (JST Matthew 7:23).

            Elder Bednar summarizes the first part of the parable where the ten virgins are waiting for the bridegroom to come. The cry comes that he is on his way, and the virgins trim their lamps. Some of them brought extra oil, and some of them left to buy oil.

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the [five foolish] virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not (Matt. 25:10-12). 

            Giving a similar explanation, Elder Bednar shares the inspired revision in the Joseph Smith Translation. “I know you not” in the King James Version was clarified by Joseph Smith to say, “Ye know me not” (JST Matthew 25:12). His following words are what caused me to listen to his talk numerous times. I would love to discuss this talk in Relief Society or with my oldest sister in order to gain further enlightenment.

The phrases “Ye never knew me” and “Ye know me not” should be a cause of deep spiritual introspection for each of us. Do we only know about the Savior, or are we increasingly coming to know Him? How do we come to know the Lord? These questions of the soul are the focus of my message. I earnestly invite the assistance of the Holy Ghost as we consider together this vital subject.

            According to Elder Bednar we come to know the Savior by doing the following actions:
(1) Exercising faith in Him, (2) Following Him, (3) Serving Him, and (4) Believing Him. We come to know the Savior by doing the things that He does and becoming like Him.

            I realized from Elder Bednar’s remarks that there is no way that Jesus Christ does not know each one of us. Joseph Smith says the following about his first vision when the Father and the Son appeared to Him.

… I saw  a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

… When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (Joseph Smith-History 1:16-17). 

            Just as Heavenly Father knew the name of Joseph Smith, He knows your name and my name. He knows us. He will never say, “I never knew you” or “I know ye not.” However, it is very possible that He could say, “Ye never knew me” or “Ye know me not.” Coming to know the Father and the Son is not something that happens overnight or without effort.

            Exercising faith in Jesus Christ will sometimes take us right to the edge before an answer comes; sometimes we just have to keep moving in spite of not having a firm answer. We must not only believe in the Savior, but we must also believe Him. We must believe His words and put our total trust in Him. We must be willing to do whatever He asks of us – to go wherever He wants us to go, to do whatever He wants us to do, and to become what He wants us to become. We can best serve Him by serving the people around us.



Friday, October 20, 2017

Why Study?

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals understand the importance of studying in their lives. As I discussed last week learning can take place without the effort of studying, such as infants who learn to crawl, walk, talk, and feed themselves. They do no studying, yet they learn a great deal. However, in order to understand information, one must study.

            A book titled The World Book of Study Power, book one of a set of two, has a section about the reasons studying is important to succeed in school, at work, and in life itself. Since I am now a student, I want to learn good study skills and am sharing what I learning with you. The following is what I learned from reading the above referenced book today.

When you study, you search for understanding. You read, take notes, listen, and try to remember because you know that you can learn and understand complex ideas, concepts, and subjects. Studying is a means to understanding….

Every time you learn something, you prepare yourself to learn more. For example, you must learn to count before you can learn to add or subtract. And you must learn to add and subtract before you can hope to master more complex mathematical principles. The more you learn, the more you are able to learn. That’s because by learning something, you expand not only your knowledge but your self-confidence. Every time you complete that circuit, you deepen your understanding of the world (pages 20-21).

            The book states that there is a wide variety of “steps to learning” that we must climb in order to study effectively. These steps are called “strategies,” and the learner must “know what strategies you have to choose from, how to use those strategies, and when to use a particular strategy” (page 21).

            When one learns something new, their mind changes “to new ways of thinking or acting” causing one to change their approach to learning. A suggested example of this change is looking for a library book. One can search for a book by walking up and down each aisle looking at the books, or one can use the data in the library’s computer. Learning to use the information in the computer changes the procedure to find books in the library (page 22).

            Since studying is supposed to help learning to take place, it stands to reason that one must study effectively, and to study effectively means that one must understand how they learn. The book uses Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison as examples. Einstein was a “pioneer in physics,” yet he failed math. Edison was a “great inventor,” yet he was labeled “addled” by his teacher. Both men were highly intelligent, but they performed badly in school because they learned in ways different than the normal student. Students do their best when they understand “how to learn.”

What Einstein and Edison did know about themselves – and what you can find out – was how they learned best, what they had to do to reach their goals, what resources they had, and how to get the job done. You can learn to direct your studying so that it pays off. To do so, you must organize your thoughts and time, channel your energy, and connect whatever you’re learning to what you already know (page 23).

            Because learning does not just happen even though one has the desire to learn, one must prepare to learn, such as warming up before exercising. This warm up includes the following (sometimes summarized) elements:

. Yourself: What do you already know? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?

. Criteria: What are you expected to achieve? How much time do you have? How will you be evaluated? How will this project help in the future?

. Resources: What do you need to complete the task? Where can you go for help? What materials should you use? Where can you get the books or equipment needed?

Task to be performed: Do you have to prepare a report, take a test, master a new computer program, or give a demonstration?

Strategies: What must you do to successfully complete each task? Can you break down your task into smaller steps? How and when can you take those steps?

            Preparing oneself to learn gives one a structure or outline to check progress as well as a timetable to complete the task. The above checklist also helps one to know how one learns the best, the most important preparation for learning.

            “Everybody learns different things in different ways. How you learn depends on what you learn.” Some of the different types of learning are: (1) kinesthetic learning or doing (riding a bicycle); (2) tactile or feeling (kneading bread); (3) auditory learning or listening (singing, playing a musical instrument, or learning to appreciate music; (4) visual learning (learning about the stars and planets). You should note that these types of learning come from our senses.

Your senses bring all kinds of information to you. Without realizing it, you are learning all kinds of things in all kinds of ways. Usually, if you’re learning for your own satisfaction, you instinctively let the task guide you. Without thinking about it, you choose the best way to learn…. Break down any task into smaller parts. If you take one bite at a time, you’ll be able to enjoy each one (page 25).

            As parents, grandparents, and teachers our task is to help children and youth to understand how they learn best. This knowledge will come in both formal and informal teaching situations. By helping the rising generation to learn how they learn best, we can strengthen individuals, families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Freedom from Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that everyone should be free from sexual harassment and sexual assault. I decided to write on this topic because I saw so many posts on Facebook about it. The posts are a result of a suggestion that actress Alyssa Milano tweeted on Sunday night: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote `Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Thousands of women had tweeted “Me too” by Monday morning. Thousands of others were posting it on Facebook.

            I decided to do some basic research to learn more about this subject, and I first sought to define it. I learned that sexual harassment is anything of a sexual nature that is unwelcome or unwanted and/or causes discomfort, humiliation, or distress. There are several different types of sexual harassment, such as saying sexist, crude or suggestive remarks; showing sexually suggestive pictures, touching someone in a “friendly” manner, or giving an uncomfortable stare.   I realized that I have been exposed to sexual harassment most of my life. I remember boys lining the hallways in high school and making crude comments to and about the girls who had to pass between them. I found the same type of environment in my places of work.

            Korin Miller shares a definition of sexual assault that she says comes from the United States Department of Justice: “Sexual assault is `any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.’ Sexual assault is basically an umbrella term that includes sexual activities such as rape, fondling, and attempted rape.”

            I find it sad that even one person has been sexually harassed and/or sexually assaulted. To know that this behavior is rampant in our society is heartbreaking. The perpetrators are male with female, male with male, female with male, and female with female, but the vast majority of the cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault are male with female.

            Tweeting or posting “Me too” may bring some relief or satisfaction to the victimized, and it may show the vastness of the problem. As I see it, the problem is not a sexual problem; it is a respect problem. Nothing will change until all of us learn to respect ourselves and each other as children of God and as equals in His sight.

            We must learn to treat each other with respect. Children and youth need to be taught appropriate behavior. Victims need to be supported in their honest claims in order for them to become survivors. The only way to solve the problem is to bring the dirty little secrets out of the darkness into the light. The “Me too” campaign may be the tool to start an open discussion and to teach respect. I would love to live in a world that was free from sexual harassment and sexual assault! 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Conservative JFK

            There is an enormous difference in the politicians of the present time to the politicians of my childhood and youth. Democrats often hold up President John F. Kennedy as a great Democrat. What they do not realize is that JFK was more conservative than many of the so-called conservatives of today. Today's post is a lesson in history.

            In an address to the Economic Club of New York on 14 December 1962, President Kennedy campaigned for tax cuts, claiming that the nation could not succeed with them. You can read his talk at this site or listen to it at this site.  Here is an excerpt from his talk.

Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other. It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits. Surely the lesson of the last decade is that budget deficits are not caused by wild-eyed spenders but by slow economic growth and periodic recessions, and any new recession would break all deficit records.

In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. The experience of a number of European countries and Japan have borne this out. This country's own experience with tax reduction in 1954 has borne this out. And the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget, and tax reduction can pave the way to that employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.

I repeat: our practical choice is not between a tax-cut deficit and a budgetary surplus. It is between two kinds of deficits: a chronic deficit of inertia, as the unwanted result of inadequate revenues and a restricted economy; or a temporary deficit of transition, resulting from a tax cut designed to boost the economy, increase tax revenues, and achieve--and I believe this can be done--a budget surplus. The first type of deficit is a sign of waste and weakness; the second reflects an investment in the future....

 … This Nation can afford to reduce taxes, we can afford a temporary deficit, but we cannot afford to do nothing.

            I do not claim to like everything that JFK said or did, but I thought that he was a good President. After listening to him give this speech, I still believe that he was a good leader. It would be nice to have such a strong defender of tax cuts today. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Why Study Humanities?

            I am in another semester at Brigham Young University-Idaho, and I am continuing my plan to study the foundational courses first. I registered for World Foundations 1 without truly understanding what the course was about. When I opened the first lesson, I thought, “Oh, no!” I probably would not have taken the class if I had known previously that I would be studying art, music, literature, and drama. I was interested in history!

            As I got into the course, I was pleasantly surprised about how fun it is to learn about ancient civilizations through several disciplines. I am actually taking a spiritual journey as well as a fascinating intellectual one. This humanities course is broad-based and explores the connections found literature, art, architecture, history, philosophy, music, politics, and more.

            The course teaches three themes: Redemption, Moral Revelation, and Just Society. Through these themes I am gaining knowledge about basic gospel truths. I learned about redemption through studying symbols, the temple pattern – Creation, Garden, Fall, World, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ – and the monomyth, which basically means the long journey part of the temple pattern. I studied The Epic of Gilgamesh, Oedipus, and The Allegory of the Cave, which all follow the temple pattern quite closely. I learned that many familiar stories follow this same pattern, such as The Wizard of Oz, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Little Mermaid, and Return of the Jedi.

            I am currently studying Moral Revelation, and I am learning that Heavenly Father has revealed gospel truths to His children throughout human history. The lesson this week is an introduction to world religions as well as the ideas of moral revelation and moral truth. I was particularly enlightened by these paragraphs from a statement given by the First Presidency on February 15, 1978, and titled “God’s Love for All Mankind.”

Based upon ancient and modern revelation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gladly teaches and declares the Christian doctrine that all men and women are brothers and sisters, not only by blood relationship from common mortal progenitors but also as literal spirit children of an Eternal Father.

The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.

            The fact that God gave revelation to religious leaders throughout history shows that God loves all of His children and blesses them with light and truth no matter where they lived or when they lived. This moral revelation enlightened whole nations and helped individuals to achieve a higher level of moral understanding. The only determining factor on the amount of light and truth revealed was the individual’s willingness and readiness to be taught.

            Another statement that enlightened me is the following one by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

We are indebted to the men and women who kept the light of faith and learning alive through the centuries to the present day. We have only to contrast the lesser light that exists among peoples unfamiliar with the names of God and Jesus Christ to realize the great contribution made by Christian teachers through the ages. We honor them as servants of God.

            The above statement means more to me after I studied an essay titled “Catholicism’s Contributions to God’s Plan” by Gerald Hansen, Jr. He says that “the Catholic Church is the result, not the cause of the Apostasy.” When the Apostles of Jesus Christ died, they took the keys of the priesthood with them. However, there were still good people, and Catholicism resulted. Catholicism meant Christianity for 1400 years. This was followed by 300 years of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholics and the Protestants helped to prepare the world for the restoration of the priesthood keys and the gospel of Jesus Christ. A study of how the New Testament came to be – and almost missing the book of James – only added to my enlightenment.

            My eyes have been opened, and my mind has been enlightened by taking this humanities class. I am sure that I will learn much more this week as I study the teachings of various religions. The more I learn about other people and their lives and religions, the more I understand that we are all brothers and sisters and children of a loving Heavenly Father. I learn that we are more alike than we are different. My knowledge of how much Heavenly Father loves all His children wherever and whenever they live has grown immensely.

Monday, October 16, 2017

George Bernard Shaw

            George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 26 July 1856. He was the only son and youngest child of George Carr Shaw and Lucinda Elizabeth (Bessie) Gurley Shaw, and he had two older sisters. The Shaw family descended from English ancestors, and they were Protestants in Ireland. Shaw’s father was an alcoholic, and his mother was indifferent and showed little affection to her son. The family lived in what Shaw later described as “shabby-genteel poverty.”

            Shaw’s mother was a close friend of George John Lee, a conductor, singing teacher, and “a flamboyant figure well known in Dublin’s musical circles.” His mother “had a fine mezzo-soprano voice,” and Shaw “found solace in the music that abounded in the house.” The family frequently hosted “gatherings of singers and players.”

            When Shaw was about six years old, Lee and the Shaw family “agree to share a house … [located] in an affluent part of Dublin, and a country cottage” overlooking a bay. Shaw “was happier at the cottage” than in Dublin, and he enjoyed receiving books from Lee’s students. He “read avidly; thus, as well as gaining a thorough musical knowledge of choral and operatic works, he became familiar with a wide spectrum of literature.”

            Shaw did not like any of the four schools that he attended as a boy, and he was “disillusioned with formal education.” He left school in October 1871 at age 15 “to become a junior clerk in a Dublin firm of land agents, where he worked hard, and quickly rose to become head cashier.” At that time he was known as “George Shaw,” but in 1876 he became “Bernard Shaw” and used that name for the rest of his life.

            Lee moved to London in June 1873, and Bessie and her two daughters joined him two weeks later. Shaw stayed in Dublin with his father and taught himself to play the piano. He learned in 1876 that his younger sister was dying of tuberculosis, and he joined his mother and older sister at the funeral.

            Shaw never lived in Ireland again but stayed in London where he became famous as an “Irish playwright, critic and polemicist” (one who engages in controversial debate).

[Shaw’s] influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature….
Since Shaw’s death scholarly and critical opinion has varied about his works, but he has regularly been rated as second only to Shakespeare among British dramatists; analysts recognize his extensive influence on generations of English-language playwrights. The word “Shavian” has entered the language as encapsulating Shaw’s ideas and his means of expressing them.

            Shaw met a rich Anglo-Irish woman named Charlotte Payne-Townshend who proposed to him in 1897, but he declined. The next year his health broke, and Charlotte “insisted on nursing him in a house in the country.” Shaw agreed to marry her in order to avoid the look of a scandal, and the wedding took play on 1 June 1898. Both bride and groom were 41 years old. The marriage was “felicitous” (suitable, pleasing) but produced no children.

            The Shaws bought a country home in Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, in 1906 and renamed it “Shaw’s Corner.” They lived there for the rest of their lives. Charlotte passed away in 1943, and Shaw died at home of renal failure at age 94 on 2 November 1950. He was cremated, and his ashes were “mixed with those of Charlotte” and “scattered along footpaths and around the statue of Saint Joan in their garden.”