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.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

President Trump and President Washington

                The inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States (POTUS) was held on Friday,
20 January 2017. President Trump is the 45th POTUS, and the transition in power was peaceful. As in all the other transitions of power in the United States, there were no tanks running in the streets or bullets fired. The new President took the oath of office, and the previous President got in Marine I and left Washington, D.C.

                Article II, Section I of the Constitution stipulates the oath of office for the President of the United States to be sworn during the inauguration. 
                Before he enters on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: --               
                “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United
                States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the
                United States.”

                The job of POTUS is not an easy job. The difficulty of the job is shown is the way Presidents age during their usual eight years in office. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all aged greatly during their time in office. The office of President and each person that becomes President should be treated with respect whether or not people agree with the President’s policies.

                In September 1988 Jeffery R.Holland was President at Brigham Young University (BYU) and spoke at a devotional welcoming the students back to school. He joked about the presidential campaign of that year and then
changed to an important matter. 

                BYU was in their final salute to the bicentennial anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. President Holland spoke of a special film was that would premiere on 30 April 1989, the bicentennial anniversary of George Washington’s first inauguration. He obviously had great respect for President Washington.
                “Surely when the Lord speaks in section 101 of the Doctrine and Covenants of raising up `wise men’ for the founding of this nation and the establishment of constitutional government, he must have been speaking first and foremost of George Washington. As unassuming as he was, Washington’s impact on the new republic and on the framing of its government was greater than that of any other living man. His prestige as the victorious colonial general was immense, and his character, his very presence, inspired confidence.
                “Note this language used by a journalist of the day to describe Washington’s arrival for that first inauguration. It is unclear whether the writer is describing royalty or deity. `It is impossible to do justice … to … the scene exhibited on his Excellency’s approach to the city. Innumerable multitudes thronged the shores, the wharves, and the shipping --- waiting with … anticipation his arrival…
                “`This great occasion arrested the publick attention beyond all powers of description…. All ranks and professions expressed thief feelings, in loud acclamations, and with rapture hailed the arrival of the FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY…
                “`The scene … was … beyond any descriptive powers of the pen to do justice to – How universal … the sentiments of respect and veneration!—All ranks [exclaimed,] “WELL, HE DESERVES IT ALL!”
                “`The spontaneous [expressions] of gratitude … are the highest reward that virtue enjoys, …
                “`Many persons … were heard to say, that they should now die contented – nothing being wanted to complete their happiness … but the sight of the Saviour of [their new nation]. [From the Connecticut Courant of 4 May 1789, in Everett Carll Ladd, The American Polity (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1987), pp. 72-73]
                President Holland explained that the above information was written two hundred years previously, and the “adulation is still nearly the same in both tone and content. Listen to this from a resolution passed by Congress and read by the President of the United States on the two-hundredth anniversary of Washington’s birth:
                “Washington has come to personify the American Republic. He presided over the convention that framed our Constitution. The weight of his great name was the deciding factor in securing its adoption by the States. These results of could never have been secured had it not been recognized that he would be the first President. When we realize what it meant to take 13 distracted colonies, impoverished, envious, and hostile, and weld them into an orderly federation under the authority of a central government, we can form some estimate of the influence of this great man….
                “We have seen many soldiers who have left behind them little but the memory of their conflicts; but … the power to establish among a great people a form of self-government which the test of experience has shown will endure was bestowed upon Washington, and Washington alone…. His was the directing spirit without which there would have been no independence, no Union, no Constitution, and no Republic. His ways were the ways of truth. He built for eternity. His influence grows. His stature increases with the increasing years. In wisdom of action, in purity of character, he stands alone. We cannot yet estimate him. We can only indicate our reverence for him and thank the Divine Providence which sent him to serve and inspire his fellow men. [Handbook of the George Washington Appreciation Course for Teachers and Students (Washington, D.C.: U.S. George Washington Bicentennial Commission, 1932), pp. vii-viii]
                President Holland then explained that he had at least two reasons for his long tribute to Washington. “The first is because he is a genuine hero, and I have always wanted to make some public expression about the truly remarkable man I believe he was. I think we may never fully appreciate the magnitude of his impact upon those neonatal days of this nation when it could have so easily died aborning.
                “The second reason is to draw all of this closer to home, to see what lessons Washington and his age have for us here at the start of another school year at BYU. To make that transition I quote a recent BYU visitor, political pundit and journalistic gadfly Garry Willis. Said he:
                “`[In an election year] we get the presidents we deserve. A great people is what you need for a great president. Washington was the greatest president, because the people were at their most enlightened and alert. [America] right now is escapist. It wants to be soothed, and told it doesn’t have to pay or sacrifice or learn.’ [“Things That Matter,” Vis a Vis, July 1988, p. 70; emphasis added]
                President Holland then asked an important question: “Can that possibly be true, that the people made Washington great? That they, as well as he, were `at their most enlightened and alert’?” He then asked the college students what that meant to them.
                I ask now, “What does this mean for us?” We had two people as the candidates for President of the United States that no one liked. Republicans and others consider Hillary Clinton as a criminal and should be in prison. Liberals and others consider Donald Trump to be even worse. I saw man on one of the main streets of Anchorage – in 8 degree weather – waving a sign that said, “Impeach Trump.” President Trump had been in office maybe six hours. How could he have done anything that was impeachable in that short time and with everything else he was doing today?

                What kind of a President do we want? We must determine this for ourselves and then become that kind of person. If enough of us become the kind of people that the founding generation was, then we might – just might – elect a President like George Washington. Maybe We The People can make Donald Trump a good President!

Friday, January 20, 2017

By Divine Design

                We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by studying the document titled “The Family: A Proclamation to the Worldand by following its precepts. One way to study the proclamation is one paragraph at a time. This is the tenth article in this series.

                The post two weeks ago on strengthening families discussed the first part of the seventh paragraph. I chose to do this long paragraph in different posts because there were too many important topics to be covered in one post. As my regular readers will remember the first part of this paragraph says, “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity….”

                Last week’s post on strengthening families will cover the middle section of the paragraph as follows, “… Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities….”

                This week’s post on strengthening families will cover the last section of the paragraph as follows, “…
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

                Mosiah, a righteous prophet/king in ancient America taught the following to his people: “And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
                “But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 4:14-15). 

                In October 1987 President Ezra Taft Benson gave some specific counsel to the fathers in a General Conference address titled “To the Fathers in Israel.” 
                “What, then, is a father’s specific responsibility within the sacred walls of his home? May I suggest two basic responsibilities of every father in Israel.
                “First, you have a sacred responsibility to provide for the material needs of your family…

                “Early in the history of the restored Church, the Lord specifically charged men with the obligation to provide for their wives and family. In January of 1832 He said, `Verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide and he shall in no wise lose his crown’ (Doctrine and Covenants 75:28). Three months later the Lord said again, `Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken’ (Doctrine and Covenants 83:2). This is the divine right of a wife and mother. While she cares for and nourishes her children at home, her husband earns the living for the family, which makes this nourishing possible…

                “Brethren of the priesthood, I continue to emphasize the importance of mothers staying home to nurture, care for, and train their children in the principles of righteousness…
                “Fathers, another vital aspect of providing for the material needs of your family is the provision you should be making for your family in case of an emergency. Family preparedness has been a long-established welfare principle. It is even more urgent today…

                “Second, you have a sacred responsibility to provide spiritual leadership in your family.
                “In a pamphlet published some years ago by the Council of the Twelve, we said the following: `Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home’ (Father, Consider Your Ways,pamphlet, 1973, pp. 4-5)… 

                “Mothers play an important role as the heart of the home, but this in no way lessens the equally important role fathers should play, as head of the home, in nurturing, training, and loving their children.

                “As the patriarch in your home, you have a serious responsibility to assume leadership in working with your children. You must help create a home where the Spirit of the Lord can abide. Your place is to give direction to all family life. You should take an active part in establishing family rules and discipline.

                “Your homes should be havens of peace and joy for your family. Surely no child should fear his own father – especially a priesthood father. A father’s duty is to make his home a place of happiness and joy. He cannot do this when there is bickering, quarreling, contention, or unrighteous behavior. The powerful effect of righteous fathers in setting an example, disciplining and training, nurturing and loving is vital to the spiritual welfare of his children.”

                I will be eternally grateful for my husband in that he provided well for our family and allowed me to be at home during the critical years of childhood and adolescence. I feel that my presence at home gave my children a sense of security that they would have missed otherwise. I am also grateful that my sons by birth and marriage are providing for their families and allowing their wives to be stay-at-home mothers. I am also grateful that my grandchildren are being reared in homes where their fathers are the presiding authorities and blessing their children through their priesthood leadership.

                As you study the last section of the seventh paragraph of the proclamation, you may want to share what you learn in a family home evening. This site has a wonderful family home evening program all outlined with lesson, music, activity, and refreshments. You may want to cover the entire paragraph in one evening, or you may want to split the paragraph as I am doing. I hope you will strengthen your family, community, and nation by teaching that there is a divine design for families and putting this plan into action in your family.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Freedom from Obama

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that we will soon be free of Barack Obama and his liberal policies. We will have a new President of the United States at 12:00 noon on 20 January 2017! Yeah! America survived eight years of the Obama administration. I am sure that America will survive a Trump administration.

                As this “peaceful transition” takes place tomorrow, I believe Americans need to know the counsel given by two Apostles to the young adults of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

                 Elder Dallin H. Oaks urges them to live their lives with the knowledge that election results are a consequence of living in a democracy.
                “I’m not making an argument for the outcome of the election, but I make an argument for the democracy on which our freedoms depend, and we cannot have democracy if we cannot accept outcomes with which we disagree as well as outcomes with which we agree.”

                Elder Oaks quotes many of the remarks that he presented in a devotional at Brigham Young University in September 2016. “Although the election is over, the conditions that made a painful month in September persist in January, even in the week that the new president will be inaugurated….”

                Continuing his remarks, Elder Oaks says, “The few months preceding an election have always been times of serious political divisions, but the divisions and meanness we are experiencing in this election, especially at the presidential level, seem to be unusually wide and ugly.”

                Elder Oaks adds, “We should also remember not to be part of the current meanness. We should communicate about our differences with a minimum of offense.” If only Elder Oaks could speak to all Americans!

                Elder Jeffery R. Holland shares the challenges of several different people and the agonies through which they lived. “It is not coincidental that the word that’s used for Christ’s experience [in] Gethsemane is that he was in `an agony.’ If we say we’re disciples of Christ… we will on occasion be in agony. And I bless you that when those moments come, contemporary issues, historical complexities, personal problems at home, challenges in a mission or a marriage, wherever it is, I pray and ask and bless you to the end that you will be strong.”

                I do not know whether Elder Holland was speaking of the “agony” of one’s candidate losing an election, but I certainly appreciate his reminder of what we need to do as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Discussion about the Internet

                I had an assignment this week to study articles with opposing views about the future of Google. The assigned article was titled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”by Nicholas Carr. I chose to counter it with an article titled “Does Google Make Us Smarter? The World Says Resoundingly, `Yes’” by Hal Varian.

                Carr states that the Internet – known generally as Google - is making us stupid. He thinks that we spend so much time on Google that we lose the ability to concentrate and to think deeply because we are always skimming through articles on the Net. Here is one paragraph in his long article.

                “So, yes, you should be skeptical of my skepticism. Perhaps those who dismiss critics of the Internet as Luddites or nostalgists will be proved correct, and from our hyperactive, data-stoked minds will spring a golden age of intellectual discovery and universal wisdom. Then again, the Net isn’t the alphabet, and although it may replace the printing press, it produces something altogether different. The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, for that matter, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas. Deep reading, as Maryanne Wolf argues, is indistinguishable from deep thinking.
                “If we lose those quiet spaces, or fill them up with `content,’ we will sacrifice something important not only in our selves but in our culture….”

                In his article Varian quotes numerous experts – 76% of those questioned - who collectively say that Google does not make us stupid. Here are some of the best quotes in my opinion.

                . “My conclusion is that when the only information on a topic is a handful of essays or books, the best strategy is to read these works with total concentration. But when you have access to thousands of articles, blogs, videos, and people with expertise on the topic, a good strategy is to skim first to get an overview. Skimming and concentrating can and should coexist….” --Peter Norvig, Google Research Director

                . “Technology isn’t the problem here. It is people’s inherent character traits. The internet and search engines just enable people to be more of what they already are. If they are motivated to learn and [are] shrewd, they will use new tools to explore in exciting new ways. If they are lazy or incapable of concentrating, they will find new ways to be distracted and goof off.”  -- Varian

                . “I don’t think having access to information can ever make anyone stupider. I don’t think an adult’s IQ can be influenced much either way by reading anything and I would guess that smart people will use the Internet for smart things and stupid people will use it for stupid things in the same way that smart people read literature and stupid people read crap fiction. On the whole, having easy access to more information will make society as a group smarter though.” -- Sandra Kelly, market research, 3M Corporation

                . “Google is simply one step, albeit a major one, in the continuing continuum of how technology changes our generation and use of data, information, and knowledge that has been evolving for decades….” – Mario Morino, Chairman, Venture Philanthropy Partners

                I agree with the experts. I do not think that the Internet makes us stupid, but I do think that it changes how we do things and thus has changed our lives. Who wants to carry paper maps in their car and search for roads when Google can plot a route for them? The smart person trusts Google but verifies routes with a paper map if in unknown territory. Who wants to go back to using card catalogs when one can use the Internet? No one that I know! Who wants to give up social media, cell phones, etc.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Three More Days

                I have seen pictures that suggest that the Obama family has moved out of the White House. If it is true – I now question everything I hear and see, all I can say is YEAH! We have approximately three and a half days until Barack Obama is no longer the President of the United States. YEAH!

                I really do not care about the celebrations that take place at inauguration time. The parade and the balls could be cancelled with Donald Trump taking the oath of office inside the White House. I just want a new President. The current occupant of the Oval Office has been an embarrassment since he took office. Remember when he made his apology tour and bowed to foreign leaders? The President of the United States has no need to bow to anyone!

                In his last days and weeks in office as President, Barack Obama has simply made a fool of himself. From not standing with Israel against the UN to his last minute executive orders, Mr. Obama has proven himself to be more of a problem than a solution. His “legacy” is going downhill very fast. He is the laughing stock of the world.

                No matter what kind of President that Donald Trump turns out to be, it will be difficult for him to be worse than Barack Obama. At least Mr. Trump understands that leaders lead from the front and not behind. I did not think we could get a worse President than Jimmy Carter, but Mr. Obama proved me wrong.

                Right now I am concerned that Donald Trump and/or Mike Pence will be injured or killed before they even take office. Please pray for the United States of America and particularly for President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence. They will need all the help they can get and in many ways!

Monday, January 16, 2017

David McCullough

                David McCullough presented an address at Boston College on May 19, 2008. The topic of his discourse was “The Love of Learning.” I was assigned last week to read and annotate his talk. This was my first time to read his remarks, and I was quite impressed by it. I want to share some of his ideas with you.

                There is much information in our world today, but information is not learning. McCullough says, “Learning is not to be found on a printout. It’s not on call at the touch of the finger. Learning is acquired mainly from books, and most readily from great books. And from teachers, and the more learned and empathetic the better. And from work, concentrated work.”

                McCullough obviously knows that nothing is gained without time and effort. One must work in order to learn, and it does not matter what the task is. We could ask any young child who is learning to read or write or do math. Learning is work, and work takes time! We can learn from good books, through great teachers, and by work.

                The author quotes Abigail Adams as saying more than 200 years ago: “Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought with ardor and attended with diligence.” Then he says, “Ardor, to my mind, is the key word.” Merriam-Webster defines ardor as “warmth of feeling, extreme vigor or energy.” Thus, McCullough titled his address “The Love of Learning.”

                McCullough describes the writing of his biography of John Adams and how he wanted to read what John and Abigail Adams read. He did this because “We’re all what we read to a very considerable degree.” In his quest to read the books read by President and Mrs. Adams, he read many books, including Cervantes who wrote Don Quixote, a book that I have not yet read.

                Did you know that many of our common sayings come from Cervantes? “Cervantes is part of us, whether we know it or not. Declare you’re in a pickle; talk of birds of a feather flocking together; vow to turn over a new leaf; give the devil his due, or insist that mum’s the word, and you’re quoting Cervantes every time.”

                McCullough quotes Thomas Jefferson as writing, “I cannot live without books,” to John Adams. Jefferson and Adams were friends and shared a love for reading. John Adams once told his son John Quincy to “Always carry a book with you on our travels.”

                Speaking to the graduates of Boston College, McCullough offers similar counsel: “Make the love of learning central to your life…. If what you have learned here makes you want to learn more, well that’s the point….Read. Read. Read. Read the classics…. Read our country’s history…. Read into the history of Greece and Rome. Read about the great turning points in the history of science and medicine and ideas.
                “Read for pleasure…. But take seriously – read closely – books that have stood the test of time. Study a masterpiece, take it apart, study its architecture, its vocabulary, its intent. Underline, make notes in the margins, and after a few years, go back and read it again.
                “Make use of the public libraries. Start your own personal library and see it grow. Talk about the books you’re reading. Ask others what they’re reading. You’ll learn a lot….”

                I love to read because I learn so much through reading. I learned to love reading from my mother, and I have read many books since I learned to read in first grade. I passed this love of reading to my children, and they are passing it to their children. I love to see my grandchildren reading. I know that reading takes a person to many different experiences and adventures. I also know that children who read well make better students. I totally agree with a post I saw on Facebook: “A child who reads grows into an adult who thinks!” or something similar.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Civil Rights Day

                One of my instructors reminded her students that Civil Rights Day is a great day to help us remember the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in establishing racial equality. It is also a wonderful time to express gratitude for Dr. King’s efforts in establishing civil rights for all people in the United States. All humans are children of God and worthy of respect. In addition, it is a good day to show gratitude for religious freedom in America.

                The Prophet Joseph Smith: “If … I have been willing to die for a `Mormon,’ … I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of … any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.
                “If a love of liberty which inspires my soul – civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 345).

                Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue to stand in defense of people of other religions. In response to Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslims entering the United States, the Church issued a statement on December 8, 2015, defending Muslims, and part of that statement says: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns. However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom.” The statement also gives several examples of times when Mormons and Muslims worked together to support marriage, family, and religious freedom.