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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Rufus King

                Rufus King  was an attorney, politician, and diplomat.  He served Massachusetts as a delegate at the Continental Congress and at the Constitutional Convention where he signed the United States Constitution.  He represented  New York in the United States Senate, and he also served as Minister to Britain.  He was a candidate for the Federalist Party for both Vice President (1804, 1808) and President of the United States (1816).

                King was born on March 24, 1755, in Scarborough, Massachusetts, an area that is now Maine.  His parents were Sabilla Blagden and Richard King ; his father was a prosperous farmer-merchant.  Richard King settled at Dunstan Landing in Scarborough, near Portland, Maine, and had a “modest fortune”  by the time Rufus was born in 1755.  He was so successful financially that his neighbors were jealous.  A mob “ransacked his house and destroyed most of the furniture” after the Stamp Act 1765 was imposed and caused rioting.  No one was punished for the deed, and the mob burned his barn the next year.  Richard King was a loyalist, but all his sons became patriots in the War of Independence.

                Rufus King attended Dummer Academy (now  The Governor’s Academy) and Harvard College.  He graduated from Harvard in 1777 and began  study law.  He interrupted his studies in 1778 to volunteer in the militia to fight in the Revolutionary War.  He was appointed to the rank of major and served as an aide to General Sullivan in the Battle of Rhode Island.  He returned to his apprenticeship after the campaign ended.

                King was admitted to the bar in 1780 and started his legal practice in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  In 1783 he was elected to the Massachusetts state assembly and each year until 1785.  From 1784 to 1787 he represented Massachusetts at the Confederation Congress where he was one of the youngest delegates.

                Rufus King married Mary Alsop on March 30, 1786,  in New York City during the time he served as a delegate to the Continental Congress.  Rufus and Mary became parents of five sons:  James G. King, John Alsop King, Charles King, Edward King, and Frederic Gore King.  The King family belonged  to the Episcopalian church.

Mary was born on October 17, 1769,  in  New York and died on October 18 in Jamaica, New York.  She was the only daughter of John Alsop, a wealthy merchant and a New York delegate to the Continental Congress (1774-1776).  She was also a great niece of Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Mrs. King was described as “a lady of  remarkable beauty, gentle and gracious manners, and well cultivated  mind.”  She “adorned the high station, both in England and at home, that her husband’s official positions and their own social relations entitled them to occupy.  The latter years of her life, except while in Washington, were passed in Jamaica, Queens, New York.”

While Rufus was at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787,  he “worked closely with Alexander Hamilton on the Committee of Style and Arrangement  to prepare the final draft.”  After his return home, he worked to get the Constitution  ratified  as well as positioning himself to be elected to the U.S. Senate.  Massachusetts ratified the Constitution, but King was not elected to the Senate.

King moved to New York City at the urging of Hamilton and was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1789.   He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1789 and re-elected  in 1795.  He resigned from the Senate on May 23, 1796, to accept the appointment of U.S. Minister to Great Britain.  He had previously declined an offered post of Secretary of State by President George Washington.

As Minister to the Court of St. James (1796-1803 and 1825-1826), King played a “major diplomatic role.”  Even though King was a  “leading Federalist”, President Thomas Jefferson kept him in office until King requested to be relieved of the duty.  “He successfully settled disputes that the Jay Treaty had opened for negotiation.  His term was marked by friendship between the U.S. and Britain; it became hostile after 1805.”

King ran unsuccessfully as the Federalist Party candidate for Vice President in 1804 and 1808 and was elected to the U.S. Senate once again in 1813 where he served until March 4, 1819.  He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of New York in April 1816 as well as U.S. President later that year. He ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 1819 but the seat remained vacant until January 1820 when he was elected again.  He served in the U.S. Senate until March 4, 1825.

Rufus King opposed the expansion of slavery and slave trade.  His stand on this issue was “a product of moral conviction” which just happened to coincide with the “political realities of New England federalism.” He successfully barred the extension of slavery into the Northwest Territory by adding provisions to the 1785 Northwest Ordinance.  He supported Senate action in 1817 to abolish the domestic slave trade and “spoke strongly for the antislavery amendment to the Missouri statehood bill” in 1819.  “In 1819, his arguments were political, economic, and humanitarian; the extension of slavery would adversely affect the security of the principles of freedom and liberty.”  He continued in various ways to support gradual emancipation after the Missouri Compromise.

At that time, King owned “a library of roughly 2,200 titles in 3,500 volumes.  In addition, King had roughly 200 bound volumes containing thousands of pamphlets.  King’s son John Alsop King inherited the library and kept them in Jamaica, Queens, until his death in 1867.  The books then went to John’s son Dr. Charles Ray King of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  They remained in Pennsylvania until donated to the New York Historical Society in 1906, where most of them currently reside.  Some books have extensive marginalia.  In addition, six commonplace books survive in his papers at the New York Historical Society.

Rufus was not the only King involved in politics.  His brother William King was the first governor of Maine and a prominent merchant, and his brother Cyrus King was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.  Rufus has numerous prominent descendants.

King died on April 29, 1827, in Jamaica, Queens, New York, at age 72.  His funeral was held at his home in Jamaica, Queens, New York.  He is buried in the Grace Church Cemetery in Jamaica, Queens, New York.  King purchased the home in 1805 and later expanded it;  it is now called King Manor and is a museum open to the public.  King Park in Queens is now located on King’s farm.

The Rufus King School, also known as P.S. 26, in Fresh Meadows, New York, was named after King, as was the Rufus King Hall on the CUNY Queens College campus and King Street in Madison, Wisconsin.  Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is named after his grandson, Rufus King, a general in the American Civil War.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

State of the Union Address

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article II, Section 3:  "[The President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; …."  This clause gives the President the power and authority to go before Congress to report on serious problems and to give Congress and American citizens "the state of the Union."  The President usually makes a "State of the Union" address each January.

                "Washington and Adams delivered their messages orally.  Jefferson, however, asked permission to submit his reports in writing because speaking put an uncomfortable strain on his voice.  The written message remained the practice of the various presidents until 1913, when President Wilson revived the oral report to Congress.
                "Not only is the President required by the Constitution to give information to Congress from time to time, but the Congress has used this provision as a basis for requesting information."  (See W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 559.)

                "As Chief Justice John Marshall pointed out in Marbury v. Madison (1803), much of the power of the executive is, in its nature, discretionary.  Not so with the President's obligation to provide Congress with a report on the state of the Union.  In his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Justice Joseph Story observed that because the President has more information of the complex workings of the government, `[t]here is great wisdom, therefore, in not merely allowing, but in requiring, the president to lay before congress all facts and information, which may assist their deliberations; and in enabling him at once to point out the evil, and to suggest the remedy.'  Only the President - with his unique knowledge of military operations, foreign affairs, and the day-to-day execution of the laws, as well as being the only national representative of the whole people - can give a comprehensive assessment of the overall state of the nation and its relations with the world."  (See Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 216.)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Setting Goals

                We are once again at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year – a perfect time to set goals and begin anew. Like many other people, I use the New Year to make resolutions or to set goals.  I like to use the word "goals" rather than "resolutions" because it means more to me.  When we make goals, we plan our lives and make decisions about what we want to accomplish by a certain date.  Many people wander through life without knowing where they are going - much less having any idea of how to get there.  These people may work very hard but not get any where because they are not working towards any specific goals.

                A goal is much like a road map or GPS.  Would you consider leaving your home on a journey into the unknown without knowing where you want to go or how to get there?  Going through life without setting goals is like driving in unknown areas without a GPS.  A road map or GPS can show us where we are and how we can get where we want to be.  Goals do the same thing. 

When we take the time to think about what we are doing at the present time and what we want to be doing in the future, we began to take control of our lives.  I wrote about setting goals and eternal goals last year.  Many of the following ideas about setting and achieving goals in general came from this site.  

                Goals help us to reach our desired destination.  They motivate us in the present time and give us a vision toward which we can work.  They keep us moving and make our vision a reality.  Goals help us to concentrate our efforts and help us organize our time and resources for our best good.  We can measure our progress with clearly defined goals and recognize our ability to achieve what we want.  Setting goals applies to every area of our lives - career, financial, education, family, talents, sports, public service, etc.

                Here are some simple rules for setting goals:  1) See the "big picture."  Decide where and what we want to be at a given time.  2) Break the big goals into medium goals and the medium goals into smaller goals.  Where do you want to be at the end of your life, at retirement, ten years from now, five years from now, one year from now, six months from now, one month from now, this week, or the end of today?  3) Work toward reaching the small goals and you will be moving towards the medium and larger goals also.  Plan your work and then work your plan.  4) Make SMART goals:  S (specific or significant) M (measurable or meaningful) A (attainable) R (relevant) T (trackable).  5) Review your plans and make needed adjustments.

                Tips for setting goals are:  “1) State each goal as a positive statement:  Express your goals positively.  "Execute this technique well" is a much better goal than "Don't make this stupid mistake."  2) Be precise:  Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement.  If you do this, you'll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and you can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.  3) Set priorities:  When you have several goals, give each a priority.  This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.  4) Write goals down:  This crystallizes them and gives them more force.  5) Keep operational goals small:  Keep the low-level goals that you're working towards small and achievable.  If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it.  Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.  6) Set performance goals, not outcome goals:  You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible.  It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control!  … If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them.  7) Set realistic goals:  It's important to set goals that you can achieve.”

                Tips for achieving goals are:  “1) When you've achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so….  2)  If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately and build the self-confidence you deserve.  3) Having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goals:  If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goal harder.  If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goal a little easier.  If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so.  If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this.  Feed lessons learned back into your goal setting.  Remember that goals will change as time goes on.  Adjust them regularly to reflect growth in your knowledge and experience.  Have the courage to let them go if they are no longer attractive to you.”

                The most important goal we can set is for where we want to spend eternity.  Everyone who wants to achieve exaltation or eternal life in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom must achieve the following:  1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; 2) Repentance; 3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; 4) Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; 5) Marriage in the temple for eternity; 6) Keep the commandments; 7) Endure to the end of mortal life.

                Some of these requirements are usually needed only once.  Most people need to be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be married in the temple for eternity only one time.  Once we have accomplished these three goals, we can keep them bright and shiny by working on the other four goals:  faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end of our lives.

                We can keep our faith in Jesus Christ strong and growing by exercising it regularly:  praying daily, studying the scriptures daily, attending our church meetings weekly, worthily maintaining a current temple recommend, and attending the temple regularly (weekly or monthly if possible).

                We use the principle of repentance to keep our lives clean and worthy of entering God's presence.  We do this by repenting daily to keep our mistakes and sins small and by knowing when the Holy Ghost is with us.

                We must strive to keep every commandment.  We can reach a state of perfection in keeping some of the commandments – such as paying tithing and being morally clean – but we will not reach perfection in all of them in this life.  In order to keep the commandments, we must set goals for each of them.  For example, in order to pay our tithes and offerings honestly, we can set the goal of paying our tithing first - before spending any income, paying a generous fast offering, and attending tithing settlement.

                The last requirement for exaltation is to endure to the end and to do it well.  We must keep the faith and not give up because the goal is difficult.  We must turn a deaf ear to the whisperings of Satan and not let him convince us that eternal life is not attainable for us.

                I know that exaltation is attainable for each of Heavenly Father's children because God's job is to bring each of His children back into His presence.  God told Moses, "For behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39).

This scripture names two parts to God's work - to bring to pass immortality and to bring to pass eternal life.  The words immortality and eternal life do not refer to the same thing.  Immortality is a state of being resurrected, of being free from physical death.  This blessing will come to all people.  Eternal life is living with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the celestial kingdom and being like Them.  This blessing - which is also called exaltation - comes only to those who keep the commandments and make the necessary covenants.

I know that we all have the potential to reach exaltation because Jesus Christ made it possible through His atoning sacrifice.  I also know that the best way to reach exaltation is to set it as a goal and then work towards reaching it.  I encourage you to join me in working towards the goal of exaltation and eternal life with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Assist Spiritual Experiences

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents and leaders assist the rising generation to receive and recognize spiritual experiences.  No one can force our youth to have spiritual experiences, but we can be instrumental in leading them to situations where spiritual experiences can take place.  We must teach our children and youth that spiritual experiences are real even though our language is insufficient to describe or explain what happened.

                When our Savior, even Jesus Christ, visited the ancient inhabitants of the American continents, He taught them much of the information that He had previously given to the people at Jerusalem, including the teachings contained in the Sermon on the Mount.  He understood that they lacked the capacity to understand all of His words and sent them home with the instructions to "ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 17:3).

                The Savior gave three key instructions – the three Ps:  1) Ponder upon the things that you have heard, 2) Pray for understanding, and 3) Prepare to learn more tomorrow.  We can use the same three keys to gain understanding of what we already know and to be prepared to learn more.

Jesus Christ recognized that the Nephites believed in Him and asked them to bring all those who were sick, lame, blind, halt, maimed, leprous, withered, deaf, or afflicted in any manner to Him.  He said, "I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you" (3 Nephi 17:8).

                After Jesus Christ had completed healing all who were afflicted, He called for them to bring all the little children to Him.  The children were brought and set down on the ground around the Savior.  He then commanded the multitude to kneel.  He prayed to Father in Heaven and this is the description of His prayer:  "…the things which he prayed cannot be written…. The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;
                "And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father" (3 Nephi 17:12-17).

                After seeing and hearing such wonderful things, the Savior told the Nephites, "Blessed are ye because of your faith.  And now behold, my joy is full" (3 Nephi 17:20).  

                The Nephite spiritual experience was not yet complete because more was to come.  The Savior told them, "Behold your little ones" (3 Nephi 17:23), and they looked and saw angels come down from heaven and surround those little ones with "fire." 

                "And the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they know that their record is true for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children" (3 Nephi 17:23-25).

                I have always been a believer of spiritual experiences and suppose this belief came because of my parents.  My family experienced a number of exceptional circumstances in the years before my birth, which brought numerous opportunities for deep and fervent prayer.  One of those experiences was the accidental shooting of my older brother's friend with a BB-gun.  As I understand the situation, the BB entered the young boy's throat and blood was spurting out.  My mother held her finger over the hole and got help for him. Then she gathered her children around her in prayer for the boy's life.  My older sister told me that our mother's prayer sounded that she was speaking directly to Heavenly Father, and she opened her eyes to see if God was standing there!  I understand that the boy was healed without any further problems.

                My mother was not the only one who prayed as though God were in the room.  At my father's funeral, his bishop mentioned my father's prayers and how he prayed for his posterity.  The bishop indicated that he really appreciated being present to hear my father pray and knowing that my father was speaking directly to God.

                The rising generation cannot accept and/or understand spiritual experiences unless they experience them personally. The  spiritual experience described above means much to my sister because she experienced it; to me it is a wonderful story.  I shed tears every time I think of it, but my sister lived it.

                I do not suggest that you shoot someone in the throat with a BB gun in order to have a spiritual experience!  I do suggest that you recognize and prepare opportunities for your children and youth to experience the Spirit of God touching their lives.   The simple act of taking your children to watch a friend’s baptism can bring an opportunity for them to feel the Spirit.  Listening to sacred music and bearing testimony are both ways to bring the Spirit closer to us.

We must teach the word of God to the rising generation in order to strengthen them for the challenges they face.  God's word has a powerful effect on all who hear it, and it will strengthen the youth.  The ancient American prophet Alma wrote that "… the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just - yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened to them…" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 31:5). 

Our children and youth are likely to feel the Spirit as we gather them around us in family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening - if they are open to receive it.  Bearing testimony of the truths of the gospel usually brings the Spirit and may be what brings a spiritual experience to others. 

Our youth often feel the Spirit as they do service projects.  The bishopric and Young Men leaders in one ward counseled together about how they could help the youth of the ward receive more spiritual experiences.  They determined that they would "focus more of their activities on service and not as many on entertainment or amusement.  This included visiting less-active quorum members, participating in proselyting with the full-time missionaries, and administering the sacrament to home bound ward members…."

These activities had a profound effect "over time" and "made all the difference" in the lives of the young men.  The young men bore testimony of how they had felt the Spirit as they performed their service projects and priesthood duties.  "They felt the Spirit and realized the difference the gospel makes in people's lives."  The leaders learned the "importance of promoting the kinds of experiences in which youth can feel the Spirit.  `Social activities are important, but spiritual experiences are critical in helping youth build their own testimonies.’"  (See "Helping Youth Have Spiritual Experiences," Ensign, October 2012, 33-37.)

An important aspect of assisting our children and youth in having spiritual experiences is to use consistency in the things we do and say.  Elder Bednar taught that we need to create spiritual patterns in our lives - patterns such as scripture study, prayer, family home evening, and attending Church.  (See "More Diligent and Concerned at Home," Ensign, May 2010, 17-20.)

Teaching spiritual patterns and having consistency begins at home.  Experts tell us that eating at least one meal together as families has a tremendous effect on our children.  Working together to cook and prepare the food can add to the strength gained from being together.  Our mealtimes can be a time to reconnect with each other as well as to acknowledge our many blessings.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers the following suggestions to help youth have spiritual experiences:  1) Give youth opportunities to serve; 2) Connect youth with the Word of God; 3) Be consistent; 4) Tap into existing opportunities to teach and listen; 5) Work together toward a common goal.

As parents and grandparents, we must not only teach the rising generation, but we must create an environment where they can learn eternal truths for themselves.  We must be alert for teaching opportunities whether they take place in a formal setting such as class or family home evening or whether they take place during a walk, while driving to an activity, serving together, mealtimes, or fun times.  We must be alert and recognize promptings from the Spirit that a teaching moment has come.

By teaching the rising generation how to receive and recognize their own spiritual experiences, we can strengthen them to face the difficult times in their lives.  As we strengthen our youth, we also strengthen our communities and nations.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gun Control and Freedom

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that citizens of any country lose freedom when their nation practices gun control.  Liberals and Progressives in our nation and in the counsels of the United Nations desire to disarm Americans in order to control us.  Gun control is not about controlling guns; it is about controlling citizens.

                Our Founders understood the importance of guns in the hands of common citizens.  This is the reason why they wrote the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.  This amendment reads:  "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Noah Webster, one of our Founders, stated:  "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe.  The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States."  (An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787)

Bob Costas, a sports announcer, found it necessary in early December to discuss his perceived need for gun control.    While discussing the murder/suicide of Kansas City player, Jovan Belcher, Costas appeared to call for stricter gun control measures.  He indicated that there was no need for professional football players to be carrying guns.  Costas continued to defend his rant about gun control because he is a liberal and believes that the common citizen is not capable of owning and using guns responsibly.

Switzerland seems to be the model for why citizens need to be armed, and Stephen P. Halbrook wrote an interesting article entitled "Guns, Crime, and the Swiss" to explain the connection between guns and freedom.  (Holbrook also wrote a book entitled Target Switzerland:  Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II.)

Holbrook began his article, "Back in 1994, when the U.S. Congress was debating whether to ban `assault weapons,' a talk show host asked Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey, a sponsor of the ban, whether guns cause crime.  The host noted that, in Switzerland, all males are issued assault rifles for their militia service and are required to keep them at home, yet little crime exists there.  Bradley responded:  `My guess is - Swiss are pretty dull - so my guess is that probably didn't happen.'
"Actually, for those who think that target shooting is more fun than golf, Switzerland is anything but `dull.'  By car or by train, you see shooting ranges all over the country, but only a few golf courses.  If there is a Schuetzenfest in town, you will find rifles slung on hat racks in restaurants, and you will encounter men and women, old and young, walking, biking, and taking the tram with rifles over the shoulder, to and from the range.  They stroll right past the police station and no one bats an eye (in the U.S. a SWAT Team might do you in).
"Tourists - especially those from Japan, where guns are banned to all but the police - think it's a revolution.  But shooting is really just the national sport, although it has the deadly serious function of being the backbone of the national defense.
"Although there is more per capita firepower in Switzerland than any place in the world, it is one of the safest places to be.  To the delight of Americans who support the right to keep and bear arms, Switzerland is the proof in the pudding of the argument that guns don't cause crime."

Holbrook continued his article by quoting statistics from the UN International Study on Firearm Regulation about the 1994 homicide rate in various nations.  "The UN Study omits Switzerland from its comparative analysis.  The Swiss example contradicts the Study's hypothesis that a high incidence of firearm ownership correlates with high violent crime."  He then included some statistics from Swiss records.  "Sometimes, the data sounds too good to be true.  In 1993, not a single armed robbery was reported in Geneva.  In a word, Switzerland, which is awash in guns, has substantially lower murder and robbery rates than England, where most guns are banned."

While the United States and other nations have experienced school shootings, Switzerland has experienced zero attacks in spite of the fact that guns are available to students.  "At all major shooting matches, bicycles aplenty are parked outside.  Inside the firing shelter the competitors pay 12-year-olds tips to keep score.  The 16-year-olds shoot rifles along with men and women of all ages."

Halyard reported that Prof. Marshal Clinard wrote in "Cities with Little Crime:  `Even in the largest Swiss cities crime is not a major problem.'"  "The low crime rate is even more remarkable in that the criminal justice system is relatively lenient."

According to Halyard our Founders were well aware of the record in Switzerland, and the "Swiss influence was partly responsible for the adoption of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution….
"When the first U.S. Congress met and turned to defense measures in 1791, Representative Jackson argues:  `The inhabitants of Switzerland emancipated themselves by the establishment of a militia, which finally delivered them from the tyranny of their lords.'  A law was passed requiring every able-bodied citizen to provide himself with a firearm and enroll in the militia, and it stayed on the books for over a century."  I wonder if the law was struck from the books when the Progressive movement began in the early 1900s! 

Holbrook continued his article:  "While the United States is victimized by embarrassing episodes of criminal degradation, the twentieth-century European experience suggests that tyrannical governments kill far more than private criminals.  In 1933, the Nazis seized power via massive search-and-seizure operations for firearms against `Communists,' i.e., all political opponents.  In 1938, in preparation for and during the Night of the Broken Glass, they disarmed the Jews.  And when the Nazis occupied Europe in 1939-41, they proclaimed the death penalty for any person who failed to surrender all firearms within 24 hours.

"There may be various reasons why the Nazis did not invade Switzerland, but one of those reasons is that every Swiss man had a rifle at home.  The Nazi invasion plans themselves state that, because of the Swiss gun ownership and shooting skills, that country would be difficult to conquer and occupy.  The European countries occupied by the Nazis usually had strict gun controls before the war, and their registration lists facilitated confiscation of firearms and, in many cases, execution of their owners.
"By being able to keep out of both world wars in part through the dissuasive factor of an armed populace, Switzerland demonstrates that possession of firearms by civilians may help prevent large numbers of deaths and even genocide.  The Holocaust never came to Switzerland, the Jewish population of which was armed just like their fellow citizens…."

The European examples show that registration of guns precedes confiscation of weapons.  This is apparently one reason why Liberals and Progressives want to “register” our guns. 

Do you retain any wonder about why the Progressives want gun control?  I do not.  I believe that we should learn from the Swiss example; I believe it is important for us to have private gun ownership because armed citizens are free citizens.  No individual or group can overcome us when we have the capability to defend ourselves.  Obviously, many other Americans agree with me because gun sales have soared in the past four years and continue to increase.  Americans know that an armed citizenry is necessary to maintain liberty.  Gun control is not about controlling crime; it is about controlling citizens!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Disappearing Fathers

I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas surrounded by family and friends, but I could not eliminate thoughts of  Newtown, Connecticut, from my mind.  I was somewhat hindered in my attempts because I have three six-year-old granddaughters.  Every time  I think of the children in Connecticut, I see the faces of my granddaughters.

I am not so concerned about the little children who were killed because I know that they are basking in the love and presence of our Heavenly Father.  I am however very interested in assuring that no more innocent people are killed and have often pondered what we as a nation should do to protect our children.   I am also very much concerned with the children of all ages who were traumatized by the useless killing and how their experience will affect their future lives.

Vincent DiCaro published on the fatherhood blog about the connection between disappearing fathers and tragedies of the type that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  He wrote, “While it is not our job at NFI [National Fatherhood Initiative] to figure out how to solve issues around gun control and mental health treatment, we would be remiss not to point out that once again, like in so many tragedies of this nature, there appears to be a significant `father factor’ at play.
                “As we learn more and more about the troubled life of shooter Adam Lanza, it appears that the divorce of his parents had a significant negative impact on his life.
                “It is becoming clear that Adam Lanza suffered from some sort of emotional or psychological disorder that has not yet been specified.  It also appears that this mental disorder contributed significantly to the heinous crime he committed.  However, we know from research that children from father-absent homes are more likely to have emotional problems and are also more likely to commit crimes….”

                The fatherhood blog wrote previous articles about the father factor in other mass murders and the patterns found in those cases.  No one knows if things would have been different if Adam Lanza’s father had been more involved with his son.  As we “work together to devise solutions that will reduce the likelihood of this sort of tragedy happening again” we must “ensure that all children have involved, responsible, and committed fathers in their lives who can help them navigate a difficult world, one that is especially difficult for the mentally ill.”

                Our society must recognize that fathers are valuable people in the lives of their children.  I believe that many of our societal problem a regular basis.  I understand that one-third of all children have no relationship at all with their fathers while another one-third see their fathers only once a month.
                Luke Rosiak at The Washington Times also wrote about fathers disappearing from households all across our nation.  “In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade.  Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million.  Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother.  In 1960, just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers.”

                Rosiak referred to the article by DiCaro and indicated that DiCaro counseled us to “Deal with absent fathers, and the rest follows.”  The “rest” includes “poverty, crime, drugs and other problems.”  When we “look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school” and want to help that child, we must ask, “Why does that child need help in the first place?”  “The answer is often” the absence of “a responsible and involved father.”  I found the charts about families in Rosiak’s article to be very interesting and suggest that you link to his article to see them.

                If our national and state leaders really want to make a difference in the lives of our children, they would stop blaming the problems on guns and look to the underlying causes.  A typical single mother earns approximately one-third the income of a married couple with children.  When there is no father in the lives of her children, the typical single mother turns to the government for help in raising her children.  Although the government can dole out food stamps and low-cost housing, it is useless in properly preparing children and youth to be responsible adults.  The longer a single mother relies on government handouts, the further she goes down in “dangerous spiral” of government-assisted poverty.

                There is a great racial divide in this problem.  Rosiak wrote that census data shows that “the lack of live-in fathers also is overwhelmingly a black problem” “regardless of poverty status.”  “Among blacks, nearly 5 million children, or 54 percent, live with only their mother.  Twelve percent of black families below the poverty line have two parents present, compared with 41 percent of impoverished Hispanic families and 32 percent of poor white families….
                “In all but 11 states, most black children do not live with both parents.  In every state, 7 in 10 white children do.  In all states but Rhode Island and Massachusetts, most Hispanic children do.  In Wisconsin, 77 percent of white children and 61 percent of Hispanics live with both parents, compared with … 25 percent of black children.”

                The number of single-parent homes continues to increase from coast to coast and from the northern border to the southern border; the numbers also include every race and places known for their “family values.”  Black single mothers tend to have more children than black married mothers; single white mothers and single Hispanic mothers tend to have fewer children than married mothers. 

                We tend to follow the examples of our parents unless we make a definite decision to not follow their example.  I know people who were raised in cluttered homes who de-clutter their own homes regularly to avoid following the parental example.  The same would apply to whether the parents are married or single.  If the mother does not marry the father of her child, the child will probably not understand the need for marriage.  Teaching young men who were raised without a father’s influence how to be responsible fathers would be very difficult.  This is one reason why families continue living in the downward spiral of single parents, poverty, and crime.  I believe that this is the main reason why the number of single parents continues to increase.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peace in Perilous Times

                We live in the perilous days prophesied by the Apostle Paul in a letter to Timothy.  "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
                "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.
                "Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.
                "Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
                "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:  from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

                We are only normal if we are troubled by the wickedness in our world; however, we must keep our faith strong and not let fear overtake us.  We can feel peace in spite of the turmoil all around us.  We can learn the requirements for peace in troubled times by those who have previously gone through difficult days. 

An ancient American prophet by the name of Alma recorded the trials of many years of war and then made this interesting statement:  "But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni…" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 50:23).

                Why were the people happy in spite of their need to protect themselves from their enemies?  I find several reasons for their happiness:  1) They were lead by righteous men; both their national leaders and their military leaders were men of God.  2) They trusted their leaders to do the right things.  3) They kept the commandments of God and prospered in spite of difficult times.

                I believe that many of our national leaders have an agenda to “fundamentally transform” our nation and take away many of our liberties; therefore, I believe that they are not worthy of being trusted.  We are, however, blessed by the presence of living prophets and apostles who can be trusted.  These spiritual leaders are not in positions to affect what our nation does, but they are capable of guiding us in both temporal and spiritual areas of our lives.  Their counsel can help us not only survive these troubling times but also thrive during them.  If we follow their counsel, we can feel peace even in our perilous times.

                George Albert Smith was the prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during World War II, and he gave great counsel to the members of the Church as well as the people of the world.  "In these days of uncertainty when men are running to and fro seeking for some new plan by which peace may be brought into the world, know this:  that the only way to peace for this world is the pathway of the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.  There is no other.  … To possess a knowledge of the truth is worth all the wealth of the world, to know that we are on the safe highway when we are in the pathway of duty as defined by our Heavenly Father, and to know that we can continue there if we will, regardless of the influences and inducements that may be offered by those who have not been appointed to be our leaders, is a blessing that is priceless."

                President Smith also counseled, "We live in a day when the scripture is being fulfilled among the nations wherein the Lord said through one of his prophets, that in the latter-day, `… the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.'  (Isaiah 29:14.)  With all the wisdom of the world, no group thus far has been able to point the way for peace with the certainty that it is the way.   We … are fortunate to know that there is a way for peace that alone will produce results, and that way is to keep the commandments of God as revealed to the children of men anciently and in our day.  If that way were followed, all the problems that are so serious in the world could be solved, and peace would come to this unhappy earth."

                Again President Smith counseled, "though the world may be filled with distress, and the heavens gather blackness, and the vivid lightnings flash, and the earth quake from center to circumference, if we know that God lives, and our lives are righteous, we will be happy, there will be peace unspeakable because we know our Father approves [of] our lives."  (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church - George Albert Smith [2011], pp. 259-260.)

                The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith in a revelation received on November 1, 1831, at Hiram, Ohio:  "For I am no respecter of persons, and will that all men shall know that the day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion.
                "And also the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon … the world" (Doctrine and Covenants 1:35-36).

                We can all see that peace has been taken from the earth as one war has followed another since the Civil War.  Even though turmoil is in the world, we can have peace in our hearts and in our homes.  We can make our homes our refuges from the world by making them places of prayer, gratitude, kindness between spouses, and love for our children.  We can bring Zion into our homes by living righteously. 

                President Smith counseled, "I pray that our homes may be sanctified by the righteousness of our lives, that the adversary may have no power to come there and destroy the children of our homes or those who dwell under our roofs.  If we will honor God and keep his commandments, our homes will be sacred, the adversary will have no influence, and we will live in happiness and peace until the winding-up scene in mortality and we go to receive our reward in immortality….
                "I pray that in our hearts and in our homes there may abide that spirit of love, of patience, of kindness, of charity, of helpfulness that enriches our lives and that makes the world brighter and better because of it."  (See Teachings, pp. 261-262.)

                In addition to enjoying peace and happiness in our homes, we can have a positive influence in our communities.  We can be lights to other people and lead them to security by our good works.  Our good examples can encourage others to keep the commandments and follow the counsel of the prophets.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Living Christ

                We live in a time of wars and rumors of wars.  These wars are not only between nations but among associates, neighbors, friends, and family members.  We endured a political season that not only deepened the divide in our nation, but it also destroyed many relationships.  A recent letter to "Dear Amy" was from a woman whose father disowned his two daughters because they voted for Obama.  This letter is just one proof that personal wars are raging among us.  Another proof of personal wars is the mass murder that took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.  This "war" took place in the soul of the murderer of children. 

                The wars and rumors of wars that we see and hear are caused by evil, and peace will never come to the earth until the majority of people turn to the Prince of Peace or until Jesus Christ returns to earth in all His glory.  This year I am particularly grateful for the fact that the Christmas season follows the political season because this season love, peace, and goodwill makes most of us a little less selfish and self-centered and more willing to help other people.

                As I considered what I should write about Jesus Christ today, I wondered what more could be written about Him than that which has already been written, either by myself or others far more capable than I.   I thought of the book entitled Jesus the Christ by Elder James E. Talmage that seems to cover every possible detail of the life of Christ - premortal, mortal, and eternal.  Then I remembered the statement made by living prophets and apostles entitled The Living Christ and felt that I should make it my post for today.  I know that there can be no finer message for Christmas than this statement!  I too know that Jesus Christ is the living Son of our Eternal Father in Heaven.  I know that He is our Savior, and I know that He is the Prince of Peace.  I love Him and recommend that all my readers learn more about Him.

The Living Christ
The Testimony of the Apostles
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

                As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice.   None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

                He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New.  Under the direction of his Father, He was the creator of the earth.  "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3).  Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness.  He "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it.  His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill.  He entreated all to follow His example.  He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead.  He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

                He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice.  He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary's cross.  He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind.  His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

                We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary.  He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

                He rose from the grave to "become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20).  As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life.  He also ministered among His "other sheep" (John 10:16) in ancient America.  In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised "dispensation of the fulness of times" (Ephesians 1:10).

                Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote:  "His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:  `I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father' (Doctrine and Covenants  110:3-4)."

                Of Him the Prophet also declared:  "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him:  That he lives!
                "For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father--
                "That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God" (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24).

                We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth-- "built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20).

                We testify that He will someday return to earth.  "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isaiah 40:5).  He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him.  Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

                We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles-- that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God.  He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father.  He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world.  His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.  God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

                This document is signed by the First Presidency:  Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and James E. Faust.  It is also signed by the Quorum of the Twelve:  Boyd K. Packer, L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, Neal A. Maxwell, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Joseph B. Wirthlin, Richard G. Scott, Robert D. Hales, Jeffrey R. Holland, and Henry B. Eyring.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Birth of Christ

                    I love the story of the birth of Jesus Christ because it illustrates so well how much God loves His children.  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).  Jesus Christ is God's gift to the world, the first gift of Christmas; his birth represents the love of God for the world.

                    Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He has a plan for us to return to His presence after we complete our "schooling" on earth.  He is so all-knowing that He knew the exact conditions that we would need to have in order to learn all that we need to know.  He planned the creation of this earth.  In anticipation for the Fall of Adam and Eve, He planned for a Savior to make it possible for all the rest of His children to return to His presence.  This Savior is Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father.

                    Our Father in Heaven is mindful of each of His children.  He knew Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph well enough to call them by name and to guide them through their individual missions.  He sent angels to the shepherds in order to give them the opportunity to become witnesses of the birth of Jesus Christ.  God placed a new star in the sky, which not only led the wise men to the house where Joseph took his family.  The wise men brought financial assistance to Joseph as well as becoming additional witnesses of Christ's birth.  God also warned the wise men and Joseph that Herod would try to kill the young child.  The new star in the sky not only led the wise men to the Child, but it also announced the birth of Christ to the ancient inhabitants of the American continents.

                    The story of the birth of Jesus Christ in the scriptures is both simple and wonderful.  In Luke, Chapter 2, we read that Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that "all the world" or at least all his subjects should return to his own city to be taxed.  "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
"To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child."  While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem paying their taxes, the time came for the birth of her child.  Joseph could not find room in any inn and took Mary into a stable:  "And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; …"

Meanwhile, an angel of the Lord appeared to some shepherds who were "keeping watch over their flock by night."  The angel said to them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
"And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
The shepherds went with haste into Bethlehem "and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
"And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child."  The shepherds returned to their flocks "glorifying and praising God" for the wonderful tidings they had both seen and heard. 

About  the same time, wise men in the east saw the new star in the sky and followed the star into Jerusalem where they visited with King Herod.  They asked Herod, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him" (Matthew 2:1-2).

King Herod had no knowledge of the new King and questioned his chief priests and scribes who told him of the prophecies that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem.  Herod returned to the wise men, asked them when the star appeared, and sent them out to find the Christ Child.  The star "went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:  and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
"And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
"And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
"When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
"And was there until the death of Herod:…..
"But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
"Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
"And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel….
Joseph was still concerned because Archelaus reigned in place of his father Herod:  "notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth:  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene" (Matthew, chapter 2).

The birth of Jesus Christ demonstrates the great love that our Heavenly Father has for the world.  The first gift of Christmas is the love of God embodied in His Son, Jesus Christ.