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.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Teach the True Meaning of Christmas

            Parents can strengthen their family, community, and nation by teaching the true meaning of Christmas. Children need to know that there is something more to Christmas than just getting a lot of presents. Otherwise, they grow up with self-centered attitudes and the idea that the world owes them whatever they want.

            After years of being told that the United States is not a Christian country and that everyone should say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” the true meaning of Christmas is back in style. First Lady Melania shows that she is not ashamed to celebrate thebirth of Jesus Christ. When Melania decorated the White House for Christmas, she placed an antique nativity scene among the colorful trees and other scenes. 

The 300-year-old nativity scene first was a 1967 gift to the White House from philanthropist and collector Mrs. Charles W. Englehard, a founding member of First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s committee to restore the aging White House.

Albert J. Menendez, author of Christmas in the White House, wrote that Mrs. Kennedy’s successor, Lady Bird Johnson, asked Mrs. Englehard to find an appropriate manger scene for the White House Christmas collection. After scouring Europe, Englehard found the eighteenth century Neapolitan crèche through the Christmas Crib Association of Italy. There are 22 wooden figures in the set, which has a backdrop of wood and terracotta. The figures are ornately dressed and the Three Wise Men ride horses instead of camels.

Baby Jesus is crowned.

            President Donald Trump is not a whit behind Melania. He spoke at the 96th annual lighting of national Christmas tree and shared part of the Christmas story. He led the countdown to the time when the First Lady would flip the switch to light the giant Colorado blue spruce tree. “Merry Christmas, everybody. We just have to say it all together: Merry, merry Christmas.” He then spoke to the nation and the world to open the Christmas season by recognizing the true meaning for the celebration.

For Christians, this is a Holy season – the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Christmas story begins 2000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all, the gift of God’s love for all of humanity.

Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of this incredible life forever changed the course of human history. There’s hardly an aspect of our lives today that his life has not touched: art, music, culture, law, and our respect for the sacred dignity of every person everywhere in the world.

Each and every year at Christmas time we recognize that the real spirit of Christmas is not what we have, it’s about who we are – each one of us is a child of God.
That is the true source of joy this time of the year.

And that is what we remember at today’s beautiful ceremony, that we are called to serve one another, to love one another, and to pursue peace in our hearts and all throughout the world.

            Trump is far from being a prophet or spiritual leader, but he is not afraid to proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God and that Christmas is the celebration of His birth. He is also not afraid to say “Merry Christmas.” We can follow his example of courage. We can teach the true meaning of Christmas, wish “Merry Christmas” to our family members, friends, and neighbors, and we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by doing so.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Freedom to Change

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that many people deserve a second chance to straighten out their lives. I believe firmly in the Christlike principle of repentance. This principle involves several steps that include recognition of the mistake or sin, remorse for committing it, restitution to those who have been hurt, and a general turning away from that particular behavior. Sometimes the sin or crime is so bad that the person must spend time in jail or prison, and sometimes the criminal cannot or will not be reformed. However, many of them can and will change to be better people.

            The FIRST STEP Act is a bill that will give certain criminals an opportunity to start their lives over. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) is an advocate for the bill and writes a fairly convincing article in support of it titled “The Truth about the FIRST STEP Act.” He writes that he is “clear-eyed about crime” and does not “think our justice system is fundamentally broken, unjust, or corrupt.” He also writes of his “respect for law-enforcement officials, who put themselves in danger every single day in order to protect the public.” Lee says that he knows from experience that some criminals are “incapable of or uninterested in rehabilitation and change” and should have “the book” thrown at them.

But my time as a prosecutor also tells me that not every criminal is dangerous or incapable of living a productive life. My faith as a Christian teaches me that many people are capable of redemption. And my instincts as a conservative make me believe that the government can be reformed to work better. For those reasons, I believe the FIRST STEP Act is legislation that deserves the support of all conservatives.

            The Senator continues by explaining that the act has to do with time credits given to federal inmates if they “display exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations.” He says that this “is a modest change from existing law,” but criticism is focused on it. So, he outlines some of the specifics.

Not all inmates are eligible to earn the credit. The bill lists 50 offenses, conviction for which disqualifies inmates from the credit. The remaining inmates are eligible only if they are determined to be a minimum or low recidivism risk by the warden of their facility, based on data-based standards developed by the attorney general and an independent commission. For eligible inmates, the warden will individually tailor the type and amount of recidivism-reduction programming and productive activities.

            Lee goes through several stated reasons for opposing the act and explains why they are wrong. The first one is about “productive activity,” which he explains is more than just watching television but is activity that is approved by the warden. The second objection is that it would allow dangerous criminal to accumulate credits and be out on the street. Lee reminds people that the bill lists 50 offenses for which conviction disqualifies the inmates. The third objection is about the act reducing the sentences of drug dealers to half. Lee explains, “Under current law, certain second-time drug dealers receive a 20-year mandatory minimum, while certain third-time drug dealers receive a mandatory life sentence. The FIRST STEP would reduce those mandatory minimums to 15 years and 25 years, respectively.” He concludes his argument with this summary of the bill.

The criminal-justice-reform debate is about first principles as well as policy specifics. Conservatives have a rich history as reformers. Indeed, the most successful criminal-justice reformers of the 20th century were conservatives who understood that law and order is built on the responsible use of government power, tight-knit communities, a vibrant civil society, strong families, and personal responsibility. They applied those values to develop policing methods that dramatically reduced crime and prison ministries that could change people’s lives.

            I believe that people can change and become better people. I also believe that some people have reached the point where they cannot or will not change. I agree that those people should be locked up and kept away from society. However, I believe that individuals who desire to overcome their past should be assisted in doing so. It sounds to me that the FIRST STEP Act is a good plan that would decrease the prison population as well as assist certain individuals in making good on a second chance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Funding the Wall

            The caravan of migrants reached the southern U.S. border a week or so ago. On Sunday a large group of them – possibly as many as one thousand people - decided to rush the border to enter the United States illegally. Border Patrol used pepper spray and tear gas to turn them back, but some – maybe 40-50 – managed to get into the U.S. in an area where an old barrier has not been replaced or reinforced. They were promptly arrested. Mexico says that it will deport the others who used violence in their attempt to cross the border. Border Patrol says that the lack of a firm barrier put the agents in more danger.

            Meanwhile in Washington, D.C. members of Congress continue their games about building the wall. Since Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives, they are running out of time to get the wall funded. They need to get their act together NOW. More than two years ago President Donald Trump requested $5 billion to build a wall, but Democrats refused to cooperate. What makes anyone think that they will cooperate when they control the House? I do not believe that we have much hope of that happening!

            Trump is still adamant that $5 billion is needed for border security. Trump is threatening to shut down the government by not signing any spending package if Congress does not come through with the funds. Republican leaders say that they are committed to providing it, but their actions are not following the words. Politicians have fixed almost all the problems in the spending bill except funding a physical wall.

            Maybe it is time for Americans to take control of the funding for the wall. Someone started crowdfunding for Christine Blasey Ford when she made her false claims against Brett Kavanaugh and raised nearly $1 million. I would think that the same thing would work for funding a wall. Another idea is to convince the federal government to sell bonds earmarked for the wall. Americans paid for World War II by purchasing war bonds, and I see no reason why American citizens cannot pay for the wall if Democrats continue to fight it. There has got to be something that common, everyday Americans can do to break the stalemate in Congress!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Echoes of 1984

            George Orwell wrote his dystopian novel titled 1984 in 1949. This novel is relevant today because it depicts a totalitarian government and its use of advanced technology and media manipulation to control its people. Orwell’s main character is Winston Smith who lives in Oceania, which is one of the three huge governments that exist in the world of the book. The government of Oceania is known as “Big Brother” and is controlled by a small, powerful, and mysterious group of elite people. The government keeps track of its people through the use of cameras and listening devices placed in their television sets and a secret police force who report rebellious thoughts and misbehavior.

            This novel came to my mind when I read about Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who is in trouble for her political wrongthink. Wax has the credentials necessary for a long academic career. However, her bachelor’s degree from Yale College, her medical degree from Harvard, and her law degree from Columbia have not stopped a campaign to get her fired. The fact that she has argued 15 cases before the Supreme Court for the Justice Department does not help her case. None of her credentials help because she continues to think differently.

            Wax has been called racist, sexist, and xenophobic many times, but she doubles down in calling for debate, evidence, and accountability. She has been attacked by students and colleagues for saying that children do better if their parents have traditional marriage values. Her critics also dislike her argument that many of today’s problems come from “the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture” or the lifestyles of the 1940’s and 1950’s. 

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.

            Alas, such a culture was not destined to continue because the flower children or hippies of the 1960s rebelled against the societal norm. They rebelled against their parents and leaders and went their own way, and society is reaping the results of their decisions. This author believes that Wax was absolutely correct in her argument.

            The action that really got Wax in trouble was a 2017 podcast interview with Glenn Loury, economist and professor at Brown University, about affirmative action. She commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of (my) class, and rarely, rarely, in the top half. I can think of one or two students who scored in the first half of my required first-year Civil Procedure course.”

            Interpreting Wax’s statement to mean, “Amy Wax said black students can’t excel in law school,” her critics used it as fuel in their battle against her. The result is that she no longer teaches first-year law students at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

            Wax spoke at The Heritage Foundation on November 8 about her politically incorrect statements and the fallout from them. Then she suggested some ideas of how to counter the “radical, identity-based grievance culture” that has taken over the nation’s universities. 

Remind students that one of the central missions of the university, which justifies its existence, is to get at the truth. That requires honest debate, patience, intellectual honesty, investigation, and a lot of hard work….

No one can be heard to say, “I’m offended.” They all have permission to be offended. But they just can’t express it.

No one is allowed to accuse anyone else, in the classroom or out, dead or alive, of being racist, sexist, xenophobic, white supremist, or any other derisive, identity-based label. No slurs or name-calling. These don’t enlighten, educate, or edify. They add nothing. Give us an argument. Tell us why the other person is wrong.

No one can complain to administrators … about anything said in class.
Finally, both the government and private donors need to rethink the lavish financial support for higher education, and especially for elite and selective institutions, which serve only a teeny-tiny portion of our population and which in many ways I’m afraid, have become an anti-Western and anti-American liability.

How can we get the rich to see that supporting elite universities today might not be the wisest and more fruitful uses of their hard-earned money? What we need is a list of alternative causes and alternative institutions and goals for their money that help ordinary, average, unspecial people who have been unduly neglected by our elites and our increasingly walled off from them.

            Wax admits that the chances that her guidelines will be adopted in classrooms on college campuses are slim to nothing. In fact, she expresses little hope for them to do so in the current climate. She further states she expects that threats against professors who are politically incorrect to become worse.

Professors who hold unpopular positions or state inconvenient facts are now considered psychologically toxic. If their presence causes offense, distress, feelings of insult, fears of ill treatment, that is enough to eject them from the classroom. And of course, these perceptions and feelings are subjective, they are self-confirming, they are immune from challenge. It’s all in the mind of the beholder. And the beholder’s mind reigns supreme.

            The example of Amy Wax shows us clearly that we are living in the echoes of 1984. The rising generations are going to universities that indoctrinate them in liberal speak rather than teaching them to think critically. It is a terrible assault that is being done to the current crop of university students, but an even worse one is the fact that this group of students will affect the next one and others further down the line. They will become the parents and teachers of innocent and bright children who will have their minds clouded by the nonsense of political correctness.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Women Fought for the Vote

            My VIPs for this week are the many women who fought for the right to vote for American women. Hundreds and thousands of women worked for nearly 100 years for women in America to have the right to vote and to be considered as full citizens of the United States.

            When the United States first became a nation in the late 1790s, only white men who had money and/or owned property were allowed to vote. By the 1820s and 1830s most states had given this right to all white men.

            During this same period of time women began playing a prominent role in all sorts of reform groups – “temperance leagues, religious movements, moral-reform societies, anti-slavery organizations. It seems that women recognized that they could do more than be “a pious, submissive wife and mother concerned exclusively with home and family.” With all these incidences coming together at the same time, women began thinking in “a new way about what it meant to be a woman and a citizen of the United States.” 

            This writer did not know this fact previously, but abolitionists were concerned by women’s rights as much as by freedoms for blacks. A group of abolitionists met in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848 to discuss the problem of women being treated as second-class citizens in America. The group consisted of mostly women but contained a few men also. They were all invited to the meeting by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. The group agreed that women in America deserved to have their own political identities.

            The delegates to the convention in Seneca Falls produced a document known as the Declaration of Sentiments and styled it after the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among  these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

            The delegates believed that women deserved to have the right to vote – as well as other freedoms. You see, women living in America at that time could not own property, could not have money, and could not vote. Any wages that a woman earned were given to her husband.

            Once the idea of suffrage began to sprout in the minds of the women, the movement began. It gathered steam in the 1850s but was sidelined during the Civil War. The push to give black men suffrage and citizenship brought the subject of women’s rights back to the forefront. Suffrage leaders sought to have women rights included in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, but they were not successful.

            The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868 to extend the protections of the Constitution to “all citizens” but defines “citizens” as “male.” The Fifteenth Amendment was ratified two years later in 1870 and guaranteed the right to vote to black men.

            The two amendments did not sit well with the advocates for women’s suffrage. In 1869 the National Woman Suffrage Association was formed, and the group began their fight for a constitutional amendment for universal suffrage. The suffrage movement split into two groups but reunited in 1890 as the National American Woman Suffrage Association with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as its first president.

            This time the advocates for women’s suffrage used a different argument. Previously, they argued that men and women should have the same rights and responsibilities because they were “created equal.” This time they argued that women should have the vote because they were different from men. They used the argument that their domestic abilities could become a political virtue and help the nation to become “purer, more moral `maternal commonwealth.’”

            This argument connected several political agendas. Advocates for temperance that women’s suffrage would bring a large voting bloc to their cause. Middle-aged white people thought it would maintain white supremacy.

            Only four states allowed women to vote before 1910 – Wyoming (1869), Colorado (1893), Utah (1896), and Idaho (1896). After 1910 the women intensified their lobbying efforts and more states granted the right to vote to them. Other states began to extend the right, but most of them were in western states with southern and eastern states resisting.

            The national organization decided to do a blitz attack and send advocates everywhere calling for the right to vote for women. A splinter group of advocates decided to use more radical, even militant, means – picketing the White House, hunger strikes, and even going to jail.

            Even though the suffrage movement slowed during World War I, the war actually advanced their cause. Women worked to help the war effort and showed that they were patriotic and deserving of full citizenship rights. Their argument finally brought results. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on August 26, 1920, stating: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” A few months later on November 2, “more than 8 million women across the United States voted in elections for the first time.” Women became full citizens 50 years after full rights were given to black men, but women continue to fight discrimination in homes, schools, and businesses.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Constitution and Socialists

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the threat of danger to the Constitution from socialists. Socialists and socialism are attracting more and more Americans who are blinded to the problems caused by the idea. Too many people refuse to see the situation in Venezuela that is the result of a once thriving country adopting socialism. Even the migrants from Central America turn their backs on Venezuela and head to the United States!

            Socialists have been in the United States for longer than 150 years. In 1966 former Secretary of Agriculture EzraTaft Benson shared a conversation that he had with the “godless Communist leader” Nikita Khrushchev.

As we talked face-to face, he indicated that my grandchildren would live under Communism. After assuring him that I expected to do all in my power to assure that his, and other grandchildren, would live under freedom, he arrogantly declared, in substance:

You Americans are so gullible. No you won’t accept Communism outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you’ll finally wake up and you find you already have Communism. We won’t have to fight you. We’ll so weaken your economy until you fall like over-ripe fruit into our hands.

            Benson was not the only person warning about Khrushchev’s threat to take over the United States. An opinion piece in the Amarillo Globe News in October 2012 quoted a similar statement attributed to the late Soviet Premier Khrushchev. 

“We will take America without firing a shot … we will bury you!

“We can’t expect the American people to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have communism.

“We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.”

            The writer of the above quote compared Khrushchev to a “wise man, a modern day Nostradamus.” The date of the opinion piece shows that the writer was concerned about how Americans would vote in the presidential election of 2012.

            Maybe we are nearing the day “prophesied” by Khrushchev. At least a certain writer seems to think so. Today I found an article by Charles Wills in the Canada Free Press discussing the rebuke of President Donald Trump by Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts took offense at Trump describing a judge as being an “Obama judge.”

As for Chief Justice Roberts remark, the judiciary system may be an extraordinary group of dedicated judges, but they are not dedicated to the Constitution or the rule of law. However, I agree with Roberts’ statement, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.” He’s right there because what we have is a judiciary system full of socialist political hacks who have an agenda. To say the justice system isn’t full of political hacks, who don’t give a damn about the Constitution or this country, is like saying Stalin wasn’t a communist. They are certainly not an extraordinary group of dedicated judges that uphold and defend the Constitution….

… We have a group of socialist hacks doing their best to undermine the Constitution. Mr. Roberts, we are not thankful for the biased socialist judiciary, that disregards the Constitution, disregards the rule of law, disregards our safety, disregards our sovereignty as a nation and puts the interests of foreign invaders over the best interest of United States and the American people.

            I think it is safe to say that Wills feels strongly about this issue! I feel that some, maybe even many of our judges have socialist tendencies and issue judgements as though they have their heads stuck in the sand. However, I would not class all of the judges as “political hacks.” I may be a “cockeyed optimist,” but I still believe that there are good judges among the ones who make such crazy rulings. Nevertheless, I believe that too many Americans have become enthralled by false promises of socialism.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

What E're Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part

            David O. McKay was the prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ during my childhood, youth, and into my young adult years. He looked the part of a prophet with his tall stature, pure white house, and pleasant face. I loved and respected him for the office that he bore.

            President McKay was a missionary in Scotland as a young man, and he often shared a story of his time there. After a short time of being in the mission field, then-Elder McKay became homesick and spent a few hours at the nearby tourist attraction Stirling Castle. As he and his companion were on their way back to their apartment, they passed a building with an inscription carved in stone above the door. The quotation is usually attributed to Shakespeare: “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” President McKay shared the following thoughts about his experience in a talk in 1957, explaining that he – or the Holy Ghost – said the following.

You are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than that, you are here as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. You accepted the responsibility as a representative of the Church. Then I thought [about] what we had done that forenoon. We had been sightseeing, we had gained historical instruction and information, it is true, and I was thrilled with it…. However, that was not missionary work…. I accepted the message given to me on that stone, and from that moment we tried to do our part as missionaries in Scotland.

            This message had such an impact on Elder McKay that he drew inspiration from it for the rest of his life. He was determined that he would do his best in whatever position or responsibility that came to him.

            Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at a CES Young Adult Devotional that was broadcast from BYU-Idaho on March 4, 2012. He shared the above story about David O. McKay and reminded the young adults present that they were of the generation born in the 1980s and early to mid-1990s and known as the “Millennial Generation.” He said, “Commentators are skeptical about what your generation will accomplish.” He then proceeded to share his faith in that generation. 

I believe you have the background and the foundation to be the best generation ever, particularly in advancing our Father in Heaven’s plan.

Why do I say this? Your generation has had more exposure to Seminary and Institute teaching than previous generations, and you have had the best training of any generation from Primary, Priesthood and Young Women. In addition, approximately 375,000 of you have served or are serving as missionaries. You represent over one-third of all of the missionaries who have served in this dispensation. Samuel Smith, the first missionary in this dispensation was ordained an Elder and set apart as a missionary on April 6, 1830, the day the Church was organized. When you contemplate all of the missionaries who have served since then, it is amazing that one-third would be in your age group. By comparison only 76,000 missionaries or less than 8% served in the 12 years when I was 18 to 30 years of age. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to serve a mission, your contribution nevertheless can be significant. Almost half of the First Presidency and the Twelve did not have the opportunity to serve a mission.

            Elder Cook continued by saying, “In view of the enormous potential for good that you possess, what are my concerns for your future? What counsel can I give you?” He then proceeded to give the counsel that he considered to be important.

First, “Avoid acting out of character by wearing a mask…. One of your greatest protections against making bad choices is to not put on any mask of anonymity. If you ever find yourself wanting to do so, please know it is a serious sign of danger and one of the adversary’s tools to get you to do something you should not do.”

Second, “Act in accordance with your true beliefs by spending your time on those things which will build and develop your character and help you become more Christ-like. I hope none of you see life as primarily “fun and games” but rather, as a time to prepare to meet God.”

Third, set appropriate goals.

Fourth, “In addition to personal attributes, qualities, and decisions, if you are to be the generation you need to be, you will build your country and the community where you live. Your generation, like the greatest generation, will need to protect righteousness and religious freedom. The Judeo/Christian heritage we have inherited is not only precious, but also essential to our Father in Heaven’s plan. We need to preserve it for future generation….”

            Elder Cook closed his remarks by telling the young adults that the leadership of the Church has “great confidence in you” and “honestly believes that you can build the Kingdom like no previous generation. You have not only our love and confidence, but also our prayers and blessings. We know that the success of your generation is essential to the continued establishment of the Church and the growth of the Kingdom. We pray that you will act well our part….”

            This talk was given to the young adults of the Church, but its counsel is good for all of us. We should avoid wearing a mask and acting in anonymity. We should act in accordance with our true identity. We should set and work toward appropriate goals. We should all be engaged in building the country and community in which we live. We all have a part to play in preparing the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. “What e’re thou art, act well thy part.”

Friday, November 23, 2018

Family Science

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened by an emerging discipline known as family science. Even though individuals and organizations have studied families for many years, the field of family science has been around for only a few decades. Bits and pieces of family studies come from other sciences, such as sociology, psychology, and anthropology. Family science is related to numerous other fields, but it concentrates on a smaller area. For example, research in psychology and sociology centers on individuals and groups of people, but research in family science focuses on the unique relationships within a family.

            So, how do professionals with an education and background in family science strengthen families? There are actually many ways that this is done, but here are a few of them. They study the findings of research in order to understand how they apply to families. By doing so, they are able to recognize how healthy families function and what their relationships look like. They take an educational approach to teach this information to others in order to teach others how to develop healthy families and how to prevent problems within families before they occur. They are also able to use this knowledge to help individuals, couples, and families out of problems and onto safe paths.

            Professionals in the field of family studies do not go into the discipline to get rich because the careers in this science are not well paid. Just as the family doctor is in a lower pay grade than most other doctors, those who specialize in family science also sacrifice monetary gains to work in a field of great importance. Therefore, one can assume that they are working in family science because they are interested in strengthening families.

            Even though there are low-paid professionals in family science, professionals can increase their income by gaining more education. A pre-school teacher with a Bachelor degree may thoroughly enjoy the job and may adequately supplement the income of a spouse, but they would most likely not be able to adequately provide for a family. However, there are other jobs available with the same degree that would pay a higher wage. A Master or Doctorate degree would insure higher earnings.

            Since the family is the core unit of society, one would naturally think that the study and work of strengthening the family would be more valued by the society as a whole. Until that happens, one can only hope that there will continue to be professionals who care more about family relationships than chasing the almighty dollar. The work of these professionals does much to strengthen families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Sacred or Secular

            The feast has been eaten, and the company has returned to their homes. At the end of another day of thanksgiving and gratitude, I pause to consider the fact that the United States government has set a special day to remember our blessings and to give thanks for them. I came to the startling realization yesterday that our secular government has an annual federal holiday to practice a spiritual principle. I found this fact to be quite interesting. How did we come to this point, and how long will it last?

            Most Americans know that the first Thanksgiving took place in November 1621. The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native American tribe gathered at Plymouth to celebrate their autumn harvest. It is assumed that the Pilgrims continued the practice of an annual day for giving thanks for a bounteous harvest.

            Congress approved an official Thanksgiving in 1777, and President George Washington made a formal proclamation of Thanksgiving. He declared that Thursday, November 26, 1789 was to be a day for public thanksgiving and prayer for the new nation known as the United States of America. 

            It is believed that John Adams followed the Washington tradition for proclaiming a special day for thanksgiving and prayer. However, Thomas Jefferson decided that such a day of thanksgiving violated the separation of church and state. Jefferson’s decision was upheld by his successors until 1963, the third year of the Civil War.

            The year 1963 saw a lot of Americans killed in the war between the North and the South. One of the conflicts is known as the Battle of Gettysburg. In honor of the Union’s victory at Gettysburg, on October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed another national day of Thanksgiving. He called for all Americans “in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

            Even though Thanksgiving was commemorated more regularly after Lincoln’s proclamation, it did not have a specific date until the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt tried all sorts of ways to get the economy moving again, and he decided that Thanksgiving might have a secondary purpose. He moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November as a way to encourage shopping on the following day. Who knew that FDR could be considered as the “Father of Black Friday”?

            So Thanksgiving went from a sacred day for prayer and gratitude to an excuse for shopping. Long years after FDR Thanksgiving Day became a day for watching football. Then someone thought of Black Friday, and all thoughts of gratitude, prayer, and family went out the window as shoppers sat or stood in line for hours – or days – in order to get the best deals.

            Employees of many stores missed out on time with their families because their employers were chasing the almighty dollars. Thankfully, some stores wised up and allowed their employees to spend Thanksgiving Day with their families – before the madness of Black Friday started.

            So now it is up to each individual and family to decide whether their Thanksgiving Day will be sacred or secular. I decided years ago that there was nothing that I wanted to purchase bad enough to participate in Black Friday sales. The madness taking place in stores kept me away from them. Then too, Thanksgiving to me is a day for family, prayer, and giving thanks. I believe that it should continue to be a sacred day in spite of the fact that it was created by a secular government.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Count Your Blessings

            Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, an annual day set apart by George Washington for Americans to count their blessings and to offer up their thanks and gratitude for them. It is wonderful that we have a government that recognizes our need to show gratitude. With all the problems in the world, Americans have much for which to be grateful.

            Thomas Gallatin gives several reminders of why Americans should offer thanksgiving in his article titled “Many Reasons to Give Thanks.” 

Across the nation – and in fact the entire world – poverty is on the decline. Over the past 25 years, the percentage of people in the world living in extreme poverty has fallen from 36% to 10%. And in the U.S. the number of people living in poverty has fallen for three straight years, down to 12.3%.

The economy is booming as more Americans are working and the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low…. 80% of American households received a tax cut this year….

… Americans are safer than ever. Violent crime has dropped 75% since its peak in the early 1990s and remains at its lowest levels since the 1970s….

… Americans have proven themselves to be the most generous people on the planet, giving over $410 billion in charity last year alone, while 77 million Americans have given their time volunteering to help those in need….

The freedom … to speak our minds and express our voice at the ballot box is still alive and well…. We can truly be thankful for the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and the constitutional protections to Liberty they established….

Finally, we can be most thankful – like the pilgrims of old – for the many abundant blessings we receive daily from God’s hand. 

            Americans can be grateful that our nation, leaders, and military have regained the respect of the world. Even though immigrants entering our nation illegally cause extensive problems, we can be grateful that we live in such a wonderful place that people from all over the world are willing to do almost anything to get here.

            I was reared with the idea of counting my blessings. In fact, one of my favorite hymns is titled “Count Your Blessings” (text by Johnson Oatman Jr. and music by Edwin O. Excell) and counsels us to count our blessings even when carrying heavy loads. The first verse is as follows.  

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

            The following verses tell us to count our blessings when “burdened with a load of care,” when we see “others with their lands and gold,” or even “amid the conflict.” We should rejoice and not be discouraged because God is aware of our struggles and will reward us according to His knowledge of our goodness. He even promises to send angels to attend us.

            I put this counsel to count my blessings into my daily practices in my daily prayers as well as listing three blessings in each journal entry. I find that it is extremely easy to get caught up in the struggles and/or fears of the day and forget that there are more blessings than problems. So I encourage you to “count your blessings” and “see what God has done” for you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Migrant Caravan

            The first migrant caravan traveling across Mexico from Central America arrived in Tijuana, Mexico, a few days ago and came face-to-face with the reality that they are not wanted in Mexico or in the United States. This caravan has about 4,000 people in it and is the largest of five caravans of migrants headed to the United States. There are about 12,000 people in the five caravans, and most of them are from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. 

            Even as the migrants face the reality that they are not welcome, Milton Benitez, a political analyst, sociologist, and host of a television show “El Perro Amarillo,” in Honduras, told them, “It’s your right to go to the U.S.” Who is he to say that anyone has the right to go to America? The United States is a sovereign nation and has the sole right to decide who enters its borders and who does not.

            The United States has not been idle since hearing that the caravans were on the way. President Donald Trump said that they will not come into the United States, and he sent the military to the border to harden the border with barricades. This writer has seen razor wire spread all over the wall in an effort to keep illegal aliens from climbing over the wall. In addition to hardening the border, there are several thousands of military personnel assigned to assist and protect the border guards.

            The latest information to come to this author is a report that the Department of Homeland Security is gathering intelligence from inside the migrant caravan. Apparently, there are paid undercover informants imbedded with the caravan that are monitoring text messages of migrants. The migrants used WhatsApp text message groups to organize and communicate as they travel across Mexico. The intelligence gathered from within the caravan is combined with the reports of DHS personnel working with the Mexican government. With the combined information, DHS knows a lot about the size of the caravan, its movements, and any security threats that it poses.

            The gathered intelligence indicated that some migrants were planning to run into the United States through the car lanes near San Diego. Customs and Border Protections shut down all the lanes going north for three hours between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. There was no attempt made to overrun the guards.

            John Cohen, former acting undersecretary of intelligence for DHS says that it is not illegally for DHS to pay informants, put personnel in the area, or monitor the communications of non-U.S. citizens. However, he does believe that it is a waste of funds to go to such efforts to stop the caravan when there are terrorist threats, mass shootings, etc. going on in the nation.
He understands that the caravan is an important issue, but the majority of its members only want to claim legal asylum. DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman disagreed.

While not commenting on sources or methods, it would be malpractice for the United States to be ignorant about the migrants – including many criminals – attempting to enter our country. We have an obligation to ensure we know who is crossing our borders to protect against threats to the Homeland and any indication to the contrary is misinformed.

            U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, appointed by Barack Obama, placed a nation-wide order on the government. He says that the United States cannot enforce a ban on asylum for anyone who does not cross the border legally. This is another liberal judge trying to stop President Donald Trump from doing what he was elected to do – protect Americans.

            President Trump issued a proclamation on November 9 that stated that anyone who crossed the border illegally between official ports of entry would immediately be ineligible for asylum. The government’s argument was that the approach of the caravans required immediate restrictions. This is the judge’s explanation for putting the lives of Americans in danger: “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”

            The President used the same powers that he used when he imposed a travel ban that was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court. Homeland Security and the Justice Department issued a joint statement saying that the Supreme Court has already ruled that the President has the authority to restrict asylum.

Our asylum system is broken, and it is being abused by tens of thousands of meritless claims every year. We look forward to continuing to defend the Executive Branch’s legitimate and well-reasoned exercise of its authority to address the crisis at our southern border.

            There is a dangerous situation at our southern border, and a liberal judge is not helping the President to solve the problem. The judge’s ruling will most likely be overturned, but it will probably allow many illegal aliens to seek asylum who would otherwise not be able to do so.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ben McAdams

            My VIP for this week is Democrat Ben McAdams from Utah. He has been in a close campaign with two-term Congresswoman Mia Love to represent the 4th Congressional District in Utah. The latest news that I saw showed that he was 739 votes ahead of Love tonight and is claiming victory with 134,890 votes to Love’s 134,151 votes. He said that he is confident that Love cannot retake the lead. 

            The reason that I chose McAdams for my weekly VIP is that he is a friend to one of my daughters. He is a member of her group at church and seems to be a very nice man with a beautiful family. As much as I hate to see Democrats gain more votes in the House of Representatives, I cannot deny that I am glad to have a good man in the group.