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, 2018

New Year's Resolutions

            It is New Year’s Eve once again. This means that it is time to make resolutions or set some goals for 2019. Most people desire a happier and more prosperous life in the New Year, and most goals are set to help this better life come to pass. We all know that most goals are not met with many of them dropped a day or so later. Why does this happen?

            Boyd Matheson in an editorial at the Deseret News claims that “The essence of New Year’s is contained in `what if?’” What would happen if we were all successful at meeting the goals that we set for 2019?

The turning of the year is filled with an abundance of hope, inspiring dreams and renewed optimism. There is something magical about the fresh start emanating from a new calendar that promotes big goals, fosters new resolutions and drives an inner desire to do better. The essence of New Year’s is contained in the simple question, `What if?’ As in, what if this is the year for all of those hopes and dreams to become a reality?”

            This is an intriguing thought! What if I was finally able to lose those five pounds that I have worked on losing for years? What if I did break the habit of walking into sacrament meeting just after it started? What if I miraculously stayed on a regular schedule of meals and sleep? These are just a few of the areas that I should correct in order to have a happier and more prosperous 2019. After asking a lot of what if questions, Matheson offers the following answer.

A new year offers each of us new challenges and new opportunities – what we choose to do and how we choose to pursue those challenges and opportunities will determine the success of our days, weeks, months, years, careers and personal legacies. For many, the anticipation of what might be swiftly falls in the face of procrastination or even just pleasant distractions….

The challenge then is to be in a state of action – focused action, while remembering that guilt-producing perfection is not required nor is it even the goal. Trying, engaging and doing things differently [are] what matters and what leads to positive results. The test for each of us individually and all of us collectively is to take our “what if” and make it a “what is!” in 2019.

            There is one possible answer -- stop procrastinating and getting distracted. Another possible answer is to stop setting too many goals at one time or trying to do more than time allows. Maybe I could achieve my three goals listed above if I worked on them one at a time. I think that I will try this method in 2019 and begin with my Sunday behavior. This seems to be a good place to start because it is the simplest behavior to change.

            Even though I live less than five minutes from the meetinghouse, I seldom leave in time to arrive there before the meeting starts. This obviously means that I need to do something different, such as setting an earlier time of departure. If I take ten minutes longer to leave the house, I should set my departure time ten minutes earlier. Just to be safe, I will plan to leave the house thirty minutes before the scheduled time of the meeting. This would allow time for any last minute complications and still allow me to meet my goal. I will try it next Sunday to see if it works. Once I have my Sunday tardiness corrected, I may have other tardiness problems solved too. Then I can tackle the pounds!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Attractive Nuisance Laws

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the simple fact that the U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law for the United States. Article VI makes it plain that every federal, state, and community law must be constitutional in order to survive any court challenges.

 This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

            Each state seems to have its own laws concerning the attractive nuisance doctrine. This doctrine has seen many court challenges and has been declared constitutional. The liability, of course, is determined by the circumstances of each case. The Legal Information Institute (LII) at the Cornell Law School defines this doctrine as follows. 

A doctrine in tort law under which a landowner may be liable for injuries to children who trespass on land if the injury results from a hazardous object or condition on the land that is likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object or condition.

            In plain language, the paragraph above says that anyone who owns land can be liable for injuries for anything that they have on their land that could be enticing to trespassing children.  I learned through research that these items or conditions can vary from swimming pools to trampolines to iron turntables used by railroads to reroute trains. My daughter and her husband put a swimming pool on their property and installed a fence around the property for liability purposes. A long-time friend and her husband got rid of their trampoline for liability reasons because they did not want to fence their large amount of property. I wonder if the beautiful, clear water lake behind their home could be considered an attractive nuisance! It probably is not their liability because it is most likely to be considered state or community property. A railroad was declared liable in 1873 for injuries to a young boy while playing on their turntable.

            I knew of the attractive nuisance doctrine, but I had never connected it to the need for a barrier along our southern border until I read an article by Thomas Lifson. He connected the two ideas and declared that the United States is now an attractive nuisance to migrant children. 

It is clear that life in the United States is so attractive to people from many foreign nations that they are willing to take grave risks for themselves and their children in order to enter without waiting through the process of legal immigration….

It is clear that, like a homeowner who must fence his swimming pool to prevent children of others from falling in and drowning, the U.S. must erect a wall on our border before more children are lured into danger by the attractive nuisance of life in the United States.

            Apparently, the United States has now become an attractive nuisance to children from other nations. Two children recently died after crossing the southern U.S. border illegally. They were attracted to life in the United States, but they lost their lives in the process of obtaining their dreams. It stands to reason that the United States should be required to fence their property – i.e. the entire southern border – to protect migrant children who are trespassing on American property. The sooner the wall is built, the quicker the liability will decrease. This seems to be an excellent reason to build the wall!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Setting Goals for Quantity and Quality

            A traditional activity for many individuals and families at the end of each year is to set goals for the next year. Much has been written about the importance of setting goals and working toward them. Some people set general goals, while others make more detailed ones. The process of setting goals has proven to yield positive results. Yet, the same routine can restrict and limit if it becomes distorted or imprudent. Therefore, each of us should be mindful of the goals that we set and the process we develop for meeting those objectives.

            We must be careful and use wisdom in setting our goals and intentions. Elder Dean L. Larsen of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke at a devotional at Brigham Young University in May 1980. The topic of his remarks was “Some Thoughts on Goal-Setting.” He counsels the students to avoid setting goals that would limit their growth by developing a general direction for life.

An important distinction must be made between the potentially confining aspects of setting specific goals and the much more encompassing need of having a general purpose in life. This distinction is more than a play upon words. One’s purpose in life has an overriding influence on what he does with his time, energy, and resources. It can also have a profound effect upon how he relates to other people. Without this sense of purpose, life has no compass. Within the framework of such a purpose, there is an acceptable place for much spontaneity and flexibility. Indeed, without this freedom, life can become stilted and sterile, and much of the potential for inspiration and renewal can be thwarted.

Unless the goals and objectives an individual works toward are harmonious with his general purpose in life, a devastating kind of internal conflict can develop which is destructive to happiness and personal development. Appropriate, useful goals and objectives must be a direct outgrowth of one’s perceived purpose in life. Otherwise they can lead to a random expenditure of effort and resources that may not contribute effectively to long-range progress.

            Elder Larsen discusses that the importance of setting qualitative goals as well as quantitative ones. He says that most people today consider goals to be meaningless unless they can be measured in some way. He counsels us to “remember that worthwhile goals and objectives can be qualitative as well as quantitative; that is, they can relate to the quality of people, things, and relationships, as well as to numbers and size.”

            Although Elder Larsen presented his remarks nearly thirty years ago, they are truly applicable for current times. This year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discontinued the home teaching (priesthood bearers visiting families) and visiting teaching (Relief Society sisters visiting other sisters) programs were discontinued and replaced by a policy called ministering.

            The new policy is simply emphasizing what should have been happening under the old programs. The old program was measurable: visits were to be made every month with a certain message presented. The new policy is to minister or to truly love the sister or family under one’s stewardship. How does a person measure love? It is impossible to do so. Yet love can be seen and felt. It is qualitative rather than quantitative. Elder Larsen concludes him remarks with these paragraphs.

As members of the Church and human beings in general reach for a higher level of moral and spiritual attainment, they will be required to more clearly define the principal purposes in life. They will need to be motivated more toward the qualities of life associated with moral and spiritual growth than toward producing or acquiring quantities of things. Historically, people have always achieved their highest levels in material things as a by-product of their attainment of high spiritual and moral qualities. It has never occurred in reverse order.

Goals and objectives within the framework of life’s true purpose can be helpful in motivating and maintaining general direction. The more important of these will be of a qualitative nature, and their achievement must be evaluated more by discernment and observation than by quantitative measurement. In such an environment the doctrines of the priesthood will distill upon the people as the dew from heaven. Whatever dominion is achieved by man over himself or over material things will not then come by compulsion, but as a natural and inevitable result of his having qualified for such an endowment.

            Although there are important goals that can be measured, the most important ones are not actually able to be gauged. Although I was flossing my teeth several times each week, I did not truly make it a daily way of life until I made it one of my goals for the New Year. Now that I have been flossing daily for many years, I am determined to not break the chain of doing it. Hence, the goal became a daily habit and resulted in healthier teeth.

            An example of goals that cannot be measured is a semester-long project called the Becoming Project, which was a part of every religion class I have taken at BYU-Idaho. I appreciate the religion classes for many reasons, but I particularly like this aspect. The first assignment for the project is to determine a Christlike attribute to develop during the semester. I always made this determination after a few days of pondering and praying, and I came out of the process with a sure feeling that I had chosen the attribute that God considered important for me at that time. Often I was surprised at it! Other assignments were to refine the attribute, determine a way to monitor my progress, and develop a list of weekly learning opportunities. The final assignment was to write an essay that explained what I did for the various assignments and the effect of the activities on my life. Even though I had nothing that could actually be measured, I became a different person as I worked to become more like the Savior in that one characteristic.

            One of my goals this year has to do with the Come, Follow Me initiative that the Prophet and Apostles have provided to help us learn gospel doctrine. They developed a “home-centered and Church-supported” program and cut Sunday meetings by one hour to give members more time to learn at home. I look forward to having an extra hour each week for personal and family gospel study. One part of my goal is to actually do the gospel study each week (measurable), and a second part is to gain a stronger testimony of the Savior (unmeasurable). I encourage you to set goals for yourself that will have more meaning in your life and help you become the person that you wish to be.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Use Come, Follow Me -- For Individuals and Families

            Families, communities, and nations will be strengthened when parents establish the Come, Follow Me program in their home to help their children to live, learn, and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Sunday meeting schedule for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will change from a three-hour block to a two-hour block on Sunday, January 6, 2019. The shorter meeting schedule was instituted to give families more time together on Sunday. The Come, Follow Me program was put in place to help families learn the gospel in the home.

            President Russell M. Nelson announced a new “home-centered” teaching initiative during the October 2018 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles then explained the logistics of the new initiative, including the new two-hour meeting block and the Come, Follow Me curriculum. 

            President Nelson called for a “new balance” between teaching the gospel in the home and in the church setting. He invited parents to strengthen families and individuals through a new “home-centered and church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith and foster a greater personal worship.” Elder Cook outlined the changes that will occur.

·         Sunday meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament meeting, 10-minute transition time, and a 50-minute class time.

·         Sacrament meeting will be “focused on the Savior, the ordinance of the sacrament and spiritual messages.”

·         Primary will be held every week and will include singing time and class time.

·         Youth and adult classes will alternate as follow:
o   Sunday School will be held on the first and third Sundays.
o   Priesthood quorums, Relief Society, and Young Women meetings will be held on the second and fourth Sunday.
o   Fifth Sunday meetings will be under the direction of the bishop.

            Elder Cook explained that members can receive four blessings from the above changes: 
(1) deeper conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; (2) stronger individuals and families; (3) honor the Sabbath day with a focus on the sacrament; (4) help for all of Heavenly Father’s children, both on earth and in heaven, through missionary work and temple work.

            Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the effects of the changes. There is one over-all reason for the changes, and that purpose is to strengthen faith in Heavenly Father and His plan and in His Son Jesus Christ and His Atonement. He explained that the purpose is more than just a shorter Sunday meeting schedule. It is an opportunity for members to enjoy increased opportunities and responsibilities to enhance their Sabbath experience.

Please do not focus primarily on the logistical aspects of what has been announced. We must not allow procedural details to obscure the overarching spiritual reasons these changes now are being made…. Our only objectives are to facilitate continuing conversion to the Lord and to love more completely and serve more effectively our brothers and sisters.

            We live in an exciting period of time when revelations is pouring down from heaven upon the Prophet and Apostles. The main purpose of this increased revelation is to prepare a people who are ready to receive the Savior, even Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Free to Be Sovereign

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that nations must retain their freedom to be sovereign. The One World Government idea is that all people in the world should be governed by one government. It is a proposition that has been around for some time, but it is being voiced more openly now.

            Numerous news outlets are reporting that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is advocating for countries to give up their sovereignty in favor of more unity. She spoke in November 2018 in Berlin on the topic of “Parliamentarianism Between Globalisation and National Sovereignty.” She began her remarks with this statement, “In this day, nation states must today – should today, I say – be ready to give up sovereignty. But of course in an orderly procedure.

            This sounds a whole lot like Merkel is calling for a global government, but it may be her attempt to keep Great Britain from exiting the European Union. It also echoes comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron when he said that “patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism [because] nationalism is treason.” These words made him extremely unpopular with his own people. 

            The fact that the elected leaders of two nations – France and Germany – are calling for nations to give up sovereignty should frighten people all over the world. It should also help Americans to understand why President Donald Trump is declaring so strongly that he puts America and Americans first. It should also explain why more than thirty nations are building walls along their borders.

            Globalists want open borders in order for people of all nations to be able to live wherever they choose. It is this idea that is causing the many migrant problems in Europe today. European nations opened their borders to the hordes of immigrants moving north from Africa and the Middle East and are now living in the conditions that no borders cause, They literally invited invaders into their nation, and they are losing the unique culture that their people have enjoyed for hundreds and thousands of years.  

            Macron got in trouble with the citizens of France, and Merkel announced that she is stepping down from her office. Yet they continue in their demand – suggestion – that their governments go against the will of their people. I doubt that either of them understand why the citizens of their nations and worldwide do not like the idea of a one world government.

            Americans have their own share of “leaders” such as Macron and Merkel. I am grateful that enough of us saw the danger and decided to vote against Hillary Clinton. She would have continued the policies of Barack Obama and led our nation closer to joining the one world globalists with their faulty ideas. We need to stand firmly behind President Trump in his demand to build the wall along our southern border and against globalization. The United States must maintain its sovereignty in order for its Constitution to bless the people of the world.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Reformation in America

            The history of the United States includes numerous reformations. These transformations came in various areas - such as social, economic, political, and cultural - and demonstrate the greatness of the American way of life. Many of the changes came after the Civil War and brought much turmoil as they worked their way through society. This essay will discuss revolutions in voting rights, education, and technology as well as the cause and effect of each and how they impact this author.

            The first reformation is the right to vote. This right seems to be taken for granted by many Americans today because the number of voters going to the polls is not what it once was or what it should be. This is a sad situation because the majority of citizens in past years had to exercise great patience and make many sacrifices in order to acquire this right, a right that seems to be no longer appreciated by many Americans. In the 1790s only the elites or land-owning white males over the age of 21 years were allowed to vote, but by the 1830s this right was extended to the common man or any white male over the age of 21 years of age regardless of his wealth. However, the right was still denied to males of other races and to all females.

            Even though Abigail Adams asked her husband John Adams in 1776 to “Remember the Ladies” while he was writing laws for the new nation, the suffrage movement did not actually get started until 1848. Women fought for suffrage for more than 70 years before they reached success. The first amendment for women’s suffrage was introduced in Congress in 1868 with a second effort made in 1878, but both attempts were unsuccessful. When the protesters could not obtain the right to vote on their own, they lobbied to be included in Amendment 15 giving this right to all males in 1870. This idea did not work, and women continued to fight for suffrage until after the end of World War I. Congress finally agreed that giving women the right to vote would be good for the country and passed Amendment 19. It was ratified in 1920 giving all Americans the right to vote regardless of sex.

            Even though Native Americans were considered to be citizens of their various sovereign tribes and not as US citizens, thousands of them fought for the United States during World War I. After the war citizenship in the United States and the right to vote was given to them by the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Even though African American males were given the right to vote in 1870, Blacks continued to experience difficulties in voting in southern states. The restrictions on all African Americans were eliminated by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

            When the Vietnam War was raging and thousands of young men were dying for America, protesting young adults insisted that they were old enough to vote if they were old enough to die for their country. As a result, Amendment 26, ratified in 1971, gave the right to vote to all Americans who are 18 years old or older. Finally, in the 1980s the states eliminated long waits required by some states before new residents could exercise their right to vote. The common denominator in all the above cases seems to be the lack of willingness to trust the important business of voting to classes of people who were considered less trustworthy or incapable of using good judgment. Through great reforms the United States now has the widest base of voters that it has ever had. This base could become wider because there are demands for sixteen-year-olds and even non-citizens living within the United States to be given the right to vote.

            This writer was unaware that women fought for so many years to receive the right to vote. She is grateful for the efforts of the many suffragettes who battled so long and for the opportunity that she now has to be included in the process of selecting local, state, and federal leaders. She remembers the first time that she voted in a presidential election. She had been 21 years old for a few years by the time that she voted in 1968, the year that Richard Nixon became President of the United States. She actually remembers going to the poll and marking her ballot. She takes her responsibility as a citizen seriously and has voted in every Primary Election and every General Election since 1968. She is adamant about encouraging family members and friends to exercise their right to vote and teaches the rising generation to appreciate their many rights and liberties.

            The right to education followed on much the same path as the right to vote, but it did not take as long to trickle down to the masses. Education was once reserved for wealthy families who could afford to hire tutors to teach their children. However, this practice began reforming once common men were given the right to vote, and civics was the reason behind the change. Leaders in the nation wanted to “ensure that all Americans had the skills, knowledge, and values to be effective citizens,” to allow every child to reach their potential, and to “equalize access” to education. This first applied to men and boys, but it later changed to include women and girls.

            In 1846 Horace Mann was in the forefront of advocating for free public education because he believed that every human being had “an absolute right to an education.” He was a great believer that education “is the great equalizer of the conditions of men” and that it could eliminate poverty and bring general prosperity to the nation. It was not long before free public education became compulsory education that expanded throughout the nation. Primary education prepared the way for more education, and women’s colleges opened after the Civil War to offer the benefits of higher education to women. The opportunity to gain further education enlightened women suffragettes and spurred them to greater action in their fight for the right to vote.

            Free public education brought great outcomes for this writer who was born approximately 100 years after Horace Mann advocated for free public schools. School districts were organized, and schools were well established by the time that she started first grade. Without the opportunity to attend kindergarten, she was excited to start her educational adventure and shared the news with everyone she saw. The free public schools launched her into a lifetime love for learning, and she became a diligent learner. She continues to this day to love learning new material and gaining new ideas. She is truly grateful for the right to education and the efforts of all those who make it available to her. She knows for herself that education is the way out of poverty and into a better life.

            Technology is the third reformation to discuss in this essay. The reformation in technology began in the industrial age and slowly increased. “In 1850, the US had less than 10,000 miles of railroads; by 1910, this had risen to 250,000. Steam replaced sail. Transportation costs nosedived.” The electrical and electronic advances in technology in later years have literally changed the world in many areas and particularly in media and communication. Radio and film gave advertisers the ability to reach masses of people, and television increased this capability. Changes in technology continue to come on an ongoing basis with one example being a new iPhone being developed every year or so.

            Merrill J. Bateman gave an address entitled “Nothing Shall Be Withheld” at BYU-Idaho in May 2007 about promises made to Joseph Smith while he was in the Liberty Jail.  In one of his darkest hours Smith asked the Lord to remember him and his fellow saints, and his prayer resulted in a remarkable revelation. This revelation includes a promise that great knowledge would come to the inhabitants of the earth through the power of the Holy Ghost and that “nothing shall be withheld” from mankind. Bateman says that this promise includes secular knowledge as well as spiritual, and he supports his statement by quoting from two authors who studied historical events – Stephen E. Ambrose and William J. Bernstein.

            Ambrose explains in his book Undaunted Courage that in 1801 everything moved at the speed of a horse, but by 1850 locomotives moved much faster by steam engine. Bernstein says in his book The Birth of Plenty that “not long after 1820, prosperity began flowing in an ever-increasing torrent.” Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ opened the heavens to mankind when They appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 to usher in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

            Bateman says that saints today “are living the miracle” and seeing the promise of the Lord being fulfilled. “It is interesting that the world is just beginning to understand what has happened, but still does not perceive the Source. The technological inventions and discoveries of the last 170 years are a clear witness that our Father in heaven and His Son deliver on Their promises.” The blessing of having the heavens open once again brought an explosion of both spiritual and secular knowledge, the likes of which was not known previous to 1820.

            This author is affected by the many advances in technology and in various ways. The cell phone helps her to communicate with loved ones and friends quickly, often, and with little expense. It enables her to access the scriptures and other sources of spiritual light immediately whenever desired. The internet and computer make further education possible for her by accessing online classes and communicating with instructors and other students. Other technological advances make rapid travel possible and home comfortable for her.

            The reformations in voting rights, education, and technology are just three of the many changes that came to the United States since the Civil War. The multitude of transformations in various areas enabled the nation to become the leading economy in the world in both production and prosperity. The social, economic, political, and cultural revolutions did not come without problems, but they brought many advances to improve the American way of life.

Note: Many of the ideas in this post came from printed materials from my class on American history and from the following sites that may or may not be accessible to the general public.

Gale. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. “Public Education Is Central to Democracy.” Accessed   December 8, 2018. 

Gale. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. “The New Economy Is No Different than the Old Economy.” Accessed December 8, 2018. 

Gale. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. “The Nineteenth Amendment.” Accessed December 8,    2018. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Building Trump's Wall

            The reverence of Christmas Eve and the festivities of Christmas Day have wound down. Yet there is hope that the Spirit of Christmas will continue into 2019 and help to heal our divided nation. As you may know, Congress failed to pass a bill with the $5 billion funding for building the wall along the border between the United States and Mexico.

            The Senate passed a bill without any funding, and President Donald Trump declared that he would not sign it. The House ignored the Senate’s bill and passed a bill with $5.7 billion funding.  The Senate failed to take action on the House’s bill, and Trump shut the government down. In reality, only a portion of the government is shut down because all the essential functions are still being done. However, the unwillingness of the Democrats to pass a bill with funding for the wall shows the great division in the nation.

            Americans should be asking a very important question: Why are the Democrats so against building a wall along the southern border? They claim that they are FOR national security, but they continually shoot down any bills that would strengthen it. First, they claim that a wall cannot be built along the border because of the mountains, rivers, and other physical challenges. Then they claim that there is no need to build a wall and that it would be a waste of money. It is obvious that they do not want a wall because there is proof that walls can be built in such territory and that they work to keep people in or out of certain areas.

            The longest and oldest known wall in the world is the Great Wall of China. It is officially 13,170.7 miles long and winds over “rugged country and steep mountains.” It is built on beaches, in rugged mountains, and through “a desert corridor between tall mountain ranges.” The Great Wall was the northern border of China. It has also been in place for 2,300 years. The average height of the wall is over 25 feet, and the tallest height is more than 45 feet. The wall was put on the World Heritage List by UNESCO in December 1987, and parts of it are visited by nearly 70,000 people per day. No work has been done on the wall for military purposes since 1644, and sections of it have entirely disappeared. Some bricks from the walls have been used to build homes, farms, or reservoirs since the Cultural Revolution (1966-1957).

            There are three main reasons why the Great Wall was built and rebuilt over the centuries: 
(1) to defend the border of the kingdom, (2) to be a barrier to trade, and (3) for tourists. Before China was united in 221 B.C. many states warred against each other hoping to expand their territory. To protect their territories from invaders, the princes and other leaders started to build high walls in the 7th Century B.C. The wall was extended and strengthened in the last two centuries B.C. and particularly when the Silk Road was opened to exporting silk to the West. The wall continued to be “rebuilt, modified, and extended” to “protect the Chinese Empire from northern invaders.” China had leaders who thought that “Great Wall construction cost lots of money and manpower, which was bad for his people.” The year of 1957 saw the Great Wall becoming a tourist attraction.

            Another wall that is well known isthe wall built by the nation of Israel to stop suicide bombers. The media was once full of news about suicide bombers and terrorists from Palestine killing and/or injuring Israeli civilians. In the period of time between September 2000 and mid-2005, there were hundreds of attacks by suicide bombers and terrorists, and nearly 1,000 innocent people were killed with thousands more injured. The Israeli government decided that the only way to stop the attacks was to build a security fence along the “Green Line” that ran between Israel and the West Bank. “The project had the overwhelming support of the Israeli public and was deemed legal by Israel’s Supreme Court.”

            The fence, of course, brought outrage from the Palestinians and condemnation from the nations of the world. Israel as condemned even though other nations – including the United States - already had barriers to protect their borders. In fact, “Israel had already built a fence surrounding the Gaza Strip that had worked – not a single suicide bomber has managed to cross Israel’s border with Gaza.” The fence between Israel and the West Bank was built to protect against terrorists, and it works. “The value of the fence in saving lives is evident from the data: In 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2009, 8 Israelis were killed.” The experience of Israel proves that border barriers protect innocent people.

            Another famous wall is the one between North Korea and South Korea. In fact, North Korea will soon be bordered by two walls because China is currently constructing a barrier between China and North Korea. This site lists more than thirty walls, fences, or barriers that are either in place, in the process of being constructed, or proposed. This alone tells us that the idea of a barrier along a border between two countries is neither new or out of place. Sometimes they are needed for protection from terrorists and others who desire to destroy a nation. Other times they are needed to protect the sovereignty of nations.

            So we return to the question of why Democrats are so against a border along the southern border. There is proof that borders can be built in many difficult places. There is proof that they work to protect the citizens and sovereignty of nations. There is even proof that there is financial worth is constructing borders against invaders.

            The Democrats claim that barriers do not work, and they do not want to allocate any taxpayer funds to building a wall. They are so against any type of barrier that they are even trying to stop the efforts of hundreds of thousands of Americans from funding the wall. The “WeThe People Will Fund the Wall" account has raised more than $17 million. Just as conservatives have rallied to the cause, Democrats have tried to stop it.

            Representative Sheila Jackson Lee(D-Texas) introduced a bill last week  – House Resolution 7332 – that would “prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to build a wall between Mexico and the United States, and for other purposes.” The bill has four co-sponsors: Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Joaquin Castro (D-TX). It has also been referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.

            Again, we must ask the question: What are the Democrat leaders afraid of? Why are they so against a fence, wall, or barrier along the southern border? Since some Democrats have contributed their money to the fund to build the wall, we know that this fear has not consumed all Democrats. The ones who have not “drunk the punch” being served by the Democrat leadership should abandon the party. If enough members of the party walk away, the leaders may regain their sanity. Meanwhile, wise Americans should be grateful that President Donald Trump is holding firm on his refusal to sign any budget bill that does not include funding for the wall.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Jesus the Christ

            My VIP for this week is Jesus Christ because He is the very most important person to have ever been born on earth. He is important for a multitude of reasons that begin with the fact that He is the literal Son of God. He is the Creator of the world. He is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind.

            Christ was born in the humblest of circumstances that He might descend below all people. He took the pains, sicknesses, embarrassments, griefs, and sins of all of us that we might follow Him and become as He is. He did it all for me, and He did it all for you! All that He asks in return is that we remember Him and keep His commandments.

            Some years ago I decided that I would give a gift to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for Christmas, and I decided that it would be an additional session in the temple. I have continued to do a special session in the temple each year as my gift to them, and I completed that gift a few days ago. I feel certain that many other people prepare themselves to give a gift to Heavenly Father and to the Savior.

            Marilynne Todd Linford is one of those individuals, and she shares some of her experiences with her readers in an article titled “Selecting a Christmas Gift for the Lord.” She begins her article by expressing the joy and ease of purchasing gifts for little children. She then explains some of the difficulties of gift giving to teenage and adult children.

            I could readily relate to her experiences because I had and still have the same ones, but I was fascinated with her next statement: “Every Christmas, I meet these same dilemmas in desiring to give a gift to Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. I know I cannot surprise Them, but is it possible to delight them? Is there anything They, the perfect gift givers who have everything, want?”

            I realized that I had become too complacent in my gift giving because I did not invest any time in attempting to learn what They might want from me this year. I feel much like the person described in Christina Rossetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter” as quoted by Linford:

What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man I would do my part. Yet what can I give Him? Give my heart.

            How do I go about giving my heart to God? The heart is associated with feelings of love, so I can give Him my love. It is one thing to consider giving Him my love, but how do I actually go about doing it? As a parent and grandparent, I am deeply grateful for those people who say or do anything that help my children and grandchildren in any way. I feel certain that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have similar feelings to all those who help Their children along the pathway of mortality.

            In this way, I feel certain that my gift of a temple session was acceptable to Them, but I wonder if it was what they really wanted from me this year. Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke about something else that I can give.

The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give (As quoted by Linford).

            Elder Maxwell said that we should give our “will” to God. How does one go about doing so? One way is in our prayers. I offer daily prayers in pleading for God’s watchful care over my children and grandchildren. My oldest daughter recently made a business trip, traveling by car from Anchorage to Homer. She left Anchorage about the middle of a string of eleven days when we received measurable snow fall and had to travel over a dangerous mountain pass. She later reported that she could hardly see anything ahead of her at the pass and mainly followed the lights of the cars ahead of her on the highway. I pleaded with God constantly to protect her that day as she traveled and was relieved to hear that she had arrived safely. I continued to pray for her often until she returned safely to Anchorage. However, it was not until the final day that I actually delivered my will to God when I pleaded for His blessings upon my daughter and then added, “Thy will be done.” That is kind of a scary thing to do even with faith in Jesus Christ and His ability to know what is best!

            It takes courage and faith in Jesus Christ to actually give Him my will or to be willing to accept whatever way that He chooses to bless me and my family. So faith is another gift that we can give to God. Linford suggests others gifts in her article, such as honesty, mercy, service to others, repentance, and being a peacemaker.

            Another great gift that we could give to God is gratitude for the many blessings that He bestows upon us. I often express gratitude for fresh air and clean water because I am grateful for them. I was even more grateful for clean water after an earthquake hit Anchorage on November 30. The warning came out that we should not drink or cook with the city water until after it was tested because there were several breaks in the system. The water certainly looked clean, but I took the extra precaution to boil all the water that we used for drinking and cooking. Now I am even more grateful for the constant stream of clean water!

            Tonight in our home we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and sing “Happy Birthday” to Him. We have held similar celebrations for more than forty years, and we always end with a birthday cake especially for Him. It is, of course, angel food cake. I recently discovered a tasty recipe that includes strawberries and whipped cream, but it is the angel food cake that is meaningful to me.

            However you choose to celebrate the birth of Christ, I hope that you will include your own gift to Him. I hope that you will make it something meaningful to you and something that will bring delight to both Heavenly Father – who gave His Son – and Jesus Christ – who gave His lift – that all of us may have eternal life with Them.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Jesus Christ and His Prophet

            I would normally write about a principle of the Constitution for my post tonight. However, I feel that I should write something for Christmas Eve. The people of the world, including many so-called Christians, have fallen to the allure of the commercial side of Christmas and forgotten the true reason for this season. Jesus Christ is the reason that we celebrate Christmas, and tonight I had a glimpse of the heaven that He desires for me.

            My younger son brought his wife and daughter over to my house, and we called our family in Salt Lake City on Facetime. My older son and two daughters, along with their spouses and children for a total of eighteen people, met together tonight for their annual Christmas Eve celebration. They held their get-together a day early this year because my son has to work Christmas Eve as an emergency room doctor. We were grateful to have the opportunity to join their celebration this year because we are having a quiet Christmas this year due to my daughter-in-law fighting brain cancer and have too small of group to do our usual nativity.

            We did the nativity, watched the children decorate graham cracker houses, visited, and generally had a wonderful time together. I witnessed heaven as I saw and heard the love expressed between siblings and their spouses and watched the grandchildren play and interact with each other with love. The experience tonight is all I need for a wonderful Christmas.

            This family activity came about because a Baby was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago and grew to be a man capable of overcoming death and hell. We do not celebrate Christmas because a baby was born; we celebrate it because that Baby brought to pass immortality for all mankind and eternal life for all who will follow Jesus Christ and keep His commandments. In other words, we would not celebrate Christmas if there had been no Easter.

            President Gordon B. Hinckley shared his thoughts about the birth, ministry, and atonement of Jesus Christ at a First Presidency Christmas Devotional in 2001. He begins his talk by greeting everyone and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and then explains the reason for being together that evening.

… We are met tonight to pay homage to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, whose life and death mean so very much to each one of us. This is a gathering for prayer and song and speech, in tribute to the Master of all, the Lord Omnipotent, who condescended to come to earth, to be born in a stable, in a conquered nation, under the humblest of circumstances. He was the Prince Almighty who left the royal courts on high and came among us to teach us and to lead us in His quiet and wonderful way….

So it is. When all is said and done, when all the legions of the ages have passed in review, when man’s terrible inhumanity to man has been chronicled, when God’s great love for His children has been measured, then above all stands the lone figure of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, the living Son of the living God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One.

He was the lowly babe who came to earth in the meridian of time and brought to us the gift of Christmas. He was the Resurrection and the Life, who brought to us the wonder of Easter. And it was He who in this most glorious of dispensations was introduced to the boy Joseph by His Father, the Almighty Elohim, the God of the universe. And this same Joseph has become the preeminent witness of His living reality in this season of earth’s history.

            Is it any wonder then that there is only one day between the birthdate of Joseph Smith and the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? The Savior was born in Bethlehem as a wee Baby. He organized His church on earth in the meridian of time and gave His life that all mankind could live again. He appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 and began the process of restoring His gospel to the earth. He will come again to earth in the near future to gather the faithful followers of the House of Israel. We love Him. We honor Him. We praise Him, We worship Him. Above all, we are grateful that Heavenly Father saw fit to send His Beloved Son to earth as a Baby who grew to become the Savior and Redeemer of the world.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Happy Birthday!

            I have been busy all day long and am getting to my blog post just before midnight. I went to the temple this morning as my Christmas gift to Heavenly Father as well as to Jesus Christ. I spent the rest of the day cleaning and cooking in preparation for Christmas, but I did not want to go to bed without wishing a Happy Birthday to Joseph Smith. He was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, and tomorrow is his birthday.

            To me and to millions of other people, Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. Many of the people who believe he is a prophet – maybe most of us – have inquired of God and had the Holy Ghost confirm that Joseph Smith is God’s prophet.

            More than forty years ago I needed to know for myself if Joseph Smith was God’s prophet. I did not doubt that he was God’s prophet, but I could not say, “I know that Joseph Smith is prophet of God.” I read everything that I could find about Joseph before I was prompted by the Spirit to read the Book of Mormon. This was not my first time in reading the book, but it was my first time to do so while searching for an answer to my question.

            I found my answer in Third Nephi 27, and I knew it as soon as I saw it. Then I knelt down beside my bed and asked God to confirm what I had found. That confirmation came so strongly that I cannot deny it. There is no doubt in my mind that Joseph Smith is God’s prophet called to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ to earth. I know that the Book of Mormon is an instrument in God’s hands in teaching this truth to all who sincerely seek it.

            Millions of people testify that they know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is true. Yet there are millions and billions of other people who do not believe them. There are even some people who claim that they would join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints if only we would get rid of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

            The Meridian Magazine published an excerpt from a talk given by Daniel C. Peterson. The name of the article is “Why I Can’t Manage to Disbelieve Joseph Smith.” Peterson explains that people want “absolute proofs for the Book of Mormon,” but he does not think that there are any proofs that would convince people.

I don’t believe there are any such things. I think that what Latter-day Saint scholars – apologists, if you want to use that term – have though they were doing with the Book of Mormon … is constructing a cumulative case, no one element of which is definitive, no one element of which will simply force, compel unbelievers to suddenly cave in, surrender. I don’t believe that that’s the Lord’s intention. I don’t believe that there will be any such things.

            Peterson has “tried seriously and honestly” to find a way to explain the origin of the Book of Mormon other than the one given by Joseph Smith. He explains that critics of Joseph Smith have given many explanations for how the Book of Mormon came to be, “but they are convoluted.”

My argument would be that all of the counter-explanations of the Book of Mormon that I’ve looked at – and I think I’ve looked at all of them – run into walls. You eventually run into something where, it simply can’t get you there. It can’t explain everything that needs to be explained.

If you think Joseph Smith wrote it, how did he do it? If you think there were no plates, what’s going on? You need to come up with another explanation.

I see problems with all the alternative explanations, and to me they’re lethal.

            The Book of Mormon was first published in March 1830, and it quickly drew critics. For more than 188 years detractors have tried to disprove the explanation given by Joseph Smith for the origin of the Book of Mormon. They have not been able to do so because Joseph Smith spoke the truth. The Book of Mormon was written on plates by numerous prophets living in ancient America. One of those prophets delivered the plates to Joseph Smith, and he translated them into what we know as the Book of Mormon.

            The only way for anyone to determine the truth of this statement is to prayerfully study the Book of Mormon and then to ask God if it is true. There is no better proof than the word of God delivered by the Holy Ghost! I know that Joseph Smith is exactly what he claimed to be – a prophet of the living God.