Sunday, March 29, 2009


So, I was talking to my sister the other day. I got to listen in to some of her parenting tactics. One statement she made to my nephew in particular stood out to me, “Remington, you need to stop eating those peeps or else you are going to start looking like a peep.” Well, thought I, that is just too cute to not share. Of course my mind is now all wrapped up in political stuff and I thought of a way to not only share the story, but to do so in blog form.

Our government officials are stewards of our laws, protection, taxes etc. The government should be doing the responsible thing and not doling out unhealthiness like sugar.

The stimulus plans, the bailouts, the amazing debt filled budgets are all a bunch of nasty marshmallow fluff covered in sugar. All of it is so tempting to a hungry market. The problem is, it keeps getting gobbled up and we are still left unsatisfied because it is not what we need.

The stimulus sugar did not start with President Obama, it started with President Bush. It has not worked yet, and still we get fed more. You all know what the definition of insanity is right? Continuing to do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

We learn today that the Obama administration is unveiling another auto bailout tomorrow. I’m just on pins and needles to find out how awesome this one is going to be. Oh and today we find out President ObamatheOneKenobi asked the CEO of General Motors to resign, which he agreed to do. That folks is kinda scary. The government takeover of businesses is happening at an alarming rate.

Back before the stock market crash in 1929 and the Great Depression the government really did not get involved much in the economy. It’s called a “Free Market” system for a reason; it is supposed to be free to run on its own. Roosevelt’s New Deal became the standard however. The government is now expected to do something when the market goes through its down turns. *******NEWSFLASH******** The New Deal DID NOT WORK! There was a stock market crash again in 1937 in the midst of the glorious New Deal. The government programs did for that crisis what it did for the crisis just previous, not much.

The thought that we are trying to do the same thing again is preposterous. It’s got to stop. There are a few voices that are trying to be reasonable here. Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina asked if he could just use the stimulus funds sent to his state to pay off their debt. He was denied this rather brilliant plan. Isn’t that what a lot of us would do (that’s right if you would do that I think you’re brilliant too). Governor Sarah Palin quickly took the federal funds allocated for Medicare in their state and slipped it into her own budget, saving her state a bunch of money. After she did that the feds quickly put a stipulation in against doing that very thing. That’s right folks that “stupid” lady from Alaska outsmarted Obama’s genius Treasury Secretary Geithner. She has announced that she will not certify funds for her state that have strings attached or that will put her state in a position to have to cover the costs of a new program or facility after the federal funds run out. Of course she is also one of the few Governors who actually have savings stored away for her state, several billions worth. Several other Governors are also being measured and smart in their responses to the stimulus. But, they are being shouted down by the federal officials and of course the mainstream media.

Speaking of the Treasury Secretary, Geithner this last week proclaimed that they must come up with a plan to prevent the bubbles and bursts of the free market from occurring. I’m sorry sir but that is just the way the market works. It’s just like the rest of us, it has ups and downs. Yes, I think the economy has suffered from corrupt and dishonest people on Wall Street. But, having corrupt and dishonest politicians take over is just not a great idea. And not letting the market go through its growing pains is a ridiculous idea. It’s like they are saying, “Don’t worry you won’t have to feel any pain.” And even more it is like they are saying “LET THEM EAT PEEPS!” Well, if we keep eating peeps we are going to become peeps. Those things eventually turn stale and nasty. And if it gets hot enough they turn even nastier and melt. We will end up being a big pile of goo who does not feel pain, because we are too unhealthy and mushy to even care. That would make it really difficult to stand up and fight for our rights. So, be healthy in our lives. Do not follow the example of the government. Use that self-reliant streak. Perhaps the government will wise up and be as brilliant as its constituents.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Justice and Mercy part deux

"The law is reason, free from passion." Aristotle

I wanted to post just some general thoughts about how justice and mercy are meant to interact in this nation.

The government is built on the foundation of freedom and justice for all. The job of our government is to protect our rights. We all have equal rights which does not equate to equal things. The root of justice is law, rule and boundaries. Justice or laws are the immoveable and steady pinnacles. Think about rules, from sports to God's commandments, they are meant to engender safety. They are for our benefit.

But, justice when standing alone is free from passion and that includes compassion.
Our founding fathers knew that this great nation would have struggles. They knew that it was important to have firm and steady justice in order to protect our rights. But, they depended on the good will of the people to take care of each other. The law is free of compassion. Compassion and mercy are our job. Our founding fathers believed for the country to truly be great our equal rights would be protected, but the people would be a moral people who would trust in the God who has endowed us with those rights.

Every time that the government steps into the role of being merciful they take that role away from us. The goodness of America is being taken away by degrees.

You know I tell people sometimes about the great job my Church does in taking care of those in need, it is fantastically successful. When I tell people this they then suggest that the government ought to model their welfare program after the Church's. To which I reply "NOOO!!!!" I think the real answer is for the government to get out of the welfare program all together and let the Church's who have already proven themselves so adept take care of it.

Compassion, mercy, is our job. Justice, law is the government's job.
There is so much opportunity for service. It is something we should do, but not have it be mandated by the government. Service and compassion is a choice. If you want to change the world then do it. Do not expect the government or its officials to do it. We live in the greatest country in the world. You have the right to reach out in compassion to anybody. Use that blessed right. You and our country will be the better for it.

God Bless

Monday, March 23, 2009

Justice and Mercy

One of the most difficult political discussions right now centers on the question of illegal immigration. Personally this is a difficult subject for me. I served a Spanish speaking mission for my Church. I served here in the United States. As a result I know and worked with and love dearly a whole lot of immigrants, both legal and not so much. I feel strongly that the vast majority of immigrants to the United States want the very same thing that most of us desire, a better life for ourselves and for our families. This is the greatest country in the world. It is unsurprising that people want to come here. It is actually an honor.

For a long time when the discussion of illegal immigration came up my response was what I considered a very valid one. “There’s an easy solution to illegal immigration, change the laws!”

But, I decided that I wanted to make a concerted effort to study the issue more and to really come up with a more concise position. What I found is there is no easy solution. It is one of those difficult situations where you want to try to separate the people from the problem, but it just can’t happen.

The two principles that kept coming to mind as I studied are justice and mercy. Justice is absolutely key to our country. We are a Republic, that’s right folks a Republic not a Democracy. You can probably get away with saying we are a Democratic Republic because the people do have a voice in voting for our government officials and in ratifying amendments and such. But, we are a Republic which means that we are ruled by law. This is the basis of justice. There is a law and there are freedoms and punishments affixed to the law. The law must be enforced. Justice by it’s nature is not compassionate, it is firm and immoveable. Can there by changes to the law? Absolutely. Do the laws in regards to immigration need changing? Maybe. That’s hard to answer because the immigration laws are not really being enforced.

I think that the law must be used to contain the exploitation of illegal immigrants by employers. Those employers are exploiting immigrants, our laws, and us.

What about mercy? As I’ve already stated we are a nation of laws. Thus there really is no room for mercy in our justice system. But, I absolutely believe that mercy is an essential element for the solution of illegal immigration. Mercy should not come from the government it should come from all of us.

Most of us understand the importance of loving our neighbor and doing what we can do help our neighbors. Mexico is our neighbor guys. I think far too many people have fallen into a trap of demonizing the Mexican population and belittling their culture and government. What we ought to be doing is embracing one another.

The United States is the most giving nation in the world. I would love love love if more of that giving nature was directed towards our neighbors to the south. We can help make that beautiful country safer and more desirable to live in. I’m not sure what that would look like, but I know it would have to come from us as a people and not from our government. As I have noted before the government really really stinks at this kind of work. It has to be us. The schemes and governments of men will not be the solution. The compassion born of the divinity that is within each one of us, can draw us together and begin a healing process that is so needed.

I know I’m not really offering concrete solutions here. But, it is a shift in my thinking that I think I needed to share. Justice by way of government. Mercy by way of us.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A True and Great Leader

A friend asked me the other day to name the person, outside of God or somebody from the Scriptures or my family, who I would most like to spend some time with. After verifying that it could be somebody who is no longer living, I answered “King Hussein.” My friend responded back “oh yeah.” People who know me have heard me talk about His Majesty King Hussein.

My admiration for the King does not really have anything to do with political ideology. It has to do with the kind of leader that he was. It was blatantly obvious to me, and to most anybody who spent any time really doing their research on him, that he loved God, his family, his people and peace.

King Hussein was a man who truly loved and lived his religion. I had the honor and privilege of being in Jordan in 1997, while he was still alive. In Amman we were able to go to the visitor’s portion of his palace. Inside there were pictures of him as he was going on the pilgrimage to Mecca. I loved the pictures, he had such a serene and happy countenance in them. The King also recognized the importance of religion as a whole, and respected other faiths. He was the only leader in the Middle East that actually allowed missionary work from my Church.

King Hussein dearly loved his family. I recently completed the autobiography by his wife, Her Majesty Queen Noor. It was lovely to get kind of an inside view into their family life. He loved being with his children especially.

King Hussein loved his people, and they loved him back. While in Jordan our tour guide told us a story about one of his friends. The King had a policy on Friday’s (the Muslim holy day) that citizens were invited to the palace to express their desires to the King. Well, this gentleman had a daughter who was gravely ill and required heart surgery. He could not afford the care that his daughter needed. He went to the palace where he was greeted by the guards who asked if they could be of help. The gentleman said no, that he needed to speak directly to the King. The guards took him to see the King where he explained the situation. King Hussein than instructed him to take his daughter to a certain hospital on a certain day. When the gentleman and his daughter arrived she not only got the needed medical treatment, but was also treated like a princess. I’m sure there were countless other stories like that.

I tell people that outside of the United States, Jordan is my favorite country. There was a feeling of freedom there, you could almost feel it in the air. Actually one of the things that I tell people was different there was the driving. I had spent time both in Israel and in Egypt. Jordan was by far the safest and most orderly as far as driving. Queen Noor was American born and was actually influential in encouraging more democracy there. While there I heard and saw the love that the people had for their King. It was almost tangible.

King Hussein’s dream was for peace in his area of the world. It was something he continued to work tirelessly for throughout his reign. There were definitely some years that he got a bad rap in the media, imagine that the media actually distorting our views of a good person. But, all along his desire was for peace. It turns out that many Israeli’s love King Hussein too, for the work that he did with their Prime Minister Rabin. The world might be a different place if those 2 wonderful and inspired men were still around.

I was serving a mission for my Church when King Hussein passed away. I was in the United States, but as a missionary we were not all that in touch with the news. I found out that he had passed away in a grocery store seeing it on a magazine cover. It broke my heart. But, I was so caught up in my missionary work that I did not really feel the full effects of it.

I said before that I recently finished Queen Noor’s autobiography. I was surprised by my reaction to it. Through her insight I got to experience what I had not really before, his passing. I admit I cried like a baby. I really love that man and I miss him.

What I wouldn’t give for leaders like that. It would be lovely for the love of God, family, nation and peace to be blatantly obvious. I don’t doubt that many of our nations’ leaders do love all those things, but it feels like too many love power and money.

I hope our country can look to Jordan as the ally they should be in the process of peace. By all accounts King Abdullah is much like his father. He did not expect to be named King, and I think that he maintains a humble disposition and a love for God, family, nation and peace.

Thanks for reading about one of my heroes.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Favorite Olympics

I woke up this morning thinking about the Olympics. If you know me well you know that is not all that unusual. I love the Olympics! I’ve written about Olympic stuff before and warned that there would be more. So, here it comes.

I could go on and on about different favorite moments. But, ask me which Olympic games were my favorites, and the answer is easy: Salt Lake 2002.
There are many reasons why and I thought I would share some. First off The Olympics came literally months after one of the greatest tragedies our nation has ever faced, September 11, 2001. At that time for me, and I think a lot of people, the experience and my emotions surrounding it were still pretty raw. Having the Olympics back in the U.S. was a tender mercy for me and others.

Opening the Games:

The Opening Ceremonies were incredibly touching to watch. It seemed like the world was expressing their support for all of us. I remember one athlete in particular, I think from Ireland. He waved a flag with one side Irish and the other side U.S. When he realized the camera was on him, he kissed both sides of it.

Prior to any Olympics there is always a lot of speculation about how they are going to get to light the torch. My family and I brought up several potential famous names. But, when Mike Eruzione (Rizzo) walked out and then signaled for the rest of the 1980 U.S. Hockey team to join him in lighting the torch, I could not have been happier with the choice. It was awesome and so appropriate.

Our President came to the ceremonies of course. At that time there was not the hate and vitriol against him, he was our leader and I remember feeling proud of him. After opening the games he then sat with the U.S. athletes, which I thought was delightful. Sasha Cohen had President Bush talk to her mom on the phone.

The best moment of the Opening Ceremonies was the most somber. U.S. athletes carefully and respectfully came into the stadium carrying the United States flag found in the rubble at ground zero. The Mormon Tabernacle choir than sang what I still consider the most beautiful rendition of the National Anthem I have ever heard. Watch below and see if you don’t know what I mean.

An Inside Look:

The U.S. winter Olympic team did not have a great showing at the Nagano 1998 Olympics, at least as far as medal count. There was concern among the heads of the team especially with the games coming to Salt Lake. There is almost always a home field advantage, but they really wanted a strong strong U.S. winter team. It was decided that yearly there would be a team summit. Every year top athletes in the various winter sports were invited to meet and participate in team building activities. How do I know about this? While I was working on my Sport Psychology degree I got to attend a presentation done by some of the Sport Psychologists and former athletes that were a part of the summits.

I want to share a couple of interesting tidbits. Derek Para a long track long distance speed skater was one of my favorite athletes out of the games. He won several medals including one gold with a world record. He attributed his success in part to his experiences with summit, and also with being one of the athletes chosen to carry that sacred flag.

There were only 2 figure skaters that attended summit Sarah Hughes and Tim Goebel. Hughes was the surprise gold medalist and Goebel was the only American man to medal, a bronze. Hmmm, interesting:)

Former athletes that were involved included the aforementioned Rizzo, as well as Bonnie Blair and others. The United States had their best showing ever at a Winter Olympics that year.

Some Competition Highlights:

I already mentioned Derek Para, what a delight he was to watch. I love hockey, and it was amazing to see both the U.S. men and women playing for the gold. I have to admit if the guys were going to lose to anybody, I was glad it was Canada. It was fun to watch the Canadian celebration all over their country.

Bobsledding was one of my favorite sports to watch during the games. It was so awesome to see longtime U.S. driver Brian Shimer win a bronze medal. The men also won a silver. But, the bobsled highlight for me was Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers of USA 2 winning the gold. They were the team that was not talked about and did not get the commercials prior to the games. But, they came out and had the competition of a lifetime. Jill was a member of our military. Vonetta was a former track athlete who had dreamed of Olympic glory all her life. When they stood on the podium and listened to the national anthem tears streamed down Vonetta’s face. She was the first African American to win a gold medal at the winter Olympics.

The Salt Lake games were my favorite for a lot of reasons, but one of the big reasons is because I actually got to be there! Me and my whole family camped out in my brother’s house in Provo and went to see short track speed skating. It was so amazing to walk around the village. We made sure we got to the competition early and got to see the athletes warming up. We got to then see Apolo Anton Ohno compete live. He was disqualified, which was a bummer, but it was kind of fun to see his reaction to the crowds outrage, he grinned you could tell he got a kick out of it. But, then we and so much of the crowd got behind Rusty Smith of the USA. He won a bronze! It was fun to see the joy in real time and real life of all the athletes that competed and won medals. I have a brother who served a mission in Canada and he taught us some of the Canadian anthem which came in handy that night.

The Torch

There are a lot of symbols for the Olympics. I have the flag in my office. But, I think the torch for me is the most important. I love watching the relay start in Greece then on to its final destination. In fact I fell in love with the Olympics in 1984 starting with seeing the torch run through a nearby city on its way to LA. We got to see the torch run again in 2002, awesome! When my family and I arrived in Salt Lake for the Olympics it was pretty late at night, but we made sure that the first thing we did was go and see the Torch live and in person. It was pretty surreal.

I mentioned already how awesome the lighting of the torch was with the Miracle on Ice hockey team. Over the years there have been some pretty awesome torch lightings, including a ski jumper. But, the dimming of the torch has been well, kind of lame. There was a really ridiculous one in France where this dude was dressed up like cupid and flew in, by cable, and blew it out, it did make me laugh.

Nothing tops the way that Salt Lake dimmed the torch. The moment still sticks with me today. They dimmed the torch after a prayer.

So, why blog about this? Well, it makes me happy for one thing. I hope it brings back some happy memories for others too. But, also I long for the feeling that the Salt Lake Olympics brought. There was a feeling of unification. Chanting USA! USA! USA! is one pretty awesome thing. But, it also felt like the world was unified and we just enjoyed one another. I would love to have something like those 2 weeks occur again. Times are tough, but sometimes that brings out the very best of us. Love our country, love the world and all the people in it.

Let’s keep the fire burning now. The theme of the Salt Lake games was Light the Fire Within. How appropriate that would be for now. When I think of a torch I also think of Lady Liberty. Our freedom, Our country is a light. Keep it shining bright, keep the feeling bright. Maybe it does not have to be the Olympics for it to feel like the Olympics.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Be Still and Know

I was watching the movie Apollo 13 the other day. What an amazing incident that whole thing was. One of the things that really struck me was a brief mention of the fact that Congress passed a resolution calling on Americans to pray for the astronauts. I just had to ask myself “would that happen today?” I don’t know the answer to that but I have my suspicions.

One of the things that I tell people about my own personal experiences with trials is that they have not made me a better person. The reality is my trials have brought me to my knees, to God and He made me a better person.

I think that is something sorely missing in the current trials our country is going through right now. Our government is trying to enact all sorts of programs and stimulus packages and such, in order to help people avoid pain. But, experiencing pain, going through trials is a condition of humanity. Blocking that pain only brings short term benefits. Being willing to go through pain is the thing that really can bring about lasting benefits, like life lessons and character development.

It seems instead of turning to God so many are turning to the government. That’s messed up. How would it be if the governments answer was the same that it was during the Apollo 13 mission, pray. We need Him as much as ever, if not more these days.
I found this past election season to be quite turbulent. I think most people would agree. I also found it quite disheartening and I think most Conservatives would agree.

One day in particular I found myself experiencing a sinking feeling of doubt and anxiousness, when kind of out of nowhere it was replaced by a feeling of hope and peace. It felt like a tender mercy of God reaching me and just letting me know that no matter what, things were going to be okay. Regardless of the elections it was going to be okay.

Yes, I know that must mean that I’m a right wing nut job who believes God can guide our lives if we are open to it.

His message for me that day, which has really stuck with me, is one of peace. I was reminded of the passage in Psalms 46:10 “Be Still and Know That I Am God.”
One of the most important gifts we have been given next to our lives, is agency, the power and the freedom to direct our lives. That is one of the great principles that guides this nation, that we should be free to choose.

However, disappointed anyone might be with election results or the direction of the nation right now, or the fallout following the passage of propositions, we can rest assured that we are still in God’s hands. As long as we trust in Him, we understand that He can and does sanctify our experiences for our benefit. He can make us better if we let Him.

Being still does not mean we just sit like a bump on a log. We need to do what we can to promote goodness and correct principles. But, we need to humbly trust God and ask Him for His help in our lives.

This is the greatest country on earth and will continue to be. “In God We Trust” is our motto. I hope more and more of us will put it into action. We trust God, we should be asking for His help. I know that many are.

As we face these current trials I know that God can and will sanctify them for our benefit, but it is going to require a willingness to go through the trials, not around, not avoiding, but going straight through it. Government can play an appropriate role, but the experiences we have gone through as a nation from it’s founding to Civil War, to Apollo 13 to September 11th, all these things and more should have taught us the great lesson to fall on our knees and turn to God. Again that does not mean that we do nothing of ourselves. But, we first have to be open to the sanctification process that God bestows.

Anyone who has read this blog or listened to me talk about the current situations we are in, know that I’m not all that thrilled with it. But, I still trust that peace, that tender mercy. When we truly recognize God’s hands in our lives, and we truly turn to Him, I think we will find that we are not just in His hands, we are in His arms. That is enough to start anyone through the process of overcoming any trial.
God Bless America, God Bless Americans, He has, He does, and He will.