Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Seek Not for Vengeance

Today I found out some information which was brand new to me, but has actually been around since December of 2008. It was circulated in the British press but for some reason never made it across the pond to our media. The 2008 story can be found here.

President Obama’s grandfather was apparently imprisoned and tortured by the British government. The torture sounds particularly horrid and repulsive. When I heard the story and read it, my first question was ‘Why didn’t we know this?’ It is essential for us to understand history so we don’t repeat it and also to understand context. I can understand if there are not exactly warm feelings between the Obama’s and the British government, but that needed to be known. The media stand condemned for their continued lack of service, whether it be due to ineptness or to push their own agendas. We need to know the truth, the whole truth. I do not think this history in any way disqualifies Obama from being president. But, it is imperative that we know and understand history and the context that it provides.

History is rife with examples of abuse and horror and despicable acts. It is absolutely necessary that we learn it. My own familial history contains some horrors at the hands of our own government. My grandmother was taken from her home on the Turtle Mountain reservation in North Dakota and put into a boarding school in Oregon. She was beaten for speaking any language other than English, understand that she only spoke her native tongue at the time. She was sexually assaulted, and degraded verbally, all because the government decided that Native Americans needed to be assimilated. They basically attempted to stamp out Native culture by force. I know where that came from, Progressivism and its never ending search to perfect society. Does it make me angry? Sometimes and I also feel a deep sadness. But, mostly I feel resolute. I resolve to tell history as it really is, and to make sure that people understand context.

There is something else that is absolutely essential to understand. In the United States of America we are founded on independence. Inherit in independence is individual responsibility. That means each one of us individually own up to our own lives. We face consequences based on our own actions be they good or bad. That applies to each of us, past, present and future. There are so many mistakes that have been made along the way. But, any search for retribution is counter-productive to the cause of America. We don’t seek to fix the past by messing up the present with animosity and historical liability. We learn from the past. We seek truth in history in all of its gory detail. That way we know what not to do, and we understand one another better. Vengeance and retribution for past wrongs do nothing in moving our nation forward; rather it hinders us in the mire of contention and bitterness.

Mr. President reading the story about your grandfather brought tears to my eyes. That should never have happened it was an injustice to say the least. Is it possible to move forward now though? Especially for the betterment of the people you have been asked to serve. If there is any part of you that has treated Great Britain, our ally, badly because of the abuse your grandfather endured it must be addressed. We cannot hope to move forward if we are stuck in the past.

I will never cease to tell the history of Progressivism. I want people to understand what horrors it has led to. From political prisoners during Wilson’s time to internment camps under FDR. From Sanger’s horribly obvious racism towards African Americans to abortion being the number 1 killer of that very population. And yes, I will tell the story of the Native population and their mistreatment at the hands of the “enlightened.” But, I don’t do it out of vengeance I do it out of a dire need to tell the truth. I do it because I dearly want our nation to steer clear of repeating those mistakes. I do it because I want to understand and I want others to understand.

God has promised to sanctify our trials for our benefit if we turn to Him. That happens on an individual basis. But, the more people that are able to experience that in our nation the more it can actually happen on a national level. We can heal from our wounds, even the self-inflicted ones, but, only if we are truly willing to do so, by the only means that actually work. Vengeance and retribution are not those means. Truth and knowledge and a forgiving heart are. God bless us as we struggle through life, as we remember those who’ve struggled before us and understand all the struggles are worth it if in the end we can hand a better nation to the next generations.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heal Us

It’s been one of those months. One that as you are rounding the final curve you suddenly see things a little more clearly. But, in the midst of it, felt like every stride was a bit of a struggle.

A couple of weeks ago I busted up my hand. It was in a rather stupid accident, but as my mom says there really are no “smart” accidents. Anyway to sum it up I took too wide of a turn on my bike, my front wheel hit wet grass and went out from under me and I hit pavement, with my right hand taking the full force of it. Bleeding ensued (which looking back, stitches may have come in handy, no pun intended), and so did the swelling. It ends up there were multiple injuries from busted blood vessels to some small hairline type fracturing and a sprained wrist. I’m right handed so suddenly I was having to learn some rather important skills with my non-dominant hand. Suffice it to say I had a string of bad hair days :) I did manage to type through the pain (I did it for you my dear blog readers), but slowly. It’s on the mend now, though I’m still cautious about hearty handshakes. All in all it was kinda tough, but it certainly gave me some perspective. Plus I got particular delight when some of the kids I work with seeing my hand all bandaged up and learning of my spill than proceeded to instruct me on the proper way to ride a bike.

My little hand incident is nothing compared to what some of my clients have been going through this past month. I tell ya, the adage “when it rains, it pours” is so very true sometimes. I cannot go into any detail. But, suffice it to say there have been some heartbreaking moments. With all of my heart I wish I could do more to take away the pain that these dear individuals and families have experienced and are continuing to. What support I do offer seems but a pittance of what they really need. I can stand next to them and get my shoulder under their burden with them, but I can’t suck away all the pain. On rare occasion after a session ends and my clients have left I close my door and just sit on the floor for a good long while wondering what more I could do to help them. That’s happened more than once this past month. The answer is I’m not the one who can help them the most. They need a healing, but it has to be a Divine one.

So, with the clarity I’ve been blessed with as I’ve rounded this final turn this month I realize how real that Divine healing can be. Take my hand to start with. How amazingly miraculous it is that having sustained such trauma it has found a way to start healing. How did that happen? Well, that’s the way The Creator made it. He put within each one of us the power to eventually heal. It really is quite remarkable. Think about the fact that it got all swelled up. As impressive as it was to have 2 hands that looked remarkably different in size, shape and color on just one individual, it is also a miracle. An injury swells up to prevent you from using it more and injuring it further. It’s remarkable isn’t it? And it was purposefully made that way. Even the fact that it causes physical pain is a testament to the healing process. So, you go to a doctor and say it hurts when I move it the doctor is going to say, than don’t move it, duh. It helps us to immobilize it and let the healing process take place. Maybe it’s a silly way to look at it, but I feel really grateful to God for making the healing process possible. It is one way in which we heal, we simply let the process run its course, even if it’s painful it is part of the process.

Now, those longer lasting hurts require a little more intervention, a Divine one. I’ve made a study of Christ and His Atonement. The healing aspect of Our Savior has long been a tender testimony for me. I’ll love Him forever for providing that for me and for all of us. When I think of His ministry and all the miracles He performed while in mortality I marvel at what the healings teach us. Is it possible for Christ to heal in an instant the way that He did during His ministry? Of course it is. But, His ministry was a short 3 years and in that time span He had to demonstrate to us who He is and what He does for all of us. So, while He could heal us instantly as He did than, that is not often the way He works with us now. He goes beyond just a mere healing, He actually sanctifies even the most tragic and heartbreaking circumstances for our benefit. Talk about miraculous. I testify that His healing hand in the lives of those that will let Him do His work is real and efficacious. I’m blessed with many clients who believe the same as I do, so we get to talk about applying Christ’s Atonement in their lives and work together to make that happen. He is there waiting to help, to embrace, but He has to be invited to do so. There are few things sweeter than seeing a beloved individual get through all the pain and come out the other side whole and better than they could have been without the pain in the first place. Words cannot quite describe it.

Now, as I’ve thought about this past month, and the perspective and testimony that has been strengthened and improved my thoughts turn to my beloved nation. We are in desperate need of a healing. And our unified cry should be ‘Heal us O Thou Great Jehovah!’ He can, I know it.

Take first the example of what He has already given us. I know some will consider me a kook for saying so but this nation; its foundational principles and structures, were Divinely inspired. There is a mechanism for healing. And guess what? Some of it involves some pain and other uncomfortableness. We may have to learn to use our weaker parts more effectively while our dominant hand heals up. We must allow things like the free market system to go through its pain, or else a proper healing cannot take place. We must also allow for a healing to take place when there are catastrophes and tragedies man-made or otherwise. It is okay to feel pain, it part of the process. We must be allowed to survive and than to thrive. No amount of government intervention can do what the natural process of time and natural healing can do. A process that was put in place by our Founders under the guidance of Divine Providence.

Well, United States it has been one of those centuries. The damage that has been done to this nation and our Constitution by the Progressive/Liberal/Leftists has been in the extreme. Forgive me for being a little gross here, but it’s like a festering wound that has to have all the puss cleared away before we can actually get to the real and deep wound. Clear away corruption and than work on the wounds inflicted by faulty means used to further blatantly anti-freedom ends. It is heartbreaking to see principles of freedom brushed aside for the goals of power and greed and utopia. The reality is no man can do for our country what God can do. No matter how much the government tries to be merciful they fail miserably. Its time for us to turn to God and not to government for the healing. It promises to be painful and difficult and at times it will bring us to just take a seat and catch our breath. But, it must be done. The Great Jehovah, Lord and Savior can heal this nation, but He has to be invited to do so. And we must be willing to let Him do His work of not just healing but sanctification. It can happen and we can get through it all and end up even better. He is a God of miracles, and we need that now more than ever.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Progressives and Anarchists: Let's Dance. . .Wait What?

So, I listen to Glenn Beck. Big surprise right? Anyway this past week he was talking about how during the big rise of the Progressive era there were also anarchists and somehow these two groups found each other. But, why? I mean if you think of the American political spectrum these 2 groups would be very opposite of each other, with the farthest left being tyranny (total government) and the farthest right being anarachy (no government). Well, I'll discuss the why's a little bit more after I discuss the fact that it did indeed happen.

When I was listening to Glenn all of a sudden I had a memory pop into my head. My talented cousin was in several musicals and plays while in high school, one of them was entitled "Tintypes" set during the early 20th century. She played the part of Emma Goldman, a famous anarchist at the time. At one point her character and the character of Teddy Roosevelt engage in a heated discussion and then they break out into this bizzare love song and dance. It was quite a funny scene, but when it popped back into my head recently I had the sudden and shocking realization that that actually was a metaphor for what really did happen. Yes, these two opposing sides joined up, in some kind of bizzare dancing fiasco.

Let, me tell you a little about Emma Goldman (1869-1940). She was Russian born and emigrated to the US in 1885. In New York she began to be interested in the anarchist movement. She eventually became a kind of spokesperson and writer for the cause. Goldman's brand of anarchy differred from the traditional no-government type in that it required revolution, it was radical. Though she decried some types of violence, she and her lover Alexander Berkman planned an assassination at one point in order to further their agenda. She worked to inspire others to rise up for a revolution. And she was willing to join with those who should have been on opposite sides.

I happened upon this interesting document. After Ms. Goldman's passing a memorial service was held in New York. I took the time to do a little research on some of those who spoke.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the peeps. John Haynes Holmes, Unitarian minister (note that Emma Goldman was not exactly a fan of religion), pacifist, anti-war activist. He helped found the ACLU. Roger Baldwin, one of the founders of the ACLU. Some of the ACLU's landmark cases took place under his direction Scopes, Sacco and Vanzeti, and the challenge to the ban of James Joyce Ulysses (Joyce as in the Joyce foundation? hmmmm). He was a one-time Communist, though he later denounced Communism, but continued work in the ACLU. Jimmy Carter awarded him a medal of freedom. Norman Thomas was a 6 time presidential candidate (that's cool) for the Socialist Party of America (doh!) He championed Progressive causes. Rose Pesotta was an anarchist and feminist labor organizer. Harry Kelly was another anarchist and a lifelong activist in the Modern School movement. Dorothy Rogers early civil rights activist (now honestly I do think that's cool), and a staunch defender of FDR's New Deal (dang it). Leonard Abbot, he presided :), radical thinker, socialist also into the Modern School thing. Martin Gudell, was Emma's guide while she was in Spain, he worked with the propoganda department of the CNT-FAI's (nice). Rudolf Rocker, an anarchist without adjectives (I think that means whatever the heck he wants it to mean). He was active in the Social Democratic Party (SPD). He was part of the a wing called Die Jungen (The Young Ones), who were unwilling to wait for the predicted collapse of the capitalist society (that was Marx' prediction), and instead wanted to bring it about by revolution.

So, yes Emma Goldman and other anarchists mixed with Socialists, Communists and Progressives. But, why? Why would opposites attract? Well, they are on the opposite side of the horizontal political spectrum. But, if you add a vertical one you might see why. For this you get to see my amazing handwriting that a friend once described as 13 year old boy handwriting.

These peeps were all radical. They all wanted to bring America as was than known down. Achieving that end would than lead them to their own devices and agendas. Dance together on the floor of radicalism, and after the dance than they could take each other out. It reminds me of Survivor where they form alliances to get so far, but than in the end they are left to battle it out themselves for the big prize. In fact I have to throw in this amazing quote from Ms. Goldman herself "If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution." Well, they let her dance. Check out this scene from the Broadway presentation of "Tintypes" (I have to say I preferred cousin Devey's portrayal, she is wicked talented :)

So, why bring this up? Well, the reason we study history is to learn from it. Right now there are radicals among us. In fact a lot of them are in the government. There are Progressives, there are Socialists, there are Communists out there being influential. There are likely anarchists too. And I'm quite certain they are willing to unite in order to bring America down so that they can than fight over the scraps. We must be mindful and watchful and realize their agenda.

On that spectrum right in the middle of the horizontal spectrum is where the founders placed The Constitution. On the vertical spectrum we ought to be right in the middle too, appropriately active and knowledgable about civics and the need we have to be involved. That is the best check against the downfall of this nation.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Called and Chosen for Now

This particular post has been swirling around in my brain for a while. It has taken a couple of different forms, but I finally decided I just need to sit down and write it and let whatever is swirling around at this moment take some kind of shape. Hopefully it's pretty:)

On Memorial Day I went with several members of my family to a local cemetery where we placed flowers on the grave sites of our fallen soldiers. One of my nieces and several of my nephews were with us. I was touched as they placed the flowers and said a vocal thank-you. My niece even began hugging the headstones. It was rather sweet. I appreciated the opportunity to be able to teach a little about the importance of history and honoring our heroes.

I love history and have made a study of it. It sometimes really sinks in that the people I learn about are real. It does so forcefully when I learn about the Founders and other historically significant people to me. It sinks in when I read Scriptures and acknowledge that the authors lived, breathed and testified. One day I will meet all of these people, my heroes, including those faithful and good people whose actions went widely unnoticed but are heroes none the less. I want to be able to say thank-you and to look them in the eye and tell them I tried to do my part, scratch that, that I did do my part. That I stood by Christ and Zion and freedom. That I was never ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That I knew what was right and sought to do so, and repented when I fell short. I want to be able to look them in the eye and acknowledge their sacrifice and assure them it was not in vain as I too upheld freedom and faith in whatever way I could.

Life is the same as it ever has been in any age. Its about what you become, its about how you serve others. The good amazing men and women, the heroes have given me something to shoot for, a goal to emulate. I fall way short, pretty much daily, but I just keep getting back up.

The ultimate goal, the unattainable in this life goal, is to become like The Savior. If I fall short of my mortal heroes and yet get back up, than trying to become as The Savior is like a perpetual crawl. Perhaps that is why kneeling in prayer is such a natural thing to do. I desperately beseech God's help. This isn't some self-righteous rant. I'm painfully aware of how imperfect I am, how much patience God must have to work with me hour after hour. He does so out of love. The thought of the Atonement of Christ, when I can get my mind around it enough to begin to comprehend, takes my breath away. How could He, pure holiness, take the weight of every sin of every vile action and thought? I think of things not only I've been through, but people I know and care about have also. I think of the people I'm blessed to work with and the heartbreaking, and wrenching things they've shared with me. And the reality is I cannot really shoulder their burden, much as I sometimes wish I could. I can't because I don't really know what it was like to go through. But, The Savior does, because He did. Why? Love, in its purest and most powerful form. He is ultimate freedom, safety and love all in one being. And He stands there in the midst of our storms beckoning us forward. He is unafraid of the storm. He already passed through not just His but all of ours. And just at the moment we feel like we'll fall He reaches out that hand, lifts us up and encourages faith. He is my view, my ultimate goal. He knows each one of us, and He knows our great potential.

Christ in Matthew 20:16 states that "many be called, but few chosen." I have pondered that distinction and have concluded that to be chosen requires us to choose. It is up to us to heed the call to become what He would have us be. Once we have made that choice we trust in God to help us.

These days I hear a lot that we need to find a George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson or other important founders and historical figures. I've said the same kinds of things, in fact I recall a post where I talked about having a modern day William Wilberforce. But, I've come to realize that the heroes of yesteryear were men and women called and chosen in their times for specific reasons and purposes. I do think we need to learn from them and to do our best to develop the same positive characteristics and virtues as they did. But, I've also grown in my respect for the people living today. So, many are out there doing their very best to try and help this country. I have concluded that we don't need George or any one else back today, we simply need to be our very best selves, to make the same choice that they did; to answer the call and choose to become what God would have us be.

Every single one of us was put on the earth right now, in the right place and circumstances for very specific reasons. Our task is to become our best selves. Do we shirk the call in fear or apathy? Or do we face the fear and just go ahead and do it anyway? Do we act and put others needs before our wants? Or do we coast today knowing someone else down the line will pick up the slack? Do we honor our heroes? Do we honor ourselves and our callings? To be chosen is up to us.

Watching my niece and nephews honor our heroes made me realize how important of a practice it is. But, I also honor them, and who they will become. There is no need for them or any of us to feel like we need to be someone else. We just need to be our best selves. I want the children in my life to know they can be anything they want to be, based on who they are, not who anybody else is. We can do as our heroes have done, we can trust in God, and strive to become what He knows we can. We can apply the magnificent Atonement in our lives and become better through His grace. We all are the ones we need now. The country is in our hands, hands created for this time. Choose to use them.