Category: patriotism

Throw Away Your Vote

voting-twainThis post may seem somewhat cynical but it’s really not. If anything it should be empowering. I have decided to vote third party this election and have heard the outcry of ‘you are throwing your vote away’.  Well, the truth is that my individual vote  doesn’t really matter to begin with. What does matter is the act of voting. This is especially true in the presidential election.

What! I can hear you saying. How can Rachel the patriot be saying that a vote doesn’t matter? Let me state again- VOTING MATTERS, A VOTE DOES NOT.

Statistically speaking voting is not a utility maximizing activity.  Almost any activity you can do has more of an impact than voting. In just the state of Utah there are 2 million people of eligible voting age. Of those people about a 1/3rd actually vote (which is a crime). So, around 700,000 people vote in a Utah presidential election. Just think about it. My vote in Utah has a 1/700,000 chance of impacting the race in just my state. This means it is statistically nearly worthless.  You’d have better chances of entering some lotteries or playing poker in Vegas.

These statistics are made even worse in a presidential election where the popular vote may not even matter at all. United States citizens do not actually elect the president of the United States. The electoral college gives states power over popular consensus by awarding delegates based on their representation in Congress. In theory the delegates are supposed to vote with their states electorate will but they are not required to do so. Typically the votes go on a win-all basis so if Utah goes Republican than the electoral college will give 6 Republican votes. Maine and Nebraska are exceptions to this rule. 

You can debate the value of the electoral college but for the moment it is here and it can have an impact on the election. For example, in 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral college to George W Bush. If you are one of these 538 electoral delegates than your vote does matter but statistically speaking for the rest of us it really doesn’t.

So why participate in this waste of time called voting? Because what is actually statistically important is the act of voting. While my vote in Utah may be 1/700,000, my act of voting may encourage 3 or 4 other people to vote. All of the sudden that is a significant impact. Those 3 people encourage 3 other people and the ripple effect is real. Plus, there are smaller races, which while still statistically not utility maximizing, the impact is more like 1/20,000

Another reason to vote is simply because it is the right thing to do. There are lots of things we do which we draw mainly moral inspiration and fortitude from. An article I read in the Harvard Political Review put it well:

“There are many actions we consider morally valuable, even when they have little or no consequence. Such actions are intrinsically valuable, or their goodness consists in their being suitably related to a deeper moral ideal or principle we find compelling. Suppose I make a promise to my grandmother that I will visit her grave once every year. It seems that honoring this promise is morally valuable, irrespective of the positive consequences doing so may bring about. It is valuable because promises are simply the sort of thing that it is right to honor”

If we are voting out of a moral imperative than doesn’t that make voting for someone you don’t believe in even more nonsensical? If voting is the right thing to do than voting for the right person logically must go along with it.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter who you vote for. It just matters that you vote. People can say you are throwing away your vote but statistically that’s just not true. Vote for whomever you want and then encourage other people to do the same. That’s how you really make a difference.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

ps. I will be so happy when this election is over!

Friday Five: Songs that Make Me Cry

Today is of course the 14 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  I think we all remember where we were on that day and what happened.  I was going to campus for my senior year of college at BYU.  We heard on the radio of a small plane accident in New York and then I got up to campus and knew immediately it was more than that.  Everything was so quiet and everyone was on their cell phones, which at the time seemed really strange (funny ha!).

I then went to my philosophy class and we watched the coverage.  When they said the Pentagon had been hit I remember literally thinking ‘is this the end?’.  It felt like the end of the world. 2001 had been a very difficult year for my family with my Grandpa and 2 cousins passing away that year.  Then 9/11 happened so you can imagine why I came to that conclusion.

Of course it was not the end of the world but it certainly was the beginning of a new journey for our country. One I worry we have become too complacent about.  We need to do all we can to support our brave men and women who serve in our armed forces and try to elect people who will protect our country both spiritually and physically.

Anyway, one of the things that gets me through hard times is music, and sometimes I need music that can express sadness.  And if I learned anything from Inside Out it is that sadness is an important part of being a healthy person.  And music can help us cope with grief, loss, loneliness and many other sad moments in life.

So this week for the Friday Five the theme is sad songs, or ‘songs that make me cry’.  I chose 2 country songs, which I think is a medium that is particularly good at storytelling. I have one Broadway song from West Side Story, a gospel song from the Celtic Women, and a jazz number from a forgotten singer named Jimmy Scott who you should all look up.  He has such a unique voice.

I hope you enjoy my choices and give them a listen too.  Hopefully don’t cry!

America is My Favorite

5bad11d0-2199-11e5-8352-a54ee272a10cThe other day my niece asked me ‘what is your favorite country?’ Without missing a beat I said “America is my favorite”.  She seemed surprised as if most people said Japan, England or some other country.  To me the answer was obvious.  Other countries are great and have wonderful aspects to them but America will always be my favorite.

There are a lot of reasons I love my country but most importantly is it is a country of dreamers, doers and individual rights.

We are guaranteed rights to speak our minds, worship freely, protect ourselves, and gather together for whatever purpose we see fit.  We cannot be searched unlawfully or treated without due process.  We are not subject to kings, rulers or one groups whims or philosophies.   I understand reality can be less than perfect in enforcing these rights but most countries, even highly developed nations, don’t even have the rights spelled out to begin with.

The fact is in America if you have a desire to achieve something you can go out and do it.  Will you be successful?  Maybe or maybe not but as long as it is a lawful enterprise you are free to give it a go. In a communist nation you may not have such an opportunity to pursue your dream. Many other countries try to shelter people from failure and therefore limit their eventual success (we are becoming more that way every day which worries me).

We also have a system where we attempt to educate every single person free of charge (aside from taxes). We fall way short on giving an adequate education but at least we try.  Still many students from around the world come to America to get their education.  It is unparalleled in its colleges and universities which by law no matter race, background or sexual orientation anyone that qualifies academically can enter.

America has a system of checks and balances that help to keep despots and tyrants at bay.  We have federalism that gives local and central voices power.  We can each vote for all our leaders and for the most part we can all run for office without any prerequisites of education or profession.  All of these things are not available in every nation.

Plus, America stretches across an entire continent something only China, Russia, Canada, and Australia can claim.  We have everything from the Rocky Mountains to the beaches of Hawaii.  We are the head of computer based innovation, have a legacy in manufacturing that needs to be reborn and we lead the way in movie-making, art, music and other creative expressions.

I’ve lived on the East, West coasts and in Midwest and traveled throughout America.  Wherever I go I have been blown away by the good people we have all around our country.  Sure we have problems but there still is much to be positive and optimistic about. Whenever I travel I can’t wait to get back home, get back to America!

At the very least we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who have fought and sometimes paid the ultimate price so we could have all of these freedoms.  America should be our favorite for that sacrifice alone IMO.

Happy 4th of July friends!  God bless America!

To read my talk on patriotism I gave years ago check out this post

Shutdown

First of all, I had an amazing response from last nights post.  Nearly 1,000 views in under 24 hours.  Blown away.  I love my church and when I say things like that I just want to make it better.

So the government is about to shut down.  I will say one thing about that and then move on to my personal life.  If your kid came to you each day and said ‘Mom its a crisis I need your help’ do you think you might become a bit skeptical?  The current administration has become the king at the crisis vote.  If it isn’t the debt ceiling, its health care, immigration, or Syria (which was a crisis and then was not in about a week).

If the President and the Democrats know they can get what they want by pushing the republicans so far that they face a worst case scenario than they will continually do that and continually get what they want.  Eventually someone has to say we are tired of the blackmail and tired of being forced into a corner.  We will accept a worst case scenario rather than be bullied into something we don’t believe in.  Eventually your bark has to have some bite in it or you will get walked over every time.

Now the republicans have given the President 3 different bills to keep the government funded.  One asked for full defunding, one asked for a year delay, and this final one asks for a year delay in just the individual mandate and Congress exemption (both which are wildly unpopular).  How is this not compromising?

When Clinton was faced with a government shutdown he realized that there was a limit to the compromise on the republican side and he then worked with them to get a balanced budget, welfare reform etc.  It also was not a horrible thing for the republicans as some claim with them actually gaining 2 seats in the senate in the 1996 elections.

Did you know that the government has closed down many times before?  3 times under Reagan, 1 under George H Bush and 6 times under Jimmy Carter.

The Obamacare is a terrible idea and already Regence Blue Cross sent out letters to its subscribers last week with as much as double the premiums because of the plan.  The medical device tax is hurting those that most need help and a middle class family of 4 will likely see their premiums go from $436 to $987.  This is a victory?  I don’t get it.

Anyway, don’t believe all you hear.  Compromise has happened.  If shutdown occurs it will not be all the republicans fault.

Hopefully it will be short lived but it will show the President that if he is going to call Iran and chat it up he needs to do the same real tough negotiations with his ‘friends across the aisle’.

Visiting DC

The next part of my trip started on Monday, Labor Day where I met up with my aunt and uncle Bob and Cindy (and cousins Marshall and Ellen).  They were nice enough to let me stay at their home the rest of the week and I enjoyed getting to see them again.  Get ready for a lot of photos.  See photo descriptions for details on trip.  This is a lot of photos so bear with me but I think it is the best way to share my trip with all of you!

the first thing we did was go to the capitol building for a tour . Our tour guide was a bit over-eager but it was still fun.
Each state has a statue at the capitol. Here I am by good old brother Brigham
Lady Liberty at the capitol
By the famous painting of the signing of the Constitution by John Trumbull.
the library of Congress had amazing mosaics
One thing that reminds me of Maryland is blue crabs. Bob and Cindy surprised me and got a bag of live crabs. It was a ton of fun both to cook and eat! The crabs were covered with old bay (of course, nothing else would be permitted in Maryland) and took forever to eat but that's part of the fun of it!
Me with the crabs
I love Ellen's face looking at the crabs!
Cindy with the crab

Tuesday I spent the day with my friend Adrienne and her children (especially my new friend Norah.  We bonded.).  For most of the day we went to Mt Vernon in Virginia.  This is the home of George Washington and it was beautifully preserved.  It appeared to have been recently restored.  Everything looked new and fresh with good signs and lots of volunteers.  They even had an explorer area for the kids.  The only downer was the rain, which would be a trend for my whole trip.  While I missed hurricane Irene, I made it just in time for tropical storm Lee.   Still,  I was not on the trip for sights.  I was there to see my friends.  Rain or shine!

Norah aka Martha Washington
Adrienne, Norah and Ezra at Mt Vernon
Me at Mt Vernon

On Wednesday  I had the busiest day in the city.   It all started with a ride into the city on the metro.  I went the first part of the way with Adrienne and unfortunately there was a jerk on the train.  He said that she should handle her son and that the entire train would appreciate it.  What a jerk!  Made me miss my Utah.

Anyway, I got about half way and they made an announcement saying the train was out of service and we had to get off.   With Joni meeting me I was nervous about waiting for a repair, so I decided to get a cab.  It was my first experience hailing a cab.  Its harder then they make it look in the movies!

Eventually I got a cab and made it to the Lincoln Memorial.  Just as I arrived it started to rain and pour.  I mean this was sheets and sheets of rain.  Thankfully Bob and Cindy let me borrow their large umbrella (thanks!).  Needless to say, our plans to visit all of the memorials went out the door.  At least I got to see the Lincoln and the Jefferson which are my favorite.

Lincoln Memorial
Me and good old Abe. I love Abraham Lincoln. One of my heroes
Me and Jefferson
Jefferson Memorial

So I met up with my friend Joni Miller.  We knew each other years ago in college.  She was originally the friend of my cousin but we connected quickly.  I was also close with her sister Casi.  They are great people and I’m so grateful for facebook and how it allows me to keep in touch with such old friends.  We had a wonderful time visiting with each other.

This entire trip what amazed me is how quickly I gelled with my old friends.  It was like no time had elapsed at all. There is something comforting about that.

We went to a delicous pizza place called We the Pizza. IT is run by Spike Mendelson of Top Chef fame (and he was there. I saw him!). I guess Sasha and Malia eat there and the President next door...and it was very reasonably priced. The sausage and sweet pepper pizza was my favorite.
You can't really see but it is Julia Child's kitchen taken from her home in Cambridge. I love her
The museum was full of interactive exhibits like this train that felt like it was moving. It was funny because Joni's son Owen didn't understand what was interactive and what was traditional museum. He actually made the alarm go off on the 2nd floor! They didn't do anything but we walked away quick!
They had a neat exhibit on 9/11 with artifacts from each of the sites. It was a sobering powerful reminder
They had a spot where you could write your thoughts on how 9/11 has impacted your life. It was amazing to read the thoughts of other posters, some of whom had eye-witness experience. Also, our accounts will be archived in the Smithsonian. Now I will have something archived in the Smithsonian. So cool!

My comment on the Smithsonian card- How did September 11th, 2001 alter my life?

The other day I was watching a movie from the 80’s and it showed the old skyline with the towers and my heart broke. My heart broke for the loss of that day. And then I remember that on 9/11 the greatest thing that man could erect was taken down in one instant. Likewise, the great things and more importantly people in my life can be gone in one instance. 9/11 reminds me to express my love for them more often and to savor the ordinary times we have together. It also reminds me that there is the potential for heroics in the face of every stranger I meet.

It rained so much but Owen had a ball with the puddles. Smart Joni brought extra clothes for him to change into.
We went to Pitango Gelato. Expensive ($7 for regular size!) but it was tasty. Especially the fruit flavors.

Finally the end of the day was a visit with my friend Miriam Harmer.  We have been friends since college.  Actually I was her TA in Poli Sci 201.  Then we took an LSAT prep class and just hit it off.  Its crazy but I have known Miriam for 10 years.  One of my longest friends.  We went to a very nice restaurant in Arlington called the Carlyle. It was probably the nicest restaurant I have ever been to.  I decided to splurge and got chicken pailard with angel hair pasta (basically chicken and pasta with a butter sauce), cesar salad and warm chocolate bread pudding! It was a long lovely leisurely meal which for my money is the best way to spend an evening.  Miriam and I have a ton in common and I always learn a lot whenever we talk.  It was great hearing about her new job working for Senator Lee and her life in DC.  She’s great! (Plus, I have to admit after spending a week with a variety of wonderful children it was nice to hang out with a single friend for a night!)

Miriam and I at the Carlyle. We talked for around 3 hours. I used to wonder how my parents could just talk for hours. Now there is nothing I like more.

So that’s the trip!  What a wonderful time full of reminiscing and fantastic friends.  I have said it before but I am soooooo blessed with wonderful friends.    The trip also reminded me of how grateful I am to be an American.  I am overwhelmed by the  sacrifice that has been paid by many so that I can live the life I enjoy.  It was an honor to walk in their memorials, view their museums and see the buildings they sacrificed for.  I am proud to be an American!

Thank you to everyone who made time for me on the trip and made my stay so wonderful.  We weren’t going to let a little rain stop our fun.  Great memories, great vacation.

Happy Memorial Day and Other Updates

I just wanted to post a quick random note covering a variety of topics.

1. Happy Memorial Day-  Today I would like to make a memorial to the people who have passed on in my life.  Especially my Grandpa who lived a sweet and peaceful life.  He loved all people including me and I will always love him for that.  He didn’t see me as his fat granddaughter but just his beautiful granddaughter. He is still my model for what I want to be like.  I miss him every day and I am so grateful to have had him in my life. He is my angel.

Doesn't he seem so lovable?

I would also like to pay tribute to my sweet cousin Lisa who has passed on and my cousin Riley.  I’m so grateful for my knowledge of eternal families and that those who have moved on are not gone forever.  I will see them again and the reunion will be sweet.

2. I just wanted to give a quick update on my condition.  My eye is still sore and I cannot completely open my eye.  Each day it is hurting less and less.  It is nice, with today being a holiday, I have one more day to heal before getting back to full time work.  My mom isn’t here anymore to take care of me, which is a little sad, but I’m grateful to have had her for 5 days!  My apartment feels quiet now that it is just me again. Even though I was recovering it was nice to have time to chat.  It kept my mind off of the pain and kept me from touching my eye as much.

Anyway, its still sore, red and swollen but it gets better each day.  I am also seeing double less. Hopefully I will continue to improve.  I will see the doctor on Thursday and that will be the key to see if the surgery has been effective.  Please keep those prayers coming. I don’t want to go through this again!  Some people have to get the strabismus surgery 5 or 6 times!  Hopefully I can just keep with the one surgery.   The hardest thing is to not touch it.  It itches and stings.  I’m not the greatest at keeping away from it, but I’m doing my best.  It really is irritating. Oh well!  At least it is improving each day.

I think you can see some improvement; although, I still can't open my eye completely and it is sore and red. You can see how puffy it is from me rubbing it...Bad Rachel!
here's a photo with a little more of my eye showing.
by the end of the day the eye has become pretty swollen and squinting. Tried driving. Wasn't ready

I hope you all have a great Memorial Day. Please spend a moment to remember those that have passed on.   I feel especially grateful to the servicemen who have died to protect freedom.  There has been a high cost of freedom.  Thank you with all my heart.

Happy President’s Day!

I just had to post a video in honor of the weekend.  This girl is so cute!

I am a huge patriot and am grateful for all the presidents that have served.  I certainly wouldn’t want their job!  In recent times politician has become a dirty word but, you have to remember that many good people sacrifice high paying jobs in law and business to serve their country.  I think such an ambition can be noble and worthy of commendation.

I also acknowledge that power is a slippery slope of ego and moral compromise for many, if not most, who are given its taste. Like the scripture says:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Hence many are called, but few are chosen.”

That said- I am grateful for those that heed the call to serve in our democratic republic at the federal, state and local level.  I am also deeply in debt for the sacrifices made by members of our armed forces and our missionaries.  I want you to know that I pray for you daily.  God bless you and God bless the USA!

I used to have all of these memorized but now I know I'd struggle. Especially with the turn of the century presidents...Oh well!

The Republican/ Tea Party Opportunity

As all blog readers know I am a Conservative American that has strong passionate feelings in regards to politics.   For years I pretended to be a moderate because I thought it sounded open-minded and fair.  However, I began to notice that most of my views both morally and fiscally landed on the conservative side.  (If you want to see a few areas I agree with President Obama check out this post) Finally after the 2008 election I decided to stop pretending and embrace my beliefs- not only embrace but fight for them.  I was disgusted by the stimulus package, car company bailouts, government intrusion into our most personal choices, mounting debt, imminent deflation of the dollar, the massive health care bill, and declining moral values.

Then came the tea party rallies, which gave me the chance to protest these policies. I don’t think I have ever felt as patriotic or as proud to have freedom of speech then when I carried my sign in the tea party rally.  It was a great moment in my life. (btw, why does it seem like protesters on the left are characterized as bold, courageous,  and patriotic but the right are described as radicals and dangerous? Makes me crazy!)

stop the insane spending

I know the movement has been mainly Republican but to all the Democrats who mock it- the tea party made many establishment Republicans reexamine their policies.   Politicians like Bob Bennett would no longer get the automatic rubber stamp from their republican base.   Bennett served for three terms but was not reelected in the primary because of his vote on TARP and support of health insurance mandates.   Despite many characterizing it as ‘extreme’ or ‘radical’ I have yet to see anything in the tea party movements (and rallies) that wasn’t patriotic and concerned.  We  don’t want to see our country go so far into debt that there is no way back.  We also want to keep our freedoms and our ability to choose how we run our lives.  Clearly we need government but the involvement should be as minimal as possible.  Washington needs to trust the American people and the free market to make the right choices- with a little nudging from Uncle Sam along the way.  Getting our country on track and out of debt will require CUTTING programs (some of them quite worthy) and getting rid of entitlements.  We cannot continue to spend money we don’t have.  To me it is as simple as that. As I mentioned before, this goes for the Republicans and Democrats.   They both got us into our current mess.

On Tuesday, after a year or more of campaigning, many of the Tea Party Republicans came into power- particularly in the House of Representatives.   Naturally not all of the tea party republicans won their races but this should be expected in any new inner-party movement.  In the Democratic party many progressive candidates lost election early in the 20th century and now they are the mainstream of the party.  For instance, William Jennings Bryan ran for president 3 times, loosing each time.  Now his ideas are part of mainstream liberal doctrine.   As weird as it sounds I expected some Tea Party Republicans to lose on Tuesday.  After all, Rome wasn’t conquered in a day!

Anyway, the next two years is the chance for the Tea Party Republicans to live up to their rhetoric.  We will see.  I am cautiously optimistic.  I know it will be hard to get everything the movement wants with just control over the house but I will be looking for some noticeable change.   Even if the bills get vetoed I want to see the budget cuts go through the house and let the Democrats be to blame for blocking them.  If these new Republicans wimp out I will be very disappointed.

This statement by Tea Party star Marco Rubio is encouraging of good things to come. Let’s hope he and others live up to the potential…

I pray our country can get out of the grasp of Chinese debt, that the dollar can become strong and that traditional values will reemerge.  The closer we get along these lines the happier I will be.  I hope I have explained my views well.  Its always a little scary to put them out to the world for scrutiny.  Please be kind as we debate the issues.

Patriotism: My Sacrament Meeting Talk

Today I gave a talk in church for the first time in 3 years.  I have given a lot of lessons but no talks.  The subject was on patriotism which was challenging but in a way perfect for me because of my political science background.   It has been a busy week so I prepared my talk on Wednesday and have been editing it ever since.  Fortunately I decided to over-prepare and had a long talk  because there were only 2 speakers and the first guy took maybe 3 minutes. This left me with 30 minutes! Quickly I added a few scriptures and the Lord blessed me to be able to  fill up the time!  Those who heard my talk will notice there are a few things missing- those are the items I added last minute or improved to fill time.

Despite the stress over the time I think the talk went very well.  I felt the spirit while writing and delivering it.  Some people are petrified of public speaking but not me.  I’ve been speaking in church since I was a little girl as a youth speaker, so I’m used to it.  The two things that help me the most is I try to make the talk personal or sincere and something I would be interested in hearing.  If you are just reciting a bunch of scriptures and quotes it will go in one ear and out another.  There has to be some passion behind the words!

So here is the talk on patriotism.  I hope you enjoy it and are uplifted by it.  I willl go through later in the week and put in citations for all the quotes as I got them from a number of different sources.  Enjoy!

Patriotism a talk by Rachel Wagner Delivered at the Draper Riverview 7th ward 06/27/10

When I turned 18 one of the first things I did was register to vote.  I’ve always had an interest in politics.   When I was little my sister and I would make newspapers full of movie reviws, comics and the news of the day.  I was reading one the other day and it had an update on the democratic presidential primary of 1992.  What little kid besides me follows the primaries!  My mother and I also have a weird part of our relationship where we love discussing issues and even engaging in debate.

Growing up I also knew that part of my duty as a citizen of the United States of America was to vote.  Since then I have never missed an election- regular or primary. Even on my mission I made sure I was registered for absentee ballots and that I sent them in. When I came home I enrolled in the automatic absentee program where I get ballots sent to me before any elections.  This took me about 3 minutes to register for and ever since then I have spent maybe an couple of hours in 5 years voting for the leaders of my country.

I’d like you to each think about last week.  Last Tuesday we each had the chance to vote in a primary election.  I submitted my ballot and had my voice heard on whom our next senator and county councilmen will be.   How many of you had your voice heard?

Did you know that Utah was one of the first territories to allow women’s suffrage?  The state granted it in 1870 but it was repealed by the Supreme Court.  When Utah became a state in 1895 women’s suffrage was written into the constitution.  Finally in 1920 the nineteenth amendment was passed, which prohibited state and federal agencies from gender-based restrictions on voting.  It makes me emotional to think of the thousands of women who dedicated their entire lives to giving me the right to send in that absentee ballot on Tuesday.

These freedoms were hard fought from the Colonial era onward.  I recently read a great book called Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts.  For years I’ve studied the life and thoughts of the founders and it amazed me how many women sacrificed great things to allow me to be free.

Abigail Adams is one of my heroes.  As the wife of President John Adams she made many sacrifices for her country.  To begin with she was forced to be separated from her husband for over 10 years of their marriage while he performed various tasks to help the country get started. This includes giving birth to 6 children, losing 2 of them and raising the remaining 4, including a future president, practically alone.  She also cared for the family farm, John’s business concerns, managed her household, helped with the war effort and kept up a nearly constant correspondence with her husband, sister, and a ring of male and female friends- some of them prominent figures in our nations founding.  Through this correspondence she had a profound impact on the direction of our country.  In one letter she wrote to her husband:

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency- and by the way, in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.  Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands.  Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.  If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies we are determined to forment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation. “

Abigail was not extolling a mere pipe dream but she did whatever was asked of her for the cause of freedom including fighting for the education of girls and slaves:

In 1791 a free black youth came to her house asking to be taught how to write. Subsequently, she placed the boy in a local evening school, though not without objections from a neighbor. Abigail responded that he was “a Freeman as much as any of the young Men and merely because his Face is Black, is he to be denied instruction? How is he to be qualified to procure a livelihood? … I have not thought it any disgrace to myself to take him into my parlor and teach him both to read and write.”

Remember this was over 50 years before the Civil War.  Its such a cliché but Abigail Adams truly was a woman ahead of her times.

Of his family’s sacrifice John Adams said:

“Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.”

Do we make good use of it?  Has an interest in the future of our country turned into a hobby?  I get so tired of people saying “I’m not interested in politics” in the same way one might say “I’m not interested in basket weaving.”  Are you interested in freedom?

Abraham Lincoln once said:

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Noah Webster added:

If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.”

Despite the frequent scandals, I still believe the men and women we have elected are honorable.  I may not agree with them, but I still think they are good people.  However, if we do not participate in our democracy this will not always be the case.

President Lincoln said:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

“It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the Offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” (“A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America,”

If they had need to do it then, oh how we need it now.  I fear we have become “intoxicated with success” as a nation and just as a drunkard forgets all, we forget our duty to God, country and family.

For example, frequently I will speak with teachers that are frustrated by federal policy such as No Child Left Behind.  When I ask them if they voted in the last several presidential elections they say no.  How do they not see the link between personal responsibility and the policies that affect their very careers?

2 Ne 28:21 gives us a warning against lapsing into laziness:

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

So what is the solution?  What can we do to keep us from slipping both as a country and as individuals.  There are many answers but the two that ring the loudest for me are

  1. First, Enhance personal righteousness.  Do all you can to purify your life.  With the world getting more wicked by the day, the time for passive faith and righteousness is over.

If there is something in your life that you could or need to change- do it.  Stop the rationalizing, stop the excuses.  Too often I think we seek to have one foot in zion and one in the world.  While we have to live in both, we cannot successfully have our heart in both.

Remember the Lord said in Revelations:Rev. 3: 16

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

George Albert Smith said:

“There is a division line well defined that separates the Lord’s territory from Lucifer’s. If we live on the Lord’s side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us, but if we cross the line into his territory we are in his power. By keeping the commandments of the Lord we are safe on His side of the line, but if we disobey His teachings we voluntarily cross into the zone of temptation and invite the destruction that is ever present there. Knowing this, how anxious we should always be to live on the Lord’s side of the line.”

I love President Hinckley’s simple council to a group at BYU:

“I speak to you this morning not only about a little more effort, a little more self-discipline, a little more consecrated effort in the direction of excellence in your studies. I speak of it also in terms of your lives. This is the great day of preparation for each of you. It is the time of beginning for something that will go on for as long as you live. I plead with you: Don’t be a scrub! Rise to the high ground of excellence. You can do it. You may not be a genius. You may be lacking in some skills. But you can do better than you are now doing.”

Find one thing that you can do better and then seek to improve for one day and then another and then a week.  We can all increase our righteous living and if we do so, not just us but our entire country will benefit.

  1. The second way to fight off Satan’s seductive call is to find a way to contribute.

Everyone has something they are meant to do in this life.  It may be as simple as raising a family, working hard and voting but simple can be a grand thing if it is what we are meant to do.

President Joseph F. Smith reminded us that

“to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman.”

In my old job I felt unhappy, unfulfilled and depressed.  This was confusing for me because I was not doing anything bad or unrighteous.  It was a long lesson to learn but eventually I knew that I was not living the life I was meant to live.  For whatever reason, the Lord wanted me to have my current job of running my own business.  I know that with more assurity than anything else in my life.

I KNOW I AM NOW LIVING THE LIFE I WAS MEANT TO LIVE!

As a final example I would like to tell you about another colonial woman who contributed in amazing ways.  Her name is Eliza Pinckney.  When Eliza was 16 her father was called away on state business and she was left to manage the 3 family plantations totaling over 3,000 acres of rice.   Unsatisfied with this enormous contribution she decided that the colony of South Carolina needed to be a leader in agriculture.  After doing several experiments she came up with the idea of cultivating and planting indigo seeds.

After 4 years of trying and many failed attempts Eliza proved that indigo could grow in South Carolina.   She then used her first crop to create seeds for other planters, leading to many others harvesting indigo.  By 1745 (only 5 years after being given the responsibility of the farm) Indigo became second only to rice as “South Carolina’s cash crop and contributed greatly to the wealth of the colony.  Before the Revolutionary War, indigo accounted for more than 1/3 of the value of exports from the colony”.

Eliza went on to marry, raise a family, and remain active in politics throughout her life.  Her son Charles even became a signer of the constitution.  She was so well loved by the nation that George Washington was a pallbearer at her funeral.

Now we are all not going to be able to single-handedly change American exports like Eliza. The point is Eliza found how God wanted her to contribute and so can you.  The Lord wants us to be happy and in my life I have learned that the only way to be happy is to be living a life in-line with God’s will.

Just as He guides this great nation, Our Savior Jesus Christ will guide our lives.  There is a catch- we have to do our part, we have to stand up for our freedom, we have to vote, we have to sacrifice, and we have to live righteously.

I know that as you strive to follow Him he will engulf you in His great love.  He loves this country, He loves all of you and He loves ME.  Turn to him, be happy and live a great life. Close.

Refounders

Readers to my blog will know I enjoy Glenn Beck.  I know he can be a bit crazy but I agree with a lot of what he says.  I don’t have time to write much today but I love this new “refounding” message he is talking about.  The idea is our country can have a rebirth by reaching back to the principles and values of the founding.  Beck is offering anonymous truth-telling with the hope of finding 56 people (the number of the original founders) that are willing to weed out excess and corruption. He talks about atonement and that we can get off the disastorous track we are on both financialy and morally.   I will write more later but I was moved by Beck’s message.  I love my country, and I want it to be back to the values we started with.  My worry is that Beck won’t be able to find the 56 people in Congress willing to stand up.   More and more it seems politicians are finding ways to stretch half-truths or outright lies to the American public.  We’ve even reached a point where Governor’s can run off to Argentina without telling anyone and not get punished, where  news shows have to air fact-checking, “keeping them honest” sessions after the President’s speeches, and where the Christian principles this country was founded on are treated with disdain and contempt.  Before we know it the family is going to be watered down to nothing, our freedoms will be curtailed and there won’t be anybody to trust leading our nation.  It’s sad that we turn tea partiers into extremists, town-hall visitors into non-patriots and brave soldiers into potential terrorists.   I hope beyond hope that Beck is right.  I pray for it every night. I will be curious for your thoughts.   Will write more later.