Why I Blog at 91

As I sat at the end of the driveway this morning, I thought again about important questions my grandson asked me yesterday. We were talking about what I have written in my blogs. He asked what I wanted to say, why I wanted to say those things, and whom I wanted to reach. I have thought a great deal about the answers I gave to those questions. Why did I go the trouble of creating a website at 91, and what on earth did I hope to accomplish by learning to blog? I guess the simple answer is I live in 2012. If I am to reach any among the digital generation, I must try to communicate in their realm. Because I believe my journey of 91 years has taught me much and given me much, I believe I have a responsibility to share what I can about what I have learned, lived, and loved about this truly exceptional republic in which I was fortunate enough to be born.  

It is the beacons of freedom and the lights of liberty that I see being dimmed or even extinguished that compel and propel my blogs at this time.I see us heading in a direction in our country that will make it impossible for pioneers  to flourish, where the American dream becomes an entitlement, and where the educational systems in all the states could become  support systems for the federal government, a government far different from that our Founders envisioned and a country where our founding documents become as changeable as the weather.

So back to the basics.

Our citizens must first understand that they are the recipients of a most unusual, noble, and successful experiment–the United States of America. For those of us who were born here, gratitude for our good fortune is in order. We were born with great freedoms as our heritage.  Those who choose this republic over the nation of their birth, verify the desire to have those freedoms. They understand the exceptionality of this unique republic.

It is two great freedoms that I want to preserve for my grandchildren. I want my grandchildren, and all grandchildren, to understand these freedoms. I believe wholly and fervently that every child is given by their Creator the freedom to become all that  (s)he was created to be. And for those of us born in this incredible land, our Founders  created documents that would preserve the rights, privileges, and responsibilities to ensure the freedoms necessary for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our Founders lived, fought, faced death and destruction, and died to guarantee these freedoms. It is a legacy from them intended to be passed on to all generations.

These freedoms were born in the minds of those who founded this nation long before they came to these shores. They were emblazoned on their hearts as they were willing to give up everything to secure their religious freedom. Their souls were etched with the sadness and oppression that accompany the lack of freedom.

Our ancestors who came to these shores risked it all to come to a place they only heard about. But they knew they needed new soil in which to plant the precious seeds of freedom. They also knew that they needed a government that could never destroy those freedoms. They understood human frailties. They knew the government that they created had to be of, by, and for the people. It had to secure the rights, privileges, and responsibilities in such a manner that no one person or group of people could own and use the power of the government for personal reasons or ideology. Our founding documents were the result of genius and Divine guidance. They created a republic.

But the problem now, I believe, is that our founding documents are not being taught, history has been revised, our founding people are often viewed with derision and historical distortion or downright lies. Most grievous of all is that our Christian beginnings have been denied, distorted, and often legally battled. The establishment clause has been a convenient legal tool.

It has been my privilege to be an educator for more than 60 years. I have lived so long that my journey has been witness to many changes–some gradual and some quick and dirty. I have lived in times when patriotism was a passion year round, when baccalaureate was expected, when Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays were celebrated on their birth date, when it was Easter vacation, and Christmas vacation, and when you might see the Ten Commandments in public squares or buildings. School readers were filled with ethical and biblical character expectations for behavior and living together.

Yes, I must say. I do believe they were the good old days. The Constitution was not being re-written. Our exceptionality was recognized and celebrated. Our God was God, not power and control. We could keep most of what we earned, and we were encouraged to earn more. We tried to get out of poverty and help others to do so. We were actually taught it is more blessed to give than to receive, let alone take.  College was a privilege and not a right, and we could actually get a better job when we graduated. It was a way up.

Need I go on. You have eyes, ears, a soul, and a memory.

Now vote, if you are eligible. Yes, it is your government. Take it back.

Let’s make America first, again. It is the hope of the world.

Does the U.S. Navy Need a New Commander in Chief?

As I sat at the end of my driveway, I kept drifting back to some of the statements about the Navy during the last presidential debate. I was frankly stunned as the Commander in Chief made derisive, belittling comments about our fleet. As a former naval officer, I was shocked. It has never been a game of how many ships we have in our fleet. And yes, we do have “ships that planes land on,” and they have been around for quite awhile. I served during World War II, and one of the points Navy fliers used to differentiate themselves from the other pilots,  was their ability to land and take-off of that very small runway on the deck of the carrier. I married a Navy pilot and heard first hand the pride of these men. News flash to the Commander in Chief: Planes have been landing on carrier decks for quite awhile.  Comments about the submarines in our fleet were just as offensive.

And what about the horses and bayonets? The comments did not produce an humiliating situation for the opponent as was intended. I think I saw not long ago situations where horses were used in  our desert fighting. I’m fairly certain that the brave soldiers on those horses in the desert did not emerge from some time machine from the past. They are among some of the very elite of our troops. I doubt they would consider themselves “out-of-date” fighters. I suspect they would believe that they were engaging the enemy in a manner appropriate to the situation.

But perhaps the most difficult thing for me to understand was the total lack of understanding about the functioning of the U.S. Navy.  It is not just a magnificent fighting force with all the attendant good that that strength has produced from the beginning of our founding.  Our Navy has been a force that has often changed the course of our history. From Colonial days to the present, individual ships like the Midway during World War II, or various combinations of ships during War have served this nation splendidly.

However, it is not just during War that our ships and navy personnel are incredible performers. Has the Commander in Chief missed our hospital ships anchored off the coast of areas where great natural tragedies have occurred? Or what about our supply ships that provide life-saving supplies to famine areas? And let’s not forget the ships that patrol the oceans to protect mariners from the barbaric pirates of the seas. What would happen to some of our commerce if our ships were not patrolling areas to keep our merchant fleet safe?

I have just touched on some of the areas in which our U.S. Navy serves the citizens of our country. I can tell you from my personal service in the Navy and from first hand observation of the folks who serve in the naval endeavors of our fleet, that these people are quite serious about their affection for and their dedication to our great U.S. Navy.

Thousands of people around the world shout out praise for the personnel who make up our great Navy for what they have done, yet our Commander in Chief makes small talk and political jokes about the size of our fleet.  Don’t you find that both sobering and sad?

You’re correct, Mr. President. It is not a numbers game of ships. But reducing the fleet to such a degree that neither war nor peace functions can be performed properly, hurts our republic in many ways. Certainly the security of our nation is an issue. It is not just the military that suffers. The State Department would be hampered in efforts to bring aid to many areas when and where needed. Some commerce could not be carried out in positive ways when protection is needed for successful commerce to occur. Agricultural aid might not be as easily accomplished. Almost every department of our government relies on naval aid in one way or another.

Numbers are important when you need ships to carry out the many functions that the Navy performs.. Mr. Commander in Chief: Have you forgotten what the Navy does or have you never understood?

Born Female on November 6, 2012

On June 13, 1921, I was the baby girl born to Alvina and Peter Boltz, in New Albin, Iowa. When I awoke today to a sunny morning in Southern California, 91 birthdays later, I was still a member of the half of the world’s population born female. My mind strolled around the countries of the world. Those many that I have visited produced clear pictures of the women I met and saw in those places. Attendance at an international conference for women in Mexico City years ago added many pictures to the memory bank. All the time and energy I’ve spent working on issues related to being female added more. Certainly the time that I have spent as the only female in situations where before only men have been, has produced award-winning comments and anecdotes for the memory bank.

But I want us to think about the females in America right now. We are very close to an election that I believe is pivotal for the future of all of us, not only those born female. I am intrigued and perplexed about the commentary during these troubled times. The election rhetoric has only heightened the degree of craziness.  I have some questions for my colleagues born female on planet earth.

For my compatriots 70 years and older, I want to know if you want to have an unelected board that sits in Washington, D.C. make decisions about your health? Personally I’m happy there was no such board when I broke my leg a year ago. What do you think they might have chosen for someone over 90? If the choice comes in the future between those of us over 70 and a younger person, what do you think the choice might be? I do not want some bureaucrat in Washington looking at a piece of paper making life and death decisions about me. I am a real person, not a name on a remote request in front of strange eyes who don’t know me.

It occurred to me that if I wanted to transform, (translated control), politically, economically, and socially all facets of America, I could do it more easily if I didn’t have too many folks around like me who are definitely old enough to remember the history of our great republic, history that we were fortunate enough to learn. I was taught and lived the exceptionality of my country. I was taught that opportunity was mine when I sought it and worked hard. I was not taught to despise the wealthy nor was I taught to expect a handout or that I deserved a part of what they had. I grew up poor monetarily, but I did not grow up poor in spirit or faith. I was taught the playing field of opportunity was level, but I would never know that if I didn’t use the field. I never have expected to see my name on the roster for a game or on a trophy from a game in which I didn’t play. Expectation of participation to achieve success is a generous clue for all of life.

.           For my young friends, I simply inquire about what you want for your future. I know how I have spent my life to serve the many thousands of you I have encountered on my 91-year journey. I have tried desperately to allow you to think for yourself, to engage in your world, to be a problem solver, to be part of solutions to concerns and difficulties, to listen to the many facets of issues, and to understand the responsibility of opportunity. I have always tried to teach and model self-reliance, energy, excellence, trust,  humanity, and faith. I have always tried to help you understand that you are a child of God and a citizen of a great country, and that you are entitled to all the rights and privileges of both.

To all my female friends in between the young and the old, what are your long- and short-term goals? I wonder what the preponderance of your decisions are about each day. What choices must you make each day? Some politicians would have you believe that reproductive choices are the main and greatest issue for you. I know that for each choice you make about reproductive issues, you make literally hundreds of others. From the time you open your eyes in the morning until you climb into bed at night to rest your weary body, you have engaged in a decision making marathon. And now as I see the price of gas go past the $5 mark, the decisions entrapped in one issue, the price of gas, are monumental. And what about food and clothing, and whether you will be able to keep your house, or your job? Will your kids have oppotunities for music, art, and sports? Will the money invested in college help young people find appropriate jobs? Or perhaps you have to go to work to survive.  Decisions abound every second of the day, and most are not about reproductive rights or choices. I do not minimize the importance of this issue, but I don’t understand the maximizing of the issue into a vote for a political candidate.

When a 14 year-old girl in Pakistan faced death to say what she believed about her desire/right to go to school, certainly we can be grateful for the blessing of being born female in this truly exceptional land of the free. But we must make wise, informed decisions when we cast our ballot if we want it to remain free.

We must not allow one very personal issue to be the totality of our thinking. The stakes are high for us, but they are monumentally greater for those who follow us, no matter what our age. What will we leave to those born female on November 6, 2012? Will we choose the path of more debt, of empty promises, of continuing joblessness, of horrific gas and food prices, of attacks on our Christian heritage, and fraud and cronyism? No political party is immune. That is not the issue.

The issue is whether the half of us born female decides to become an active part of “we the people” who will make a difference. Together we can stop the political narrative from controlling our lives.  Together we can model self-reliance, integrity, responsibility, compassion, excellence, openness, thrift, opportunity for all, a constant search for peace, freedom of religion, an understanding of our founding, and a dedication to the principles and policies that will leave all that is best about this incredible, exceptional republic where we were born female to those who follow us.

I can guarantee you that we will not be alone in this. Our fathers,  husbands, brothers, cousins, male friends and acquaintances will join us. What we do and stand for is not just for those born female. What we do and who we are, become not just good but great when we join together with the entirety of “we the people.”

 

Health Care and the Supreme Court

The health care issues are front and center in the campaign again. The Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare on Thursday, June 28, 2012 should return to center stage. This monumental decision was meant to clarify, but for many ordinary citizens, it seemed to make the water muddy. But what does the decision of the highest court in the land mean for this ordinary citizen of this republic, or am I an ordinary citizen?  I believe there is no ordinary citizen in this great nation. I was born with two incredible freedoms–freedom from my Creator to be all that I was created to be, and I have the guarantee of that freedom from my Founders in the founding documents of this nation. Those documents declared that no individual in this republic is an ordinary citizen. No citizen is ordinary or alone. Together we become “the people.”      I

When Ben Franklin was leaving Independence Hall after signing the Constitution, he was asked an important question. A young citizen queried, “Dr. Franklin, what kind of a government are you leaving us? A monarchy or a republic?”

Franklin’s response should be shouted from the highest places so all may hear again his prophetic words. “A republic, if you can keep it!”

He knew the power vested in the people by the Constitution was the keystone to the maintenance of the republic. He understood the vigilance it would take to keep human factors, foibles, and frustrations  from eroding that keystone in the arch of the republican government. He was very aware of the erosive nature of the acid of power.

Was Chief Justice Roberts reminding us of Franklin’s words? Was he reminding us that it is “the people” who have the duty to protect the republic? The Supreme Court had the power to declare the entire document unconstitutional. But would that have solved the issue? No more than it is solved now. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I do know that he threw the ball back in our court.

If “we the people” wish to remain free, we need to get into the game. It is our game to play. There are no substitutes in this game. It’s for all the marbles. It’s for the gold medal of freedom.

Putty for the Campaign

The scene of the president’s recent campaign stops  was familiar. The college setting was again chosen. I watched as energetic, happy, adoring folks voiced their appreciation and approval of their candidate with great enthusiasm. The audience was not all young, but the audience was pretty typically university. I have been in many such university audiences over my years at several universities.

But the question that should be asked is why the university setting is so often the scene of a campaign stop. It would not be so unless it is fertile ground for the philosophical base of the candidate. Otherwise, only the bravest would subject themselves to the potentially contentious, possibly rowdy, and often strongly opinionated voices of the wonderful young voices present.

What happens at most of our universities that causes young adults from many different backgrounds and political views to end up with a nearly monolithic political bent? Most who enter colleges and universities leave with a liberal political view of their world. Professors are admired folks on the campus. They should be. They have great influence on our young, the next generation of voters. No one would argue the political choice of most university professors and instructors. They hold liberal social and economic views. Although they live a life of privilege and prestige, most preach and teach that those of privilege and prestige outside of the public arena are greedy, non-caring persons who are the enemies of the “common people.”

The university, the place where we send our young with the hope that they will encounter differing opinions, has become in many cases a place where only one kind of opinion is accepted or tolerated. It is easy to find cases where students whose views differ from those of the professor are ridiculed or punished with lowered grades.  And there is plenty of evidence that the accepted view is liberal in tone and fact.

Such is not the founding of most of our great universities. Many of our great and oldest universities were founded on principles and ideas from our founders who were responsible for our founding documents that were so carefully written to create our republic and maintain its greatness for all generations to come. Our universities are an important link in the changes that have occurred in our republic because they have forgotten their own beginnings. How could the premises of the founding documents be preserved?

We the people” concept has become “us and them.” It is easy to convince young people that even their parents don’t understand this generation, this culture, this current environment, or what is needed now. Old-fashioned ideas and documents just won’t work in these modern times, the reformers say.

So I ask: If you were a candidate who wanted a friendly, fertile, and enthusiastic venue for your ideas about distribution of wealth, the rich need to pay more (not the famous in most cases), a strong and massive role for government,  the right to demand a  fair share whether or not you work, the right to a college education, the right to own a home, and a wide variety of services and entitlements, where would you go? I would go to a university where ideas are often tightly controlled, where most teach and support Democratic philosophy, where young and malleable students become victims of one-way-thinking in this venerated environment.

 

To My Young Friends

There is such a push in this political season to capture the vote of the young people. Of course, there is always a push to capture the minds of the young. And I chose the word capture very carefully. That is what I mean. If you can be indoctrinated to hear only one side of an issue. to think in only one direction, to believe the passionate message of a speech or presentation, and if your education does not help you to become an independent, critical thinker, the task of the politician becomes relatively easy. You are a life-long this or a life-long that.

Last night I heard soaring and passionate rhetoric about working hard, moving forward, not back, about opportunity and the American dream. I heard about love, compassion, grace, about health, and education. My goodness! The filing cabinet in my mind is full of this utopia that is yours with the right decision on your part when you vote.

This morning as I sat at the end of my driveway, I cleaned the files. I cannot push the save key when things don’t make sense. When I see the national debt at 16 trillion and I’m hearing about all the things my government must provide, I cringe. It seems like a ball hit out of the park when we talk about hard work; I call foul ball to all that jargon when I know that almost half the population of this great land is on welfare and the work requirement tied to a welfare check has been altered. And many continue to collect unemployment for weeks on end .

I definitely have to remove the files about honesty and integrity and promises kept. Promises broken are promises broken. Trust is gone; I do not know many young people who act like ostriches with heir heads in the sand. My young friends, do you trust your parents, your teachers, your friends if they lie to you?  Why would you trust politicians who have broken their promises?  Those broken promises are lies.

You may be young, but I know that being young does not prevent you from knowing truth from falsehoods, honesty from dishonesty, joy from anger, hope from despair, and a hand-up from a hand-out. Truth should be the currency of your politicians who become your leaders. You must not continue to elect people who are bankrupt–their  truth currency has all been spent.