My Special New Year’s Resolution at 98

When there are suggestions that the Constitution is outdated and perhaps that we even need a new governing document, I believe this to be a major crisis in the course of our country. Appropriate words to respond do not come to mind. Rather I am consumed with floods of memories, and with thoughts from my study and research for my  book,  America First, Again first and second edition. How could anyone who knows anything about the founding of our great country possibly suggest that we throw away the guiding document of our founders, a document that implemented and guaranteed freedoms that never existed together in one document before nor since that document.

There are numerous voices suggesting that our governing documents are out of touch with the present; they are outdated. The culture of today, they say, requires a more modern approach, a new set of governing policies that fit our modern outlook. I am reminded of a report about a store selling the Constitution to school children carrying a reminder to parents that they needed to understand that this old document was out of date. Essentially, proceed with caution.

It is an assault that I see going on all around our nation. I happen to think that it is no accident. It is a planned program to transform our nation. To do so, the Constitution must be made impotent and our Christian heritage must be forgotten, denigrated, or at least portrayed as illegal (the same arguments are used to make the bible outdated). The use of the pesky establishment clause has been a treasure trove for those who wish to remove all vestiges of our Christian heritage from schools, public places, and even public meetings. These same people, plus many others, are systematically removing any patriotic phrase or song from public meetings, even the Star Spangled Banner from sports events.

America First  was published in 1916 by the American Book Company. It was written by Jasper L. McBrien, who at the time of the writing was School Extension Specialist for the United States Bureau of Education, and a former Superintendent of Public Instruction of Nebraska.

McBrien writes in the Foreward:

…the rising generation, both native-born and foreign, to get the full meaning of               this slogan (America First) in its far-reaching significance, must have time for           study and reflection along patriotic lines. There must be the right material on             which the American youth may settle their thoughts for a definite end in patriotism if our country is to have a new birth of freedom and if ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not to perish from the earth.’ The prime and vital service of amalgamating into one homogenous body the children alike of those ho are born here and of those who come here from so many different lands must be rendered this Republic by the school teachers of America. 

McBrien continues:

The purpose of this book is to furnish the teachers and pupils of our country,             material with which the idea of true Americanism may be developed until ‘            America First shall become the slogan of every man, woman, and child in the             United States.

I was born just six years after this was written. From the time that I was four, I have been in school in one way or another. I have lived for nearly ninety decades in or around school, going to school, teaching at all levels, working as a counselor or administrator at all levels, teaching and working with teachers and administrators, and served six terms as a school board member. I still see many dedicated people who believe and model the principles and values that have made our country great. But there are many I have encountered on my journey who have forgotten or have never known what the Constitution means to this Republic. How can our teachers teach our children what they don’t know? How can our teachers and parents who come out of our colleges where professors blatantly mock the Constitution, savage our Founders and heroes, and rewrite our history, know the true nature of the Republic in which they live?

Whatever corner of this great land each of us occupies, each must insist that our young are taught the history as it was written in the blood of our founders. We must herald the greatness of America to be First Again. It is not to make us better than others; it is to give us the strength and resources to serve others as we have done throughout our history. We must teach our young to love their country and prize the freedoms that it assures them. We must teach them to weave the tapestry of their life with the silver and gold threads of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

That tapestry allows them to be all that they were created to be.

This is one of my many writings that I want to leave for my grandchildren. I hope they will mean something to yours. I want to be certain that I have given them the truth about our Constitution and our founders as I find it in original documents and the best sources I can find. I hope you will help me in this important task. I prize any advice. May this be your New Year’s Resolution too. May we be grateful for the freedoms that we have that we would not have if we lived anywhere else in the world.

How Does a Small Centurion Voice Get Heard?

Mr. President, How does a small voice get heard?

In June of next year I will have lived one year shy of a century of the American Dream in this great Republic. I have lived and enjoyed the freedoms for all those many years, but I have also seen them slip away.

In the cacophony of sounds and the drumbeat of strained voices, it is hard to hear anybody outside of those constantly trying to reach your ear or criticize you. Mr.President, I am just one voice, but I am one who has enjoyed the privileges and opportunities afforded to me because I was fortunate enough to be born in this country. I love this country. Yes, I have lived the American Dream. I was born in Iowa, a small country town. I lived a life of meager means money wise, but lived a life full of integrity, values, hardwork and joy from a family that believes that the founding documents provide for that dream. Fortunately, I grew up with strong faith in my Creator. My faith taught me to get up each morning and try to serve someone, touch someone in some way, somehow, somewhere. I have been so blessed by my Creator to be given talents to serve and a deep faith to listen to what is important.

I was educated in country schools, town schools, small schools and ultimately received a doctorate from UCLA. I have been a teacher, counselor and administrator at all levels. I have also had the privilege of serving as a school board member for 23 years. I retired from Oregon State University in 1982 as a Professor and Dean Emeritus of Education. I went to work immediately at National University in San Diego to serve as Professor and Administrator of Education for another 13 years. I have written a book titled America First Again. I wish you could read it. It’s about our original documents; it’s about our founders; it’s about the transformers trying to change the course of our history. What would I do, Mr. President?

If I had the funds, I would make sure that all the history teachers were taught to teach American history from the original documents AND I would make certain that we returned to a curriculum that allowed every student, every person in America, and every new immigrant to understand those documents and how they relate to their freedoms and freedom in this country. Many in America do not even know these documents exist and believe that the constitution can be a transformational document. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the commitment of our founders are the basis of the freedoms we enjoy.

When the tenants of these documents are lost, our freedoms will be gone also. Mr. President, when I wrote America First Again first and second edition, it was with renewed understanding that when America is first we are not an arrogant nation, but a serving one and an important cog in the success of the world. Mr. President, this country is full of small voices filled with patriotism and appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy. How do we instill in our students this pride and appreciation of their freedom? How do we take the idea from patriotic voices to bolster your belief in this country? How do we reclaim our Christian heritage, understand our founders and refound our educational system? It has been totally usurped by those who are actively trying to change our country.

Mr.President, How does one small, almost centurion voice get heard?

Special Thoughts for the Christmas Season

It’s time to go back and look at the Mayflower Compact as an original self-governing document.

Yes, I remembered the Mayflower and those aboard that historical ship in my Thanksgiving prayers. These 102 brave souls endured the hardships of the journey only to find that they had landed in a place where they did not have a patent. They had been given permission by the Virginia Company of London to land anywhere on their holdings. They also were given permission to govern themselves. They knew with the winter coming that they had to go ashore. Before they went ashore, they produced and signed The Mayflower Compact.  They pledged to create a political body that would be ruled by law and based on the consent of the governed and in the “name of God.” It was the creation of a political document patterned after an original spiritual covenant.

The document clearly represents people of God creating their own government.  The creators made clear that the political power or the power of any person elected to govern would have such power come only from the people governed. It also made clear that they believed that they received their liberty and freedom from God. That’s what they were advancing. They were called Pilgrims because they moved from the tyranny of rulers and risked all for freedom of religion. That’s how they wanted to live and what they wanted to secure for those who followed.. These first freedom pioneers on our shores understood and acted on the covenant they knew between them and God. The incredible addition was the covenant between each other. Founding documents that  followed have been founded on the same Christian and political principles.

One of the paintings in the U.S. Capitol depicting great moments in  American history is of Reverend John Robinson’s prayer meeting aboard the Mayflower before it sailed for America. How many children, or the rest of us, have been shown or have seen the Bible and the name of Jesus on the open page as a part of the true history of America? The painting is just one visible sign of our beginnings. Most of our founding rests in the documents like the Mayflower Compact and those that followed. They were explicitly and carefully designed to help us be a self-governing people and to remind us of the origins of our freedoms.

Yes, this Christmas is a good time to go back and look at our self-governing document that was created before we ever landed and see what those first pilgrims produced.

 

Christmas Memories Worth Sharing Again

     The Christmas Tree Finding Trek 

  The sky across the valley was layered in reds and grays. The twin peaks and the outlines of the hills melted into the sky. On most days the silhouette of the peaks is etched against a blue California sky.  Red in the morning, sailor’s warning, my dad used say. Just maybe there would be a little rain to make the leaves of my avocado trees shiny and happy.  How many times when I was a little girl in Iowa did my dad look at the sky and expect snow?

            It’s almost Christmas. The snow is falling in massive amounts across n many places. When I watch the news and I talk to my relatives in Iowa, I remember. Angels in the snow. Snowball fights. Finding the perfect hill to try my new sled. And there was the special four-runner sled that my uncle made. Ice-skating on the frozen flooded baseball diamond. Or just a walk in the snow to hear the squeaky sound of the white mantle under foot and to watch your breath make pictures in the cold air.

            Then there was the trek for the perfect Christmas tree. There were no Christmas tree lots where I grew up. There was only the great God lot, the hills and slopes of the surrounding area. Can’t help but notice as I re-live the annual  tree-finding adventures of my childhood that my tree must doesn’t smell like the fragrance of the conifer we so proudly proclaimed as our Christmas tree. My tree is beautiful; someone just forgot to give it the fragrance of pine or cedar.

Raw, Unadulterated Hate Leads to the Deadly D’s

DIVISION. DECEPTION. DENIAL. DISCOURAGEMENT. DESTRUCTION.

In my near-century of life, in this magnificent Republic, I have never witnessed the kind of raw, unadulterated, unfiltered hate that causes our Republic to shake and shiver; the earthquake of this hate will take us down a path of losing our precious Republic and therefore our freedoms. I have witnessed division in every institution that I have served or been a part of: school, church, college, etc.

In all parts of our lives, we encounter differences of opinion; some can be angry discussions, while others can be calm and pure, productive dialogue. After the differences of opinion are aired and ultimately settled as we carry out our government as our founders intended, we may still have divisions, but they are not hateful, self-destroying actions. We go on carrying out government of the wise people who gave us this magnificent Republic, one-of-a-kind government. But the division that exists in our country now is a different species than our founders anticipated as a result of differences of opinion, whether it be political, personal, educational or any part of our life.

The hate for President Trump has no bounds. It has tons of energy and unswerving, unwilling commitment to remove him from office. Traditionally, we elect a president and go on with knowledge that our constitution and founding documents have served us well. Also, with the knowledge that if not satisfied with the government elected, our founders have provided us with an out – elect new people. This process was meant to keep the power in the hands of the people – We The People. But it is obvious that our very Republic stands at the brink of a chasm of hate that has no bottom. This unfiltered hate for Trump and his followers leads to the Deadly D’s. The results are obvious – Division, Deception, Discouragement, Denial and ultimate Destruction of our Republic.

The founders had great discussion over many of these issues in our government. We need to send in the substitutes for the hate mongers. We need to send in people of good will, people of unending love, people with absolute integrity, people who encourage each other and people who build not destroy. The final remedy is to discuss honestly our foundings and our blessings. We need to sprinkle all these discussions with raw unfiltered, unswerving love for our country and each other.

 

 

Keep Christ in Christmas

             Well, of course, Christ is in Christmas. We even spell, speak, advertise, use the word in our greeting, call it a holiday, send Christmas cards, and on and on. It seems like such superfluous conversation. It is the reason for the season, we say. We take Christmas vacations, except in some schools where they want to be politically correct and take winter breaks. We go over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house for Christmas dinner. We have Christmas Eve church services to celebrate the coming of the baby Jesus, our Christ of Christmas.

            We open our gifts according to family tradition. We celebrate the season with a Christmas tree and Christmas decorations. There are Christmas cookies and special Christmas recipes for Christmas candy. There is the much maligned and much loved fruit cake. And occasionally there is a birthday cake for the birthday person—Jesus of Nazareth. It is really a world-wide birthday celebration.

            Yes, it is embedded in everything that we do on December 25 each year. But perhaps that’s the problem. Where is the real meaning? Most of us know the story. We have heard it so many times. We have sung about the baby away in the manger. I’m certain many of us have donned the duds of the various components of the Christmas pageant. We have traversed from afar and carried the gold, incense, and myrrh to the cradle of the baby Jesus. We have seen the star in the East that led the way to the manger. And the herald angels sing in the choirs of the world each Christmas season.

            It is C-H-R-I-S-T-mas. It is the baby Jesus, born of the virgin Mary, we celebrate. Yes, it is the Son of God who came to Bethlehem that night. Would you be willing to be Joseph or Mary and carry out this incredible happening? But it had to be that way for the rest of our Christian heritage to unfold for us. The baby Jesus, the Son of God, had to be born in the way that he was to give us Easter. There had to be the Christ in Christmas who died on the Cross that we might live.

            Christ is in Christmas, no matter what some might want to do to take him out. We must make certain that when they take the manger scene from the city square, or substitute Happy Holidays for Merry Christmas,  change Christmas vacation to winter break, that each one of us who believes keeps Christ in Christmas.  Even when they teach fifth graders new versions of our beautiful Christmas carols to be politically correct and not offend anyone, we must keep Christ in Christmas everywhere we go and in everything that we do.

            I am not going to be tolerant about this issue; it is too important. Christ of Christmas is my guiding star, the star that lights my world. I will not be tolerant about this truth. I will fight to keep Christ in Christmas in every conceivable way that I can to remind us that Christ is the reason for the season. For those who claim otherwise: stop claiming the season.