Youth Reaching for the Horizon of Hope Rather than Accepting the Scraps of Despair

After watching the exciting dynamics of the youth summit in Washington D.C. on July 23rd, I was drawn again to the Jonathan Livingston Seagull story. This amazing seagull was flying toward the horizon with new ideas and new hope to find more than the other seagulls who were picking up scraps behind cruise ships. Like Jonathon who believed there was more beauty and excitement in the realm in which he was flying, these young people love their Republic and want to seek the horizon of opportunity. Like Jonathon they believe in themselves and understand that in their beloved country they are free to become everything they were born to be.

This seagull defied the orders of the Supreme Council to be like all the other seagulls on the beach. Be happy with your lot in life to pick up the scraps. Stay along the shore where you won’t encounter the storms beyond the shoreline. Just look at the setting sun on the horizon; it’s not yours to follow, they admonished.

But Jonathan wasn’t an ordinary seagull. He wasn’t like the other seagulls who conformed to the restrictions and limitations of mediocrity that prohibited his freedom. He tried new things. He ventured out beyond the horizon and found much beyond the scraps on the beach. He found beauty, excitement, and fulfillment as he dared to do all that he was created to do. But the Supreme Council of Seagulls was displeased with this horrible behavior. How could he shame them so much?

A Supreme Council of Transformers, those trying to change our beloved Republic, is asking us to stay on the beach and pick up the scraps. These folks are quick to encourage us to stay on unemployment insurance; if we went beyond that horizon we might find something exciting and want to work. They are quick to encourage us to apply for food stamps; once we accept food stamps when we don’t really need them, we will become accustomed to expecting someone else to feed us. It becomes our right. When students can borrow several hundred thousand dollars to get an education, they have lost the joy and satisfaction of their first job, their feeling of self-reliance. They owe so much; how can they be grateful? They can only hope “someone will rescue them from this terrible burden.” This slide into the culture of entitlement has not brought them hope. It has bought them dependence and a lack of self-worth.

Where are the Jonathans who will say no to the scraps? Where are the Jonathans who will fly loops of self-reliance and who will fly toward the horizons of opportunity? Where are the Jonathans  who will appear before the Supreme Council of Transformers and declare their right and responsibility to fly in the open skies created for them?  Where are the Jonathans who will dare to teach their young about the free skies and teach them to reject the scraps on the beach of no hope and change? I know they exist; I saw them in the Teen Student Action Summit.

I know the Jonathans exist. But we must encourage the Jonathans to come together in the Jonathan fly-over. If I am still flying toward the horizon at 98, there must be millions of Jonathans out there who can fly circles around me and even land at night. The scraps on the beach have never satisfied me, and I refuse to be satisfied now. I still have a voice and I will use it to convince, to teach, to cajole, to promote the horizons given to us in our founding documents. I will continue to model in the best way I know how the tenets of self-reliance, independence, integrity, compassion, truth, love, frugality, joy, and humility. I am fortunate to live in a nation that was founded on these great principles.

Dr. Ben Franklin, I will do all I can to restore our exceptional heritage to its former greatness. Only then can we continue to be the force for good in the world that freedom brings. We cannot do it as partially free people. We cannot do it when we have replaced the word responsibility with rights.

We can do it when we work, act, and think, with the faith of the birds of the air who sing in the dark before the first light arrives. We can do it with the courage of our Founders who faced death and loss of everything they had to assemble and write our great founding documents. We can do it by teaching our people to fish instead of throwing them a fish. We can do it with love, humility, and the presence of the Divine Guidance that gave us this great, one-of-a-kind nation.

We must insist that the rivers of hope and change flow toward freedom, not toward servitude of spirit and being. We must insist that only streams of self-reliance, independence, thrift, and political integrity are allowed to flow into the rivers of hope of a free nation.

To all you Jonathans. If you haven’t flown toward the horizon lately, the air is fresher out there. If you have been satisfied with one scrap on the beach of entitlement and servitude, throw it down and know that you were created to be much more.

Is the U.S. Exceptional?

Yes! Definitely! You Bet! Absolutely! Without Question!

Start by asking yourself a question. How could so young a nation have become what we have become, and how could such an upstart do all that we have done in such a short period of time if we were not exceptional? Our history is minute in time in comparison with some other countries, yet we have done so much. Being exceptional doesn’t make you better than others; it makes you different with different gifts and different responsibilities. And we are different, or at least we were at our inception. So what makes us so different?

Our Founders were very special people. They created a new nation that would have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Many leaders and nations claim this, but our Founders did it. They created founding documents that could correct the evils they had experienced with government interactions with its people, and documents that would assure the  “of, by, and for.” They understood the nature of human beings and the temptations and foibles that accompany power. They understood the corruption that often follows power. They created a system of checks and balances. They meant to have a citizen government; unfortunately, we have nearly come to have a government of political professionals.

They created a Bill of Rights, a set of guarantees that would assure liberty and freedom for all its citizens then and now. They could not possibly have created what they created if they had not been futurists as well as realists. They did everything that they could to secure for the generations to follow what they fought and died for. These founding documents were not fashioned from thin air. A look at the governments of the various colonial states tell much about the breeding ground for the thoughts, deliberations, and actions of these incredible men. And they did all of this at their own peril and the peril of their families.

Think about this. Our founding is unique. It is exceptional. No nation before or since our founding has been given governing documents like those  that created our republic. Our Founders knew this was a job bigger than all of them. That’s why they acknowledged the presence of Divine Guidance. They knew that they had to have their God in the middle of the circle. So many of the principles and values found in early governing documents came from their strong Christian heritage, from their Bible. That’s how we became “the shining city on the hill.”

The light of that “city” is what makes us exceptional. We are willing to share that light. That’s why we try to shine the light of freedom, even in the most difficult of circumstances. We fight and die for our freedom and the freedom of others. We believe our rights come from our Creator, not our government. We believe in small, citizen government. We believe in limited government. We believe in hard work, self-responsibility, honesty and integrity, in serving and helping those in need, in being frugal, and in individual rights. And so much more.

We are exceptional. Not better than, but exceptional. Others saying it is not so does not change that. Only we can make us not exceptional by forgetting what makes us exceptional or destroying what keeps us exceptional.

“Send Her Back”

I don’t want to “send her back.” I want her to appreciate the many opportunities that this great country, which I love, has provided to her. I want her to love this country that has allowed her to become a congresswoman. For 98 years I have enjoyed the fruits of my founders; I have enjoyed the freedom given to me by the constitution and our founding documents. I was born wrapped in the red, white, and blue of our magnificent flag.

Perhaps a return visit to the two places she left would be a stark reminder of why she became an refugee. As an educator for decades, I wonder how someone who has achieved what she has can seemingly hate this country so much. Behavior and words need to match in this respect. Wanting to transform this country to a place for “opportunities that exist for all” denies recognition of the opportunities that she has been given and used freely.

What other country in the world would this be possible? To rise from refugee status to a member of one of our deliberative bodies, the “House of Representatives.” What other country in the world would allow her make the comments she is making about her new land? No, I don’t want to “send her back,” I want her to appreciate one of the reasons for our founding, religious freedom. I want her to appreciate her ability to follow her faith as I have been able to do. I want her to feel wrapped in the flag. No, I don’t want to “send her back,” I want her to share all the positive things that have happened to her in this great land. Surely she must know deep inside that this divinely guided experiment, this awesome Republic, is one of a kind. It is unique. I want her to tell the world, including the countries from which she fled, what this great land provides for all of its citizens and so many others. Most certainly it has been provided to her in a short period of time. No, I don’t want to “send her back,” I just want her to be as grateful as I am for all this country means, all it represents and all of its values.

I have been questioning how someone can become so absolute and sure of her philosophical base in such a short amount of time. What other country does freedom ring to the extent that this would be possible?

My almost-century perspective has allowed me to experience all the positive things and also things I have worked extremely hard to change. I know that unless we retain the principles and practices of our founding and live through our founding documents that our country will be something quite different. Unless we remain one nation indivisible under God with liberty and justice for all, we will our lose freedom.

Trumped by Trump Who Couldn’t Win

The election of Trump was not possible, the transformers thought. This political novice could not win. He was not schooled in the political process.

This television celebrity and New York businessman was clearly outmatched by the Clinton and Obama schooled and well-funded machines. They pretended to  be of the people and for the people. The astounding and unexpected outcomes proved otherwise. Donald Trump was elected as the man who really cared about the people.

 He cares about their lost jobs, their declining life style, the fewer dollars they had in their pockets, the drugs on their streets and the lack of assimilation of new immigrants. They believed that he cares about our military people and our veterans. They believed that he cared about our laws and those who enforce them. He talked directly to the people. He turned out to be the candidate most willing and most skilled with new technology. He used the social media. He fooled all the pundits; successful predictors of elections were not even off track; they were in the bushes.

President Trump speaks of our Heritage. He speaks of our Founders and their founding principles and their belief in Divine Guidance in the founding or our republic. He openly invokes the blessings of our Creator. He believes that our rights come from that Creator and not from our government.

He believes in smaller government; he wants to drain the swamp in Washington D.C. He has signed executive orders that will help veterans to be assured of better care, create greater energy dependence, and reduced regulations that have been intruding in our personal and professional lives. His actions continue to give more power back to the people; that is what our Founders intended; it is what they pledged their all to create. Their very lives were in jeopardy when they gathered on that Hot Philadelphia day to sign our Declaration of Independence. So many of our young and old do not know when it was signed, or certainly they have no idea of the fifty-six brave men who risked it all to give us the freedom we enjoy, abuse and in so many ways do not understand.

Our fight and founding for religious tolerance has been turned upside down. It has been used to create “tolerance” for all other religions and a lack of tolerance and respect for our Christian Heritage. Our country was founded on tolerance of various Christian differences. We still have vestiges of those difference in our various states.

The transformers have been eminently successful up to now. I have hope that we have not slipped over into the abyss of diminishing freedoms. I see our President invoking the blessing of our Creator. I see him fighting again for many of our founding values and principles. I see the work to make America First, Again.  I see a President who is proud of our Heritage and potential. I see a President acting with strength and energy to return our country to We the People.

The transformers have gained too much. They have shown that they are well funded by those who would destroy who we are and what we stand for. As we fight to help people become more independent and self-reliant, they will fight for more free things and entitlement rights. As we fight to live by the rule of law, they will fight to create chaos, even violence. As we fight to return power to the people, the transformers will fight for bigger government on all levels. As we fight for an educational system that is locally controlled  and is awe inspiring and creatively individualistic, they will fight for federal control, especially through the money channels.

As we continue to restore the manger scenes to our Christmas pageants and city and community displays, the few who disagree will find company with the transformers.  As we fight to make certain that the pulpit in our churches and synagogues stand as beacons of religious freedom and not bastions for “social justice”–code words for so many intolerant attitudes about marriage, gender, race, ethnicity, abortion, and so many others. But perhaps, most of all, Christian attitudes about real social justice.

I have watched all of these happenings. I just finished my sixth term on a local school board, believe it or not. I live in a small rural community; but it’s not like small towns of most of my life. I watched the mighty Mississippi roll by my small town–Lansing, Iowa. The mighty Mississippi still rolls by unaware of Moore’s Law (overall processing power of computers will double every two years) and the tremendous advances in technology. So much is the same; so much has changed.   

When I did my doctoral work at UCLA, the computer I was privileged to use filled the room. Not all of that and much more is on a smart phone. The source of all of this information is in the “cloud.” Will our humanity be able to change enough to “catch up” to the pace of technological change. Will robots be making decisions for us or  will we be telling the robots what to do?

Excerpt from America First, Again Second Edition – Chapter titled “Trumped 2017”

The Signers- 56 Brave Men

It was on July 4, 1776, that the church bells finally started to ring over Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence had been adopted. There had been much secrecy surrounding the meetings of the brave souls who risked everything, including the charge of treason, to be in that room that day.

The 56 men were lawyers, pastors, merchants, physicians, and farmers. There was a printer, a musician, an inventor, and more. They were men going about their lives, fulfilling their dreams, and playing with their children. Then, as now, lawyers made up the largest group; there were 24. Pennsylvania had the most signers with nine. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest; he was 70. John Rutherford was the youngest; he was 26. Eight were born in Europe.

John Hancock’s signature is the largest and most prominent. He was the first to sign and the signature rests in its own white space. The name became synonymous with “signature.” “Give me your John Hancock,” or “Put your John Hancock here,” means your signature. His signature was as flamboyant as was his reported life style.

Have you ever wondered what the derivation of “gerrymandering” is? I have, but I never have taken the time to find out. When I read the short biographies of the signers this week, I learned so many interesting things. Among the signers was Eldridge Gerry, a man from Massachusetts. Eldridge was a graduate of Harvard College, a merchant, governor, he opposed the federal constitution, and taught us about redistricting. He was soundly criticized for redistricting to advantage his political party for re-election. “Gerrymandering” has been with us for awhile.

All these men were so very interesting; but they were much more. They were extraordinary patriots. They pledged everything to the cause of freedom, and they risked everything. And most of them gave everything. They saw their land and homes destroyed, and the men with fleets of ships and merchants with successful businesses saw it all destroyed. Their families as well were targets.

The bells rang in Philadelphia and our freedom was born. We got up this morning in this free land. Conversations and the news quickly turned to the celebrations of the day. Fireworks displays, band concerts, parties, patriotic parades, flags waving, and families and friends gathering. Hot dogs at the baseball game and barbecues at the park, or maybe a swim party. This is our fourth of July.

When I took my grateful walk this morning, I took a little extra time to be grateful for my freedom. It was foggy at 6 o’clock, and I could see very little just a short distance from me or just the shadows of the buildings below me by the stream at the bottom of the slopes. In a short hour or so, all would be visible. When the fog cleared, it would all be there as it was yesterday when the sun broke through. All this to be grateful for in a free land.

When the signers woke up on the morning of July 4, 1776, they still had work to do. It would be well into the afternoon before the bells could ring over Philadelphia.

We still have work to do; freedom is not free nor is it sustained with fireworks and holiday parties, picnics, and parades.

A Second Letter to My Young Friends: Your Freedom is Slipping Away

Now that we’re back in the election season for 2020, we are again at work capturing the minds of the young. So much of the political jargon is used to accomplish this: cancel the college debt, free tuition, free healthcare, free housing, guaranteed job and income, or a check whether you work or not. All of these are the additions to political discourse to the young from 2012. The following excerpt is from a blog published in 2012.

“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.”

Today June 2019, the debt is much higher, the student debt is much higher, the push for free things is much higher (health, income, jobs, housing, etc.,), but the purpose is the same – capture the vote of the young. My real worry is that we are transforming a generation or two to believe that there is real potential of socialism. We are creating class envy; an entire youth culture of ungratefulness, entitlement, unfairness to the extent that they are experiencing nothing else. Our young do not experience our true history; many do not know about our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other founding documents. When it becomes all you hear, all you see, and all you experience, a diverse way of thinking is no one where in your life. The conversation is largely about the free things and the entitlements that are our rights – not even an addendum on responsibility to maintain our Great Republic. Unless we change, we will surely lose the Republic our founders gave us. I believe the transformation of the culture will be evident on the stage tonight in the first political debates.

A Walk to Remind Us of Our Christian Heritage – The Capitol Part 2

We enter the rotunda of the Capitol. One of the great moments in American History paintings is of Reverend John Robinson’s prayer meeting aboard the Mayflower before the ship sailed for America. Another is De Soto and the discovery of the Mississippi River with a monk beside him in prayer placing a crucifix in the ground. And there are others such as Columbus and the baptism of Pocahontas. In the chapel is a stained glass window depicting George Washington in prayer with the inscription of in God We Trust above it. The Christian influences are all about. Our Founders were certain about their Divine Guidance and the need for it.

So when the President stands in the Chamber to deliver the State of the Union address, above and just behind the President are the words, In God We Trust. They are there as a reminder to every Senator, Representative, and all the others present. Above the gallery door is a relief statue of Moses. The east entrance to the Senate Chamber has the Latin inscription meaning, God has favored our understanding. And you will find more times when we reiterate In God We Trust.

As we exit the grand edifice that graces the east end of the capital mall, we stop a moment on the steps.  And it is here the President places a hand on the Bible, the Christian Bible, the Bible of our God in whom we place our trust, and pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and to serve this nation.

We are what we are: we are a nation that was founded to attain religious freedom. a nation that recognized the role of Divine Guidance in its creation, and the need to trust in that Divine Guidance.

We walk toward the White House, where we started our walk together. When we reach the White House, the people’s house, our footprints will have made a Christian cross.

A Walk to Remind us of Our Christian Heritage – The Capitol Part 1

We leave the magic of the Tidal Basin in cherry blossom time and head for the Capitol. The significance of the three “greats” we have just visited in our walk, Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson, will be even greater as we see the home of the Legislative Branch of our government. This branch was created to make certain that we remained “We the People.”  I thought about the arguments that were present as our Founders struggled and argued passionately about creating a government that would ensure a legacy of freedom. What was needed to insure the continuation of this great experiment in self-government?

They had no pattern; this was not a cookie-cutter government. They had no former path to follow. They knew that power had to always rest with the people; they knew that they had to have checks and balances. They also had to have a branch that adjudicated when differences could be settle no other way. They created our republic. They created this “shining city on a hill.”

They fought; they struggled; they died to create a new birth of freedom under God with justice for all, with the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. They declared their independence from tyranny and abused power. They created this government where the Executive Branch, the president, is one leg, but only one leg of three. The Capitol building we see ahead houses another one of the legs.  The arguments about this branch were vigorous and passionate. Some wanted a strong central government and others wanted the power to be decentralized.

The Founders finally decided on having two groups: to create equality between the small and large states, each state would have two senators; the second group would be based on the population of the state, the representatives.

Our next part of the walk is to explore the art in the Capitol that depicts our Christian heritage.

Gratitude is a Gift where Hope Dwells

It has been a long time since I posted a blog–December 1, 2017. So much has happened. On  December 7, I was evacuated from my home to escape the path of the Lilac fire. As the fire was at the end of my driveway, I did not expect my home to survive. By the grace of God, I was able to return to my home. Several houses near me were in the path of the fire. These fires really do create their own climate, their own path. They are truly wild. They are a terror. I am grateful that our children were all evacuated safely and our schools escaped.

 

Christmas followed with the celebration of the greatest gift–the birth of Jesus Christ and the wonderful sounds and sights that herald Emmanuel. The knowledge that God is always with us. 

 

Hope and gratitude filled my heart when I saw Dr. Carson say a prayer at the beginning of President’s Trump’s Cabinet meeting. God and the idea of Divine Guidance at our founding and the necessity for it now are back in our public discourse. I am hopeful when I see more and more people willing to promote the values inherent in our Christian Heritage.

 

I am grateful and hopeful when I see and hear more support for our founding principles and founding documents. I am sad that disdain remains in the hearts and behavior of some. As a veteran and proud citizen patriot, I hope to see total respect for my flag and my national anthem, your flag and your national anthem. 

 

It is with great hope for my republic and the world that we are willing to talk about the exceptionality of America . In that exceptionality lies great good.

 

If you find an error that I missed editing in the blog, know that my macular degeneration continues to progress. Know too, that I am grateful for what I can see, rather than miserable about what I can’t. There is great hope in gratitude.   

 

 

The Discrimination of Privilege

Every day there’s a new scandal. The news is so scintillating because it is about sex. Now sexual harassment is on the front edge of texts and tongues. It is horrendous. It is evil. It is prevalent and it certainly is not new. Much of it is new to our ears now. But it has been going on in large and small circles. It is dominant in the news now, and we ask ourselves the question: Why didn’t these women come forward before?

I believe the answer is a simple one: Privilege possesses power. The price to expose power and privilege is  often a price too high to pay. For many who have worked years, sometimes their lifetime, to acquire jobs, achieve positions of prominence, or perhaps have achieved their dreams or goals, to stand alone against power and privilege may seem futile. How does a young woman rebuff the advances of the most powerful in their industry or institution? How does a career woman rebuff a Senator or President? Name any uneven relationship relative to power and privilege and the price of exposure of harassment and sexual abuse is often turned on the abused. When women see what has happened to other women who have said “no, they are reluctant to enter that dominion.

When you witness discrimination without privilege and secrecy it is heartbreaking. When you have been witness to blatant gender discrimination and you have experienced it yourself, it is much easier to understand what the addition of privilege and power add to the situation.

Power and privilege are like a secret club; they have their own protectors and protection.