Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gangsta Kids

This past week there was another gang shooting. This time near Kearns High School. A 16-year-old boy died. I don't know him but it makes me angry. Well, no actually angry is too gentle of a word. I'm somewhere beyond furious mixed with good portions of sad and sickened.

History shows that policing these deviants is not successful. With ever greater resources aimed at curbing the problem, it has just continually got worse. More kids are involved in ever more violent crimes. We don't need more police to manage the problem. We need to get to the root of it and solve it before it becomes a problem. And I think that responsibility lies with the family. Parents need to be step up and be parents. Your job is not to be your kids' friend; your job is to be their parent. And sometimes that's going to mean doing unpleasant, unappreciated, and down-right hard things. Tough! You had the kid - you made the choice to become a parent - and with that comes the responsibility to yourself, your child, your God and the rest of society to do whatever it takes to raise that kid to a successful adut.

Too many young people today haven't grasped the idea that choices have consequences. Too many parents, under the guise of giving their child what they didn't have, shield that child from every negative consequence. Too many parents use the excuse that 'Johnny is really a good kid, he's just misunderstood.' Too many parents refuse to believe that their little angel could ever conceive the idea of doing something bad. If you are one of these parents, you have done your child no favors. In my estimation you have utterly failed at the most important job you will ever have... that of being a parent.

Some may look at this and wonder just who I think I am. I don't have kids. I will freely admit I am not the voice of experience. I am however, exposed to a large number of kids. Some of them are eager to please and some like the thrill of seeing just what they can get away with. Some live in traditional families, some don't. Some like chocolate frosting on their cake and some think it's too sweet and would rather have whipped cream. The point being, the kids in my life - my frame of reference - come from many backgrounds and grow up with many different outcomes. Some will be productive and successful adults, some will sponges sucking away at social programs, some may die as tragically as the young man in Kearns without ever reaching adulthood.

However, for myself, I choose to live in a micro-culture that places a very high premium on the family and views the traditional family as the building block of not only society, but of eternity. I realize it is unique and that not everyone in the country has that same perspective. Maybe they should. This family-centric culture has many positive benefits. There are a lot of families living in close proximity with the same set of values. Parents and kids support each other in their roles with kids often roaming freely in and out of several different households fully knowing their friend's mom has the same expectations of them that their own mother does. And their friend's dad is just as likely to take them up on a pick up game of basketball as their own. And they don't want to face the friend's parents disappointment at their misdeeds either. And so they try harder. It's good for the kids. They learn to get along and cooperate for a bigger goal at very young ages. They are taught to accomplish, to lead, to work for what they want and to share it with others. In my estimation these are values that cannot be effectively taught anywhere but the traditional family... a mom and a dad who actively parent their children.

If you look at deviant and antisocial behavior in children you find that many of these kids grew up in single parent households, often dependent on welfare handouts, and often spending many hours home alone while mom worked or, in worst cases, partied. How often do you hear about the juvenille thug who doesn't even know who his daddy is? A large proportion of deviant antisocial children grow up without the structure and social support inherent in the traditional family unit. And feeling that lack, they seek a sense of belonging to something bigger than just themselves wherever they can find it. Too often that is accomplished with gang affiliation. Too often, the child knows he's doing wrong but feels such an overwhelming need to belong that he does it anyway. Too often it is the only example he sees growing up and thinks that it's normal.

This is why I support marriage before sex. This is why I support that marriage should be between one man and one woman. This is why I support traditional families. These situations best produce children who grow into responsible productive adults.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Great Obamanation

Today I must begin with a disclaimer... I do not know if this is true. I do not know the source. It is something that has been passed along in a number of email funnies. I know I've seen it pass through my inbox more than a few times over the past several years.

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in Southern California, was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered Harry Reid's great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus Reid shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory. On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: 'Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton Detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.

So Judy emailed Congressman Reid for information about their great-great uncle. Believe it or not, Harry Reid's staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research: 'Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad industry. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.'

I share the observation in the last email of this story I received just last week. 'Now THAT is how it is done, folks! That's real SPIN.' It is deception at its most artful. There is nothing about the second description of events that is technically incorrect. It's in the connotation that it succeeds in its deceptiveness. And the most dangerous thing about deception is that is seductive. It makes you want to believe.

At a former job in the banking industry I witnessed many of the officers, especially those charged with creating and maintaining customer relationships, called into weekly meetings to learn the 'art of spin.' The thought was they could then take some negative thing that had happened in the customer's life or bank account or in the banking industry or the economy or whatever and play it as a positive thing that the bank was there to service, explain and protect. Was it successful? Frequently. Was the customer taken advantage of? I'd estimate they got about the same deal as they would have at any other large bank. Was it an honest way to do business? All I can say is, the information presented wasn't technically incorrect.

A couple of Book of Mormon scriptures come to mind as being especially significant to this discussion. 2 Nephi 9:28 says, "O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish." And Alma 46:10 tells us "Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning device and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous sake."

The key phrase here, to me, is "destroy the foundation of liberty." We are a nation who has forgotten God. We've pushed Him out of government functions, out of schools, out of our business dealings, out of our very lives to a large extent. Many think and say that the Constitution makes no religion a basic human right. But read it closely and you'll find that's not what it says. It says "freedom of religion" not freedom from religion. We need God more now than ever! Our lives, our liberty, our families... our very way of life is under attack.

I believe America is a blessed nation. One that God has granted the blessing of liberty so long as we remember Him and do His work. I pray that under this new Presidential administration we will wake up and find our way back and, both collectively and personally, to God. Good luck Barack Obama, may God inpsire you!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jesus Christ - Savior of the World

This year in Sunday School we are studying the Doctrine & Covenants. Today our lesson focused on getting to know Jesus Christ better and studying about His attributes. The D&C is the only book where the majority of the text is directly transcribed from the words of Christ. From the introduction, "Finally, the tetimony that is given of Jesus Christ -- his divinity, his majesty, his perfection, his love, and his redeeming power -- makes this book of great value to the human family and worth more than the riches of the whole earth."

One of the passages we talked about was in D&C 19: 15-18.
15 Therefore I command you to repent -- repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore -- how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, how hard to bear you know not.
16 For behond, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit -- and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink --

The point was that exactly what Christ suffered for our behalf in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross is something so infinitely powerful that our simple human minds cannot fathom it completely. I've heard different times that this was the first time in His existence that Christ experienced the withdrawal of the Father's presence and that is much of what made the agony so crushing. These scriptures point out to us that, if we don't repent of our evil doings and become the people He wants us to be, we can look forward to that same fate in the eternities. Much is made about the mercy extended by Christ, but many people overlook that justice is also His.

Since we must be found spotless (sinless, forgiven) to live in the presence of God in the eternities, it seems plausible that the suffering these scriptures talk about is our separation from God should we choose not to repent and draw ourselves closer to Him. This would be justice.

Through His Atonement, Christ offered us a way to avoid the grasp of justice. But it comes with a big IF. It is dependent on us to accept the gift that He offers. This is how mercy works.

On a related side note, I've also read (though I don't have the reference handy right now) that if we choose to continue living in our sins, we would also choose living in eternal Hell over Heaven. To be fit for a Celestial glory, we must become a Celestial people. To be otherwise would leave us so uncomfortable in His presence that we would choose to be elsewhere.

So you see it really is our choice.

Another section we talked about is one that I've personally benefited from in the past. It has served as a humbling reminder that He understands whatever pain I'm going through because He's been there and worse. It's section 122 and the Lord is talking to Joseph Smith about his ongoing trials. That they are recorded for us to learn from today, tells me that the principle (thankfully not the circumstance) is also applicable to me. I'm going to quote verses 5-8 here...

5 If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;
6 If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can't you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;
7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murders, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

That really sums it up for me and anything I experience. No matter how bad it is, I am always humbled and thankful when I read that last verse... The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

Monday, January 5, 2009

All's well that ends well

Today was a stressful day! My mom had surgery to remove her gallbladder... in the same hospital where I was raped. Even though it has different ownership now, has been totally remodeled and probably has entirely different staff, just being there put me on edge. I guess it was the place and the hospital sounds and smells. I don't know. But my shoulders are in complete knots. I feel like a turtle trying to pull its head into its shell. And I am exhausted and feel on the edge of a meltdown. In fact I sort of had one earlier.

On top of an already stressful day, I was waiting on my doctor to review some test results and renew my thyroid prescription. I wanted to make it all in one trip to the pharmacy to get mom's meds and mine so I waited until late afternoon to hear from them. Then when I got to the store, they said they hadn't heard from the doctor's office. The doctor's office insisted they had called in the prescription an hour earlier. So I was stuck in the middle just wanting to get my crap and get out of there for an hour. Dealing with drugs doesn't make me happy at the best of times. I detest taking them, buying them, having to have their results/side effects monitored... every pill makes me feel like a total defect. And I'm afraid I took that out on the MA. It's not her fault... I was just sick of the run around and snapped. I'll have to call her back tomorrow and appologize.

The good news is that mom's surgery went very well and she's home and pretty much able to do what she wants tonight. They've really got that particular surgery down these days. We checked in at 6:00 and everything was done and we were home by 11:30. There are only 4 little incisions each just less than an inch long. The one on her belly button is where they pulled the gallbladder out. The surgery is done laprascopicly on an outpatient basis and seems to be no big deal. I like the surgeon who did it, too. Young, cute, beautiful big brown eyes, good sense of humor... he related very well with her. Even his name is fun to say. Chachas. Dr. Angelo Chachas.

We expect to be back on a regular schedule by Wednesday. My job hopes so anyway. I haven't been for a week. I bet I am so far behind... it's a little frightening to imagine. But I know it will have all piled up for me because I don't have a backup. There's not even anyone else in my department with the same access rights let alone the training to do what I'm doing. Worrisome, but I'm just a small cog in a big machine. It's someone else's job to worry about these kinds of risks...