Allegiance to the Flag

US FlagThis may come across a bit nit-picky or trivial in nature, but I think it is important in principle. I assure you that I only have the best intentions, and don’t want to offend anyone, or sound un-American or un-patriotic. I merely hope to cause you to think more about what you are saying when you recite the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance.

To start off let me make one point clear about the origin of the pledge. I’m sure there are many people that ignorantly think the pledge of allegiance came from our founding fathers. The reality is that the pledge came about over 100 years after the Declaration of Independence and the creation of our Constitution. It was authored by the Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy in 1892. It was another 53 years before Congress officially recognized it as the national pledge in 1945. So it was well beyond the “founding fathers” time period.

One part of the pledge I’d like you to consider is the phrase, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, AND to the Republic for which it stands…”. What does this mean?

We are clearly pledging our allegiance towards two entities, the flag, AND the Republic. I understand and agree we all should have allegiance towards the Republic. But, what does it mean to hold allegiance to a flag?

A flag is simply an object which represents our country. We shouldn’t pledge allegiance to the flag itself, it should be to the Republic. And the Pledge already clearly contains a separate pledge of allegiance to the Republic. So, why do we pledge an allegiance in a material flag?

Having an allegiance, duty, obligation or loyalty to a flag seems odd. In fact there are some groups who feel this is idolatry. I wouldn’t go that far, but I certainly see how they can come to that conclusion. From an outsider it could easily be misconstrued as a type of worship. Worship means to adore and pay divine honor to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration; to perform ritual exercises in honor of. When a U.S. flag passes by do we not stand in silent reverence, salute, and even recite our obligatory allegiance towards it. Before World War II we saluted the flag by extending the arm toward the Flag at moment the phrase “to the Flag” was recited, and it remained outstretched during the rest of the pledge, with the palm facing upward, as if to lift the flag. With this in mind, I think I know people who pay more respect to the flag than they do to their own religion.

If we are trying to protect the sacred and honor of the flag and what it represents, there is no need for a pledge of allegiance to it, we already have our U.S. flag code which protects the flag and defines how it is handled and treated.

Do you feel that the beginning of the Pledge of Allegiance should be changed to read…

“I pledge allegiance to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God…”?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Paying for your neighbors TV upgrade

digital converter boxBecause of the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, analog television broadcasts are going to end on February 17 2009. What this means is that after this date you will no longer be able to watch a TV signal using the traditional roof antenna or rabbit ears. The broadcasts will still be transmitted over the airways just like the analog signals except for one import difference. The signal will be encoded in a digital format. This requires that your TV must know how to decode the signal into an analog signal to view on your TV. Most newer TV’s come with a built-in digital tuner, but many of the existing TV’s out there do not. In fact the government calculates that there are around 73 million sets without digital capabilities.

Now, here is where it this program starts to smell bad. The government is going to subsidize (pay for your digital converter box) up to 80% of the price of the converter box. Not just one converter box but TWO of them. The program works like this. They allocated $1.5 billion dollars to this subsidy program. It’s a first come first serve program, if they run out of money then you lose out. There are two ways to request the coupon. Either by this telephone number 1-888-DTV-2009, or their website, dtv2009.gov. You will then be mailed a coupon worth up to $40 towards the purchase of a converter box (including a remote control). The coupon expires however within 90 days.

I hope by now you are wondering why your tax dollars are being spent to support others TV habits! Does the government have the constitutional right to spend your money in this fashion? Even if they do justify the right some how, do you think they should be doing it? It really blows my mind, that I pay taxes to help my neighbors upgrade their television sets. This is just another example of the poor fiscal responsibility of our congress. I’d recommend you let your congressmen know you are displeased with him/her, and then try to find a replacement to elect in their stead :-). I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings on this program, feel free to leave a comment below.

Oh, I almost forgot… my recommendation is not to partake in this filthy subsidy program… all such socialistic programs have a corrupting and addicting nature to them.

Eternal Vigilance: Our Civic Duty

I’ve heard the saying that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty since history class in junior high.  I grew up thinking my parents were eternally vigilant. Every election I would watch the ritual of civic duty performed as my parents watched a debate or two and heading down to the local elementary school to vote.  With freedom firmly secure they would return home with an “I voted” sticker displayed on their shirt and we’d all feel warm and fuzzy that democracy was alive and well.  They followed the voting example of their parents and for many years I followed theirs.  I believed my duty was to check my media outlets against the one or two debates I had watched and wisely vote for the lesser of two evils. 

Then came the opportunity to host a book group in my community. The subject: America’s Founding Documents.  I wasn’t well-versed in these documents, but found the deadline for accomplishing a monthly reading appealing. With my love of history in tow along with my conservative religious views I began a journey that I thought would confirm my views of one’s civic duty.

 My journey has taken me through the writings of Locke, Montesquieu, John Stuart Mill, Machiavelli, The Cato Letters, Thomas Paine, The Declaration, The Articles of Confederation, The Constitution, The Federalist Papers, The Anti-Federalist Papers (fyi, the origin of the Bill of Rights), The Northwest Ordinance, Washington’s Farewell Address, multiple Founder’s Inaugural Addresses, Lincoln’s Inaugural Address, The Gettysburg Address, The Making of America, The Communist Manifesto, Animal Farm, 1984, The 5,000 Year Leap, and one of my personal favorites The Adams – Jefferson Letters. I am sure I left some out.

I list these not to brag, but more to show the ignorance that existed.  I was fully content believing that my eternal vigilance was fulfilled at the ballot box until the principles of correct government were exposed by these readings.

These readings exposed to me the three keys of eternal vigilance.  Each key is essential to  each other.  If one of the three keys is missing you pass the next generation either bad information, the wrong example (like my idea of civic duty growing up), or nothing at all.

The first key is devotion to truth.  This requires the dedication to acquire knowledge and an openness to seek truth.  Abigail Adams said, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” One must purposefully seek for the acquisition of knowledge.  It will not find you, you must seek it. If the goal is truth, then humility and courage are essential; humility to admit when you were wrong and ask for direction when needed, and courage to communicate the truth with others.

The second key is a lifelong commitment to activism.  Contrary to public opinion pushing buttons on a voting machine at your local school does not constitute your civic duty.  One must know what to protect and then protect it.  All government originates locally, each communicating with the next level.  Your city government coordinates with your county and your county with your state and your state with the federal.  Protecting liberty must happen on a local level to ensure its protection elsewhere.  This means you will sit through more than a couple boring meetings to hear the one thing you needed to hear, or say the one thing that needed to be said.

“But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.  It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government.” –Andrew Jackson

The third key is to teach.  Make converts of those who are sitting on the fence. (There’s a good good and bad way to go about this.) But most importantly, teach your children.  If you know it they need to know you know it.  Governmental principles like virtues do not teach themselves.  They must be identified and emulated.  If our generation does not acquire it for ourselves and then teach the next generation then all will be lost.  I love the fervent regard for posterity and the emphasis placed on responsibility from the founding generation. Their aim was to make all decisions in regard to its effect on the next generation.  We owe them much and should aspire to do like-wise. John Quincy Adams said,     I Like this quote I dislike this quotePosterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.

May we all reconsider our obligation to those who came before and those who will come after.  And maybe someday when we recognize those like us, or see our efforts in our children we will receive a truly legitimate warm and fuzzy figurative sticker of approval.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hope for America

Ron Paul has already given America what it needs to return this country to a Constitutional Republic. His candidacy has opened the eyes of many and confirmed to those whose eyes were never shut that America still has reason to hope. The question is will we realize this gift in time? Win or lose for Ron Paul, he has given us what we need to succeed. He is the hope for America and so are we!

The Power of Unity
The gift that we have been given is the massive coordinated effort to communicate with like-minded people. Ron Paul brought together and exposed those people who still believe in the founding principles of this country, people who believe in the cause of Liberty. He brought people together under one battle cry and when we got together we realized we were from all parties, all faiths, and all ages.

The popular saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” has been attributed to the Englishman Edmund Burke. To be more truthful the quote should read, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for INTELLIGENT UNIFIED good men to do nothing.”

You may say that you have been gradually losing faith in the Republican Party. The Republican Party can keep the name and subscribe to the principles of the Constitution, as Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” We have the power to do this. Regardless the outcome of this election we have the numbers to make a huge impact in every state. And when the state governments change – the federal government inevitably follows.

Let us begin again the dialogue of our founding. It is the same conversation that has continued throughout history. Our benefit being that we have the fruits (the Constitution) of a moral, virtuous generation and the hindsight that they never had.

One Standard
One might ask how does a group that is so diverse stay united? We can be divided by lifestyle, religion, race or socioeconomics, but we cannot be divided by the one standard that matters most – the Constitution.

An LDS prophet, President David O. McKay said,

“Next to being one in worshipping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States.”

There is no group that owns my allegiance. No party controls my vote. My symbol is not the donkey or the elephant. I am controlled by an internal belief that I, too, should love liberty so much that the ceremonious taking of the oath of office should be an internal commitment made by every American. I already affirm in my heart a binding oath between me and my Creator that I will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

No party sets my standards. My loyalty lies with that timeless document that was created when, for a small window in history, the natural man was subdued, public virtue reigned and the benefit of mankind was their unified goal. We have been given the rule book of good government and for generations we have chosen not to read it.

“Put not your faith in men, but bind them down with the chains of the constitution.” – Thomas Jefferson

Human nature has not changed! It is the same throughout history. Just because our representatives travel to their meetings by use of the combustion engine and not horse; does not mean that we have evolved so much as not to be susceptible to the usurpation of power.

“I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and like the grave, cries, ‘Give, give.” – Abigail Adams

Continue reading “The Hope for America”

Statesman v. Politician

How to tell?

 

In light of the recent presidential debates I found myself recognizing a clearer distinction between a Statesman and a Politician. I used the pronoun “he” instead of “he/she” for continuity only. A “she” can most definitely apply to either. Here are some of those distinctions:

A Statesman talks of concrete ideas. He addresses and reminds us of history, human nature and personal responsibility.

A Politician talks of abstract ideas. He uses hypotheticals to make his point and uses his solutions as the only answer.

A Statesman reminds us of individual responsibility.

A Politician wants the power to force individuals to be responsible.

A Statesman is accountable to his conscience, reason and God.

A Politician is accountable to campaign contributors.

A Statesman says the same thing over and over with no regard for public opinion.

A Politician caters their response to their perception of the listener.

A Statesman will name the principle and historical examples.

A Politician will site easily manipulated statistics.

A Statesman’s record will match the principle and the philosophy.

A Politician’s record will match past public opinion.

A Statesman values integrity, knowledge and courage.

A Politician values charisma, intelligence and resolve.

A Statesman will admit when they were wrong.

A Politician will put the blame elsewhere.

A Statesman declares his cause viz. liberty, capitalism, peace.

A Politician labels his cause hope or change.

and finally…

A Statesman can duplicate himself by teaching.

A Politician believes he cannot be duplicated.

Throw your vote away?

Another presidential election season is fully upon us. I tend to vote for third party candidates for presidential elections. I do this because I don’t think the two major parties do a very good job of representing me in government. I often like the messages I hear from third party candidates. I think that in general they are controlled less by “monied interests” (PACs, large corporations, wealthy political donors), probably because those types of donors don’t get much return on investment (ROI) for their third party campaign donations. I think that money has poisoned our political process, but that’s another story.

When I tell people who I plan to vote for (or who I voted for), I often get the response “You threw your vote away”, or something similar. I do not know who originated this term, but I have my suspicions. It was probably some democrat/republican political wag who doesn’t appreciate ideas outside the “party message”. What is the meaning behind this phrase, and is it true? What does it mean to vote, and are you throwing it away when you vote for a candidate who probably won’t win?

To me, voting is an important civic duty – your vote is your political voice. I try to make time to study issues and candidates positions and their background before I vote. Some people don’t think that a candidate’s personal life/beliefs/background is important, but I would like to ask those people this question: as a manager, would you hire someone to work for you without doing a background check and interviewing the person to see if they are someone you can work with? In any case, I know some people who don’t take any/much time for research before voting. They merely vote the party line or based on a few television commercials they may have seen. To me, this is throwing your vote away – it is voting without thinking, or only voting as someone else tells you to vote. Even worse, there are many, many people who shirk their civic duty and don’t vote at all. This is clearly throwing your vote away.

When people say that you threw your vote away, they usually mean “you voted for someone who has very little chance of winning – why did you do that when you could’ve voted for someone who has a chance of winning?” My response is this: I vote for the person who I agree with and who I think will do a good job. Of course there is never a candidate who I 100% agree with, but researching the candidates forces me to evaluate what I value in a President/Congressman, etc. Often the large political parties present me with poor choices (I’m thinking Bush/Kerry) and a third party offers me a better choice. If my candidate doesn’t win, I can live with it, but I made my voice heard and I have arguments to backup my decision. By their logic, if you voted for anyone besides the winner, then you threw your vote away – to me, that attitude is un-American. It seems that the “throw away your vote” idea is designed to spread uncertainty and doubt about non-mainstream candidates – basically to supress independent thinking.

So before you vote, do the research, and then if you’ve chosen someone who you think might not win, then don’t be afraid to “throw your vote away.”

Truth Seeking

Winston Churchill said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

I believe that in everyone’s life, there comes an opportunity to go in the direction of truth. My opportunity came a couple of months after the birth of my second child. What I naively thought would be a “harmonious, we are a real family now, I have a purpose because I am a Mom” time in my life – quickly turned into a “who am I? why do I watch T.V. all day? my only sense of accomplishment is a clean kitchen – oh, there’s the mailman, maybe my decorating magazine came – I know this isn’t me, but who am I anyway?” time in my life.

So…I got a job. Not for the money, but to feel like a real person again. I got a job waitressing to prove to myself that I was still a person, still had a brain and could still be good at something. And for a time it worked, but it didn’t take long before I had proven it to myself. Knowing my children needed me and wreaking havoc on my husband’s work schedule and my new baby’s nursing schedule I once again found myself at a crossroads.

One day contemplating all these thoughts I was insignificantly sitting in my room in front of a blank computer screen waiting for it to come on when the thought entered my mind, “There IS more to life, but you have to go find it.” At first I was ready to hurry off as if nothing had happened, but gratefully I gave it a second thought. My second thought was, “O.K. fine, I’ll try to find it.” Knowing this would require action and not knowing where to start I picked up the phone and called the strangest person I knew, my sister Delona. Our conversation went like this, “Delona, it’s Cristy. Is there more to life?” “Yes,” she said. “O.K., I’ll call you back,” I told her. Did she really know something that I didn’t? Her confident answer told me she did.

This was the beginning of my journey. So, what has my journey looked like? Much different than my sister’s. But what our journey and others’ have in common is the same thing I felt that day. It was and still is, “O.K., I’ll try to find it.”

You may still be wondering what “It” is. It is truth. Is it hard to find? Sometimes. Sometimes it takes turning off the tapes of your parents voice in your head. Sometimes it takes the commitment to stay up a little longer or wake up a little earlier to read something you know you need. Sometimes after you put the effort into thought, it will just hit you. But always it takes the commitment to search with an openness and a desire to find it. The search for truth is an education.

The old adage, “And the truth shall set you free,” is true. It can free you from yourself, from the influence of your past, from your apathy, from a nonproductive or destructive future and from an insignificant life.

If you are open enough to readjust you will find it. Don’t readjust to others, readjust to the truth. Horace Mann said, “If a man seeks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both.”

If you are one who is more practical and wants to know what it looks like for me, here are some visible changes: I only occasionally worship the almighty T.V., I try to exercise daily, I now am conscious of what I eat, I hold my tongue more, yell less, spend ANY extra money on books, teach myself and my children a quote-of-the-week, religiously hold family prayer and created a family motto that we say and aspire to. It is, “To help me live up to the Henshaw Family Name I will: Seek for Truth and Knowledge, Choose Growth over Comfort, Believe I Can Make a Difference, and Show Unconditional Love.

These practical, everyday applications of truth came one at a time and are constantly being added to, readjusted and taken away. If the target is truth, you change and adjust according to it. Stop trying to deceive yourself and stop living an unfulfilled life.

Some would say that not that much has changed in my life. I am sitting here, in my pajamas, typing this while child number three is taking a nap. Our house is no larger; in fact, it’s smaller and we’re driving the same cars. By our society’s standards not a lot of progression has happened in my life. Screw society’s standards – I’ll take truth any day.

Know this: you are divine and you have a purpose. The ONLY road to that divine purpose is truth.

So, if you have insignificantly stumbled across this and something inside you is asking, “Is there more to life?” you have a choice; to either hurry off as if nothing has happened or to ask yourself, “What next?”

Learn something new

About a month ago I read the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. I read it partly because I feel like I have been in a financial rut lately and want to be more of a Rich Dad. My wife read the book a few years ago and recommended it. We talked about some of the things she took away after reading the book and those things stuck with me. When I read the book, however, I had completely different impressions than my wife. I guess that’s how perspective and context work: two people can read the same story and learn completely different lessons from it.

One thing that impressed me particularly was a story he told about a young lady who is a novelist in Singapore. She had written some books, but apparently they were not selling very well. She met with Robert and wanted to know some of the secrets of his success. He recommended to her that she take some sales courses. You know the kind – full page ads in the newspaper held at the local downtown hotel with some famous politician or sports figure to draw in the marks. The young lady was very offended – she had a master’s degree in creative literature and thought that stuff was beneath her. She wanted to focus on her writing craft. That was his suggestion but she couldn’t swallow it. I can relate to her reaction. I am kind of a snob about what I do (software engineering), and have worked hard to become good at it for decades. I don’t like salespeople in general and am usually skeptical about sales claims, having been burned a few times. However, I think his suggestion in general was a good one: if you want to learn how to do something, you need to devote some time and educate yourself and then actually try some things out.

One of the main points in his book is that if you want to be the Rich Dad, you need to increase your “financial IQ”, which just means you need to educate yourself about investing and personal finance. I thought about this for a long time. I am a busy person and love to read, but I am pretty selective in my reading – I don’t like to waste time with books where I’m not learning something useful or important. Life is short and there are too many good books to waste time on bad ones. Should I take time and educate myself about investments and personal finance? I guess I have had the attitude that since I have no formal training in investing, I would just leave it to the experts (Realtors, Mutual fund managers, brokers) and not waste any time on it myself. However, after I thought about it for a while, I realized that I have made most investment decisions myself with little or no help – I manage our IRAs, our kids college funds, and we have not used a realtor to buy or sell our own house for many years. So far we have done pretty well with most of those investment decisions, but we could probably do better. I decided that even though investment/finance books are not that interesting to me, it is important enough to me to spend a year or two and get some education and try some things out. Maybe the results will give me more free time down the road to do other things that I really care about, or if I am not very successful, maybe I can pass along the “don’t do this, it doesn’t work” information to my kids.

I sat down to figure out which books to read next. I looked at a lot of user reviews on investment books at amazon.com. Ironically, his advice on increasing your financial IQ led me to the conclusion that his books are not the best ones to read if you really want to learn the nuts and bolts of investing. They are more of the “big picture” and motivational books just to get you going. But I digress.

The main point of this post is that with a new year, many of us are setting new goals and making new resolutions. I guess one of my resolutions is to learn something new and useful each year – to help my family and others. For me, this year it will be learning about investing.