Goodness of Man

I believe that people are innately good. This is a belief I hold in my heart and see daily as I interact with so many in the grocery store, at meetings, church, classes, restaurants, almost everywhere. Take for example the waitress at a restaurant my husband and I went to on our weekly date. This waitress went out of her way to make our evening enjoyable. She did so many little extra things for us that I felt quite special by meals end. Was she hoping for a great tip? I would hope so. She did her job exceptionally. I’ve been a waitress. I know the work that goes in to the job. At the end of the meal it was the human interaction, the truly caring that made me feel special. This was just a simple interaction with someone I will probably never see again and yet it showed such goodness.

Another person who saw greatness in men and women was Abraham Lincoln. Hence it pained his soul deeply to see such hate and violence of so many on both sides of the Civil War. It tore at his heartstrings to watch his Cabinet quarrel and his legislative body try to tear down all he had worked to build up. Yet in the face of such adversity and at times downright animosity and intrigue Abraham Lincoln never lost his belief in the innate goodness of the individual. I imagine that if he had he never would have survived his divided cabinet. Yet he not only kept them together for a crucial time in history, he also brought out many of their strengths.

abe-linco

Abraham Lincoln

One more example of someone who believes in the innate goodness of man. God. Didn’t He send us here to prove we could return to Him someday, to prove we would obey Him? Is this not the greatest show of faith in placing us on this earth, giving us a chance to prove ourselves? To me it is. To me, it shows the utmost faith in man, woman, and child.

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Does innate goodness mean a person is always right? Absolutely not. Too often we can pick up the wrong trumpet and call out to a battle for which we feel passionate. We see this daily too, especially amidst social media, rallies, etc. Yet I believe that deep down within us is the innate goodness of the being, the very soul of man. And within that soul is greatness if we but choose to live a principled life. And so within this loud, often rough and rude world I hope we will stop and look for the goodness in our fellow being. I believe as we find it we will find a common ground that can reach beyond all political, social, religious, educational, etc biases and truly change the course of the world one person at a time.

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Petitions

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If someone were to ask you to sign your child’s teeth away, would you? If someone were to ask you to sign up for five years of jury duty or prison time, would you? I would hope not. As ridiculous as these questions are then let me ask you something else. If a petitioner were to ask you if you liked Obamacare and you said, “No!” And they said, “Then sign this petition to get rid of Obamacare. “ Would you sign it? Let’s dig a little deeper? What if they “forgot” to mention that the petition you were now signing to get rid of Obamacare actually increased your income tax by another 10% (4% straight from you 6% from your employer). Not only would your income tax increase but you would also be signing that you wanted a board of political appointees who have no balances to keep them honest and in check and who would have a 37 billion dollar budget from our taxes to start with in charge of this new health care system. They would have the option to increase our taxes every year to whatever degree they thought best. They would also reduce everyone in the medical field’s salaries. Would you trust that they wouldn’t use the money for their own self interest? However, these pieces are not mentioned.

If I were to trade an old car in with a faulty radiator and in exchange got an older car with even more work that needed to be done, would I be the wiser or would I show my ignorance because I did not do my research? Sadly, this is what we face too often today. And yes, the above scenario is one that happened right here in Colorado. We are often blinded by emotional words such as “Be patriotic” “Do your duty”. Is not our duty to study the issues? Did not our Founding Fathers and almost all who lived in America during the Colonial years study the issues?

Did you know that people used to go to court by choice to watch how a case was played out? They did this because they wanted to understand the process. Let’s do the same. Let’s study out the words of the candidates instead of what the candidate “supposedly” said. Let’s study the suggested amendments to the state constitutions so that when we vote we truly know what we are voting. Let’s not sell our freedom for a mess of pottage that pottage being laziness in learning. There is an entire election before us. May we do our duty so that the sacrifice of so many does not go unremembered and unheeded. May we prove that we are not entitled but truly grateful for this great country that we can call our own.

 

 

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Retain Confidence

I attended a lecture last night on America and economics. It was a fascinating lecture and as the floor opened for questions I asked, “How can we truly make a difference?” The answer that came has been growing on me ever since. “Retain confidence.”

Retain confidence. What simple, powerful, bold words. Retain confidence in what? What if we retained confidence in our country, in our homes, our lives, our families, our work, our freedoms? What if we retained confidence in our God? There is so much negativity everywhere we turn today that sometimes that confidence falters for me. When I rally with like-minded people though, those who still believe in the greatness of America, I am buoyed up.

As we retain confidence, we reach out and effect change. As John Adams stated to his wife Abigail in a letter dated May 12, 1780, “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”(i)

John Adams retained confidence. May we so live, so love and so die that we may keep America great and our precious freedoms intact. How do you retain confidence?

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i Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, post 12 May 1780

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The Power of One Voice

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”i These are the words Thomas Paine penned that George Washington had read to his army the night before The Battle of Trenton, the battle that changed the emotional tide of the war and gave Americans hope that they could indeed win their freedom.

Washington with troops

Washington with troops

Today we again come to a crossroad. There are many paths before us. One huge decision we have to look at is how we are living our freedoms. Let us share with others, our neighbors, our friends, our acquaintances, our thoughts on the issues that stand before our state and our great nation. Let us open our mouths and be bold in our opinions just as Thomas Paine was. As we share our opinions others will gain courage to share their opinions too. Just as a stone that is thrown into the water can produce countless ripples, the same applies to a person who is willing to take a stand on an issue regarding our freedoms. It may surprise you to see just how many people agree with how you believe freedom should be lived. Too often we have allowed the vocal minority to lead the silent majority. Let us show forth the courage of Thomas Paine, George Washington and all of the other Founding Fathers by opening our mouths and standing for what we believe. A simple word can change a heart. One conversation can change the tide of a nation. Many conversations can change the course of a people. Let us act.

i Pamphlet “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine

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The Legacy of Family

Have you ever wondered about your own family, about those who have gone on before you and those who have yet to come? Have you thought of the legacy you want to leave someday?

Recently I visited my ninety-three year old grandmother. She has lived an amazing life, was a writer for the local newspaper, raised three boys, traveled the world and ever loved being part of the community. She had the sharpest memory of anyone I’ve known and resides still in her own home. I loved growing up and having my grandfather & her come and visit us yearly. Oh how I love her!

On my recent visit to her home she told me the story of how she was able to go to college. My grandmother grew up in humble circumstances on a farm. She remembers riding bareback to their two room schoolhouse and churning butter. College education was important to her family and so when my grandmother graduated from high school (which she did at age sixteen) her grown brother paid the $500 tuition for my grandmother to go to The University of Idaho. Her mother went to work in a market and sent $30 monthly to provide for my grandmother’s room and board. Her older sister sewed all of my grandmother’s clothing, including her dress suits. My grandmother worked as a Resident Assistant and earned $30 monthly to cover everything else. The sacrifice of my forebears allowed my grandmother to go to college in the 1930’s where besides furthering her education she also met my grandfather and they eventually married. This union brought forth my father and later myself. Their sacrifices brought me to the family I am in today. Their sacrifices turn my heart towards them in love, humility and great appreciation.

My grandparents

My grandparents

Our Founding Fathers too understood the importance of family and legacy. One remarkable example of this is Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s own grandchildren often lived with him and spoke of remembrances of their beloved grandfather. Granddaughter Ellen Wayles Randolph wrote,  “He took pains to correct our errors and false ideas, checked the bold, encouraged the timid, and tried to teach us to reason soundly and feel rightly. . . . He was watchful over our manners, and called our attention to every violation of propriety. He did not interfere with our education . . . except by advising us what studies to pursue, what books to read, and by questioning us on the books which we did read.”1

A visitor of Monticello and the Jeffersons, Mrs. Margaret Bayard Smith wrote while watching Mr. Jefferson interact with his grandchildren, “”He seemed delighted in delighting them,” and noted that “while I sat looking at him playing with these infants, one standing on the sopha with its arms round his neck, the other two youngest on his knees, playing with him, I could scarcely realize that he was one of the most celebrated men now living, both as a Politician and Philosopher.” Jefferson was an involved grandfather, teaching Ellen how to play chess, buying Virginia a guitar, and sharing the delights of the flower garden with Anne.”2

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800

Other Founding Fathers understood the importance of family and legacy as well. George Washington’s grandchildren grew up in his home. In John Adam’s later years his children moved near him and thus blessedly his children and grandchildren surrounded him. Benjamin Franklin searched out his ancestors and living relatives in England and treasured any anecdote he ever found about them. Many more such examples may be found. These great men valued family just as we should today. What legacy are you leaving?

1“Our Breakfast Table.”The Thomas Jefferson Foundation.<http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/our-breakfast-table&gt;
2ibid

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Truth As We Know It

As the Psalmist wrote: “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him[i].” And again like the Psalmist, I plead “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places.[ii]“(emphasis added)

What is truth?

According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary Truth is defined as: Veracity; Purity from falsehood; Correct opinion; Fidelity; Constancy; Honesty; Virtue; Real fact of just principle; Real state of things[iii]

noah webster

Noah Webster

May I share a story that illustrates truth?

It was Christmas night 1776. While the Hessians were warm in their borrowed homes, Washington was orchestrating a bold plan to overtake Trenton, New Jersey. (This is a truth.) His troops, many wearing only rags for shoes (another truth) went forth in a horrific snowstorm transporting with them 18 field cannon, 350 tons of ammunition, draft horses and 2400 men across the icy Delaware River. Footprints of blood were left along the trail of those men whose feet were only wrapped. (another truth) The night was so frigid, the visibility so low that Hessians decided not to post any sentries for the night or dawn watch. This was the saving grace for the American army. As the storm swirled around them the Americans silently entered Trenton, New Jersey surprising the Hessians entirely. As the enemy tried to pull together their ranks they were quickly defeated. Over 900 Hessians were captured. This small battle was a pivotal point for the American Revolution. Most battles had been lost up to this point. Many were mere skirmishes. The Colonial (American) army was starving. The Americans desperately needed to win a battle for hope to burn on. Washington recognized this. His password for this battle was “Victory or Death.”

Crossing the Delaware

Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, 1851

Benjamin Rush who had come to visit and cheer Washington noted in a meeting with Washington just two days previous on December 23, 1776, “While I was talking to him, I observed him to play with his pen and ink upon several small pieces of pater. One of them by accident fell upon the floor near my feet. I was struck with the inscription upon it. It was “Victory or Death.[iv]” “ How much Washington understood the truth of what the Americans needed, a battle won. How much he needed hope to burn on. He did not give up. He was bold and decisive.

What about us today? Do we believe in truth? Do we know what truth is? Do we live it? In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R Covey wrote: “(Truths) apply to individuals, to marriages, to families, to private and public organizations of every kind. When these truths are internalized into habits, they empower people to create a wide variety of practices to deal with different situations.[v]

Did we not see this in Washington’s day? Were not Washington and those who fought for the freedoms of our country empowered through truth? I would boldly proclaim, Yes! Truth set them free to follow the dictates of their own conscience! Our Founding Fathers sought truth. Do you? Do you seek for truth in all that you read, all that you speak, all of your associations? Are you a pillar of truth for all those who are seeking?

[i] Psalms 42:5 New American Standard Bible
[ii] Psalms 43:3 New American Standard Bible
[iii] http://webstersdictionary1828.com/
[iv] Richard Ketchum, The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 1999), p.236.
[v] Stephen R Covery, The 7 Habits of Highly Effectivie People(New York: Free Press, 2004), p.35.

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Whose Government Is It Anyway?

We, the people of the United States are at a crossing. We may continue sitting, letting others make choices for us, or we may boldly take a stand and be a voice for truth.

Whose government is it anyway?

Can you truly make a difference? Let me tell you a story about two men that you may know, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.

The year was 1786. The location was Annapolis, Maryland. All thirteen states had been invited to a conference to discuss commercial challenges each state shared. Only five of the thirteen states gathered. The war had been won but the nation was crumbling.

Money was valued differently in each state, waterways were fought over by different states, exports differed statewide. At first glance little would seem to come from this Maryland conference but a bunch of grumbling and yet it was the event that got the ball rolling, for at this meeting sat Alexander Hamilton age 29 & James Madison age 35.

Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull

Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull

 Hamilton, who had been born out of wedlock, grew up in a home that included bankruptcy and continual financial challenges. He lost his mother in his young youth and had to go to work at a Counting House at the age of fifteen to help support the family. He seemed an unlikely fit for a Founding Father.

James Madison by John Trumbull

James Madison by John Trumbull

 Madison grew up a sickly child, sickly youth and sickly young adult. Many thought he would never live to adulthood. He was small at 5’4” and weighed less than 100 pounds.  Yet as the scripture states in 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said… Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature;…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

The Lord looked on the heart of these two young men and worked a great work through them. These were the two who became the force that drove the 13 states to hold a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. This convention became known as the Constitutional Convention and under the direction of many of the greatest minds of the time the Constitution of the United States was formed. These same two men who proposed the Constitutional Convention at the above-mentioned Annapolis conference were also some of the loudest voices behind the ratification of the Constitution. They, along with John Jay, wrote The Federalist Papers, which promoted the states ratifying The Constitution of the United States.

So, can the Lord use you? Are you available if and when He calls? There is still much to be done in the affairs of this nation.  Whose government is it anyway?

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