Founding Fathers

Who Will Guard the Guardians?

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“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.”
– Plato

This morning I read two different stories involving police officers, and both speak wonders. The first story rightly labeled a local police officer as a hero after he bravely rescued a woman from drowning. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article and left a “thank you” to the brave police officer in the comments section. It was nice to read something positive after all of the negative that has been filling my timeline lately. Then a comment made by another woman on that same article made me doubt the human race once again. This peculiar commenter made it known that she would love to see people that post police overreach articles face this brave young hero. Basically, she dared anyone to say anything negative about any other police officer because the man that saved a woman from drowning had a badge.

I can’t wait to start posting articles about heroic civilians and follow it up with, “I’d love to see those who speak out against child abuse and rape face these heroes.”

“Please remove this article about sex trafficking, my husband just so happens to be a man, and this paints all men as sex addicted monsters.”

“Please remove this article about Andrea Yates, my Mom is a mother, and this paints all mothers as psychopaths.”

“Please remove this article about how bad aspects of the public education system can be, my wife is a teacher.”

“Please remove this article about being careful when getting in a stranger’s car, my husband picks up hitchhikers and delivers them home safely.”

Do you know why bad things happen to people? Because bad people usually use the same techniques that good people happen to use, just for different reasons. Don’t justify your silence on issues by saying there are good people, it just allows the bad to continue deceiving, sometimes even turning the good people into tools for bad. Hence this blog post.  

The second story I read was revolting and should leave everyone outraged.

In 2012 a police officer was arrested for planning to kidnap, torture, rape, kill, and eventually cannibalize his victims. He had used the NYPD database to track his potential victims, and had detailed out and established his plans in chat rooms and phone calls. He had even brought on coconspirators to help him be successful, he even brought the idea of harming his wife into the debacle. His google searches included “How to knock out someone with chloroform.” Yet, the acts of this monster amazingly have nothing to do with today’s blog post; however, what happened to him does indeed relate to today’s blog post. He walked this week. He was sentenced to 1 year, time served, for using the perks of his job to hunt down his potential victims. 1 year. *taps on microphone* 1 year.

He faced less time for conspiring to barbeque a woman while she was still alive, after the brutal rape he had planned for her, than an 18-year-old would spend for having sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. I’m not justifying statutory rape, I’m just demonstrating how the magic a badge holds in the courtroom can make David Copperfield look like a hobo playing shell games on a street corner.

So, to the point: I’ve let the idea for this blog post mull around in my brain for a few months. I wasn’t sure how to approach such a divisive topic, I wasn’t sure how to avoid being offensive, etc. but honestly, at this point, I’m not going to squander time designated for perfectly good sleep worrying about whether people can have an adult conversation about a legitimate issue, or if they’re going to go Stephanie Tanner stompy foot on me. Life is short, I have a lot of opinions, and this isn’t going to be the last viewpoint that makes enemies.

Topic: Police Overreach (Insert Jaws theme music here)

So, I kind of feel like I kicked a puppy just by flirting with the idea of going towards this topic. Immediately upon reading this many people will say, “Oh yeah, well let’s see who she calls when someone breaks into her house!!”

I’m going to go ahead and answer that question: The cops. Because I’m not anti-cop, I’m anti-Police State. Oh, and that’s sort of their original purpose, as opposed to being suited up like The Terminator to go investigate a joint.

No, I’m not going to apologize if adults can’t talk about real issues without a bias that causes them to lash out at people, even if what those individuals are saying is logical. I’m not even going to back down when confronted by those who want to voice their frustrations because they have friends and family in law enforcement, because I do too.

Hey, finish reading, and if you disagree, I would love to discuss it with you via email, or in the comments section.

The barricade that keeps us from solving issues:

Conservatives have a tendency of behaving like liberals when it comes to certain conversations that need to be had; guarding certain topics better than they would the holy grail. I was blocked by a police officer after having a discussion concerning police brutality, apparently discussing a legitimate issue is no longer permitted. This is like men getting mad if you discuss the issue of rape, because they have the same tools that were used in the crime.

Quite frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of saying anything about our need to reduce the police state mentality only to have people assume that I have a Guy Fawkes mask in my purse, and that I belong in zip-tie handcuffs. Come on now, People… Now I finally understand why I rarely find a logical article on the subject! Either you have articles worshipping law enforcement, or you have articles showing complete distain for law enforcement, or you have the articles that are never written because sane individuals approach the topic only to be taken on a guilt trip to the land of heroic stories, where the rivers of bravery floweth, and the dangerous changes taking place in our society are forgotten.

Seriously, I love the police. I appreciate the police. I just want to request that our law enforcement simply do what they were originally designed for before 1984 becomes prophetic.  

On that note:

In 2011 Jose Guerena was shot 22 times while standing in his kitchen. The 26-year-old man was an Iraq veteran who had returned home and was now working the night shift at a mine. After seeing a suspicious person by their house, he put his wife and child in a closet and took his gun out to investigate. A SWAT team riddled his body with bullets while in search of drugs throughout the neighborhood. His home did not have any drugs, and the only marijuana found by the SWAT team was a small bag located in another home.

Reminder: A cannibalistic police officer is unencumbered, and probably fantasizing and enjoying a beer right now while this veteran is in a grave.

In 2010 a 7-year-old little girl was badly burned by a flashbang grenade that was thrown into the window of a her home, landing on her blanket. She was instantly disoriented and unable to hear and follow orders, a member of the SWAT team then entered the home and her life was ended with a single shot in the wake of all the madness.

Just this past May, a no knock SWAT raid ended with a 2-year-old child being thrown into a medically induced coma after have a flashbang grenade land in his crib. A search for drugs that weren’t even found in the home, a home that the suspect didn’t even reside in, ended with an innocent child having a gaping chest wound.

That’s just a sampling. All around the United States the Fourth Amendment is violated because people don’t know their rights, and men in uniform are either ignorant of those rights themselves, or they are taking advantage of the fact that many citizens are oblivious.  Yet if you mention this fact, you might as well have said that dogs don’t go to heaven, and baby ducks should be thrown in wood chippers.

In a press conference held in February of this year, concerning the ridiculous arrest of a jogger that was “resisting arrest,” or in reality, wearing headphones that made her unable to hear the cop shout at her after she jaywalked (no joke,) one police chief actually said, “In other cities there’s cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy…” This girl was placed on the ground and handcuffed while she cried and begged them to understand that she didn’t do anything wrong.

I followed the comments section of an article on the jogger story and was amazed by the support from other officers for this, well, thug-like arrest. But it’s acceptable that the pigtailed jogger was a victim of police overreach, because well, she’s just lucky that she didn’t get sexually assaulted? That’s a logical defense? I mean, maybe in Soviet Russia, but here? Yes, the chief eventually admitted to the fact that he could have worded that better. By I’m going to throw “worded that better” out into the cold and replace it with, “should’ve never tried to justify it in the first place.”

I hate to go here, but…

No, that’s a lie. I’m pretty ok with going here. The greatest weapon that the Gestapo had in their power was fear. The people thought that the Gestapo had ears everywhere, could do what they wanted without repercussions, etc. and that fear gave the Gestapo the ability to actually do what they wanted without repercussions. Imagine that. They fed off of the ignorance of the people. They even leaked stories of brutality by police so as to put fear into the people. The “it could be worse for you” mentality was rampant, and the people simply wanted to stay safe, so they blindly complied.

I was listening to a video of a gun owner talking to a police officer. The police officer was in full agreement with the man concerning the fact that it was his right to carry his weapon. When the man asked the police officer why he didn’t just explain our rights to the concerned caller that had called the police, the officer eluded to the idea that they would rather not see a lot of people knowing that they can exercise those rights. The police are to blame for much of the anti-gun propaganda, they have aided in fueling so much of the fear surrounding guns…

SIDE NOTE: I’m not justifying the actions of those that are carrying long rifles into restaurants. My opinions on that will be in a different blog post.

Countless videos of civilians refusing a vehicle search are all over the net, and yet those conducting the searches find the ignorance of one’s own rights to be a benefit for the thousands of other cars searched without question. Unfortunately, even GOOD cops are being led down the road of the police state mentality. It’s the ends justifying the means again…But is that who America is? Is that what we want our country to be like? I’ll pass.

The video of a police officer supporting the rights of gun owners made the rounds as well, I shared it excitedly, and then realized that this shouldn’t be considered a “good deed,” it should be considered “their job.”

Let’s look at some facts:

Civilian body counts are rising:

In 2013, 33 police officers were killed in the line of duty. This is a horrid statistic, but it is also the lowest number since 1887. Facts are, crime is not increasing; actually, it is the contrary. Yet in 2012 (couldn’t find 2013 data yet) over 400 civilian deaths occurred, and that unprecedented statistic has continually been increasing since 9/11.

Crime has always existed, and shockingly, homicide rates are down! Taking into account population increase, technically the wild west – well before gun control laws – had the lowest homicide rate between 1880 – current day. Suddenly in the late 1890’s, early 1900’s, union-led gun control laws were enacted and the homicide rates skyrocketed, decreasing once again when prohibition was ending. Then after the JFK assassination, gun control laws were enacted again, and homicide rates skyrocketed.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of 2013, the percentage of non-fatal gun crime victims dropped 75% since 1993, going from 725.3 victims per 100,000 in 1993 to 181.5 in 2011. Gun homicide rates dropped by 49%, going from 6.5 victims per 100,000 in 1990 to 3.6 in 2010. All in all, there has been little change in crime, there are some ups and downs, but it’s pretty clear that people have been breaking the law for a very long time (I mean come on, the first born human committed murder…). Funny enough, they tend to do it less when individuals carry weapons. Unfortunately, the numbers indicate that crime is not on the rise, police fatalities are not on the rise, and are actually on the decline, but police are more frequently resorting to violence.

Point being, we’ve been living in a corrupt society with psychopaths for quite a while, nothing is going to make that fact go away. The difference is simple – Now we have social media monitoring every move that societal bottom dwellers make. Stories that once upon a time didn’t even make it to a breaking news report across our TV, or the newspaper for that matter, now have a twitter hashtag before an ambulance arrives. Don’t get me wrong, staying informed is beneficial, but understanding the impact social media has had in our ability to hear about the crime is essential for our perspective. Crime is in your face more than ever, that doesn’t justify police overreach.

Scary statistic: More individuals have been killed by Police in the United States than soldiers have died fighting terrorism in the Middle East since the World Trade Center attacks.

Unwarranted Searches & Knowing Your Rights:

After the Boston bombing, Tsarnaev was on the loose. The police proceeded to search homes in Watertown, without warrant, and the occupants of said homes appeased them out of ignorance. This was a direct violation of our Fourth Amendment rights, but our government sold it as an attempt to protect us. As people answered their doors with their hands over their head (little too fearful???), law enforcement began their in-depth searches.

Everybody says, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” And to those people I kindly ask that they get a history book.

According to the Department of Justice, you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist. Yet we actually have people defending no knock raids, and complete violations of the Fourth Amendment through unwarranted searches. They support the legal assaults that take place in airports on children and Grandmas. I live in a country where I can’t take my hairspray on a plane, but someone can troll the NYPD database looking for women to victimize and only serve a year in jail.

I’m going to need to blackout for a minute and digest that.

Alright, I’m back.

So, what changed? Police departments have become militarized. Originally, police officers were armed citizens who took on the responsibility of having arrest powers to protect the people. Now, they are more like a paramilitary organization. People fear American police more now than they ever have, and I had my concerns validated when a police officer said “Good!” when I mentioned that very fact. Officers have adopted a warrior mentality, and have assumed that the rest of the population consists of ignorant sheep. Looking at those they swore to protect and serve as enemies, or weaklings. Yes, many police officers give their lives in the line of duty, and many civilians are also killed recklessly. Could it be that it is everyone’s fault? If we are teaching officers to look at civilians as below them, or enemies, are we not just fueling the separation?

I’ve heard from many good hearted and conservative police officers that sincerely wish for civilians to be less armed. That’s not ok. It just means that we are failing the police officers being trained, because we clearly aren’t teaching them to respect the rights of citizens. Amazingly, when I talk to retired police officers they say the exact opposite. So, are we currently encouraging police officers to behave irresponsibly, to see innocent civilians as the potential enemy? I once heard a cop say, “I couldn’t care less what their rights are when I’m in the heat of the moment.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this particular police officer probably should’ve chosen a different career path.

Police officers do not face the same justice system that civilians do:

If you kill a police dog, you will be charged with taking the life of an officer. Yet if a cop comes on to your property without a warrant and kills your animal, you’ll get to pay the vet bill to have them cremated.

I personally take great issue with this. I have a German Shepherd that is trained to guard my home, and she stays inside all day. She doesn’t know the difference between a cop breaking in, or Jeffrey Dahmer (apparently it could be both,) she just knows that it is her job to keep my home safe. I don’t like the idea that a police officer can get off the hook for slaughtering my dog  if for some reason they decide to illegally enter my home, only to escape the justice system because they have a badge. If that’s the way it’s going to be going forward, law enforcement is going to become the career of choice for aspiring criminals, similar to how it was for the Gestapo.

SIDE NOTE: Yes, I read the adorable story of the cop that saved a dog and found its owners. Once again, that cop deserves a thank you. Interestingly enough, he recognized the poor image that the police now have with civilians concerning pets, and he made it a point to say that they all don’t behave that way. I give a sincere kudos to that officer.

My recommendation:

If you are a police officer that is easily angered during police overreach discussions, you’re just increasing the chances that those listening will learn not to trust the police. Don’t defend criminals, even if they wear a badge, because that only gives us a substantiated reason to doubt whether your loyalty lies in protecting the innocent, or protecting whoever has a matching outfit.

If a group of mid-20’s blonde women with brownie batter addictions break in and rob a jewelry store, I’m not going to defend them because I’m a mid-20’s blonde woman with a brownie batter addiction. If you don’t want the world to act like the police are the largest gang in the United States, Hint: stop acting like it by pulling the gang loyalty card with the “Blue Code of Silence.” I get it, there is loyalty there, like in the military; However, let’s draw the line at say…oh, I don’t know…An unreasonable raid that left a 2 year-old with a gaping chest wound from a flashbang grenade. A woman that was stripped nude and pepper sprayed multiple times even after they had her in control behind bars. Or, maybe the unreasonable search of vehicles and homes without warrants?

I hope to see police officers bringing up these issues. If you are dedicated to protecting the people of the United States, why not call out those that are harming them, or those that are violating their rights?

Police, I want to work with you, because I am a law abiding citizen that hates crime. I want to see us be friends again, I don’t want to fear you when I don’t have a reason to do so, I don’t want to have to fear for my rights, I want you to know and understand them, and I want you to want the people of this country to know and understand their rights so that we can build a safer tomorrow. A tomorrow where we realize that a SWAT team is not necessary to apprehend little Billy’s weed stash.

To all of the police officers that respect the rights of the people, please let me express my gratitude. We need people like you on our side, I respect you, and I am thankful for your sacrifice. I appreciate the few that commented on some of those posts calling out your fellow brethren for violating the rights of the people. I don’t want the police to go away, I just want them to know their place in a free society. Contrary to both sides of the debate, respect and restraint are not antithetical.

Alright…I’ll take my lashings now. If by lashings you mean a piece of cake….or pie…I’m not picky.

-  MB

A Rose by Any Other Name…

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When I was 9 years old I attended a private school in Pennsylvania, stiff upper-lip teachers, uniforms and all. We read a great deal of books while at school; in addition, we had to list off a number of books that we would read during the year at home. The part I hated most would grow to be the part I appreciate most now: comprehension tests. After each book we had a set of rigorous questions to answer, each pertaining to intricate details found within the book. With the glaring eyes of a teacher staring through you as you stumbled for the answers to the multitude of questions, you quickly learned to actually pay attention when you took to reading your books.

Could my teacher have simply taken us through the areas that answered the questions? Of course. We would have passed the tests with flying colors, received a good grade, and the clouds would have opened up and beamed a heavenly glow around a highly approved teacher. But what good would it do for our actual education, not just the grades on a paper? Nothing. You can teach a child to pass a test, but the result will not be the comprehension of the materials.

Welcome to Common Core.

I could go on a 6 page tangent over the idea that classic literature and personal writing is somehow deemed irrelevant to those that add their approval to such poor standards, but alas, I won’t only focus on this one issue since it is simply one large missing portion of a widely flawed initiative. Ok…For the sake of being honest, I’ll probably focus a lot of this post on said portion. Our society would rather have kids droning on about vampires and Anastasia Steele than topics and stories that challenge the reader to create within their mind a space welcoming of creativity, and that’s the sad fact.

Common Core attempts to prepare kids for the workforce (emphasis on “attempts”), not for college. By high school, common core will place kids years behind the education level in other countries. Can schools do anything about that? They can modify the standards by an additional 15%, but the standards themselves are under a copyright by NGA Center, and the Council of Chief State School Officers; regretfully, they are the only group that has the legal right to change the standards. So if your school says “we modified and only partially adapted” in an attempt to bring levity to the change, realize that they are grossly misleading you, or they have no idea what they’re talking about – both of which should concern you.

Why did states welcome Common Core with open arms, many knowing the issues it would cause? The almighty dollar. Money trumps the future of your child’s education in today’s world, it’s as simple as that. Money and waivers are given to those that welcomed Common Core standards and testing. Period.

Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education Reform, had the following to say about Common Core standards when she refused to sign off on the standards:

“As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA “college readiness” standards weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework, decrease the capacity for analytical thinking, and completely muddle the development of writing skills.”

She goes on to note that English teachers are being asked to teach on materials that are beyond their skill set. At minimum, 50% of the curriculum must be filled with informational nonfiction material (questionable material at best); reducing literary material to dismal levels, occasionally minor quotes and sections are substituted instead of allowing students to absorb the full material.

Maybe now is when you might question the importance of literature. “What’s the big deal?”… As infuriating as it is to even hear it be questioned, I believe that we should seize the opportunity to explain.

If not for the works of Mary Wollstonecraft, the original feminist movement may not have been born. No, not today’s feminist movement, the feminist movement that would be revolted by today’s feminists and their ultimate goal of objectifying women across the globe.

“…and women, intoxicated by the adoration that men (under the influence of their senses) pay them, don’t try to achieve a permanently important place in men’s feelings, or to become the friends of the fellow creatures who find amusement in their society…

…as blind obedience is ever sought for by power, tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavor to keep women in the dark, because the former only want slaves, and the latter a play-thing.”  – Mary Wollstonecraft

Literature is an important key to understanding moral customs and cultural differences. We learn about the beauty of a free society and the struggles highlighted for our minds to analyze. We are forced to contemplate good and evil, acknowledge the differences between our fellow man, and imagine for just a time that we are struggling with the lost. Our emotions are challenged, and our compassion developed. It teaches us the benefits of metaphors, comprehension, and depth of character; every person, every stage, every smell, every scene is custom to the reader. Building it inside of our minds while the story unfolds. They are not just a people spoken about in our history books, the characters become a being that we know and care for; we develop a logical response to both good and bad actions through our connection to the character. You may choose to toss it out with the pile of what you deem to be useless art, but I fear that the societal decline that has accompanied the lack of reading and writing is of no coincidence.

Let’s also not forget that our failing vocabulary could use a substantial lift.

See “bling,” “twerk,” “cuz,” “totes,” “peeps,” “adorbs,” “realz,” “dat,” “haz,” “luv,” “YOLO,” “swag,” “outa,” “dat,” “whatevs,” etc…. I rest my case. Do you realize that many of those words won’t even be corrected by autocorrect? Dat should totes make you weep 4 humanity, Peeps, 4 realz.

Our education system is encouraging/forcing kids to waste much of their time on not using their mind to contemplate morals, use critical thinking or build worlds inside their imagination. If time is the true currency, what our schools are doing is as frivolous as flushing your money down the toilet. In reality, it is more so. Once again Stotsky reiterates:

“Teachers and parents are regularly being told that more technical and persuasive writing will boost students’ critical thinking.  But little analytical thinking is apt to appear in letters to the principal about cafeteria food that kids are often encouraged to write in order to practice writing a “persuasive” letter. Reading researchers know there is absolutely no research to support the idea that increased study of “literary non-fiction” or “informational” texts in the English class, or increases in persuasive writing, will increase students’ level of analytical thinking.  There is every reason to believe they will, instead, lower the level.”

To read her full statement, click here.

I would be remiss if I also didn’t note that we had already experienced the failures of universal testing with NCLB (No Child Left Behind). Schools in low income neighborhoods became what Common Core wishes for all schools to become: test preparation programs. NCLB disciplined high performing schools and children on its war path to lift poor performers up. This never works. It’s never worked. Why do we keep trying such doomed experimental programs with education AND economics???

So then we take billionaires and politically motivated organizations and give them the reins to dismantle a democratic institution that has done more to bring equality than any other democratic institution in the USA? We provided opportunity to those who made the choice to seek it out, now we are punishing those who strive for success. Since NCLB & Common Core, there has been an increase in charter schools; meanwhile, thousands of public schools have been forced to close. Public schools that while in poor neighborhoods were the bridge that offered hope and freedom to children that, despite their circumstances, created within themselves the ability to survive & accomplish. Years later we now have increased child poverty, and the continual widening of achievement gaps due to standards that were backed by both sides of the aisle.

Well done, Ol’ Chaps!

Back to Common Core – Not only will children suffer in their reading and writing, but in a world where comprehension is not a priority, math and various other studies will take a detrimental blow. We are already seeing arithmetic problems in grade school students turned into 100+ steps of wasted time. It is making children feel like failures, when in reality, their minds should be built to solve the problem in the most logical way. Horrifyingly, these practices have never even been tested! They’ve turned the United States education system into a giant experiment. The weakness of the Common Core math standards were even noted by the creators of the standards themselves.

But then it gets even better!

We have a nation of kids who have constant entertainment. Video games, television, movies, etc. fill their days. Constantly being fed the narrative. Constantly being mind numbingly entertained. Then we send them to school and expect them to pay attention to the mundane, the redundant, and the unimaginative, then drug them because they are “hyper.”

Historically we didn’t have the issues that we have, and many other countries don’t either, so what gives? Clearly changes in the last 50 years have led us to this point, what were they? Do they have to do with chemicals? Food Dyes? Education? Shouldn’t those be the first questions we respond with before we start pumping children with more pharmaceuticals than an 80’s rock band?

If you or your child exhibit 6 of the 18 ADHD behaviors, you/they can be labeled as an individual who suffers from a “biologic abnormality of the brain” and handed a prescription. Read the behavior list sometime, you’ll likely come to the same conclusion as me: every human being at some point has suffered from ADHD. Imagine the entire population of Nicaragua, that’s roughly how many children in the US alone are on Psychotropic drugs. Kids are diagnosed at an alarming rate. Once signs of a hyper personality are found, parents, teachers, and doctors flock to the easy out like starving castaways who have just come upon a Pizza Hut.

Maybe I’m just primitive in nature, turning from my cave art to watch the spectacle and shake my club in mumbled revolt, but those “symptoms” seem to me to be an epidemic of both the mind and the heart. I’m not a doctor, but I am an observer of society and the downhill slope it’s taking that leads directly to a lava pit.

In a world filled with sensory overload, we’ve lost a huge part of who we are. With every advancement made in video games, the entertainment industry, and now faulty school standards, we slam another nail into the casket of creativity and imagination.  Now I’m not saying that all movies, games, and shows are bad, I’m just saying that as time goes on, our hearts become more invested in things that require little thought process. God created our minds to be used, and when kids are scratching on the walls of conformity we’ve now decided they need a pill instead of a change. They don’t require self-discipline because it’s not expected any longer, and then we have to deal with ADULTS that have no self-discipline.

And Isn’t that a peach….

Welcome to the new America. Start standing up against the change, or conform to the new thought standards, perpetuating a system that creates robots that simply obey the government agenda. Educators & politicians can call what they are doing education, but indoctrination by any other name will destroy as swiftly.

“What appalls me most about the standards is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.” Dr. Anthony Esolen – Providence College

Punching holes in the wall

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    “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
– Thomas Jefferson –

It’s weird to think that after these words were penned and the Declaration was signed, that it wasn’t immediately laminated and placed behind vacuum sealed glass. But the war was in full swing. The Declaration was simply an emphatic letter to George the third letting him know they would never back down. The Declaration, to them, was never as important as the freedom for which they fought. It simply clearly defined their motives and arguably, silently avered the truth of their suppression. Historically, we recognize the profound and revolutionary results of their actions. And while we revere the documents, the writers, and the ideals they espouse(d), and we celebrate the results, they were ultimately just concerned about the results.

I’m gonna try something I’ve never seen done, not that is hasn’t been done. We have interpretations of the bible up to the ‘red neck ten commandments,’ right? So how about the above passage? Here goes:

George, we’re doing this for obvious reasons: God created all men equal. It goes without saying that you disagree. He’s given all men certain rights that cannot be revoked, (while we suffer from your attempts to revoke them,) namely Life, Liberty on several fronts, and to try to be happy. We will live or die by this. Good luck. Sincerely, Tom and company.
   
Just a couple things stand out to me in the original text.
1: “…all men are created equal.” Equal in importance, not necessarily social status. Like ‘same body – many (equally important) parts.’ Critics argue obvious social level, slave ownership, etc. (I always secretly hoped to believe that they were the 18th century version of Schindler where that was concerned.) Equal.
2: Capital “C” in “Creator.”
3: “Rights, Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness,” grammatically emphasized. Again, the underlying message was probably pointing out the things that were not being allowed.
4: ‘Endowed’ and ‘unalienable.’ Given, and irrevocable. It drives some people nuts when I tell them I’m free in Christ because they see it as so much bondage, rules, and regulations… restrictions. That it can’t be taken away would seem debatable. But it’s not. With the Colonies, it wasn’t the ability to have the things that couldn’t be revoked, it was the Right to the things that was irrevocable, different from freedom in Christ in that the ability to remain free can’t be taken, but you get the picture.

These ‘truths’ are obvious. Yet, according to what I’ve read, homeland security and Nancy Pelosi would have you believe that if you hold to these truths, if you believe in personal liberties, if you are a tea party libertarian, you are a potential terrorist and a dangerous individual!
If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “This can’t end well.”

The collision of church and state should never have happened. It is the love of the almighty dollar that is the root of this corruption. Even the love of power is subject to the love of money. The government is in bed with the abortion industry. For many years, more and more restrictions have been placed on protesters (primarily religious folk), ie. certain distance from clinics, illegal to approach and talk to or convince would be ‘patients’ otherwise, etc. etc. Finally we were getting reports that abortion centers were slowly but surely being shut down… defunded. Individual lower level politics doing what they could… states, sovereign states passing legislating… The dam seemed about to burst.
“That’s ok,” thought the federal government, “we can force everyone to buy health coverage and include in the bill a ‘birth control’ mandate. BAM! Collision.

Passage of the bill: Bought by one vote. Upheld: (possibly) Bought by one opinion. It’s discouraging to think this precious liberty could be bought by politicians and thugs. It’s backwards too. The government was confined to certain powers, separate but equal, that the will of the people has barely held in check for the last few years. Whether by principle in that the government should be limited in its powers over ‘church’ or in ignorant application that religion has absolutely no place in the government, it has remained intact (with its share of black eyes). Now the government apparently has decided that the separation only goes one way – and you can guess the direction!

But it’s encouraging too. One vote. During Obama’s popular phase. One. Not that an abuse of power and executive orders can’t nullify lack of popularity and unfavorable opinion polls. But we can only be cautiously hopeful that the integrity of the system will remain intact. That enough people can let their senators know how we feel about their job security. There is hope. If not now, then November. There’s always hope. Hope was forged from the midst of a Revolutionary War. It’s certainly not gone now.

There’s definitely much more to talk about than Obamacare, but that’s the pressing issue. Call your senators. Stay involved. Be active.
And if you’re compelled to believe that religion shouldn’t get involved, remember our founding fathers were politicians whose purpose included ‘Creator’ with a capital ‘C’.

Tim

The Humdrum Christian Life

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At church one day my pastor was talking about gossip.  Of course he told us not to spread it.  But  equally important, he said, don’t listen to it either!
I turned around to my sister-in-law and whispered, “Oh my gosh!  You know who does that?”
She quickly replied, “Who?!?”
On the surface, that is hilarious.  What about below the surface?  While it was intended to be funny and she fell for it, I mean to tell you she went a long way that day from where she was even just minutes before. A lot of the time, we like to hear a great message and in our minds say, “Ooh!  I wish so-and-so could hear this! It would be perfect for him/her!” How do we get to the point of realizing that the message is intended for US? Of equal confoundedness, if we do realize it, can we quantify the importance of it?  Can we APPLY it effectively?

How true is it that the origination of this country, the Declaration of Independence, the importance of the Constitution, the history of ‘why’, etc., still impacts our lives? Not at all? A little? A few patriotic holidays?  Of course we are all in different pages of the same book on this. Let me try to bring it closer to home.

According to popular understanding, and a somewhat overly simplistic overall view, the American Revolution goes something like this:

Political rebellion. Taxation w/o representation.
Ok. Mostly true. But why did this unfair taxation mean so much? Was there more to it?

See, the Puritans came over fleeing persecution. A changing of the guard overseas sealed their residency as hopes of a deal and an eventual return were lost. The recognized state religions did not include the Puritans… and later on ‘those silly Presbyterians,’ generally speaking, our founding fathers. Think of the emphatic deliberate language of the Declaration. Of the Constitution. Their faith encompassed every aspect of their lives! They deemed it worth fighting for to not have their motives altered! They feared the corruption of a state army over the sacrificial ideals of a volunteer army… the free expression of their faith rather than chancing worship tainted with spite! Talk about conviction!

Now for sure, your lot in life does NOT dictate your freedom in Christ. But our lot was BOUGHT with the blood of remarkable selfless patriots who dreamed of a society in which God could be openly worshipped with the purest of hearts and NO EXCUSES! Something the king did not want. Thus the greatest free society in the history of mankind was born.
But was this really worth the sacrifice? Was it just?

This is where it gets tricky. My opinion aside, there are obviously different schools of thought on this. The safe answer I will initially give is, they certainly thought so! There is absolutely no way to insert yourself into that time in history and objectively answer that question. Is west of the Mississippi a beautiful place to live? Yep! But given a British rule we may never have known. Not wanting trouble, the English had prohibited settling in Indian territory. Now we know.Don’t misunderstand: THE ENDS DO NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS! You could no sooner say a lot was learned about hypothermia from the holocaust so the means are justified. That would be absurd. There is myriad gray area here so I’ll just skip to my personal conclusion. In The absence of objective evidence that could clearly dispell the validity of the war, it is valid. As previously mentioned, America bears shame. But America bears honor as well. In the end, some things are what they are and we can’t go back.

But where does that leave us and was anything brought ‘home?’

Regardless of where you fall in the revolutionary debate, we live in a country conceived as it was conceived. A nation that has done tremendous amounts of more good and probably no less bad than it might otherwise have done. The current state of the nation, despite the propaganda and rhetoric, historically speaking, offers more hopelessness than hope (poverty nearly always increases as more and more poverty reducing government sponsored programs are introduced!) Would be Christian charity is reduced! Worth noting is the governments utter lack of faithfulness in the financial handling of any program.
Hitting home is the absolute certainty that barring a drastic change in fiscal thinking, our children and grandchildren will very shortly be bearing a burden that cannot be overcome. Hitting home is that in the name of comfort we choose death over life every time we ignorantly buy a product from a supporter of the abortion industry or vote for a proponent. Hitting home is that we cheer death panels over compassionate end of life care. We encourage sex by telling our kids they aren’t able to wait (sex ed). We cleverly Tweet offensive degrading scathing insults. We ignore the needs of children of God and instead choose a newer car, a bigger house, a nicer boat. We are conceding the ability to very freely seek and save the LOST to feel good about helping people when in reality it only creates more people who need help. Why would we do that? We are allowing the government to tell us our convictions don’t matter and that the alleged ends DO justify the means. We remove ourselves from the whole process…
We are willing to sacrifice our birthright for a bowl of soup!

In my opinion if none of this describes you or you are unable to produce some area of your life that needs a severe overhaul, then thanks for visiting our blog! If we are unable to see how these things apply to us, then is there any hope?

God has used foxholes to produce real Christians. Joshua, son of Nun, knew God as did all of that generation. The next generation knew OF God. Then next KNEW NOT God! Free to choose and free of hardship, what would you choose? Chastisement and hardship definitely can be a tool God uses to rebuke and/or get our attention. It is at His discretion to cause a nation to rise up or fall based on their response to Him… and to change His mind based on changes in responses. But Free will is one of His greatest gifts to us. We are still free to choose God and for the moment, we are free to love Him out loud!

Maybe we can keep it that way. Maybe we can’t. But since we have it that way now, and even if we didn’t, do we not KNOW that we need to be doing more? Not just ideally but politically?

Currently we are free. Less and less, but would you not agree that if we lost it that the cost of trying to get it back would be all but unaffordable? Regardless of the original justification – which I think was just – we have a precious freedom to protect Now. We must try to keep it. And regardless, to do more.

Tim