Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Conversation Between Christmas and New Year's

    If Christmas and New Year's could talk, I think I know about how the conversation might go.
   "You know, New Year's, I think there's something I could learn from you."
   "Oh, and what is that, Christmas?"
   "Well, seems to me my day has drifted a bit, from what it really could be."
   "Yes. Oh, giving gifts can be fine enough. The thing is, the stress of getting something for everyone, the stress of not having the money to do it, and just that the money element isn't what my day is truly all about got me thinking how I really ought to take a lesson from you."
   "Go on. Exactly what could you learn from me?"
   "Well, if we were to mix the two days together . . ."
   "You mean, take the best of our two days and combine them?"
   "Yes. That's is precisely what I mean."
   "Well, Christmas, what would the day end up being, if they were one and the same? What would you take from me that would make your day a little better?"
   "You've got that New Year's resolution thing, don't you?"
   "Well, it's just that I was watching this cute little video the other day."
    "Yes. And, the narrator started off saying something about how some people think my day has become too commercialized."
   "About then, the actors started fighting over the presents. Chaos right there on the stage."
   "Oh, my!"
   " 'But it doesn't have to be that way' " the narrator cried. 'But it doesn't have to be that way! the narrator pleaded a second time.' "
   "Oh, my! Did they stop fighting over the presents?"
   "They did. Then, they cleared the stage of the cash register. They reset things up. Had the actors come back with a new set of gifts."
   "This is where you come in, Father Time."
    "This is how I think I could learn from you."
   "Yes. You see, in the video, they each went and put a new gift on the table. As they did, they announced their gifts."
   " 'This year for Christmas, I'm going to say I'm sorry more,' said the first, placing a nicely wrapped box on the table."
   "Oh! That's a wonderful Christmas present!"
   "This year for Christmas, I'm going to play with my kids more,' " said the next. Then, one after another the actors offered such gifts. 'I'm going to help the old lady next door with her garden,' said one."
   "Yes. It was wonderful. And, soon the table was full with all these wonderful gifts."
   "But, I don't see what this has to do with me, Christmas. I thought you said you could learn something from me?"
   "Yes! Of course!"
   " 'Yes, of course' what?' "
   "New Year's Day, my friend. You are all about New Year's resolutions. That's the feel-good, do-gooder thing about New Year's. Just like one of my good sides is giving gifts."
   "Yes. I do like it when I can get people to make New Year's resolutions."
   "Yes. Things like resolving to say you're sorry more, and playing with the kids more. And helping the elderly lady next door."
   "Yes, but I'm afraid most of the resolutions on my day don't quite go like that."
   "Resolving to lose 10 pounds can be good. I'm not saying quit resolving to improve yourself. I'm just saying, if we took part of your holiday and moved it over to mine, we'd have people resolving to do good for others."
   "Maybe, Christmas, my friend. I could learn a little from you, too. Like you say, it doesn't mean we have to let go of  the resolutions on self-improvement, but we could also make resolutions to help others."
   "Yes. Our two holidays come one after another. It's all the same season. Being so close, we can share in some of what we do."
   "Merry Christmas, then, and happy New Year!"
   "It's a single phrase. We mix our two holidays together, already. What could be more wonderful than mixing them some more?"
   At this point, the conversation between Christmas and New Year's was about to end, when Christmas bowed his head, and quietly said, "New Year's, my old friend, I've one more thought."
   "I just don't want to go away from this conversation without mentioning Christ."
   "No, of course not!"
   "I mean, it's what my day is all about."
   "Well, I like to think we share something there, too."
    "Yes? Well, I suppose we do, if you are thinking what I'm thinking."
    "Yes, yes! After all, I number my years. There was 2012 and 2013 and 2014 and it'll keep going on."
   "And, the idea is that the years commenced from when your Savior was born. It all got its start with the birth of the Savior."
   "The birth of the Savior, then. We really do have that in common."
   "Yes. We share a beginning point."
   "All the more reason to mix our seasons a little more, and to take the best of each fit them together."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

America is a Nation of Immigrants and Home of Ephraim and Manasseh

   It occurs to me that it is of great note that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants. We have heard the phrase much of late in immigration discussions. Juxtaposition that thought, if you will, with the teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that America is a gathering place for some of the Tribes of Israel. I understand there are more Jews who have moved to the United States than to any country other than Israel. But that would be a small part of it, for the Jews' gathering place is, indeed, Israel.
   America is a gathering place, though, for the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. When Jacob blessed his sons, he said Joseph  (the father of Ephraim and Manasseh) would be a fruitful bough, and even so, there currently are more from these two tribes than from the other tribes. Jacob said Joseph was even a bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall. Even so, reaching America meant meant the branches had to cross waters. In blessing Joseph, Jacob referenced "the everlasting hills," and, even so, a series of mountains stretch from Canada all the way down through South America.
   So, it does seem of interest that America is an immigrant nation, which is another way of saying, it is a gathering place.
   I wonder if it is also of note that some are adopted to the Tribes of Israel. As it says in Isaiah 54, which is, significantly, one of the portions of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon:
   "Sing, O barren, thou that didnst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord."
   I wonder if there are more adopted to the Tribes of Israel living in America than there are "children of the married wife." And, I think of how those who are adopted  might go for their inheritance to a land other than that where the Twelve Tribes originated.
   (One sentence added 1/1/15)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Would Hope this is the Reason for Abortion Rates Declining

   And the debate proceeds over what is causing abortion rates to decline. Among all the possible reasons, the one I would like to believe is that more and more people just don't like taking life away from the unborn.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Truce of the Soldiers' Making, Not from Their Commanders

   When people do uncommonly good things, it should be newsworthy, and when they do something that can be hailed as a miracle -- for so rare a thing it is -- then it should be celebrated.
   But, the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Miracle of 1914 went largely unnoticed, alas and alas.
   It was 100 years ago this year that German soldiers raised little Christmas trees with lit candles. They raised them from their trenches as a show of peace. And, they sang a Christmas song. American soldiers responded. Soon, all along about a 27-mile span, different sets of combatants were breaking out of the trenches to smoke with each other, play football, fraternize . . .
   They were pausing to observe the birth of a Savior.
   It started on Christmas Eve, and continued on Christmas Day, a truce not drafted by military leaders, nor by the leaders of the nations, but by the soldiers who refused to fight that Christmas Day, soldiers who laid down their weapons of war to honor the birth of the Prince of Peace.
    Was it a miracle? I don't know whether it warrants that, but perhaps. You certainly might look in vain for how many times soldiers, in the name of peace, have laid down arms without the approval of higher officers.
   It is a story that begs a telling, and a place in our history books. It remains one of the more unusual occurrences in all the history of America, and of Germany. War has seldom been marked by such an outbreak of peace.
   (Edited 12/29/2014)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Is Israel being Held to a Different Standard?

   So, do we justify Israel's settlement of the West Bank by the fact the settlements are on conquered territory? Israel took that land in the Six-Day War in 1967. Now, it is common among all nations to keep land they take in conquest. Part of America is land taken from Mexico. (Yes, we paid Mexico for the land, but we forced them, by virtue of conquest, to take our offer.) There are from World War II lands that were conquered that were not returned to their previous governing bodies. When the U.S. went into Iraq, it was to remove the government of the time and, rather than rather than telling Saddam Hussein that once we conquered him, we would give him his land back, we sought his removal from power.
   Is the world expecting different of Israel? The international community would have Israel return the lands. Is that a different standard than what we have for other countries?
   Perhaps, if I am to understand that what Israel is doing is wrong, I need to be reminded of the times the United Nations or the international community has not allowed conquerors to keep conquered territory. Perhaps I should study on that first, then get back to you.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Day Brought Word of More Israeli Settlements

   On Christmas Day, Israel announced preliminary approval of 243 new homes in the West Bank, with another 270 to come later.
   The settlements are on land Israel captured in the Six-Day War of 1967. Question is, is Israel entitled to keep the land, or should it give it back to the Palestinians?
   If you expect me to weigh in with an opinion, perhaps I will disappoint. Or, perhaps I will give it some thought and weigh in tomorrow.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hold Fast to that which is Good -- Including things We Might Reject

   Notice the Muppets came in for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert? What does that have to do with Christ? you may ask.
   I also noticed one of the Tabernacle Choir's CDs, that it was largely of songs with no mention of the Savior's birth. And, I picked up my Christmas Day Church News to see an article with "Happy Holidays" in the headline.
   As the 13th Article of Faith says, "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."
   And, I Thessalonians 5:21, "Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good."
   Family and giving and Muppets and "happy holidays" are good things, so hold fast to them.
   This does not mean we do not strive to make Christ the center of our Christmas. it just means we don't have to give up other things which are good to get there.

May Ye Enjoy These Days, as We Celebrate the Birth of Christ

   "Happy holidays." "Merry Christmas." "God bless us, every one." "May the spirit of Christ be with you this Christmas season." "May ye enjoy these days, as we celebrate the birth of Christ."
   I've given thought, this year, to what Christmas greeting I should offer. Mostly, I stuck with "Merry Christmas," but, not without some guilt feelings. "Merry Christmas" is rather generic, really, and implies simply gift giving, getting together with family, and other such things.
   Which are wonderful.
   But, they don't necessarily reflect what I'd like to be the focus of Christmas, which is Christ. So, what of, "May ye enjoy these days, as we celebrate the birth of Christ,"?
   Well, it occurs to me that if such a greeting as that became common, we would utter it out without giving our words much thought. It would become an expression of casual exchange, not an expressment of earnest feeling.
   It would, perhaps, become a too-casual reference to our Savior. So, come next year, I may utter something such as, "May ye enjoy these days, as we celebrate the birth of Christ," some, but, I'll probably stick mostly with, "merry Christmas."
   Or, truth be told, come next Christmas, I'll probably think it over all again, and who knows what I'll decide.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

100 Years Ago Today: The Christmas Miracle of 1914

   'Twas 100 years ago today, a Christmas miracle, the Christmas Truce of 1914.
   Amid World War I, on this day, soldiers laid down their guns and refused to fight. Peace broke out where war was suppose to be. Here it was Christmas Eve, and these soldiers were expected to be killing each other? It didn't sit well with some, so they simply refused, at least for the moment.
   More than that, they ventured from their trenches to meet each other, shake hands, and join in a game of football or soccer or such. They, well, fraternized with the enemy, a thing their commanders were sharp in condemning, of course.
   It is known as the Christmas Miracle, and, perhaps more commonly, the Christmas Truce of 1914. A number of popular songs were inspired by the event, and at least one movie.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lament These Deaths, Whether Police or Those Killed by Police

   Bless the two Brooklyn officers who were killed. How does it come that some would accept these murders, that they would look at the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and conclude the Brooklyn officers deserved to die? Or, that people would suggests police brought it on themselves by killing Brown and Garner.
   Bless Brown, bless Garner. Bless Tamir Rice. Bless Officer Rafael Ramos. Bless Officer Wenjian Liu. Bless all those who have been killed. I would hope we would lament all their deaths.

Monday, December 22, 2014

If it is Important, You Coach This, Too

   It isn't whether you win or lose, but how you react after you play the game.
   Perhaps a Memphis player threw the first punch, but it is disappointing if BYU fought back. Regardless who got a blackeye in the fight, both teams both got a blackeye from the fighting.
   What you coach is what you get, sometimes. Coach Bronco Mendenhall did a wonderful job of coaching the Cougars back after losing four in midseason. That they bounced back is a tribute to his coaching.
   But, the brawl after the game?
   Actually, I would not be surprised if Coach Mendenhall did coach his players not to react wrongly after games, for conduct is important to him. Sometimes, what you coach doesn't take with the players. But, often it does. If you don't want brawling and misconduct, you have to coach it, right along with all the football things.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas and May Celebrating Christ's Birth Go Well With You

   Merry Christmas, and may these days we celebrate Christ's birth go well with you.
   Perhaps that is a greeting I can use these next few days. I have often thought of how we sometimes get offended by the greeting, "Happy Holidays," not because we don't like it in and of itself, but because it can be a replacement for, "Merry Christmas," and we view dropping "Merry Christmas" as a way of taking Christ out of the season.
   Seems to me, "Merry Christmas" doesn't necessarily include reference to Christ. The word "Christmas" derives from "Christ," but the manner in which "Christmas" is used means presents and toys and trees and shopping and family and visiting -- not necessarily Christ. Christmas can be celebrated without Christ being included.
   So, I might, in a few of my greetings the next few days, try, "Merry Christmas and may these days we celebrate Christ's birth go well with you." I've tried, "Happy days of Christ's birth," and have found that too awkward. And, if I just say, "May these days we celebrate Christ's birth go well with you," that doesn't come across as extending the Christmas greeting expected of me. So, I shall do both, "Merry Christmas" and, May these days we celebrate Christ's birth go well with you."

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Time for a Friendship with Cuba

   Cuba has begun to let its citizens take private sector jobs and allow them to own property. It has started to let dissents travel abroad. It has released some of its political prisoners. Yes, it still harasses and detains dissents, but things have improved. It seems the changes, yes, have come due to economic pressures, and that the embargo, all these years later, is having an affect.
   If you get what you want from the embargo, then it is time to lift it. No, all is not well in Cuba, and it can be argued the embargo should remain until all that is sought is found. I, though, think it is time to quit swinging our fists at each other and come out loving.

Friday, December 19, 2014

We Should Consider Accepting Cuba, Though it is Not a Perfect Nation

   I find myself reflecting on a scripture (an LDS scripture, for I am LDS) as I think about Cuba.
   ". . . but we do not believe it right to interfere with bondservants . . . nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men . . ." (Doctrine and Covenants 134:12)
   I do not believe it wrong to ask Cuba to change its ways, and I do not believe we are fomenting violence and civil war in Cuba. But, I do wonder if we should accept the nation as it is, if it does not choose to change. First, find out what offenses the nation is guilty of, but be ready to allow it its own political system if things do not prove too offensive.
   "We believe all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected." (Doctrine and Covenants 134:5)
   Perhaps it is that Cuba does not respect inalienable rights. Perhaps it is, then, that we should not be willing to allow it its own political system. To know how we should be treating Cuba, we should be relooking at what violations of inalienable rights the nation is yet committing as of 2014-2015.
   If while the nation is guilty of making its people "bondservants," but yet it allows them choice and free practice of religion -- if it is allowing its people freedom in other forms of opinion and expression -- then perhaps we should accept the political structure there.
   Regardless what we find, though, I hold to the thought I offered yesterday, that we should befriend this nation, that one of our approaches should be to try to influence through love and friendship. If we should eventually go so far as seeking an overthrow of the government -- because we still find too many offenses against inalienable rights -- let us first seek change through loving Raul Castro and the other Cuban leaders.
   (Edited 12/21/14)

Reassess the Nation's Offenses, Then Ask Raul Castro for Changes

   What are the crimes of Cuba? Dictatorship? Human rights violations? And, what are those human rights violations? Repression of political dissent? Unfair trails?
   Now -- not 1961, not 2006 -- would be a timely time to reevaluate the crimes of our Caribbean neighbor. What is happening there now, in 2014-2015? Whether we are set on a course of action -- ending the embargo or not -- we should consider where the country is now in the crimes we accuse it of? 
   Then, when we have reassessed the offenses, we should approach Cuba anew, if we find it is yet committing terrible offenses, and try to coax Raul Castro to change. Approach Cuba in the spirit of friendship, warmly, but ask it to make some changes.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Thaw and Friendship and Love and, who Knows, . . . Democracy?

   I posted the other day on how love might be a way to win over the prisoner, to get him to talk. Now, as the Cuba thaw story breaks, I find myself thinking along the same lines.
   Could love do more to change Cuba than 50 years of embargo?
   What if we showered friendship on Cuba, called them our friend, rushed to help their people, a number of whom are direly in need? What if? Is there a possibility the country might warm up to us, and even choose to become a democracy?
   I don't know, but I wonder.

Crime and Drugs and Opportunity and Freedom . . . and Cuba

   Crime and drugs are rare in Cuba. Now, some fear the influence of the U.S. will bring them both to this Caribbean island. One wonders, though, for all the hatred we have of Cuba's political system, is there something to be said for the low crime and drug rate?
   Is it just that people are not given a chance to commit crimes, nor to take drugs?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stay Tuned to the Future of this Very Potent Toxin: Nicotine

   Say we had something as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol, would we ban it? Heroin and cocaine are both illegal, and alcohol once was.
   Of course, it would have to be not only addictive, but also dangerous. So, let's say it was one of the most potent naturally occurring toxins in the world. Let's say it was so toxic, a tablespoon would kill you. Would we ban it?
   The substance we are talking about is nicotine, which back before our current array of pesticides arrived, was a common pesticide.
   Nicotine, I say, as in e-cigarettes.
   Of course, at this point we don't outlaw nicotine, we don't ban e-cigarettes, for the amount taken into the body through vaping has not been shown to be nearly so dangerous. For all I know, the amount taken in e-cigarettes has not been shown to be harmful at all. I need to learn more.
   But, it does make me wonder where the future of e-cigarettes will go. Will there be studies done on the life expectancy? Is there a level of nicotine that reduces life expectancy? At this point, we don't know. Perhaps it the level of nicotine in e-cigarettes has no impact on life expectancy -- and perhaps it does.
   Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Love as an Interrogation Method -- Why Not?

   All that needs to be said is that thousands of lives might be saved if we torture the information out of the prisoner. Since no one can prove otherwise, that becomes license to torture. I'm not totally comfortable with this justification.
   And, I do think there is an alternative. If we have an alternative, and it also works, and it doesn't go against our principles, why not use it, instead? Love. Christ said, "Love your enemies." Truth, is love is a powerful force, maybe as powerful as any. Why do we suppose love cannot also be an effective interrogation method? When we treat them well, some may conclude we aren't so villainous after all, and willingly spill what they know.
   Love as an interrogation method, then. Why not?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Police Marched Against Their Fellow Police

   I was at the police march today. There must have been 50 cops protesting against -- of all things -- police violence. They weren't in uniform, of course, for they couldn't march while representing their departments. But, bless them for marching, even though limited to their civilian clothes.
   "Not all cops are bad cops. But, we know some are," read one sign.
   "Wrong is wrong -- even if a policeman does it," read another.
   "We support justice, wherever it is, and we oppose injustice, wherever it is, too," read a third.
   Tal Jenson, spokesman for the group, read a statement saying the marchers were not ready -- at least yet -- to weigh in on the Ferguson shooting or the Staten Island choking, or any other individual case, but that they felt impelled to acknowledge that police violence and indiscretion exists, and that it is a shame to many of the officers. "Bless our fellow officers," he said, "who did not choose to march with us today, who feel no crimes and no harms have been committed. But we do. We feel innocent people have been killed. We feel innocent people have been unjustly arrested. So, we are embarrassed. We see it as a blight upon our profession and our good names. We want justice as much as anybody. We don't care if it is a policeman who commits the crime, we want justice done and justice served."
   Well, maybe such a protest didn't actually take place. But, it sure would be neat if it did.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Remorse is Our Friend

   Remorse is the key to heaven. If we are remorseful, we open the door to change. If we regret gossiping, or lying, or cheating, we take a most important step toward leaving those things behind. But, if instead, we commit a small sin and dismiss it as just that -- a small sin -- and think nothing of it, and thus do nothing about it, it will fester into a bigger sin. It will lead to other sins.
  Remorse is our friend. It is remorse that keeps our sin in front of our face. It is remorse that tells us this is too important to let remain. If we see sin as a small thing, it will remain. Remorse tells us the sin isn't small, but big enough that it must be removed.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Would We Were Up in Protest Over Officers Shoot-to-Kill Training

   Would that this moment of protest would cast an eye toward police training. Would that more were concerned with this. The police killings in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and at least some of those here in Utah could have been avoided if police were trained in restraint as much as they are in shoot to kill.
   I do believe officers are too inclined and too quick to kill. It comes from their training. I wonder about the words uttered by Officer Darren Wilson shortly after the grand jury let him go. "The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right," Wilson said. When he said he did his job right, was he saying he did his job the way he was trained? Officers are trained to kill in situations I believe many of us would disagree with.
   Change often comes with protest. Would that this moment would not pass without protest against police training. Teach them correctly, and we will have better police and fewer unjustified shootings.

Friday, December 12, 2014

To Change a Life, the Biggest Fish Pond is the Prison

   You want to change someones life? There is no greater pool to fish in, then, than a prison? You want to save someones soul? What greater place than a prison to find someone whose life needs turned around. I think of those of whom it is said that they could not bear that any person should be lost. If a person so feels, there is in the prison souls to save. I think of the person who loves mankind, all humankind, and seeks to reach out to those most in need.
   That would be those in prison.
   I guess a post like this deserves a confession, for I am not involved in serving those in prison. I can see how there is much good to do there, but my life seems busy enough without plunging that direction.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Can We Love the Truth Out of These Prisoners?

   I lean with those who say no to "enhanced" interrogations.
  True, we don't know how many lives have been saved because of information gathered through such treatments. Does the end justify the means? I wonder if it does. I also think of how inhumane the act of war is, period. Do we say that war is not consistent with our values, and lay down our guns and never fight again? After all, is it worse to torture a man in prison than it is to kill him on the battlefield?
   We all weigh what is right. At least, many of us do. I lean with those who say, No, for it just isn't consistent with our values. Saving lives by getting information through torture? That justification could be used for any information sought. Do we say, You never know what the enemy might spill, so why not torture him and find out?
   I do wonder if reasoning with the prisoner, and persuading him to our side, could not also be a successful interrogation method. I don't know that it is as effective, but, yes, I do like it better, the same. As with many of the world's problems, sometimes love is the answer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It Takes People to Change People -- So Leave the Prison Where it is

   Who will have this prison? Not in my backyard, says, Saratoga Springs. Not here, says West Jordan. Don't bring it around our homes, says Eagle Mountain. Please keep away from us, says Salt Lake City. So, will the prison go to the Tooele, which hasn't rejected it?
   The question should be, is Tooele the best site? If rehabbing criminals is what we want, which site will serve us best -- Point of the Mountain, where it currently is, or, say, Tooele?
   Point of the Mountain is closer to the courts, medical services, mental help resources . . . and, most important of all, volunteers.
  They are valued at Utah's prison. And, I believe they should play an even greater role than what they already play. People don't change without other people. It takes people to change people. It takes love, attention, coaxing, coaching, inspiring, and helping -- all of which require people to do them. It takes someone showing them how, and someone setting an example for them. You want to change your person by locking him up? Go ahead and try. It might work. But, somehow, I think you'll get better results if, instead of ignoring your prisoner, you help him.
   A prison with walls to hold a man in, is a prison indeed. But a prison with volunteers who reach in to help, is more than a prison. It becomes an institution providing the elements proven to change people's lives. It takes people to change people, and Point of the Mountain is more accessible to a prison's most valuable commodity -- volunteers -- than is Tooele.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Today, America Took a Step Towards Repentance

   Tonight, I am proud to be an American, not because of the CIA's interrogation practices, of course, but because we are fessing up to our faults and vowing to change our ways. It takes a big man to admit he is wrong, it is said, and today, Uncle Sam was a big man.
   I am proud of those who see the importance of our public confession, among them being Sen. John McCain and President Barack Obama.
   "Our enemies act without conscience. We must not," said Sen. McCain.
   "One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is that when we make mistakes, we admit them," said President Obama.
   Where I come from, admitting your mistakes is part of the repentance process. I see no reason that this should be any different in the public arena. I am proud of America for taking this important step toward repentance.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I Like Governor Herbert's Work Requirement

   A Salt Lake Tribune editorial Sunday takes issue with Gov. Gary Herbert's Healthy Utah program having a work requirement. "This should be a basic benefit in life in the developed world," the editorial says of health care.
   Healthy Utah is a substitute program for Medicaid expansion. Herbert's plan would help place those on it into jobs. Now, is that such a bad idea? If I understand it correctly, Gov. Herbert isn't requiring anyone to go out and get a job on their own in order to qualify for Healthy Utah. Instead, it puts the onus on the state. Utah has to find them those jobs. I don't believe Herbert's plan rejects anyone, unless it says they must accept the work offered them in order to qualify. But, if you don't have a job, and someone offers you a job, that is a good thing. Why would you turn it down? Healthy Utah comes to benefit people in two ways, giving them health insurance and giving them jobs. I believe Herbert's work provision a wonderful thing. I only wonder if the governor is chewing off more than he can eat, for it can be a hard thing to place people in jobs. If it were as easy as that, wouldn't we have 100 percent employment?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Devotional is Opportunity to Grow Closer to the Savior

   If Sunday is the Lord's day, if Sunday is a day to worship the Savior, what better way to spend your time than in listening to beautiful music about the Savior's birth, and to talks discussing not only His birth, but his life? The First Presidency's Christmas Devotional, then, is wonderful. It is just such an offering. If you listen attentively, if you visualize the words of the songs and if you allow yourself to find enjoyment in these words, you will grow closer to the Savior.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

To Protest is to Vote

   To protest, is to vote. Both are ways of being politically involved. Both are ways of raising your voice, giving an opinion, and trying to influence public policy. You can vote in the polling booth, or you can vote on the streets of the city with a sign in your hand. He who hails the man who votes should not demean the man who joins a protest march.

Friday, December 5, 2014

In Midst of Current Protests, Day Marks Start of Rosa Parks Protests

   Just as our nation becomes more and more embroiled in racial riots -- protesting the killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and others -- some pause to remember that it was on this day, Dec. 5, a full 59 years ago, when one of the most memorable race protests of all began.
   The Montgomery Bus Boycott. Just days after police arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her bus seat so a white person could have it, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was launched. It would last 381 days. It would not end until after a court ruling in their favor, and until the city bus allowed blacks equal seating. The brightest star in the race movement, Martin Luther King Jr. -- who was a new minister in Montgomery at the time -- gained his fame by leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
   Of interest, this, as we consider that some of the current protesting has been violent: The Montgomery Bus Boycott was non-violent. It stands as a symbol that you do not have to burn down buildings and overturn cars in order for your protesting to spark monumental change.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ferguson, Cleveland, and Staten Island May be Sparking Reform

   Now, the wheels are turning, and change might be about to be wrought. Long have we heard how blacks are arrested more than whites, and I will confess I do not know if there is injustice there, or coincidence.
   But, if blacks are being falsely targeted, Ferguson, Cleveland, and Staten Island might be placing in motion forces for reform. The cases of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner are among those that shout, asking society for justice.
   We may wonder whether they were even racially motivated, and wonder with cause, but events such as those in Ferguson, Cleveland and Staten Island have caught the nerve of public for their racial elements.
   Nor, is injustice against blacks the only injustice the masses are massing against. Police violence, police injustice is drawing the public's ire. We may yet be weighing whether the killings of Brown, Rice and Garner were justifiable, but people grow tired of case after case of possibilities and begin to see need for change, begin to see the need for police restraint.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reckless Endangerment Would be My Call in the Eric Garner Case

   Another Ferguson, this one in our largest city? When Garner said he couldn't breathe, they should have taken notice. And, they should have made an effort to revive him. Yes, it does seem reckless endangerment not to help him. They intended him no harm, but when harm set it, they were obligated to help.
   (This comment was altered Dec. 14, 2014.)


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Michael Brown Autopsy Report and the Tale of Its Bullets

   I laid down my study of Michael Brown's autopsy report after too quick of a glance last night, somehow getting the impression it didn't address which direction the bullets came from, the front or the back.
   Picking it back up, tonight, I see the medical examiner was very considerate of where the bullets entered and exited. "The exact directional path of the gunshot wound cannot be easily determined," he says of the wound on the bicep, which indicates he was reflecting on the direction of the bullets.
   From my reading, none of the bullets are known to have entered from the rear. Numerous bullet entries, perhaps the most interesting of which is one at the corner of the scalp, which would indicate the head was lowered.
   Was he in the act of lowering himself to tackle Officer Darren Wilson, or had the other bullets reduced him to falling forward and thus the bullet entered at the corner of his head? Do we determine anything from the number of bullets that hit him (nine, I believe)? Would that mean he didn't fall easily? What conditions might a person be in, that he does not fall easily? Rage? Or, was it that Officer Wilson was just firing rapidly?
   Was there a ballistics report, to determine how far away Brown was when hit by each bullet? If no, why not? Or, are such reports not able to make a distinction between whether the gunfire came from 10 feet or 20?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why not Hire a Half Dozen Blacks on the Ferguson Police Department?

   Ferguson's Police Department perhaps could go out and hire a half dozen African-Americans, as a show of good faith.
   It has been, what, almost four months since the Michael Brown incident? And, right early it was reported that the department had 50 whites and 3 blacks. Someone came along and corrected that, saying the correct numbers were 49 and 4. This, in a community that is 67 percent black.
   Why not hire at least a half dozen blacks? Why not?