I wrote the first two lines long, long ago. Had it on a piece of scratch paper among so much junk needing to be thrown away. One day, I ran across it and decided I better finish it so I could throw the scratch paper away. Wrote the poem two years ago.
Little steps are big ones,
Small steps lead to great,
The first step may seem tiny,
But it is it that decides your fate.
Thought Trump gave a wonderful speech tonight. It had me wondering if he might achieve greatness. If he is able to deliver on what he said, he will be the greatest president since just before George Washington. Don't get me wrong, I did not like all he said, or agree with all of it. But, I did find a lot of promise for our country in the overall speech.
As the stories on the Bear Ears National Monument pass before me, I search them, looking for reason as to why we are better off without the monument than with it. Frankly, I don't see them. How will the monument designation hurt the land, or hurt Utah? For all the opposition the monument has, it seems someone should be articulating why Utah is better off without it. Now, I'm not looking for someone to tell me the Antiquities Act is overused. Nor, am I looking for someone to tell me Obama was wrong to wait until the final moment to make the designation. And, I'm I looking for someone to say Utah could better manage the land. Those are fine points, each in their own right, but they do not address what harm will come to Utah now that the land has been designated a national monument. Could someone tell me? I'll post this question in a few groups on Facebook, and wait for the replies.
Wherein are the signs spoken of in Acts 2:19? Did one of them appear today, in an eclipse of the sun, as the moon swung directly in front of the sun. With the image of the sun being slightly larger than that of the moon, this created a ring-of-fire visual, the circling edge of the sun all that was showing, with the moon blocking the rest of the sun.
Are we to wonder if this was one of the wonders in the heavens that the Bible tells us will accompany the last days? It surely was a wonder. I saw a picture of the ring, and it did look wonderful. I thought on the likeliness that this should happen, on how the sun and the moon lined up perfectly, both horizontally and vertically, the moon -- for a moment -- perfectly in the middle.
Yes, it was a wonder in the heavens.
I do not know whether such a perfect ring-of-fire eclipse has stared down from the sky before. Maybe it has happened many times through the centuries. If it has, those who see only folly in the Bible, are free to dismiss this wonder in the skies.
For me? I know not for sure it was fulfillment of biblical prophesy. But, it was certainly a wonder in the heavens.
It comes as President Trump whips the public into a frenzy on the issue, the one-year anniversary of his making a campaign promise to go after the press if elected.
I read his words from the Feb. 26, 2016, Politico:
"One of the things I'm going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we're certainly leading. I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We're going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected"
One year later, to the date, Trump is in the midst of an all-out attack on the press. Now, long have we verbalized feelings that the media is biased. Long have we said it is too liberal. So, as Trump comes calling, we are a ready to hear, to listen, to follow.
He knows our tongue-wagging, and he exploits it. He wins us over by echoing our own words.
I am not as sure as the many of you. I like the press, for the most part. I certainly do not find the fault in it that Trump finds.
But, I find danger in Trump's attack. Danger lurks if the press is to be silenced. If the press can be made to answer to the president, if it can be controlled by him, truth will be suppressed. You will suggest he isn't trying to silence it, only to make it honest. I wonder. I see danger in a president who goes after the press for supposedly falsely reporting how many people attended his inauguration when, in fact, the press reported correctly but the story didn't match the trumped up falsehood the administration demanded.
If you demand your version of the truth, and your version is false, you are hardly championing free speech, which is a cornerstone of our free republic. If the laws Trump would enact cut into free speech, they count not as virtues, but as dangers. If we are to be limited to telling only the official version of the truth, as government dictates, what will become of our free nation? Government should govern many things and control some, but it should not govern the media. When it seeks to make laws regulating truth, and what will be judged to be truth, we should be very wary. When only the official version of truth can be expressed, the right of free speech is quickly lost.
Yes, I doubt Trump would take it so far. But I wonder. Vigilance is always in order. When Trump is, indeed, calling for official news -- when he is demanding the inauguration attendance be reported to his specifications -- we should wonder if the right of a free press is being assaulted.
He has suggested the press is not his enemy, but the enemy of the public. I wonder if he twists it the opposite of what it is: An assault such as this is not just an assault on the press, but an assault on us, on our freedom.
I heard it suggested today that President Trump wants to fast-track those here illegally (except those who commit crimes) to become legal.
Remember how in one of his comments on building the wall, he said there would be a big, beautiful door right in the middle of it?
And, I find this quote from Trump, although it is a little old (from a CNN interview in November, 2015):
"I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal…. A lot of these people are helping us … and sometimes it’s jobs a citizen of the United States doesn’t want to do. I want to move ’em out, and we’re going to move ’em back in and let them be legal."
I might shift my stand on President Trump some, if all this is true. What if he seeks to legalize the best part of the 11 million who are here? What if he would legalize all but those who have committed crimes? What if he just sends them back, then brings them all back in legally? Or, maybe he doesn't even export them before re-importing them.
It would be a great achievement of his presidency if he solved the immigration problem. Great presidents do great things. Lincoln freed the slaves. Perhaps Trump could free the undocumented Americans.
We have gone through a long line of presidents and Congresses and politicians, and none have yet solved the immigration problem. Should Trump do this, it would be no mild accomplishment. It would give his legacy in office a measure of greatness.
Perhaps we need a jail just to serve the homeless and those who prey on the homeless.
The words from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol come to my mind as I think of this. Someone had asked Scrooge to contribute to the poor, and Scrooge replied, "Are there no prisons?" as if prisons were the answer.
But there is more to this jail-for-the-poor thing than that. Jails can be of service. They are beneficial, helpful. I think of Mayberry and how they locked up the town bum (Otis, was it?) in a way that served him. And, I consider how crime often comes with the homeless, partly as drug dealers and other criminals prey on the poor and partly as the poor, themselves, commit crimes.
In Salt Lake City, we are witnessing this need for jail space for the homeless. About a month ago, there was a large cry for more jail space, community leaders looking to free up jail space for those who are committing crimes in the area where the homeless are centered, the Rio Grande area. There just isn't enough jail space for them.
So, how about a low-budget jail? And, I definitely mean low-budget: Few guards, etc. How much does it normally cost to incarcerate someone for a year? $31,000? I'm suggesting we should look to jail them for much less. Often these are not high-security prisoners, and to treat them as such means spending more money than required.
I am reminded that sometimes a homeless person commits a crime just to get in jail, just to get off the street. They are just part of the crime element connected to homelessness, but other parts might warrant inexpensive jail facilities, as well.
While civil war rages in Yemen, the people hunger. In one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, 80 percent of the people are said to be in need. That's 18.8 million people needing humanitarian aid.
I donated a penny to help. Well, actually a little more than that, but I didn't donate much. Those who want to give can go to this link:
I see how the Utah Legislature is considering making it a felony to deal drugs in the area of a homeless shelter. There's a novel approach.
I think of school zones, and how some of our laws protect schools and children: Reduced speeds, and no alcohol outlets, for example. The thought comes to me that one objective of good government is to protect the vulnerable. We protect the children with our zoning laws. Perhaps we should do the same with our homeless.
Yes, perhaps pass that law, saying no dealing drugs near a homeless center. And, look for other measures, as well, to protect the homeless. We speak of how the Rio Grande area here in Salt Lake City draws a bad element, a crime element that affects businesses.
How about, instead of moving the homeless out, we clean the area up?
I am just suggesting this as something we should consider. I saw the news item on dealing drugs near homeless shelters, and got thinking. Maybe this is a good idea, or maybe further thought would lead us to rue it. Off top, I think it a good idea. The question is, what restrictions would we have for the homeless zone? Increased penalties for everything from public urination, to breaking and entering?
We seem to be trying to buy our way out of homelessness and not spending the money on the them while we are doing it.
Not spending it on them directly, anyway.
Our new approach to homelessness is to bring in social workers, and let them work with the street people -- maybe change them, give them job skills, help them with their addictions, etc. Those are laudable things, certainly, but they don't come without a lot of money being spent.
The poor? Instead of finding money for them, we find money for those who would make an industry off of them.
If these social programs do work, I might embrace them, but at the moment, I have misgivings. I suppose, in my old age, I see a lobbyist behind every tree. With the homeless, I wonder but what the social workers came calling, suggesting their own worth, and we bought in.
I suppose we will have to see how they do, whether they solve our homelessness while all else has failed. Perhaps my criticism is not well founded.
The suggestion that people living here illegally is like them moving into our homes uninvited? I see it as a false analogy. In the terminology of the moment, fake news.
The undocumented workers are not moving into people's homes uninvited. That just isn't happening, in any way, shape, or form. To suggest they are is fake news.
But, is the analogy worthy? If it is, we all live in the same house. All the home-grown villains, all the tawdry people, and all those we don't like are living in the same house with us. Somehow, that analogy doesn't stand up. It would mess my life up tremendously if the villains and tawdry people and those I don't appreciate were living under my roof. But, the actuality of it is that I go through my life quite okay with them living across town and in other places. Living under my roof and living across town do not compare. They are apples and oranges.
Living under one's own roof with those we choose to live with is not to be compared to living across town from someone we don't want to live with. They are opposites, if anything. Someone might suggest that when the immigrants overwhelm a town, and you go to the gas station, and they are there, and you go to the store and they are there, and wherever you go, they are there -- then it is like living in the same house with them.
Except it isn't. You can still go home to get away from them. Your home is still the one place they are not.
Those who use this argument of immigrants invading our homes present a false analogy. It's simply fake news.
I wonder but what, through the centuries of man's existence, he could traverse from one country to the another as free as a bird. He could choose his country, and move there, with no king objecting.
Restrictions on the freedom to live where you want appear to be a modern-day thing. Through most of history, it was pack your bags and cross into another country if you were of a desire to do so. Grant it, it was harder to move back then. Perhaps the ease of movement -- the inventions and improvements in transportation -- contributed to the rise of rules limiting immigration.
So, even at the same time the world has moved from monarchies to democracies -- giving people greater freedom -- it has also moved from open borders to restricted ones, -- taking away a freedom. If you were to list the ways the world is freer and the ways it is less free, freedom to move from one country to another would stand out as one of the few losses of freedom.
Define the immigration problem in a number of ways, if you will. One set of people is invading another set of people. One set of people is disrespecting and trashing the laws of another set of people. One set of people is taking jobs from another set of people. One set of people from outside a country is taking advantage of the social programs paid for those living inside that country. One set of people are bringing crime upon another set of people
Still, in each case, one set of people is rejecting the other. Those who ascribe to the definitions above use those definitions as reason for rejecting the newcomers, but, they still are rejecting them. They believe they have good cause, but it remains that they are rejecting them.
It should seem strange, this premise behind the immigration problem: One set of people does not want to accept another. One set does not want the other to have access to its economic and governmental system.
And, isn't that what this really boils down to?
Or, we could state the immigration problem this way: One set of people fears the other will do them harm.
However you state it, it is clear that one set is rejecting the other.
State it this way: One set owns the land and does not feel it has to share with another. Or, this way: One set wants to let part of another set in, but not all of them.
Or, try this appraising statement: One set does not want another set to come unless the second set brings proper paperwork, which, in some cases, can be impossible to get in a timely fashion.
This one has some sting: The immigration problem boils down to one set of people feeling it has the right to tell another set where it can live.
However you define the problem, yes, it is clear that one set is rejecting the other.
With force comes freedom: Force yourself to do something, and you will acquire the freedom to be able to do it.
I suggested this to a friend, and he shot back, "What if someone else forces you?"
"That's different," I answered.
As he walked away I thought about it. It usually is different if someone else forces you, for you aren't free to do something if you can't do it on your own. And, if someone is forcing you, you might not be acquiring the ability to do it on your own. There will be times, however, when you are forced to do something, and you do obtain that ability to do it on your own. Those times, I suggest, are limited to when you enjoy or appreciate what the other person is forcing you to do. You more or less say, Thanks for forcing me to do that, and then do it on your own.
So, let's restate the theorum. This isn't as quotable, but it is more accurate: With force comes freedom, if you enjoy or appreciate what you are being forced to do.
It's a march of money: Utah is trying to spend its way out of homelessness. It's throwing government funds at professional social workers, hoping they will change the homeless into productive members of society, into people who support themselves.
It's an interesting way of going about solving the problem: Spend the money not on the homeless, directly, but on those who help the homeless. Our community leaders pitch the plan, saying treatment is the answer. Rather than just warehousing people, change them, they say. Give them skills.
And, in come the professionals to work with the homeless.
Sounds good, it does. But I have some questions.
Are efforts to help the homeless doomed if we don't rely on professionals to help them? Will homelessness only go away if we bring in those with degrees and licenses? I notice how we are pushing aside the privately-operated shelters and volunteer programs, going instead toward government-operated treatment centers ran by paid professionals.
Resource centers, I think we are calling them.
Government answers always take money. They shouldn't have to, but it seems they always do. So, we are marching out money, and scratching for ways to find more.
To me, it seems that if you are finding it difficult to fund your programs, you ought to look for ways that do not cost money. Instead of diminishing volunteer efforts, maximize them. Instead of suggesting volunteers cannot be the solution because they lack professional training, look for ways they might accomplish the same things you get when you use those with professional licenses.
I am not convinced it takes a professional license to help someone. I'm not persuaded we cannot solve homelessness unless we hire those with college degrees to do it. There is something about people loving people, about neighbors helping neighbors. Those, too, are "programs" that work. Rather than stripping away our volunteers efforts, I wonder if we shouldn't make them the heart of our solution.
This panel discussion wound its way for an hour and a half, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, Utah House Rep. Angela Romero, and discussion organizer and moderator Steve Urquhart weighing in on our homeless situation and how we are going about correcting it.
The whole of the discussion seemed nothing more than how we should march out money to solve the problem. We should provide treatment for these people, rather than just warehousing them. But, it was clear through the whole discussion that finding the money is a problem
Afterwards, I approached McAdams, Urquhart and Hughes with a thought. We are reducing the role of the volunteer efforts even as we as scratching our heads about how to come up with money. Shouldn't we, instead, be maximizing our volunteer efforts?
The capacity for a long life might be compared with the ability to zestfully sing an old song, time after time after time.
Terry Jack's "Seasons in the Sun"? It's been one of the songs I've always loved. But, I call it back up now and it seems too much same-o, same-o. A little feeling of I want to gag overcomes me.Too worn. Too used up. Same with a lot of other songs I've had passion for in the past.
I listened to Bruce Springsteen this past day. He didn't do the best job with "This Land is Your Land." I believe he introduced it as the best song about America ever written. He said it was written as a reply to "God Bless America." I got thinking how Bruce probably has liked this song for a long time, and sang it so many times, it is wore out his ability to sing it with freshness. Even though he still likes it, when he sings it, it comes out sounding tried and burdened.
Now, I love Bruce, but not his "This Land is Your Land" renditions.
There's a lady I saw today over at the care center. She's supposedly dying. It got me thinking of death, and how often we eventually just choose to die. Living just grows old on us. Somewhere in there we lose the will.
As it is with the song, so it is with life. If it tires you, you might just say, "Enough is enough," and let it go.
So, here's where I end up with all my thinking tonight: You have to keep a freshness in your life. One way of doing that is to be able to take the same music and sing it as if singing it for the first time regardless how many times you've sung it. But, it is also okay to find freshness through new music. If you let go of the old, embrace the new. The important thing is that life not become old to you. How you go about keeping it fresh is not as important as whether you go about keeping it fresh.
If you never tire of the same old music, maybe you'll live longer. But, if you never tire of enjoying new music, that will do, as well. The person who lives longest, is the person who enjoys singing the longest, so to speak. It is the person who enjoys a song --new or old -- and never ceases to find pleasure in song, so to speak. You've got to sing, if you want to live.
If a city burned to the ground and the people sought refuge in neighboring towns, would the neighboring towns be right to turn them away for fear that the arsonist might be among them?
So it is with refugees from war-torn Syria. They flee the ravages of war, including fleeing ISIS, yet we fear them because we suggest ISIS might sneak in with them.
The silencing of Elizabeth Warren. She was cut off as she lambasted Jeff Sessions, President Trump's nominee for attorney general. There's an old rule against being too critical off a fellow senator while on the Senate floor. Did Warren call Sessions disgraceful, or what? I haven't caught up with exactly what language she used.
I am rather certain, though, that I stand with the host of people who say she should not have been cut off. Freedom of speech is silenced when you cannot speak negatively about a cabinet nominee. If the purpose of the hearings is to discuss the pros and cons of the nominee, however do you justify cutting someone off for discussing the negatives?
If freedom to criticize is not part of freedom of speech, what is? If a U.S. senator is not even accorded freedom of speech while on the senate floor, how incredible is that?
When you look for something negative, you'll find something false. If you look for dirt, among all that turns up will surely be something that isn't true. If you dislike someone, though, your hate will blind you and you will believe the falsehood, and pass it along. Hatred blinds a man to the truth.
I think of all the stories of Hillary Clinton. I think how those who believe them are people who already hold her in contempt. The false stories find fertile ground for believers among those who hate her. I do not say that all of the stories are false, but I certainly judge that some are.
I think of this principle then, of how hatred will blind a person to truth, of how hatred creates value where true merit does not exist. If we would be people endowed with wisdom, people of sound judgment, we must guard against this great disabler, hatred. It can truly be said that if you strip yourself of hatred, you will add to yourself intelligence. Hatred is the minefield on the road to intelligence. It will blow you off the path.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights. Does this not mean no country has the right to take them from us? And, when a country does take them, and the emigrant flees to another country, will the new country honor these vestiges of freedom?
Would that America would honor them, for it is their founder.
When a person flees, it becomes for the new country to decide whether it will honor life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Unalienable rights, we said. Can the new country, then, make them alienable? Can it label the newcomers aliens, and thus make that which was unalienable seem to be alienable?
And, that which was immutable, muted?
If these rights are unalienable, no country has right to rip them away. They stand. They stand regardless the clime, and regardless the country. They stand hundreds of years after one of the founders of the American states put pen to paper, saying, "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."
Of all nations that should stand behind these words, the country that declared them should.
All men are created equal. Those born without are equal to those born within. God endows mankind with their rights, and governments cannot justly strip them away. Unalienable rights lose no value with the change of venue. They answer not to borders, and evaporate not beneath different skies.
If a person flees from one country to the next, traveling in peace and bringing no intent of harm, that country he arrives in cannot in justice lock him out.
How can we keep our disagreement from bringing us to hate each other?
It is the debate issue of the moment in Utah, and a marvelously large one. One side of the question drew thousands of protesters to the streets of Salt Lake City the other day, thousands who walked shoulder-to-shoulder for refugees.
"No hate, no fear. Refugees are welcome here," they shouted.
This is, I say, the side I favor.
On the other side are the thousands who stand with President Trump in his call for a 90-day freeze on bringing refugees in from seven Muslim countries.
Public debate can be good. It is good for a people to be concerned about public policy, and to exercise their opinions through free speech.
But, it is not good when it boils to hate. When name-calling and demeaning the other person ensues, that is not so good. And, unfortunately, Utah is being divided by this issue.
I would we were a people who could discuss issues openly, freely, and without rancor. Indeed, I see in this current issue much of that. I think of a Facebook friend a week ago who posted on how he does not see it wrong to be cautious in our immigration policies and the entire thread of 80-90 posts was civil.
Why must they tear down illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, instead of leaving them for the Palestine landowners to take them over? It would seem that Israel is saying, "If we can't have these homes, since we built them, you cannot inherit them." But, it seems a waste that homes have been built and now must be destroyed.
Am I wrong in believing they are being destroyed? I see such language in the news stories.
Here's my question to those who see refugees as a threat to national security: Do you feel the same about veterans? About one-third of the worst mass shootings in the last 30 years were committed by those with military backgrounds. Should we be just as hesitant about bringing soldiers back into the United States after war as we are about bringing in refugees?
Freedom is the right to do what you want to do, go where you want to go, and say what you want to say. This could be said to be the basic definition of freedom.
So, what of going where you want to go? If you had complete freedom in this regard, you would be able to visit everyplace in the world.
And, pick the place where you would live.
No immigration rules standing in your way.
This is not necessarily to say that there shouldn't be some restrictions. But, it is to say, if we had total freedom there would be no limits on our movements, and no limits on our immigrating into any land. Even so, there are limits on the other two forms of freedom, freedom to do what you want and freedom to say what you want. We place limits on what you can do, basing the right to restrict that freedom on the principle, "Your right end where my nose begins." And, we place restrictions on what can be said. You are not allowed to libel or slander. You are not allowed to falsely advertise. You are not allowed to threaten someone's life.
So, it is understandable that there will be some restrictions, also, on the right to move about, and the right to choose where you will live. I will suggest, though, that like with the other two categories, limitations on movement should be based on whether harm is caused.
And, I would suggest someone's moving in from south of the border usually does no one harm. A refugee coming from Syria? That does no harm to anyone, either, unless he or she is a terrorist or criminal or threat in some other way. So, let them all in, except for when your vetting unveils the person as a potential criminal or terrorist or such.
If we would be the land of the free, we must freely let people in.
I do not oppose that the Israeli people want to settle in the West Bank. One thought is to let whoever wants to move in, move in, be they Israeli or Arab. This would not ban any people from the area. I wonder why doing so is not considered a discriminatory policy. Can Israeli settlements be banned without that being discriminatory? Likewise, let Arabs live in Israel. And, I understand 20 percent of Israel's population is, in fact, Arab. But, Israel does restrict immigration. The very existence of a Israel as a Jewish state depends on a Jewish demographic. Perhaps the same policies Israel has on immigration and Arab immigration should be considered for the West Bank. Perhaps not, though, as that grants that the West Bank is Palestinian territory, and I am not sure but what I would say Israel deserves the land.
Of all nations that have made progress in civil rights, America might be the greatest. How, then, does it shun equality for these who are unborn? African-Americans, women, gays -- one after another, people have won recognition for their civil rights from our government and from us, the public.
But, there is an exception: the unborn. Their rights remain unrecognized. In a county where the parade of civil rights has won citizenship, and fair treatment for so many, how is it that the precious unborn children remain unprotected? How is it that theirs is not even considered a civil rights cause? How is it we say they have no rights at all?