Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Our Priceless Heritage" Ezra Taft Benson

May I pay honor to the founders of our beloved republic.

The Declaration of Independence to which these great men affixed their signatures is much more than a political document. It constitutes a spiritual manifesto—revelation, if you will—declaring not for this nation only, but for all nations, the source of man’s rights. Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet, foresaw over 2,300 years ago that this event would transpire. The colonies he saw would break with Great Britain and that “the power of the Lord was with [the colonists],” that they “were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.” (1 Ne. 13:16, 19.)

The Declaration of Independence was to set forth the moral justification of a rebellion against a long-recognized political tradition—the divine right of kings. At issue was the fundamental question of whether men’s rights were God-given or whether these rights were to be dispensed by governments to their subjects. This document proclaimed that all men have certain inalienable rights. In other words, these rights came from God. Therefore, the colonists were not rebels against political authority, but a free people only exercising their rights before an offending, usurping power. They were thus morally justified to do what they did.

Finally, the document concludes with this pledge. “For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives,our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” (Italics added.)

How prophetic that pledge was to be!

Fifty-six men signed the document on August 2, 1776, or, in the case of some, shortly thereafter. They pledged their lives!—and at least nine of them died as a result of the war. If the Revolution had failed, if their fight had come to naught, they would have been hanged as traitors. They pledged their fortunes!—and at least fifteen fulfilled that pledge to support the war effort. They pledged their sacred honor!—best expressed by the noble statement of John Adams. He said: “All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as I begun, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment, Independence, now, and INDEPENDENCE FOR EVER.” (Works of Daniel Webster, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1877, 17th ed., 1:135.)

We know the signers of the sacred Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers, with George Washington at their head, have made appearance in holy places. Apostle Wilford Woodruff was president of the St. George Temple at the time of their appearance and testified that the founders of our republic declared this to him: “We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” (Journal of Discourses, 19:229.)

Later, after he became President of the Church, President Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men who labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord.” (Conference Report, April 1898, p. 89.)

("Our Priceless Heritage." Ensign, Nov. 1976)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dallin H. Oaks on the U.S. Constitution

The following is an excert from Dallin H. Oaks speech on Utah's Constitution Day Celebration:

We have a great Constitution whose fundamental principles many believe to be divinely inspired. Therefore what? I will suggest five responsibilities that I believe are appropriate for all citizens—whatever their religious or philosophical persuasion.
1. Understand the Constitution
All citizens should be familiar with its great fundamentals: the sovereignty of the people, the structure of federalism that divides powers between the state and the federal government, the individual guarantees in the Bill of Rights, and the principle of separation of powers among the various branches of government. We should take alarm at and consider how to oppose any action that would infringe these fundamentals.
2. Support the Law
All citizens should give law-abiding support to their national, state, and local governments. My religious faith expresses this principle in an official declaration of belief:
“We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them. . . .
“We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside” (D&C 134:1, 5).
3. Practice Civic Virtue
Those who enjoy the blessings of liberty under our national and state constitutions should promote morality, and they should practice what the Founding Fathers called “civic virtue.” John Adams, the second president of the United States, declared, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
James Madison argued in the Federalist Papers that “republican government presupposes the exercise of these qualities [of virtue] in a higher degree than any other form.”
Citizens should also be practitioners of civic virtue in their conduct toward our states and our nation. They should obey the laws. They should be ever willing to fulfill the duties of citizenship. This includes compulsory duties like military service and the numerous voluntary actions they must take if they are to preserve the principle of limited government through citizen self-reliance. For example, since U.S. citizens value the right of trial by jury, they must be willing to serve on juries, even those involving unsavory subject matter.
Then there is the matter of voting. I have been alarmed at the steady decline of voter turnout in many parts of the United States, including Utah. Voting is a fundamental right and responsibility that must not be taken for granted. Political participation can be inconvenient. It requires sacrifices of time and resources, but it is essential to our democratic society. Without substantial voter turnout, the people abrogate the great fundamental of popular sovereignty.
It is also part of civic virtue to be moral in our conduct toward all people. We believe with the author of Proverbs that “righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). The personal righteousness of citizens will strengthen a nation more than the force of its arms.
4. Maintain Civility in Political Discourse
If representative government is to function effectively under our constitutions, we must have civility in political discourse. We currently have an excess of ugliness and contentiousness in our communications on many political issues. I don’t need to give examples; we have all been exposed to it, and some of us have occasionally been part of it. We all bear some responsibility for the current political polarization and the stalemates that have resulted from it. We ought to tone it down. Meaningful debate and discussion about policies, programs, and procedures is essential to a democratic society. But contentiousness for the sake of division is bad for democracy. It is bad for law observance. It is bad for neighborly relations. And it is particularly destructive as an example for the rising generation, who, if not taught better, will perpetuate and magnify its ugliness and divisiveness for generations to come.
A year ago our Church published a statement called “The Mormon Ethic of Civility.” I quote from that statement:
“The Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that renders civil discussion impossible. . . . Our democratic system [should] facilitate kinder and more reasoned exchanges among fellow Americans than we are now seeing.”
Our President, Thomas S. Monson, has said, “When a spirit of goodwill prompts our thinking and when unified effort goes to work on a common problem, the results can be most gratifying.”
5. Promote Patriotism
Finally, the single word that best describes a fulfillment of the responsibilities of citizenship is patriotism. Citizens should be patriotic. My favorite prescription for patriotism is that of Adlai Stevenson, the Illinois governor who was twice the Democratic candidate for President:
“What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? . . . A patriotism that puts country ahead of self; a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”


Be Prepared for Hard Times!!

With the current unrest in the world, I believe hard times are coming. The rising price of oil, inflation, the economy, and global unrest are just a few indicators that we are in for a rough ride. While nothing is for certain, it would be wise to be prepared. The following lists are suggestions for emergency preparedness:

WATER - ITEMS LIST(Urgent - Survival List Items)
■Emergency Water: (Urgent - keep stored)
■Water Containers: (food grade if for drinking)
■Hand Pumps & Siphons (for water storage containers and for fuels)
■Emergency Water Filters and Purifiers

1. Grocery Store & Bulk Foods
3. LONG TERM Vegetarian MRE Foods (vegetarian protein foods)

Grocery Store & Bulk Foods List
■Rice - Wheat
■Legumes: Pinto Beans, Black Beans, etc.
■Oatmeal, Cornmeal
■Canned Fruits - Canned Vegetables - Soups - Stews, etc.
■Milk - Canned/Evaporated, Powdered, Sweetened/Condensed
■Eggs - Powdered (dried)
■Peanut Butter - Nuts - Popcorn
■Dehydrated Fruits & Vegetables - learn how to dehydrate your own
■Jerky - Trail Mix
■Graham Crackers - Saltines - Pretzels
■Chocolate - Cocoa - Tang - Punch
■Honey - Syrups - White Sugar - Brown Sugar
■Garlic - Spices - Baking Supplies
■Soy Sauce - Vinegar - Bouillon Soup-base
■Tuna Fish (packed in oil has more protein)
■Canned Meats
■Cooking Oil
■Flour - Yeast - Salt
■Bulk Herbs (used for seasoning),(Herbs can also be used for first aid, or treating minor medical issues)
■Vitamins - Minerals - Supplements

COOKING & HEATING(Important to Urgent - Survival List Items)
•Emergency Cook Stove
•Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur)
•Emergency Heater
•Gasoline Containers with Extra Fuel (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur)
•Seasoned Firewood (those that heat with wood)
•Heating Oil or Propane Users (Urgent/Shortages: keep tanks full as possible)SAFETY ITEMS(Important to Urgent - Survival List Items)
•Emergency Weather Alert Radios (NOAA weather radio)
•72-hour Kit (portable- in you have to evacuate your home)
•Emergency Car Kits (first aid & road-side kits)
•Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
•Smoke Alarms (battery powered)
•Fire Extinguishers (or Baking Soda in every room)
•Self Defense Items: Guns, Ammo, Pepper Spray, Non-Lethal Tools
•Survival Guide Book
•Take a basic course in CPR and First-Aid

KITCHEN & HOUSEHOLD(General to Important - Survival List Items)
•Cookware (pots, pans, etc)
•Paper Plates, Cups, Utensils, Paper Towels (stock up plenty of these)
•Hand Can Openers
•Insulated Ice Chests (to keep foods from extreme temperature ranges; such as not thawing or to keep from freezing)
•Garbage Cans Plastic (great for storage, water transporting/cans with wheels)
•Plastic Storage Containers (keep items dry and pest-free)
•Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many)
•Plastic Zip-Lock Bags (stock up on these)
•Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Cooking and Barter Item)
•Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypo chlorite)
•Laundry Detergent
•Dish Soap
•Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
•Clothes Pins, Line, Hangers
•Paraffin Wax
•Books (Bible and Favorite Reading)
•Writing Paper, Pads, Pencils
•Solar Calculators•Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks
•Board Games, Cards, Dice
•Scissors, Fabrics & Sewing Supplies
•Duct Tape (must have item)

PERSONAL CARE/HYGIENE(Important to Urgent - Survival List Items)
•First Aid Kits
•Reading Glasses
•Medicine: Prescriptions, Aspirin, Cold & Flu, etc.
•Hygiene: Feminine Products, Hair Care, Deodorant, Floss, Nail Clippers, Tweezers, Toothbrush & Paste
•Bath: Lotions, Shampoo, Soap, Waterless & Antibacterial Soaps - (save water)
•Shaving Supplies: Razors, Creams, Talc, Aftershave
•Baby Supplies: Diapers, Wipes, Formula, Ointments, Aspirin, etc.
•Portable Toilets & Sanitation
•Toilet Paper, Kleenex

LIGHTING(Important Needed - Survival List Items)
•Flashlights, Light-sticks, Torches
•Batteries (all latest Expiration Dates)
•Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps
•Charcoal, Lighter Fluid

TOOLS(General Needed - Survival List Items)
•Basic Tool Kit: Hammer, Screw Drivers, etc.
•Shovels: Regular and Snow
•Knives & Sharpening Tools: Files, Stones, Steel
•Bow Saws, Axes and Hatchets. Wedges (also, honing oil)
•Tire Repair Kits

CLOTHING(General Needed - Survival List Items)
•Hats & Beanies
•Gloves: Work/Warming/Gardening, etc.
•Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
•Woolen Clothing, Scarves, Ear-muffs, Mittens
•Work Boots, Belts, Levis & Durable Shirts
•Thermal Underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
•Rain Gear, Rubber Boots, etc.

MISCELLANEOUS(General Needed - Survival List Items)
•Tarps, Stakes, Twine, Rope, Spikes
•Sleeping Bags, Blankets, Pillows, Mats
•Cots & Inflatable Mattresses
•Backpacks, Duffel Bags
•Fishing Supplies/Tools•Mosquito Repellent, Sprays, Creams
•Mousetraps, Ant & Cockroach Traps•Rat & Mouse Poison, Roach Killer
•Glue, Nails, Nuts, Bolts, Screws, etc.
•Plastic Window Insulation Kits (or sheeting with extra duct tape)
•Lumber (all types)
•Wagons & Carts (good for transporting many items)
•Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc