Sunday, June 28, 2009

Your flight has been delayed

"Due to mechanical problems, your flight has been delayed"

I took this photo in El Mirage, CA. There's an airplane junkyard. Occasionally, there is a limo out front with Hollywood types looking for parts.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Mormon in the White House?

I just finished listening to the audio book "A Mormon in the White House?" by Hugh Hewitt. This book was written during the primaries last year, but is still relevant today.

First, Mitt Romney is amazing. I wish his reputation as "Mr. Turnaround" would have been fully exposed during the election. I don't know anyone that I would trust more with our our current problems than Mitt Romney. I also was surprised to find out how "Constitutional" he is.

Second, I was surprised by the discovery by the author that the biggest issue with having a Mormon in the White House is because it is "just weird". Even though most everyone knows a Mormon that they respect and people consider Mormon's to be good neighbors, a belief that Joseph Smith saw angels and found a golden book is supposedly too much to take for any rational, thinking person. Here's my response:

First, any rational, thinking person cannot deny the decay in morals, ethics and principles and general lack of integrity in our society. How can we restore or build these values in the character of the American people?

Why are Mormon's considered "good neighbors"?
  • No drunken parties next door (Mormons don't drink alcohol or smoke)
  • Your wife and children are safe (Mormons only have sex with their spouse, avoid pornography and R-rated movies)
  • They are charitable neighbors (Mormons are used to giving as they pay a tithing or 10% of their income)
  • They are kind, considerate neighbors (Mormons are taught to be Christ-like)

What does it take to get people to behave out of the norm like this? A belief in something amazing such as a belief that God lives, cares about us and cares who we are as people. That's what the Joseph Smith narrative gives us. If the fruit is good, don't cut down the tree.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dogs will eat crumbs that fall from the table

The announcement recently by Gov. Schwarzenegger that he plans on cutting welfare to help balance the budget reminded me of a couple of personal stories.

First, I have been a recipient of California welfare in the past. Our daughter was born premature and the hospital bills exceeded our insurance coverage. I was in graduate school with limited income. Humbled, I went to the welfare office for help. I thought, "I don't belong here!". I told the case worker that I was embarrassed to be asking for a handout. She gave me great encouragement by telling me that it the system was designed for people like me and that I would most likely contribute more back to the system than I ever took.

The second story shows the other side of welfare. I had a home teaching assignment to visit a married couple from church. They lived in a humble house. The husband's hobby was toy trains and had an entire room dedicated to his trains and tracks. The wife's hobby was her dog Rachel. During one visit, they told me that things were tight financially. I said that I would talk to the Bishop, who has resources available (funds, food orders, etc.). I spoke to our Bishop and he told me he was aware of their need, but until the husband stopped spending money on trains, he wouldn't be helping.

A few months later, I visited and the husband was fuming mad! They were going to get evicted from their house. I was shocked to find out why. For the last 8-10 years, her father (his father-in-law) had been paying their rent and now refused to pay it anymore. They were being denied benefits that they had grown accustomed to. I did the math and figured that this rent subsidy was about $70,000. I tried to explain that he really should be thankful for the help that they had received. Not a easy message for an angry man.

After they were evicted, I got a phone call from the wife. She was now living with her dad and her husband was living with his mom. I commented that it must be hard to be separated from your spouse and asked why it wasn't possible for them to be together. Her comment floored me! There wasn't room for her husband and Rachel (remember, Rachel was her dog). I'm sure Rachel appreciated free housing.

The title of this blog refers to the story of the "woman of Canaan" in Matthew 15:21-28. Her humble reply to Jesus impressed him.

As services provided by the state of California are cut, there will surely be many who suffer, people that truly could have benefited like my family did. I hope and pray that those who are left helpless can find relief.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Push back and Obama in Egypt

I know that I've been critical of Pres. Obama but I just listened to his speech in Cairo, Egypt (today) and I have to admit that I agree with most of what he said (I still disagree with his domestic policies).

I remember my mom telling me once, "Ron, you've always been a peacemaker. Even when you were little, you would come home upset because the neighbors were treating their dog poorly." Yes, I'm a pacifist and I'm proud of it.

For those who prefer strength and force to the apparent weakness of pacifism, here's something to think about. I read once about a study done related to "pushing back". It involves two people. One person presses their fist lightly in the arm, chest or stomach of the second. The second person presses back with what they felt was the same force. Continue this back and forth and soon the two will be punching each other hard. (The study actually used sensitive digital sensors for this).

You can try this experiment with a friend, or if you are smart like me you try it with your two teenage sons so they can learn the lesson.

The point is that retaliation is always at least perceived as worse than the initial offense. This principle I thought was well addressed by Obama's speech writers.

A final word on pacifism: I think it shows tremendous strength to restrain oneself and to not overreact.