Friday, November 21, 2008

The Rule of Law . . . or Chaos & Anarchy

What is it that separates human beings from animals? More than anything else, it is that we have within us a spark of the divine:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
(William Wordsworth)

That divine spark gives us the tremendous capability to organize ourselves as a society simultaneously dedicated to freedom and order. In such a society, each is free to choose within broad parameters how to live, how to love, how to work, what to say, what to do, what to be, and how to worship.

But that free society is possible only because there is order. Thus we have civilization, which affords a degree of peace and security to society. Otherwise, there is chaos and anarchy, for when people do not feel bound by the rule of law, there is nothing to restrain or prevent them from doing whatever comes into their mind to do.

We have traffic laws to keep people safe: drivers must stop at stop signs, and obey posted speed limits. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level above a given point. If everyone suddenly decided that traffic laws were inconvenient, because they interfered with a person’s freedom to have a "good time," get plastered, and then race home as fast as that person dared to drive, imagine the condition of our roads and freeways! No one who wasn’t plastered would dare to drive, because everyone on the road would be going 60 -80 mph, weaving from one lane to another, IF they stayed on the roads to begin with! No one could get anywhere because, without traffic signals, it wouldn’t be long before two freedom-loving people would insist they had the right-of-way at an intersection, and there would be an accident, which would tie up traffic for the rest of the day.

Nor does it work for SOME of the people to obey the law, and a privileged few to be allowed to live "outside" or "above" the law. Then, you wind up with the type of Gang Society Chicago witnessed early in the last century, with one lawless group after another fighting for supremacy, and the poor, law-abiding citizenry left in the middle as pawns.

Which is why I am so troubled now, weeks after the election is over, to see organized groups seeking to harass and intimidate peaceful, law-abiding citizens with the goal of overturning the results of a free election. Free speech is fine. Continuing to speak after an election is lawful. Harassment, bullying, disrupting church services, attacking the elderly, are threatening bodily harm, are not. I don’t care who they are or what their "cause" is; anyone who participates in this type of harassment and persecution is a barbarian, and should be arrested and sent to prison for disturbing the peace, inciting to riot, and in some cases, like the one shown in this video, assault.

The election is over. The people have spoken. Not everyone is happy with the results. That goes for ALL the races and ballot measures, not just any one proposition. But that does not give ANYONE the right to go on a rampage and destroy someone else’s rights.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted - - - Have YOU?

I just got back from voting, and I am happy.

That’s not to say that it was the quick and easy experience I have come to expect on Election Day.

But, it is a testimony to me that God lives; that He not only loves us, but that He is mindful of us and the circumstances in which we live; and that He is still in charge.

It has been raining on and off all weekend, and the clouds were dark and threatening all day yesterday. I worried about how that would affect voter turnout. And then it began to rain, and it rained all night long. And I feared that only the truly committed would turn out to vote.

And then I woke up to the most beautiful fall day imaginable! The sun was shining, the sky was blue with only wispy white clouds high in the sky, and the temps are abut 70 degrees here in Goleta as it nears noon.

We left to cast our votes a little over an hour ago, and drove to the location where we have been casting our votes for something like 10 years . . . only to find that they weren’t doing it this year. But, as we walked past the office, I glanced over and saw a sign in the window:

"Memo from God: Today I will be handling all of your problems."

I’ve seen the whole memo before, and I stopped reading there and hurried to catch up with Derrin, but as I got to the car, I felt this little tug on my heart, like a special chime had just sounded to tell me "You’ve Got Mail!" and I knew that I hadn’t read that memo by chance.

I paused, and offered a prayer of thanks.

Unfortunately, our Sample Ballots had grown legs and wandered off, so we weren’t sure WHERE we *should* go. But, we saw a sign, "VOTE," with an arrow, and followed it to a nearby location where a bus from a neighboring retirement center was parked by the door. A good sign!

Unfortunately, they couldn’t find us on any of their voter rolls at that location. But a helpful voting assistant person approached us, and said she was a MAP, and would find out where we belonged.

She did, and after giving the Map a hug, we were on our way to our THIRD ATTEMPT of the morning to cast our ballots . . . this time at the correct voting location!

It seems like this happens every time there is an important issue on the ballot. Someone neglects to mail out the absentee ballots for the conservatives in the county until it’s too late to get them mailed back, and/or they change the voting locations. But NO ONE is going to take away my right to vote! I don’t care what kind of hoops I have to jump through, or what kind of silly maze they make me run . . . I shall persist until I arrive at the correct destination!

It felt SO GOOD to sign my name as a voting citizen of this free land; I was proud to receive my ballot; and I was filled with joy as I marked my choices and participated in the democratic process.

As I usually do, I checked over my ballot before turning it in to make sure I had marked everything the way I wanted to. And it was probably that small delay that was responsible for the segment of music that began playing on the radio as Derrin turned the car on to return home. Maybe . . .

The reason I had to sit down as soon as we got in the house and post this blog is because, as we started the engine, the radio was nearing the end of Sibelius’ "Finlandia," and I heard
"Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last."
Followed by some of the grandest, most triumphal music ever written.

I am at peace. I have done all that I can do. The rest is in God’s capable hands. He will take care of us, whatever the outcome of this election.

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve"

"Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had 'never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life.'

''This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ. . . . Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. . . . This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions.

"Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.... Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself. Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, 'summer is nigh.' Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat."

--- Elder Neal A. Maxwell
(Excerpts from A More Determined Discipleship - Feb 1979)