Wednesday, May 31, 2017

PC, Cultural Respect, and Getting Over It

I was watching Fox news during my morning routine a few days ago (I’m conservative, sue me) and saw the story on Trump’s visit to Israel. Between the back and forth on Israel and U.S. relations, foreign policy, and Trump’s actions overseas, I caught some of the conversation on Melania Trump’s overseas presence. The newscasters were discussing the Israeli media’s praise of First Lady Trump and her modest clothing choices. The Israeli media made a point to recognize that while she wasn’t dressed in a head scarf or other such traditional dress she chose a very conservative outfit out of respect for a culture she was not a part of. They took note of her freedom of expression in not dressing exactly like they dressed but they appreciated the efforts put forth to show her respect for their culture. Respect. That’s really what it all comes down to here.

We hear a lot in our culture about the endless ways we can offend other people. We can say, do, act, or be a direct offense to another individual without conscious knowledge of our “mistakes”.  One of my favorite examples of this is the use of the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Let me get one thing straight. If I say “Merry Christmas” to you I am not trying to force my beliefs on you. In fact I absolutely love when someone says “Happy Hanukah” or some other such sentiment in return. Why? It’s a celebration of culture, religion, and people. If I say “Merry Christmas” to you I mean “I sincerely hope you have a joyful time of year as it is generally a time that uplifts people’s spirits.” Since I am Christian and believe in celebrating the birth of my Savior I shorten that painfully long greeting to “Merry Christmas”. I welcome the warm and kind words of “Happy Hanukah”, “Feliz Navidad”, etc. because as a rational human being I recognize that these people are not trying to force their religion or ideals on me. They are in sincerity wishing me happiness and joy. 

This politically correct, don’t say any words that could possibly offend anyone, extravaganza has only grown worse in the past few years. Now we can’t say ma’am or sir without offending someone; even though these words are intended with respect. There are a myriad of words and phrases that I cannot say because I might “offend” someone or blaspheme their “safe space”. When did we become a people who let other people dictate how we feel? Millennials, why do you let your feelings get in the way of your abilities. I cannot tell you how often I am ashamed to be counted among the millennial generation because I see countless people around me who are brilliant, talented, vivacious human beings throw temper tantrums because someone hurt their feelings, go on a rampage because they’re offended or upset, or lay on the ground crying because “there are just too many injustices in an unjust world”. It’s time to take control of your emotions, appreciate when people are trying to be kind, and get over it. Most people are trying to connect with you, get to know you, appreciate you, or whatever it may be even if they don’t do it in the way you’d like. Guess what. The world doesn’t revolve around you and your feelings. You choose whether or not to be offended. If you feel that you cannot possibly go on because you are just too darn offended you should probably do a little soul searching and rethink your life.

Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that plenty of people say rude, immature, and unnecessary things. I’m a Mormon, conservative woman. The number of times I’ve been asked how my goals will (hinting at negatively) affect my children (as if my wanting to continue to pursue educational and career goals will somehow psychologically mess up my currently non-existent children) is astronomical. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. I know what I want and who I am. I know my character. I choose not to be offended because it only slows me down. My only goal today is to be the best person I can be regardless of what other people think and to prove those people who have doubted and disrespected me wrong. If someone makes a derogatory remark about your race, religion, sexual orientation, political beliefs, etc. Prove. Them. Wrong. You want to make a change; you want to see a difference? Get over it and prove them wrong. If someone makes a remark intended to be kind and uplifting, accept the comment. Don’t be trite and disrespectful. That is the most sure-fire way to destroy the humanity of a people from the inside than anything else I know. It keeps people from wanting to share goodness and respect out of fear that they will be lashed out at for their efforts. Don’t be a part of the problem. Be the solution. Get over it. Accept kindness. Prove the nay-sayers wrong.

To finish I want to go back to the concept of respect. Being respectful of other people’s beliefs does not mean that we cannot talk about our own beliefs and principles. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Rather than “tolerating” one another’s beliefs we should be celebrating them. Tolerating is a word used by people who have no grasp on the idea of respect. I can tolerate you and you can tolerate me but we’ll never really be friends will we? However if we can come to a point where we celebrate each other’s differences we have made a huge leap in the social atmosphere of today. Bridging the culture gap is hard. People are comfortable in environments that are most familiar to them. That’s why people don’t usually extend outside their circles of familiarity too much unless they’re forced to do so. If we want the social injustices of this country to go away as much as they possibly can in a world with imperfect people we’re going to have to learn to have true respect for one another. That means I as a conservative and you as a liberal, independent, green party, whatever you may be can sit down in a room and appreciate one another as human beings rather than judging one another for our difference in thought. We can have a political conversation that doesn’t end in a fight or loss of friendship. We can have differences because differences make us individuals and that above all is the greatest part about being human. We are not all the same and we have the remarkable opportunity to learn from each other. Let respect be about learning from one another and valuing different opinions rather than keeping quiet and closing off out of fear of offending others. There will continue to be offensive comments, people, etc. Learn to rise above trite offense. Learn from your experiences and continue to seek to respect others. If you can respect others the people worth having in your life will respect you too. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

God Bless America

Yesterday I watched American Sniper. It was one of the most gut-wrenching, eye-opening, tear-jerking movies I have ever seen. As someone who watches the news frequently I had semi-followed the trial regarding Chris Kyle and heard the powerful words of his wife Taya. My heart went out to this family who had seen their father narrowly survive four tours in Iraq only to have his life taken by a fellow veteran in the states. The movie ended and I sat there in awe; unable to say a word. My respect for the military, for what they go through, and their dedication to defending freedom greatly increased. I have always loved our military. Memorial Day, Veterans Day, D-Day, etc have always been days to remember those who have fallen and those who serve. I never could have imagined the pain and suffering these soldiers see. Our military sacrifices more than their lives for the cause of freedom. Every soldier who goes overseas makes sacrifices. That could be sacrifices of comfort and security or it could be sacrifices of sanity and innocence. These people see more than we can understand. They watch men, women, and children die. They watch their best friends fall next to them. They see suffering and hatred. Instead of walking away they continue on doing the duty that has been asked of them; doing it with a spirit of patriotism. I understand that not every soldier goes to war with these intentions and that not every war may seem to have good intentions. However, the large majority of those who recruit do so with a desire to serve their country. I do not always agree with what our military is doing. Despite that I support our troops. We as a nation must stand behind our troops through thick and thin. They deserve our support as they put their lives on the line for us. As a nation we have the duty to protect our nation from within while they serve outside. We must defend the constitution and participate in the political scene so that our military has a cause to fight for. Keep America the land of the free and the home of the brave. Remember. We are the guardians.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Federalist Project: Modern Federalist # 85

To the People of the United States of America,
Many points have been made in ensuring the protection of the Constitution. We have discussed the need for a balanced government, for a strong voice of the people, for the financial stability it provides, its economic strengths, etc. There are many other reasons the Constitution is still applicable today and for that I encourage you to go and read the Federalist Papers yourselves. They are a phenomenal work. The Constitution of the United States required difficult work by dedicated people. Do not take that lightly. Choose to support a government built to balance human nature and government.
The checks and balances system is set up to keep the wrong groups from gaining all the power. That includes the people. The founding fathers spent much time addressing the virtues and vices of democracy in establishing the Constitution. They understood that it is just as likely for the people to hold too much power as it is for the government to hold too much power. Negative changes in the Constitution have come from power hungry people that usurp these checks and balances. We must stand against those who seek to destroy our freedom. We must support the constitution.
It is now up to you to decide whether or not you will accept it. Read it, understand it, and think for yourself. This is our duty as citizens of the United States. The Constitution is not a perfect document. However it is the best that we as imperfect people can abide by. We cannot attempt to force a Utopia on the people. Instead we must do the best we can with what we have. That is the Constitution. It is built on compromise, on the best understanding we have.
It is easier to get the approval for new amendments that to adopt a new system entirely. We must be cautious with this power and not amend the Constitution at every whim we so desire to act on. Creating a balanced, working government that benefits the people requires difficult work! It requires unity, labor, and time. It requires these same values to fix it. Be patient in the flaws. Do not try to amend everything you feel. Give it time, work together, and change what is absolutely necessary. Remember that the Constitution is meant to provide the best representation of the people without giving them all the power. One group of people may be a majority on one issue and a minority on another. That is the point. Well-rounded representation among the many different voices.
We must also be guarded against usurpation of leadership. It is not in the nature of those with power to want to give it up. This is the reason for term limits and specified years per term. With this said, we still need leaders who have public spirit and integrity. They must hold power in a spirit of accommodation and they are required to truly represent their constituents.
A national government is required for the success of a nation. The US establishing a constitution in a time of peace with general consent is a miracle. A gift by the grace of God. Do not abuse it. 

A Patriot

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Federalist Project: Modern Federalist #48

To the People of the United States of America,

The check and balance system established in the Constitution of the United States is one of the strongest guards against corruption in the government that imperfect people and imperfect government systems can live by. Under the Constitution the three legislative bodies have separate responsibilities but they are balanced by each other. The executive is in charge of matters that require instant decision making. For example, while he cannot declare war, the president is in charge of making decisions regarding where to send troops and other decisions of that nature. He deals with emergency responses. The legislative power makes laws and organizes institutions such as the postal service or the national mint. The judicial power observes and determines the constitutionalism of the laws the legislative branch enacts. Each branch has a very distinct set of powers. However, each branch is checked and balanced by another.
Why is it necessary to establish a system of balances? It is necessary to keep the branches of government in check. The legislative power is the strongest power. It is essential to balance the strength of the legislative with the roles of the executive and judicial so that one branch does not over power another. While the executive and judicial branches do not have the same amount of power as the legislative they have vital roles in the functionality of the US government.
The founders decided on a republic with this system of checks and balances because there was no government system that properly represented the people without giving them all the power. A monarchy put too much power in the hands of a single person. A democracy put too much power in the hands of the majority. In that case government becomes too inconsistent or too partisan. The balance between different government systems keeps the power from going too much to one group and becoming corrupt.  
The republic keeps the people from acting on every whim they have be establishing them as the core power center but providing a strong federal government to balance out the people. The legislative holds the most power and has the greatest extent of jurisdiction. The executive and judicial hold lesser powers because they have smaller roles. Since the legislative branch has access to the money of the people in the sense that they control the money the government receives from taxation all the branches must work together to use that money wisely.
Balancing the power of the branches is essential so there is not corruption. The people hold the greatest power but they have representatives in a divided and balanced government to represent their needs and wants. There are three separate branches and no one person can have power in more than one. The three branches, although divided, are united. They work together. One cannot operate without the cooperation of the other.
Under the Articles of Confederation the powers of government were scattered and essentially unusable. This is what is happening in our government today. The three branches are becoming completely separate and ignoring the balance of power they are supposed to uphold. Just a list of what the branches are not supposed to do are insufficient bounds for government. They need a list of just their responsibilities. For example, Article I Section 8 of the Constitution lays out 18 powers of the legislative branch. They are not to deviate from those 18 powers. Each article of the Constitution also includes a system of checks and balances that help balance the power.
The branches must be balanced. They are required to keep the people from overstepping their bounds, but they also answer to the people and to each other. Separating the powers causes confusion and chaos. Unity is required among the powers of government.

A Patriot

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Our Government Requires Morality and Religion

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
                                                     -John Adams

On this beautiful Sabbath day I was reminded of why I hold so strongly to my Christian faith. Not only is it the guide for my life, my reason for getting up each morning and of living each day as best I can, it is a reminder that everything that is good in this life comes from God. Why am I sharing this on a political blog? The quote above by John Adams is a very powerful reminder of the necessity of a moral and religious people in upholding the Constitution. That religion does not need to be Christianity. It can be Judaism, Buddhism, Islam; it doesn't matter. Religion provides a reason to better ourselves as human beings. The Constitution of the United States is built around the understanding that man can rule himself. That understanding is based off of the idea that people live to better themselves; therefore religion and morality are essential in upholding the Constitution. Whether or not today is your Sabbath Day consider the importance of living a good life in protecting the wonderful freedoms we are so blessed with here that allow us to worship whom we please! 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Federalist Project: Modern Federalist #39

To the People of the United States of America
                The Constitution of the United States took years to build. The Constitutional Convention may have only lasted from May until September but the process it took to get there took years. The founders studied democracies, monarchies, aristocracies, anarchies, tyrannies, and every other form of government before deciding on a republic. They decided to combine the best powers of a monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy to best provide for the people. The founders trusted in our education; in our understanding. We are not the weak uneducated masses but the strong, thoughtful citizens. Democratic governance is the best foundation we can have since this is our nation, not the government’s. A republic is not easily defined. Many countries have claimed a republic but not actually operated by one. The definition of a true republic is one that derives its power from the people. That power is then administered by people holding offices who are chosen whether directly or indirectly by the people, for limited periods of time, and holding a high moral standard.
                It is necessary in any nation for the people to be the voice and the central power. The government is not established to protect the politicians, but the people. It is not meant to benefit one class of people, but an entire nation. The people choose their representatives, whether directly or indirectly, so that leaders are not chosen from a specific class and become tyrants. If leaders are chosen from a handful of aristocrats it would degrade republican character.
                The founders divided the government in such a way that the people held the main voice but not all the power. The House of Representatives is elected directly by the people. However, the Senate and Presidency are done differently. In regards to the Senate, the people elect the state legislators who vote for the national legislators. Regarding the president, the people vote for the Electoral College who then represent the people’s vote for president. The idea is that the people vote for the representatives who vote for the higher up representatives. This in indirect appointment by the people and keeps the people form having too much power. When the people have too much power an anarchy shortly follows.
                After the people elect the representatives by direct appointment or through other represented leaders, the representatives need limits on power. Term limits are necessary so that those in office do not become power hungry. The problem today is that we have become lazy and we vote for the same people each and every time without holding them accountable to their responsibilities. The president is limited to two terms but no other office is so limited. Many national (and state) congressmen have been in office for many years, some decades. This is not the intent of the constitution. Titles of nobility are also not permitted under the constitution. Why? No one should ever be held to a higher status because of blood line or wealth. It defies the most basic American principle that all are created equal. This means that we are all born with the same opportunities for greatness. It is an honor to serve your country, not a right or a position to be held above the head of others.
                The character of the government is essential to upholding the balance of power. There are five criteria under which the character of government is derived: the foundation it is based on (republic, democracy, oligarchy, etc.), where the sources of power are drawn from (the people, aristocracy, monarch, etc.), the operation of those powers (moral or amoral), the extent of them (how much power does each hold), and the powers that introduce future government changes (bureaucracy, government, select elite, etc.) Can we look at our country today and comfortably address where our nation stands in regards to these questions? Are we still based on the principles of the republic? I believe that on outward glance it would seem that we could. We are still based on a republic with power drawn from the people that is based on moral principles. However, a deeper look into the politics of America shows that we are gradually falling away from these to become more government based and with a deepening disregard for morals. We cannot expect the balance if we do not protect the government system that holds the power with the greatest respect for the people.
                Can we as a people ratify the Constitution? When it was established in 1787 the founders took to the people for their approval. Madison, Hamilton, and Jay wrote the Anti-Federalist Papers for the people; not their fellow government leaders. If placed before us today could we support the Constitution? That decision is placed before us. Every day. We must defend the government meant to protect us and our rights. That is the government of the constitution.
                It is important to know that the division of powers is broken down into two facets: national and federal. The House of Representatives gets powers from the people of America. Each state is given a certain number of representatives based off of the population. This is a national division of power since it is based off of direct representation of the people. On the other hand, the Senate is only given two representatives per state and derives its powers from the state. This is an indirect power from the people and is therefore a federal rather than national division of power. A government that is federal means that the power comes from political bodies that make up the government. The national government derives power from individual citizens that make up the nation. The constitution is neither completely national nor completely federal. Instead it is a balance of the two. This is why it is a republic. It balances the power between the people and the national government with the people as the basis of power.

A Patriot