Monday, March 22, 2010

Are We Ready to Listen Yet???

With every passing day, the extreme left wing in this country is getting bolder and more transparent. Even as I typed the last sentence, I realized that it is only half true. The radical left has undoubtedly been getting bolder in their drive to transform our nation, but to an equal degree, the rest of us are simply starting to pay more attention. Those intent on re-founding our nation have not hidden their intent, but many of us either didn't believe what they have said in the past, or maybe didn't want to believe. Whatever the reason, we can no longer ignore nor deny what is happening all around us.

In the days running up to his election, and then prior to his inauguration, Barack Obama openly advocated for a fundmantal transformation of our nation. Many did not know what he meant by that bold statement. During the smoke and fluster of the healthcare debate over the past year, far left groups including the Center for American Progress, the Tides Foundation, and members of the congressional Progressive Caucus have openly stated that whatever they can accomplish in their pursuit to pass healthcare legislation would only be a first step down the path to socialized medicine through a state-run, single payer system. So this is just the begining.

Barack Obama wrote in his own book about his ties to Marxism and his tendency to migrate toward socialistic thought. He even claimed that in college he sought out Marxist professors as mentors.

Maybe we haven't heard or didn't believe what they've said. That is our fault. But they're becoming even bolder in stating what they really want to accomplish. Are we ready to listen now? If there has been any curtain obscuring the true intent of those in power in our land, it is quickly falling to the ground to clearly reveal where our country is headed, citing a myriad of lies and deceptions as a mandate for the course they are pursuing.

Watch this clip to see the latest in the far left openly admitting the direction they intend to steer our country, and falsely claiming a mandate from the people to do it.

Hear the incomparable Reverand Al Sharpton:

I'm an American. Most of the people I know are Americans. And while I have to admit there are a few people I know who do believe socialism is the wave of the future, overwhelmingly, the people of America did not vote for socialism. But whether we are yet willing to accept this fact or not, we are facing a question of maintaining the heritage of our land based upon inspired principles, or changing to a socialistic system. Those advocating change know what they're trying to accomplish. Are we ready to admit that they are serious and making astounding progress in their agenda?

Please take few more mintes and watch this following video clip from Ezra Taft Benson. This is a good description of the alternative that is being thrust upon us and we will have to settle for if we don't take action. I have borrowed this clip from another blog I follow located at entitled "What I know". This is an excellent blog and I commend to everyone to check in on it. So, begging the pardon of TKZ who authors that blog, please view this video and take some time to visit "What I Know".

We need to wake up, hear what the other side is saying, take them at their word, and then decide what we're going to do about it. The Congressional Republicans, who are not much more trustworthy than their counterparts across the aisle, are vowing to repeal the healthcare bill when they regain power. Are we ready to hold them accountable for that, or will we let them go back to sleep and take their turn at abusing power? Never has it been more important to prayerfully read and commit to follow the instructions given in D&C Section 98.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

This is What Change Looks Like

I wasn't planning on posting again until Tuesday when I share the second installment about how we spend our liberty. But I've been sitting here staring at the television for the past little while, trying to manage the alternate emotions of anger, disappointment, and worry that are competing for domination in my mind as I absorb what happened in Washington D.C. today. I hope we are all astute enough to make note of today's date, March 21, 2010, because its the day everything changed. The effects of the passage of the healthcare bill may not be immediately apparent when we wake up tomorrow morning, but make no mistake, from this moment forward our country is fundamentally different than it was when we woke up this morning. This is not the begining of the transformation of our great land. The transformation has been underway for some time, but it is the day the momentum shifted in a significant degree away from the foundation laid by our forefathers under the inspiration of heaven. We will see, going forward, an acceleration of efforts to undermine liberty in our land, and history will record this day as the one when the crack in the dam became irreparable. In its zeal to "grant us rights", which it has no legitimate power to do, Congress has manufactured their own right to reach further into our lives and prescribe for us how we are to live it. Return to your seats and fasten your safety belts friends and neighbors, we're heading for some rough air.

I don't write this to be pessimisstic, although this certainly is one of the least positive moments since I became awakened to the need to take action in preserving freedom, but rather I write tonight to acknowledge and make note of the movement forward of troubles and challenges that have been prophesied for centuries. There is an even greater urgency now for good men and women to awaken and stand firm in defense of the liberty we enjoy in America. The outcome of the war has already been ordained. Liberty will prevail and our rights will ultimately be held inviolate. God's work for this land is not finsihed and will not be until the New Jerusalem is established and Christ returns to reign. Nevertheless, we will be required to pass through difficult terrain to ensure God's declared outcome. Winning a war does not mean that some battles will not be lost and casualties and hardships will be avoided.

I watched news coverage for as long as I could stand hearing Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama celebrate what they deem a victory for the American People, even though an overwhelming majority of Americans did not support passage of this legislation. It was all I could do to listen to Pelosi invoke the name of our founding fathers and proclaim that she was carrying on the tradition they started and building upon their foundation. But, there was one thing I heard in the Washington gloat-fest that does ring true. President Obama stated, "This is what change looks like."

So, friends and fellow patriots, now we know. This is what the change looks like that he has been promising since he first set his foot on the national stage. This is the change that created the ground swell that carried him into office. Let's take a quick look at this change:

- The legislation was passed through a controversial parliamentary tactic known as reconciliation. What was actually passed was a package to alter the law that would have been created by the Senate bill passed earlier, even though that bill was never signed into law.

- The Senate bill was only passed because of scurrilous backoffice dealings and bribery. This included unfair and immoral concessions given to individual senators in Nebraska, Louisiana, and elsewhere.

- The passage of today's legislative package was very unpopular among the American people, and was clearly not the will of the people. It was passed despite the voice of the people, because it was aligned with the agenda of a powerful few in Washington, not the good of the people or the American way.

- The healthcare package contains provisions completely unrelated to healthcare, which dangeroulsy empower the federal government. For instance, the bill changes the funding of higher education to now allow only the federal government to provide student loans for colleges and universities. Under this provision, the government will now determine who receives funds to go to college, the criteria upon which the funds will be distributed, the terms of the loan (debt to be waived if students participate in government sanctioned social programs and advance the social welfare agenda). Additionally, now the government will be able to determine what institutions the loan dollars can be used for. If the University does not conform curriculum, programs, and philosophy to the will of the state, they can be shut out from enrolling students who take out loans for their education.

- Politicians are attempting, with this bill, to do as they like and avoid all consequences. A great example is our despicable Rep. Jim Matheson in Utah. He magnanimously announced yesterday that he had finally decided to vote against the legislation. I had called his office earlier in the week and was told he was still undecided. As if anyone in elected office had not yet chosen a position in this epic debate and knew where they stood. But once Speaker Pelosi had convinced Rep. Stupak and his coalition to flip their votes in support of the package, and she no longer needed other so called moderate democrats to lend her their support, he attempts to take a "courageous" stand for what his constituents want. It is unsettling to see this kind of duplicity in those we've elected and empowered to represent us. A so called stand on principle once the Democratic leadership had determined they would not punish him for defecting, he thought he could then go back to the good people of his district and tell them he was voting the way they wanted him to. I pray people will not be deceived by this nonsense, which is happening across the nation.

So, in the immortal words of our illustrious leader, "This is what change looks like." I, for one, don't like the look of it.

Here's one last thing I saw on the Internet this evening that seems appropriate:

With his health care holy war, President Obama is sending America at least 10 messages since taking office:

1. I win; you lose.

2. My will; not the will of the people.

3. Government of Obama, by Obama, for Obama; not government of the people, by the people, for the people.

4. Corrupt House rules and autocracy; not play by the rules and democracy.

5. “I’ll tread on you” now steps on “Don’t tread on me.”

6. “I, the president”; not “We, the People.”

7. “All men are created equal” but I am more equal than others.

8. “The dissent of the president” overrules “the consent of the governed.”

9. “Give me tyranny and give me debt” replaces “Give me liberty or give me death.”

10. “That government is best which governs most” supersedes “That government is best which governs least.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

How Are We Spending Our Priceless Liberty? (Installment 1)

As I sit here in front of the computer screen trying to gather my thoughts, I just looked up to see my sweet wife walking toward the front door with a handful of sharp, jagged, and broken wooden sticks that, up until a short time ago, formed the legs to one of our good dining room chairs. It seems that no matter how often we tell the kids not to climb on the table, wrestle or play ball in the house, we'd be more successful winning the Utah State Lottery than actual getting them to settle down. (Yes, I know there is not a lottery in Utah. . . that's part of the point).

One of the side effects of having a house full of boys is that, unless you can get comfortable sitting on a pile of beautifully lathed kindling, you might have to stand up to eat until a new chair can be ordered. So, unless we happen to be attacked by vampires before the garbage man comes in the morning, the remnants of the chair aren't good for very much.

It’s a funny thing with kids. While they are content to do practically everything imaginable with our furniture, including climb on it, building forts with it, using it as a trampoline, a wrestling mat, and a tackling dummy, if you dare touch anything in their bedroom, like a bed or a banana chair, without their express permission and supervision, they freak out.

I know this phenomenon is not unique to the Parke household or our wild little guys, but it is a curious occurrence. As people, we tend to assign value to things in odd ways. While we hold some things as sacred and inviolable, other things we use and abuse with no apparent rationale. I think some of it has to do with a timeless principle that was eloquently captured by Thomas Paine when he stated, "what we obtain to cheap, we esteem to lightly." This is one of the truths that, while not convenient or something we want to admit to, rings very true in our day.

(NOTE: I'm not referring to the Al Gore style inconvenient truth that is inconvenient because it’s an unproven "truth" derived from partial evidence, supposition, assumptions, and contrived data, seasoned with a healthy portion of personal agenda.)

Unless we can understand the price that has been paid for any article, it is difficult for us to fully appreciate and value that article. This is true when it comes to getting kids to appreciate the comforts and conveniences they take completely for granted in this day and age, or for the rest of us when we contemplate those goods that we've acquired with little or no investment on our part.

Isn't it interesting that there are many of the older generation who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930's and the Great War of the 1940's, who were required to save, sacrifice, and toil for everything they had, who have, over time, amassed abundant savings while never earning more than a meager income, and still live unpretentious and simple lives; while at the same time young athletes who have had great wealth sprung upon them, or lottery winners who happen on large fortunes by chance, live lives of excess and are soon bankrupt and destitute?

We must learn to understand the cost that accompanies the blessings we enjoy in life. Otherwise we cannot be fully appreciative of these blessings, or fully responsible in how we use them.

Thomas Paine continued his famous quote by stating, "Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods."

We should not be so foolish as to believe that the great blessings we have received came at no cost, just because we are not the ones who paid the price. Just as our kids didn't earn the money that paid for the dining set they enjoy every time they sit down to eat a meal, there was a cost that was borne by others for many of the blessings we benefit from on a regular basis. All things of value come with a cost. It is the cost required that actually assigns the value to all things. When it comes to those things most worth possessing, those things given to us by a loving Heavenly Father who knows what we need and what will be of the greatest benefit to us, it is Heaven that places the proper price on those goods.

And so it is with the incomparable gift of liberty. Returning to the words of Thomas Paine, he concluded his insightful declaration with these words. “. . . it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated.

It is very difficult for many of us in this day to fully comprehend the high price that was paid for our freedoms. The Prophet Joseph Smith one time declared, in describing the heavenly article of freedom in our land, that “Sacred is the memory of that blood which bought for us our liberty.” (HC 3:9 emphasis added)

But those who spilt their blood lived so long ago. Their day was far removed from our day. It is difficult for many to even remember their sacrifice, let alone relate to it. Nevertheless, our apathy does not diminish the price they willingly paid.

What about those who have sacrificed since that time? One of the great tools of the adversary in keeping people from standing up in defense of liberty is the misguided belief that the cost of freedom has been paid in full. What an insult this idea is to those who have left their offering at the altar of freedom in more recent years. What a danger this idea represents when there are evil men in our day intent on destroying the liberty we've enjoyed for so long.

On Tuesday I will post the second installment of this entry, which will include stories of those who have made payments toward the price heaven has placed on our liberty. Please check back in a few days and read what comes next. I’m certain you’ll find it worthwhile. Not because of what I write, but because of the power of the sacrifices that will be described. Then, we'll consider not just the price that has paid for the liberty we enjoy, but how we are spending what we've been given.

In the meantime, please take a few minutes and check out the new blog found at

Now I'm off to stand at the dining room table to have a bite to eat.


Monday, March 8, 2010

A Link Worth Checking

Once again I have failed in my goal to post to this blog each week. The reason for this failure is that I've been working on another project that I will hopefully be able to share within the next couple of months. It has taken quite a bit of time, almost every waking hour not spent working or with the family, but something I feel really good about and look forward to sharing.

In the meantime, I've also re-tooled another old blog that was set-up in conjunction with a project last year to send the Proper Role of Government by Ezra Taft Benson to all members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Please take a minute and look at the blog located at this address.

This blog will be populated on a regular basis with a series of posts exploring the contents of Elder Benson's writings on the Proper Role. He has really distilled the correct approach we should be pursuing as a nation, and our ability to digest and understand what he has outlined in that timeless work will greatly benefit each of us. I would like to also invite any who are interested to post on this site regarding your insights and thoughts on the content of Elder Benson's work.

Please take a look, let me know what you think, and let me know if you're interested in posting an essay or specific comments on this blog for others.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Executive Exigency

As we continue with reviewing some of the prophetic statements issued by President J. Reuben Clark regarding freedom in America, we need to pause for a moment and review how some of his warnings apply to our current national circumstances. Following are two video segments that everyone should watch. After watching and contemplating these clips, read on to see what President Clark had to say on the topic being addressed.

In an address given on October 7, 1943 President Clark delivered the following message:

"In violation of the fundamental concept of the Constitution that there are three mutually independent branches of government--the legislative, judicial, and executive--neither of which may usurp or have granted to it the power to intrude upon the functions of the other, we have seen grow up, under this destructive influence I have named, the theory and practice that the executive branch may in fact legislate. Many of the legislative-like enactments are dubbed 'directives,' a new and meaningless term in our constitutional government. Unless they are legal Executive Orders, they have no legal force. However sound such enactments may be under the principles and practices of the Civil Law-- with which the leadership of the communisitc publicists are familiar and in which they are probably trained-- they are outside our constitutional law and procedure. Behind them are no popular urges--indeed, they not infrequently fly in the face of the peoples desire; they are made without public notice or discussion, in violation of established law making procedure; they are not made by the representatives of the people with a responsibility runing back to the people. . .

"However, these "directives" involve more than the legislative usurpation. The units that frame them likewise enforce them, --thus becoming both legislature and executive. Furthermore, in cases of dispute, they not infrequently try, condemn, and pronounce judgment for violations, thus acting as a court in judging their own enactments; and finally, having made the law, and judged the law, and imposed the penalty, they act as sheriff to carry out the sentence. This combines all the elments of government into one. This is tyranny in its most complete form, however beneficent it may happen temporarily to be in fact. It was Thomas Jefferson who said: 'What has destroyed the liberty and rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and consolidation of all cares in one body.' . . .

"Thus, and speaking in general terms, the Federal Government has reached down and touched the individual lives of the citizens in a multitude of matters which for a century and a half were held to be untouchable by the Government under those constitutional provisions which declared that the Federal Government is a government of delegated powers, and that unless powers are expressly given they are reserved by the people-- who grants the power-- either to themselves or to their State Governments. Any provervbial school boy knows that the exercise of the Federal Government of a power not delegated to it by the people, is plain usurpation; so also he knows that any exercise by one department of the Federal Government of any power not expressly granted to it is a usurpation, whether that pwer be not granted at all or whether the people have in their Constitution granted that power to another department of the Government. These are merest commonplaces in constitutional law, but they are basic principles which are suffering daily violations.

"Unless these usurpations are stopped, social, economic, and governmental chaos will come. There are those who believe that the destructive influences wish chaos because they believe that out of it they can most easily build their projected communistic state here in America."

Are we flirting with tyranny in America? It is hard to even imagine what our country could look like today if the executive orders outlined in the second video segment had not been rescinded by a subsequent president. In a world rife with real and contrived crises, one seeking to gain power could have used these orders to usher in a state identical to the soviet empire of the 20th century.

So, if President Obama does resort to executive orders to advance the elements of his agenda that he cannot pass through normal legislative channels, there is extreme danger on the horizon.

The Congress and the Judiciary need to get a handle on the unmitigated power grab that can legally be conducted by our chief executive, or they stand in great danger of being rendered impotent, and we stand in great danger of becoming subjects to a veritable monarch.

I believe we should make this, along with other executive tactics such as unconfirmed appointments of powerful bureaucrats (czars), a key issue int he upcoming congressional elections. Those we elect should be willing to preserve the separation powers, which is one of the fundamentals of our the American system of goverment.


Monday, February 1, 2010

One Voice Among Many

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve spent some time reading several of the writings of President J. Reuben Clark. His insights into the mission and destiny of America were profound, and his warnings regarding the dangers that exist to individual liberty and the responsibility we bear to take actions in the preservation of liberty were clear. While he was alive, President Clark was just one voice among many warning of the potential for our liberty to be lost. But he was a powerful voice that we would do well to hear and follow.

I’m sure most are familiar with President Clark, but here are a few biographical facts about him to serve as a quick reminder.

Joshua Reuben Clark received a law degree from Columbia University , worked in the U.S. Attorney General’s office and later as an attorney for the U.S. Department of State. He was appointed to the post of Under Secretary of State in the Coolidge adminstration. In 1930 he was appointed to the role of U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

In 1933 Clark was called by President Heber J. Grant to serve as Second Counselor in the First Presidency. This was a unique and unusual calling, since Clark was not a general authority of the church prior to this call. In 1934, upon the death of Anthony W. Ivins who had served as First Counselor in the First Presidency, Clark was ordained an apostle and called to replace Elder Ivins as First Counselor, with David O. McKay as Second Counselor. Following the passing of President Grant, Elders Clark and McKay were chosen by President George Albert Smith to continue as first and second counselors respectively. When David O. McKay became President of the Church, Elder Clark was called to be Second Counselor in the First Presidency, with Stephen L. Richards serving as First Counselor. Upon the passing of President Richards, President Clark was called to replace him in the capacity of First Counselor in the First Presidency where he served until his death in 1961.

President J. Reuben Clark was a very skilled man with a rich background. He was a distinguished statesman with many years of civic service within the U.S. government, and served nearly thirty years as an apostle and counselor to three church presidents. There is little question that he was eminently qualified to speak with authority on matters of civic government, as well as gospel matters. And speak of these things he did. President Clark was an outspoken advocate of the U.S. Constitution and spoke often and emphatically of threats to our freedom and our need to work to defend our liberties.

I want to share some of the statements made by President Clark regarding the defense of our liberty. I am placing these comments in a specific order, not necessarily chronologically, to help convey a clear message that emerges from his inspired counsel.

President Clark stated,

“The great struggle which now rocks the whole earth more and more takes on the character of a struggle of the individual versus the state. . . Upon its final issue, liberty lives or dies. The plain and simple issue now facing us in America is freedom or slavery. We have largely lost the conflict so far waged. But there is time to win the final victory, if we sense our danger and fight." (Church News, 1949)

In this first quotation President Clark is asserting several things. First, that there is a world-wide struggle that exists. We know from other statements by several latter-day prophets that the central theme of this battle is the agency of man, and that it is a continuation of the war in heaven.

President Clark suggests that this struggle has become characterized to an increasing degree by the conflict of individuals versus the state. What does this imply? It is clear from the writings of President Clark that he is alluding to the rights of the individual in contrast to the growing control of government in usurping these individual rights. The struggle essentially is this, the mechanism being used in many cases to rob man of individual liberty is government. This is not just true of countries under communist or fascist rule, but even here within our own land. If government extends beyond her rightful (or constitutional) bounds to deprive individuals of their freedom to choose, and dictates the actions of her citizens in a way that curtails this freedom of choice, individual liberty is diminished. It is important to note here that as freedom to choose is diminished, so to is accountability. Without accountability we cannot prove ourselves and one of the primary purposes of this life is thwarted.

On another occasion, President Clark said the following.

“This gigantic worldwide struggle more and more takes on the form of war to the death. We shall do well and wisely so to face and so to enter it. And we must all take part. Indeed, we all are taking part in that struggle, whether we will or not. Upon its final issue, liberty lives or dies.”

It is again affirmed by Pres. Clark that the struggle is worldwide, it is serious enough to be classified as a war to the death, and that either the preservation or loss of liberty depends upon the outcome of this war. Included in this statement is the added admonition that we all have a part to play in the struggle. We have no choice as to our participation (we all are taking part in that struggle, whether we will or not) but we do have a choice regarding the side we will join and the effort we will put forth.

The next statement I’d like to share from President Clark begins to describe how the war is waged by the forces intent on depriving individuals of liberty.

“I wish to say with all the earnestness I possess that when you see any curtailment of these liberties I have named [freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion], when you see government invading any of these realms of freedom which we have under our Constitution, you will know that they are putting shackles on your liberty, and that tyranny is creeping upon you, no matter who curtails these liberties or who invades these realms, and no matter what the reason and excuse therefore may be.”

We are here instructed that anytime government begins to take action, for any reason, that infringes upon the freedoms guaranteed by our constitution, liberty is under assault. Let’s consider this a bit more. There are many examples we can point to in our day of government making excuses for why this action or that must be taken, even if those actions infringe on liberty. Consider actions taken by the government in the name of ensuring public safety, stabilizing the economy, ensuring equality, supporting the less-fortunate, protecting the environment, encouraging growth, promoting diversity, maintaining peace, serving the ‘greater good’ and the list goes on and on. All of these may be worthwhile objectives when regarded on their own merits, and I certainly don’t mean to suggest that there is not a reasonable expectation of the government in regard to many of these pursuits, but when such ends serve as a mechanism for curtailing freedoms, we are at risk.

Consider some of the consequences that have resulted from the government overreaching with one of the aforementioned ends in mind. Freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assemble, freedom of religion, and the right to property have been threatened, and in some cases completely disregarded. Excessive taxation has occurred, energy dependence has increased, God has been pushed out of public discourse, the family has been undermined, poverty has increased, single parenthood has exploded, personal property has been confiscated, and much more.

And President Clark continues,

“And do not think that these usurpations, intimidations and impositions are being done to us through inadvertence or mistake. The whole course is deliberately planned and carried out. Its purpose is to destroy the Constitution and our constitutional government; then to bring chaos, out of which the new Statism with its slavery is to arise, with a cruel relentless, selfish, ambitious crew in the saddle.” (Church News, )

This statement is painfully clear. Encroachments upon our freedom are no accident. They are planned, coordinated, and carried out with a purpose in mind. This personally gives me great pause when I consider some of the proposals made by those in government that will supposedly benefit us in this way or that, but actually undermine our freedom. For example, while many politicians suggest that government run healthcare is best for the American people, I cannot ignore the power this places in the hands of the state over our lives. Under government supported healthcare the state would be in a position to dictate our lifestyles, our diets, when we access medical care, what care we are entitled to receive, how we use our free time, how many children we have, if we’ve ‘earned’ the investment the state would make in keeping us alive, and many other aspects of our personal lives.

Part of proposed energy policy could dictate the temperature setting within our homes, the distance we can travel, when we can run home appliances, the quantity of emmisions we are entitled to create, the kind of automobiles that can be manufactured, etc.

Other proposals regarding education would give government control over who is given money to attend colleges and universities, what those intitutions teach, and who those institutions will admit. The government then has control over who has access to higher education and of what that education consists. Organic evolution, global warming, moral relativism, allegience to the state and other forms of indoctrination are then unfettered and uncontested. There are already many examples of state run education dictating aspects of curriculum that are objectionable and not in alignment with gospel truth. President Clark once said regarding education, “Our government with its liberty and free institutions will not long survive a government trained and supervised youth”. (Church News, 1940)

The partnership of government and labor unions limit employers, reduce production and productivity, and drive up both availability and cost of goods that we are free to purchase. Proposed legislation would even deprive workers of the right to a secret ballot, and ultimately, the right to not be represented by corrupt unions. Unreasonable gun control laws would limit who may have access to a firearms, how the weapon can be used, and where it may be taken. These rules would certainly diminish the ability of citizens to protect themselves from the violation of their rights by individuals or groups.

All of these threats to our freedom are real, and can be verified by just a few minutes of reviewing proposed and actual legislation in our country.

The terrifying truth that we are taught by President Clark is that these threatened encroachments on our liberty are not inadvertent, but are coordinated and purposeful. It would be foolish to think that the potential for these sundry proposals to subordinate our individual liberties to the control of the state is not well understood by those proposing and championing such causes. They are aware of the implications, and some of those pushing adoption of such measures are doing so for the very purpose of extending state control into the realm of individual liberty.

Well, this post has extended longer than I had intended, and there are still several things I wish to present from the writings of President Clark. I will hold the remaing for a subsequent post. But in way of conclusion for now, I’ll share one more quote.

“I say unto you with all the soberness I can, that we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and we of this church will, in order to keep the Church going forward, have more sacrifices to make, and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known.” (Conference Report, 1952)

This is sobering indeed. There is a real need, and an urgent need, when we see any force, whether from without or within, whether from our own government or elsewhere, begin to encroach upon individual liberty, we must stand up to prevent liberty from being lost. The freedom of our children depends on it. The continued mission of the Church requires it. And, our ability to answer to the Lord for how we spent the priceless gift of liberty we were given, at great sacrifice from so many before us, hinges upon it.

More to come from President Clark in the next post. . . .


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Doesn't Justice Need To Be Just?

I had started to type a post to put up on this blog based on some of the writings of J. Reuben Clark of the First Presidency. I will post that in a couple of days. But I decided today to write something different based on an experience I had earlier this week. The other night I spent some time reading an online article, and pages of reader commentary that it generated, by one who was advocating for the concept of Social Justice.

For those who are not familiar with the term, social justice is the idea of uniformity in society characterized by the elimination of class distinctions. There are no rich, nor poor, and the benefits and hardships of society are equally distributed among all. It is an idea of economic egalitarianism. It is also a rallying cry of progressives and socialists.

The author of the article, who is a University professor and a good man, was articulate and well reasoned. He was coherent in his arguments for the need to achieve social justice, and the idea that government was the instrument by which it could be attained. I respect the sincerity of the author and the spirit in which the article was written. It is clear to me that the opinions of the author were genuine and based on a Christian desire for the welfare of the less fortunate among us. I also agree with the desirability of achieving a just society such as was found in the City of Enoch.

But I disagree strongly with much of the premise of the article, and with the ideas included in the comments the article generated. The article was based on a popular idea, one that is common among much of the political left that social justice is to be attained through government policy. While I may not be as gifted and concise in writing and outlining an argument as the author of the article, I still wanted to share my thoughts about the idea of government taxation and distribution as a means of achieving social equality.

I believe that the concept of social justice, as it is popularly viewed in the world today, begins to unravel because it is not actually rooted in justice. Justice cannot exist if property is being forcefully taken from one and given to another. If a man toils to gain increase, the fruit of his labor belongs to him. Measures that would strip that man of a portion of his increase are not aligned with the concept of justice.

I believe that the idea of true “social justice” can only exist as a result of righteousness. As far as social equality is concerned, there are two elements of righteousness that must exist for it to take place. First, mankind must learn to put off selfishness and develop true charity. With charity, the pure love of Christ, in his heart, man will look upon those who stand in need of assistance and give to them willingly, out of a sense of compassion and love. A charitable person is not compelled to do for others, he does so as a byproduct of the Christ-like attribute he has developed within.

Second, social justice cannot be achieved until men are righteous to the degree that each exercises self-sufficiency to the full measure of their ability. There are some in our society who are content to live off the labor of others. Whether this comes as a result of laziness, a misplaced sense of entitlement, or any other reason, it is an obstacle to achieving equality and justice in our society and it is a form of wickedness. When possessions are taken from he who earned it and given to one who did not earn it, but was capable of so doing, justice is not present.

The presence of these two elements of righteousness, charity and self-sufficiency, are essential to real justice and equality in society. We read in the scriptures of two examples where Zion societies were achieved; the City of Enoch and the Nephite nation described in Fourth Nephi. In both of these cases the society that was achieved was the direct result of righteousness. I assert that the righteousness of these peoples included both the element of charity and self-sufficiency. It was not the product of government intervention.

I believe that real social justice can only attained by following this pattern. Efforts to achieve social justice through any kind of redistributive measures cannot succeed. There is an inherent problem with government and social policies enacted to achieve social justice and universal equality. Since righteousness cannot be legislated or forced upon man, neither then can the fruits of righteousness be enjoyed as a consequence of government mandate. There are several problems that arise when a government attempts to force equality in society.

First, the equalization must, of necessity, be a downward equalization. Government does not have the power to lift everyone to an equal economic position. It simply does not have the means. Government does not and cannot create wealth. It can only take wealth from her citizens through some means such as taxation. If government forces someone to live below the level that their talent and ability can produce, justice is thwarted. One can justly volunteer to part with the fruits of his accomplishment, but it must be a product of his own free will, not as a result of taxation and redistribution. Therefore, forced downward equalization is inconsistent with justice.

Second, the confiscating of a man’s wealth to give to others does not build charity within that man. Charity can only be developed through the free act of giving to others. It must be a choice. Mankind was created to act, not to be acted upon. A man who is forced to give is no more acting out of charity than the man who does not give at all. A government may enact laws to prevent men from performing evil acts (ie murder, robbery, assault, etc.), but its power can only go so far as to punish evil actions that infringe on the rights of others, it cannot force righteous actions. Just as preventing a man from committing murder does not take the murder out of his heart, forcing a man to give to others cannot instill charity in his heart.

Third, when government provides for the welfare of individuals through redistributive policies, those who are inclined to take without earning are both placated and reinforced in their behavior. There is no incentive for the slothful man to rise each morning to earn his living when the government is willing to simply provide for his needs. In this way many of the social programs that exist today, even though instituted with the best of intentions, increase dependency on government and perpetuate a sense of entitlement among the people. Now, there is no doubt that there are those among us who, through disease, accident, or other extreme misfortune are not capable of supporting themselves. What of these? I believe it is the responsibility of men, not government, to take care of them. Families, church groups, and private organizations can and do exist to care for the truly needy, and these organizations do so through the voluntary contribution of men and women, not through forced redistribution. This is the righteous application of charity in society. This is lifting others through the exercise of free-will.

Fourth, I believe the very act of government confiscation and redistribution prevents the true development of charity in the hearts of men. Why would a man look to step outside of himself to lift another if the very institutions of government have stepped in to usurp that role for him? This is reminiscent of Ebenezer Scrooge before being visited by the three spirits. Recall how, when approached to donate to charity, he asked, “are there not poor houses?” He explained that he had paid his taxes, so he was absolved of the need to help further.

Another way the interference of government in the care of the needy makes it difficult to develop charity is found in the scriptural fact that there must be opposition in all things. Can a man become selfless if he does not also have the option to be selfish? How can selfishness be overcome if you are not allowed to selfishly retain your possessions? Perhaps this argument seems counterintuitive, but ponder it for a moment. When God rejected Lucifer’s plan, which was essentially to force all men to be righteous by not allowing them to be wicked, He preserved for mankind the right to be wicked if they chose to be so. That is the whole concept of agency. The only way for a man to become righteous is to deliberately choose to reject wickedness. You do not become like God by default.

Unquestionably it is desirable to achieve a society in which there is true equality. It likewise was desirable that all of God’s children return to His presence after their experience in mortality. The desirability of an outcome does not justify the method by which the outcome is achieved. In other words, the ends do not justify the means. If it were so, Lucifer’s plan would have been acceptable. If it were so, the government could become an agent of social justice and achieve equality through forceful distribution. But it is not so. Man must achieve righteousness by overcoming wickedness and choosing the better way. Man must acquire charity through overcoming self. We will return to God through the righteous exercise of our agency, and equality in society will be achieved, as it was in Enoch’s day, only as individuals exercise their agency to become both charitable and self-sufficient.

The great lie of Lucifer’s plan was that the whole intent was to bring the children of God back to His presence. It was not. The real objective was for Lucifer to attain power. The great irony is that his plan never could have succeeded in exalting man. The very nature of his method would make it impossible for us to become like God, for it would have stripped us of the agency needed to choose righteousness rather than having it thrust upon us. We could not have progressed by experience and overcoming opposition.

In a similar sense, some of those who advocate for government control in the equalization of society are not sincere in their intent. Rather than seeking the welfare of mankind, they seek control of man through fostering dependency and centralizing all power of the lives of citizens in the government. Therefore mankind becomes beholden to government for all they possess. (NOTE: I do not suggest that all those who advocate for social justice or adhere to left-leaning political philosophies and support government social programs fall into such a category. I believe there are a great many who support such proposals because they believe it is the best way to care for the poor and needy. Although I don’t agree with these people, I don’t disparage them or feel they are not honorable and well-meaning individuals. But there are those, especially in positions of power, who are not honorable or sincere in their advocacy of government derived social justice.)

I believe there is also a great irony in the idea of social justice as held by the political left. While the mechanisms of social justice are intended to achieve equality and a righteous society such as was found amongst the Nephites, they can never succeed in that endeavor. If such a society can only be achieved through the principles of righteousness (including charity and self-sufficiency), and if government cannot force righteousness upon her citizens, government mandated societal justice will never be more than a poor counterfeit of Zion.