Sunday, April 12, 2009

Excuses? We've Many. They Do Not Stand Muster.

When I read about people who live in places so remote, so far from any temple, they have to traverse significant hardship to get to the House of the Lord, I think about the Los Angeles traffic as nothing more than a short cakewalk.

Our lives in Illinois were very blessed as we were living in the Nauvoo temple district. Although the drive to Chicago or even to St Luis took less time, the trip to Nauvoo was always very enjoyable. I never did mind the three-hour drive. Temple attendance was hardly something we could accomplish on a whim but still it was nothing more than a day trip.

Incredible hardship stands between many saints and the temple. I recently read an account of the trip the saints living in Manaus, Brazil, endured to get to the temple. They would travel for two days on a crowded riverboat on the Amazon River only to spend another two days on a bus through the hot tropics so they could attend the Recife temple. Now, that takes a true commitment of time and effort!

So, what excuses do I have that would sufficiently explain any deficiency in my temple attendance? Oh, the traffic? Hardly.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Here?

Ah, Southern California is such a wonderful place. It is so wonderful, millions of people have swarmed into its warm embrace, overwhelming just about every system we've built to sustain our hectic lives.

The freeway, so called because there are no tolls, is congested nearly all the time. If you plan on going 30 miles, you need to also plan on taking over an hour to get there. The only thing free about this way is the lack of tolls. Millions of people destroy thousands of cars a year in the frantic stop and go traffic. 

There is no salt on the road to corrode the car's body or undercarriage. The constant stop and go, however, is the drive train’s worst enemy. Traffic, however, is a way of life. You cannot let it get you down. We go at this beast with a different state of mind, one that will not allow an increase in stress just because we're sitting in a line stretching for unseen miles. Every day, every single day, we subject ourselves to this beast, bowing to its very tangible power. Regularly, this monotony is interspersed with some very real excitement.

Excitement presents itself in a way that is so very hard to avoid. Due to one or two drivers who decide they’ve had enough of the non-monetary toll to drive these roads, caution is thrown to the wind. This is when accidents happen. An accident has the power to disrupt traffic for hours. Make it big enough, that interruption can last for days. With the right luck, a collision in the right place at the right time can affect well over a million commuters and even tie up some airtime on local radio and television. In fact, you do it right, people will talk about your exploits for at least a few moments around the water cooler before the real work of the day begins.

Traffic is not the worst aspect of living with so many people. It is just one of a few problems we face here in Southern California.

Why, then, do people live here? Well, here’s where I live. I live among rolling hills that are truly breathtaking for most of the year. I get this beauty while enjoying weather – or non-weather – that is hardly ever harsh, or difficult in any way. I drive through these hills almost every single day. Where I am driving, there are seldom the long lines of cars and traffic that you see most everywhere else in the megalopolis that surrounds Los Angeles, stretching south to San Diego and north to Santa Barbara. Yes, this is an oasis of sorts. It is one of the few reasons I can continue to suffer through red taillights and traffic almost ever time I want to go almost anywhere.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Overstepping Bounds Set by the Constitution

A couple weeks ago, President Obama essentially fired the CEO of a publicly held firm:

The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said.

I would like someone to point out exactly where in the constitution the President is given such powers. What I do not understand is how such a power grab can be seen as all right. It may be the best thing for GM but it is not the job of the White House to make such a decision.

Today, I got a message from asking for my support in sending a petition to Treasury Secretary Geithner that it was time to start firing the Bank leadership. Sounds rather reasonable, if you don’t mind the government stepping over their constitutional limits.

As I read on in the missive, I found something that started to make a little more sense to me. Not only was calling for action against Bank CEO’s but there was one specific CEO they were after – Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis. What was it that Mr. Lewis did to draw such attention from I was pretty much shell-shocked. I was really stricken by this venomous attack on a single member of this class.

I read further and realized the whole basis for’s efforts. It seems that shortly after receiving their portion of the bailout money, Bank of America brought together a group of  banking interests to figure out how to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act.

Now, depending on your perspective, this bill is either real bad or real good. It is supposed to make organizing unions easier. Now, if you're pro-union, this is good. It also eliminates the need for anonymity in the voting process. You see, if you’re afraid of the union, you’re not going to vote against it as long as they know you did. Regardless of how I feel about unions, this is not a step toward freedom but a leap away from it. I cannot see this as good.

So, here’s what concerns me about the President, the White House, overstepping this particular boundary. The White House calls for – forces – the resignation of a CEO. This establishes precedents and a pattern in which the government gains greater control over industry. This is a move – blatant, unabashed, outright – toward socialism. Hugo Chavez did this with Venezuela’s Oil Industry and many people found it offensive. Where is the outrage when it starts happening here at home?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I don't know a lot about much but . . .

I do know this is just not right:

Before last week, when was the last time a sitting U.S. President bowed before the leader of another country? NEVER. Does it seem just a little odd that when former President Bill Clinton inclined his head while meeting the Japanese Emperor, the news papers had a field day but not a single mention of President Obama's bending at the waist before the Saudi King? Although it could be argued President Clinton had no intention of "bowing at the neck", I don't know what President Obama was thinking. I still wonder where the news organizations are on this.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Epic Fail

Between the State Department and mix-ups at Federal Express along with my current employment status, keeping my head on my shoulders has been frustratingly difficult. I think I need a candy bar.

I was reading a talk given by President Monson all the way back in 1977 when he was a member of the Council of the Twelve. He talks about the faces of failure: The Face of Fear, the Face of Idleness, the Face of Doubt and the Face of Sin. Each of these has its pitfalls to which we might succumb. I wonder if there aren't other Faces as well. When we get beat down in our efforts, it is left to us to get up but one more time than we are knocked down. How do we know if the battering has ceased if we do not try again?

Elder Monson counsels us to combat these failures with Attitudes of Accomplishment. He characterizes these attitudes as the Attitude of Faith, the Attitude of Work, the Attitude of Courage, the Attitude of Obedience, and the Attitude of Love. 

Interestingly, there might be times in our lives - I should actually suggest there will be times in our lives when we've nothing more to bolster our confidence, nothing on which we can lean than the strength we can gain through our faith. 

"Faith implies a certain trust, even a reliance, upon the word of our Creator," Elder Monson explained.

When everything seems to combine against us, it is this faith and the Attitude of work that will get us through the tougher times. Faith gives us a reason to make the effort and by work we are able to make that continuous effort toward the accomplishment of our goals.

As I struggled through this week and these past few months, it has been difficult to keep my chin up at times. Not a few times have I had to turn to my Heavenly Father for strength. I can only hope that my hope, my faith, and my courage can help me to win out in the end.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Perpetual Fool Takes a Break . . .

Incredible. I nearly made it through the day without a single folly. A very nice thing, I have had a problem with April Fool’s day for nearly as long as I can remember. I cannot recall a time when playing the joke on others was my primary concern. For nearly as long, I have found myself victim of some of the more mundane, less than creative pranks on this the first day of April. Since I have a tendency to believe anything I am told, fertile is the ground for such horrors.

Almost every year I wake with a grand sense of dread, knowing that something somehow will leave me lulled into believing one possibility while an entirely different reality bares sway. At the end of the charade, someone somewhere will call me on my naiveté.

This year was pleasantly devoid of such experiences. In fact, I didn’t have many reminders at all of this most unpleasant tradition. Today, I was not the fool. My heart is full as I close the day, full of gratitude.