First of all, to those of you who are deciding to start caring about politics, or acting on that interest, bravo! To those who are confident in your understanding of politics and would like to know my reading suggestions, this post is also for you! For some of you, this is a really big step and you might be pretty concerned about how overwhelming this “politics stuff” is, and you may feel like a child in your understanding of what’s going on. That’s ok, I often do too. However, I actually think politics becomes very simple and interesting when you study the principles. We soon discover why John Adams considered politics “the divine science” and “the science of social happiness” (John Adams, Apr. 1776 Papers 4:86-93, web link).
So many people have been asking me for information about politics and how to be more involved. There is so much to say, do, and read that I’ve decided to put some of the most important things into a post, and this is the result! (more…)
This has been a very interesting election, for all of us I’d imagine. We can safely say that one theme of this election has been: “Must we vote for ‘the lesser of two evils’?” Most say “Yes, in order to prevent the worse of the two evils from gaining an office of immeasurable power”, and some simply say “Never”.
This morning while mowing the lawn, instead of considering the candidates and the issues, I considered how people on either side of this theme have presented their arguments. Many people I’ve spoken with have expressed their confidence that they could gladly give an accounting of their vote to God at His judgment bar. That general statement has been on my mind a lot, and I have some feelings I’d like to share on what a comment like that means to me.
Accountability to God
I’ve been considering the differences between liberty and freedom recently. By talking with my good friend Carter about this, I was able, with plenty of help from him, to piece together my thoughts and hone my ideas into the visual depiction you see before you. I’ve come to believe that liberty is a really special, even sacred, experience within the spectrums of both government and freedom (Note that the government spectrum is not the freedom spectrum. Government influences freedom, obviously. But so do cartels and other forms of anarchist organizations.). I’ve come to understand through my study that freedom needs to be restrained, and when it is perfectly bridled, the people all experience liberty. But when powerful people have more freedom, the rights of others are trampled.
I was recently struck by the profound ideas contained in the incredible hymn, “America The Beautiful”. This is the chorus of verse 2:
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
(emphasis added, America the Beautiful)
Liberty is freedom restrained by moral self-government. It is the golden state of a nation that lives under People’s Law, where all people are guaranteed the full exercise of their unalienable rights and is based on discipline and personal restraint. Former LDS apostle Marion G. Romney said, “Obedience to the law of Christ is liberty” (“The Perfect Law of Liberty“, Marion G. Romney, October 1981). This form of government is so good and just that the Lord has said: (more…)
I love studying the etymology of common religious and political words. I find it so interesting, and often unfortunate, how the cultural meanings and interpretations of words have changed over time. I am particularly intrigued by the word discrimination and how it is currently being used compared to its original meaning.
If you want to start a firestorm of contention, tell everyone on Facebook that you discriminate every day, that discrimination makes your life better, and that we have a moral obligation to discriminate. Few of us would dare to say such a thing publicly, but in the truest sense of the word, that statement is exactly true for each and every one of us.
Etymonline.com says the following about the word “discrimination”:
1640s, “the making of distinctions,” from Late Latin discriminationem (nominative discriminatio), noun of action from past participle stem of discriminare (see discriminate). Especially in a prejudicial way, based on race, 1866, American English. Meaning “discernment” is from 1814.
“It especially annoys me when racists are accused of ‘discrimination.’ The ability to discriminate is a precious facility; by judging all members of one ‘race’ to be the same, the racist precisely shows himself incapable of discrimination.” Christopher Hitchens
Unalienable Rights vs Vested Rights
The concept of human rights is widely misunderstood. Humans have two kinds of rights; unalienable rights come from God and are eternal while vested rights are civil agreements that have no eternal significance (however, our obedience to civil laws do have eternal significance—a topic for another article).
Unalienable rights establish the freedom to own weapons, such as guns, for use in defense or sustaining of life, but vested rights allow us to use the guns recreationally in designated ranges or to hunt on land we don’t own. Vested rights are applications of unalienable rights, meaning that we can only claim rights we first received from God and then gave to the government. The government can’t exercise any power or use any rights the people don’t have individually. Let me restate that: The government cannot do anything the people cannot do individually. Something doesn’t become moral or just simply because a group of people created a government to do it for them.
Now, when we talk about unalienable rights, we usually refer to the three main categories, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. This phrasing in the Declaration of Independence came from Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson took only one day to write down the list of the 27 complaints against the King. However, he spent 16 days studying what rights mean in Deuteronomy and Exodus. He came up with a great list of unalienable rights which found fit well into the three aforementioned categories or themes of rights. (more…)