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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

MANHOOD

In light of my last post, certain events have interested me and require (well, at least in my own mind) a comment.  The intent is not to persecute but to identify.

Many may be aware of the Ray Rice fiasco that has blown up on the NFL.  For those who don’t, let me summarize.

Ray Rice is a big man who plays professional football.  He has a significant other (not really sure of their relationship now) whom he claims to care for and wishes to protect.  One evening, in a casino, he decided it was his duty to protect her by ‘clocking’ her in an elevator (for those who don’t know the term, ‘clocking’ is a euphemism for striking someone with great force and knocking them out).

The NFL determined said actions were “naughty” and required him to sit out two games. 

Our justice system decided that he was sorry so they took no action. 

All was well for a time.

Recently a video was released showing Mr. Rice in action with his friend/acquaintance/significant other.  He definitely ‘clocked’ her. 

It was horrific.

Anyone who saw the video was appalled…

Suddenly the NFL was disturbed by the actions of one-of-its-own and determined to take stronger action.

My first question is this:

Did they really just realize the severity of Mr. Rice’s actions?  The fact that they knew she was out cold (so cold that Mr. Rice had to carry her out of the elevator and to their room) should have given them some indication.  Video evidence was not really needed to understand what had happened – but until that evidence was “available” the League pretended the action wasn’t all that bad. 

Now Mr. Rice is out of a job and may face other charges.

This ISN’T what I meant when I called my last post Men vs. Women.

I was raised in a family where it was verboten to strike a girl or woman at any time.  My dad taught me that if a girl/woman felt the need to hit me or use physical force on me, my only options were to cover up or run.

My sons were taught the same.

Of course, we also taught our daughter that she shouldn’t hit boys unless they were being ‘naughty.’

My point for this follow-up is to express disappointment in the actions some take towards women.  I am not sexist but I firmly believe it is the responsibility of men to protect women and see that they are cared for in the best manner possible.  Rice was a bully and an aggressor against a smaller and less-able person…..who also happened to be a woman. 

But Rice is not the only one who has performed badly.  The actions of Rice’s employer were nearly as egregious.  The ‘penalties’ the NFL imposed initially were perceived by many (including myself) to be inadequate for the seriousness of the offense.  I guess the money a man can bring to a team is more important than the moral indignation needed to cry out against abuse.

The thought of striking a woman in anger is revolting to me and makes me ill.  The video of the above offense was almost more than I could handle.  If this is where our world is heading, we really are in the last-days.

Let me balance my nausea with a report on what else I see in the world around me.

There are three sons and one son-in-law in our family who are gentle and tender with the women they have committed to love for eternity.  It is impossible to imagine any of the four ever using physical force to control their beloved.  I believe it would break the heart of any one of them to use any form of violence against their spouse.  These are good men and have taken to heart the Savior’s words concerning their relationships with women.  I am PROUD (yes, I know it is a sin, but I am) of whom they have become and how they are teaching their own sons to treat women and girls.
There are more like my sons out there in the world (btw, I am confident my youngest will continue to be a gentleman as he looks for the right young lady to marry).  I like to believe there are more on the good side of this issue than on the other.

Ray Rice may be a wonderful football player, but at this point in his life he is a lousy man!!!


I hope he can change.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

MEN VS. WOMEN

There is a myth that says men need to be changed and women are the ones who can do it.

OK, it’s not a myth, but it also not the full story.  There are innumerable reasons why men progress the way they do while in mortality.  But there are an equal number of ‘whys’ for what guides women to become what they are.

The forces that move us to be our best are gender related.  YES, men and women think differently and feel differently about almost everything.  Gender attributes are essential for the world to work and yet many struggle with these differences.

Gender attributes have been a topic of mockery for – well, forever.

Take, for example, the Victorian image of a woman’s place.  Women were considered too weak and feeble minded to know how to care for themselves or make decisions that might affect their welfare. Many felt that without a “big strong man” to guide her, a woman would be engulfed in the flood of hard choices surrounding her and destroyed.  Or if she did try to fend for herself, she was not really considered a woman – just a female trying to be a man.

In recent years the tide has turned towards highlighting the dents in the male armor.

Currently, the male gender is portrayed as bumbling, ignorant, selfish, desire focused, and lazy (Homer Simpson?).  Because he is such a flawed creature, women have determined that they don’t need ‘one’ and can do just fine on their own.  Or if they do decide to marry/cohabitate, it is only so they can satisfy some urge for companionship, parenthood, or support.  The result is a culture where men can be friends but not really equals with the female sex.

What happened? 

How did we let the relationship between such complementary individuals become so distorted and messed up?

I suppose there are many reasons and I won’t try to delineate all of them in this essay. What I will do is mention something that I have considered for some time and feel can help the chasm to be bridged.

The differences between men and women are not accidental.  Each is ‘wired’ in ways that help them fulfill their specific roles in the world.

Men are generally imbued with a desire to work, protect, and support those they love.  It is in their nature to stand guard over families and make sure they have the necessary things to prolong life and happiness.

In most cases, women have an innate desire to comfort, teach, and protect those in their care – and often even those who aren’t.  They seem to have more patience with the little things and can often see beyond the immediate circumstances.

These are generalizations – but also truths if you look closely enough.  Yet, there always seems to be a need, by some, to ridicule and demean these essential differences.

If you are still with me and haven’t labeled me as a misogynist or an idiot, I will continue.

The crux of the matter points to what happens when we overemphasize or under-utilize the differences between males and females.  Men begin to think they only need women for sexual or entertainment purposes and push away the natural desire to find a permanent mate.  Women become frustrated with ‘manhood’ as it is portrayed (and often practiced) so they venture out on their own, trying to meet the needs of womanhood by other means.  The end result is a society that values neither men nor women and makes a mockery of the eternal nature of both.

It was never meant for the genders to battle between themselves for the crown of leadership.  The test for both genders comes down to honoring the differences and melding them into a synergistic whole, much stronger and greater than an individual could hope to become.  Men were meant to love, honor, and care for women and women were meant to love, honor, and work side-by-side with men for the everlasting benefit of each other, family, and the world.  The loss of these values has been a great hindrance to the growth of peace in the world and happiness in the home.

Having said all the above, I do have a solution that should work

It is so simple that it will not be a surprise to anyone.

In the words of a great man…..

STOP IT!!!

To eliminate the battle between men and women, both parties have to stop being selfish.  Stop expecting something from the other gender not being given by their own.  Things like faithfulness, respect, fidelity, exclusivity, LOVE, time, more respect, attention, consideration, and who knows how many others.

Stop with the selfishness.

Stop with the lustfulness.

Stop with…… you fill in the blank.

When we, as humans and mortals of different genders sincerely make an effort to change, there will be a transition from the current state of things to something more acceptable to our senses and desires.

And it will make our God much happier.


Watch and see.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

HASTEN THE WORK

Brigham Young once said:
Every discovery in science and art that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. …We should take advantage of all these great discoveries.


As you consider what has happened to our world since Brigham’s day, you will note that there have been stunning improvements to the state of our living.

No longer do we ride horses or trains when we travel: we make our trips in comfortable automobiles and airplanes.  Our homes are heated and lighted by clean, efficient energy sources that flow to us through wires and pipelines we seldom notice in our daily activities.  And our food comes from all over the world so we can get whatever we want, despite the seasons of ripening.  The wonders of science have made our lives so much better than our ancestors.

With many of these scientific discoveries we have also seen a corresponding improvement in the art we encounter.  The rise of motion pictures opened the way to some of the most entertaining and uplifting stories man has ever known.  Television brought those same stories right into our homes, and with the Internet, we can even have them in our pocket or purse if we desire.

God has blessed us with amazing things and we are much the better for those improvements.


Or are we??


Those same improvements listed above make up some of the great plagues of modern times.  The rise of pornography and violence in the media has been exponentially abetted by the technology that should focus on bringsing goodness. Just the other day some may have witnessed the horrific beheading of an American journalist posted on the “friendship” sites of Twitter and Facebook.  Everything that is available for good can also be used for wickedness – and it seems today to be more inclined to the side of wickedness.

What to do??

The only thing to do is take back the impetus for correct usage of these God-given gifts.  Spend time using them to do what they were designed by God to accomplish.

I hear some of you saying:  OK, Mr. Smartguy, what is their purpose?

I believe they were destined and designed by our Father in Heaven to do what EVERYTHING 
He gives us is expected to do.

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. 
(Moses 1:39)


Automobiles came into existence to improve the means by which mankind could spread truth.

I bet some pioneers would have loved to have this for a 'wagon."
Airplanes fly so the seeds of truth can be planted in lands where the message has not been sown.


Cinematic presentations were inspired by God so that His work could reach more of His children.

Definitely something that makes us better. 

Television broadcasts a signal to enhance the knowledge of God throughout all of His creations.
How many channels do we really need.

Internet connections have one major purpose – the teaching of the Doctrine of Christ to the children of God.


Like all of God’s children, we have the right (agency) to choose what we will do with the blessings He offers.  Some will choose to improve their lives and the world and others will find ways to be destructive.


I choose the primary and true purpose for all of these marvelous achievements.


That’s how the work will be hastened and shared with more and more of our brothers and sisters.


How will you use the wonderful blessings we have received from our loving Father in Heaven?



Look here for suggestions.
#ShareGoodness





Wednesday, August 13, 2014

JOURNALS

Why do people keep journals/records of life?

What do they expect to happen with the sensitive materials they gather as precious books of history?


My first journal started when I was 12 years old.  Someone gave me a little diary and I thought it would be fun to record a few things.  I didn’t write every day but I put enough in the book to know it felt good to write.


One day my younger brother found my writings and read a few of the entries.  After perusing my words, he immediately went outside and told all the neighborhood kids that his brother “loved Bonnie Dees” (I had written that but …… well, what 12 year old boy doesn’t love a little girl once in a while?).  I was embarrassed by the revelation and swore to never write anything that personal in a book again.


Fast forward 47 years.


The fear of discovery is gone and through these many decades I have intermittently shared my thoughts about life, love, and a multitude of topics.  At present I have six volumes of thoughts recorded in journals of some sort.  That doesn’t include this blog (which I consider a form of journal writing).  My schedule for writing is not consistent but I have recorded enough that I believe my posterity will get a flavor Grandpa Whitmer and what his life was like.


I would suggest that we write for several reasons. 


Reason 1 – Written records give those of our family who haven’t been around us as much (grandchildren, greats, etc.) insight into some of the thoughts and concerns of our lives.  Who knows but what they might get a glimpse of why they are such as they are from our experiences.  Or possibly they will think differently about some of the actions they saw from us if they know what we were thinking at the time.  Journals open doors to enlightenment.


Reason 2 – No one wants to be forgotten or remembered incorrectly.  The older we get, the more chance our offspring’s offspring will know less and less about who we are.

 
One of the great regrets of this life is that I have no written record of my Grandpa Whitmer and the experiences of his life.  As a boy I thought of him as a gruff, grumpy old man who had little tolerance for loud, obnoxious grandsons.  Stories told by my dad indicate that my perception is incomplete and I trust that he is correct.  But, oh, how I wish I had Grandpa’s words to tell me.  I suspect I would really like him and recognize more of myself in how he lived.

NOTE: My dad did write a short history of his parents and family on the Family History site and I was delighted to learn more about some of the early days of his life.  Things like that are so important to our children – I don’t want to cheat my posterity any more than I already have.


Reason 3 – Journals are a wonderful place to practice writing with intelligence.  Some of the early attempts in my life are very embarrassing – my grammar and style were atrocious.  And the things I worried about – whoa baby!!, I was such a self-centered brat.  But even those offerings are appreciated because they reflect who I was at that point in life. 
As I have aged and hopefully matured, my methods of transmission have improved and relieve some of the stress readers experience when writing is unintelligible (though my handwriting seems to be digressing).  My journals have become a place to practice my writing in addition to being a way to share what I hope for my posterity and what joy they bring to my life.


Here are a couple of other regrets/suggestions that I would share.


What I wouldn’t give to have some writings from my dad and mom to help me see how they became the special people they are today.  Their record of progression would invite hope for me and my children as we witnessed, through their eyes, the challenges that changed and blessed their lives.  I’m hoping there are some hidden documents that will, one day, appear to shed light on the mysteries of their sojourn on earth.


And lastly, as I read through some of the things I have written, I am extremely embarrassed.  There were events and experiences that I recorded that show just how dumb and ……. well, just stupid I can be.  You know what I’m talking about.


My protective first inclination is to cover up all the missteps – I even did that a few times when I was younger.  Experience has shown that those humiliating times when ignorance prevailed need to be left alone.  Everyone needs to know that Grandpa wasn’t perfect.  But they also need to know that Grandpa overcame the humbling events that he got himself into.  There has to be redemption.


The stories of our lives are mundane to us – we lived them – and they often seem worthless and irrelevant to anyone else.  Those same stories, shared with people of our lineage, become great documents of discovery and love.  


I believe in writing our own personal story.
It might be a journal.
For some it is a blog.
Others do scrapbooking.


Whatever it is, the effort will be rewarded by the love the succeeding generations of your family feel for you as they read your experiences. 


Please take time to write.  Let them know you care.  The eternal gift will be more than you can imagine. 


Now, pull up a clean document in Word and get busy!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

GOOD PEOPLE -- BAWDEN'S

Shortly after we moved back to Utah in 1984, we were introduced to a couple who have a great influence on our lives. 

In early 1985 I was called to be a counselor to the bishop of our ward.  He was a fine man and had recently been called to the position.  His other counselor was a burly, gruff sounding gentleman named Don Bawden.  He and his wife, Marsha, were faithful parents and exemplary saints and had two characteristics that I appreciated:

They loved to play and they really loved to WORK. 

Don and Marsha had 7 children and it was not uncommon to see the whole family out in their yard, sometimes playing but more often working.  The Bawden’s were always working.  Sometimes under duress, but everyone participated.

Don is 10 years older than I am so I would often watch to see what I could expect as our children aged.  And I know Teresa was mindful to emulate many of the things that Marsha exemplified – which was pretty easy for her cause she is a lot the same.

As the years have progressed, what started out as an acquaintance because of Church service soon grew to a friendship that has become very important to both Teresa and me.  In fact, when I was called to be bishop, my first choice for a counselor was my good friend Don Bawden.  He was always straight with me and let me know when I needed to make course corrections.

The Bawden’s are good people because they are true to themselves and the faith they profess.  Don never put on airs – he just did what was right.  Marsha’s selflessness was known to anyone who was even a faint acquaintance.  Her perpetual smile and positive attitude helped many overcome great challenges in their lives.  Despite many of her own struggles, I can say that I have NEVER heard Marsha complain about anything.

 NEVER, as in not once in 30+ years.

I mention these good people because this past week we attended the funeral for Marsha Bawden.  She developed cancer about a year ago and finally succumbed, despite vigorous efforts by the medical profession. 

Marsha Bawden
She was only 66 years old and had many joys left to experience in this life.  But her time in mortality is complete and she has proven herself worthy of the expectations of her God so she is welcomed back into His presence.  Her family will miss her but the legacy she has built will be felt through generations untold. 

And her pain in this life is finished (though she never mentioned it).

Her funeral was yesterday (Monday, Aug. 11) and the chapel and overflow were packed with many chairs in the cultural hall.  Marsha will be missed but her goodness will never be forgotten.  And the faith of her good husband, my friend Don, will endure and allow them to be reunited again when his test in mortal form is complete.

Good people!! 


Yep, I think the Bawden’s qualify.

Monday, August 4, 2014

SMASHBURGER

I think this is my first official food review.  Maybe, if it works out  I will try some more.  Might be a good way to get to eat out a little with my favorite 'cute girl.'

OFFICIAL SMASHBURGER REVIEW

Not a real Smashburger but didn't want to violate
any laws.
A couple of years ago we discovered “Smashburger” at one of the outside stores in the Valley Fair Mall.  We didn’t actually eat in much but we liked their food enough to go and buy some to take home.  It was tasty and flavorful so we made it a traditional meal about once a month.

Many times, especially when she had worked hard with the daycare, Teresa would, without saying it in words (you know, that eye-look thing women do), indicate she would really like to have a “Smashburger” for dinner.  And practicing to become the kind and loving husband I hope to be someday, I would scuttle off to the little shop and retrieve her favorite.

But the last year or so has seen a change.  I don’t know if it is corporate decisions or lack of funding or just a general disdain for the upkeep of quality, but the “Smash” people aren’t the same as they used to be.

One of the things I really liked (I think other places do this now) was the juiciness of the meat that comes from ‘smashing’ the patty with a – well, a metal smashy something.  It’s supposed to keep the juices intact and still let the meat cook sufficient for consumption.  When we first started eating “Smashburger”, it was apparent that something different was happening and we loved it.  Frankly, that’s what encouraged us to come back again and again.

But lately, despite visiting several different stores in the valley that offer this product, what we have been getting is meat that is cooked but not at all ‘juiced.’

Could it be that they have gone to a poorer quality meat?  Or maybe have they changed their cooking process?  Can you blame it on us because we have grown ‘accustomed to your face’ (can you guess what that is a reference to?) and it just isn’t exciting anymore?  I don’t know, but our experience is not the same.

But alas, it isn’t just the problem of dry burgers that has us flummoxed.  Our first encounter with “Smashburger” introduced us to “Smash-Fries” – a unique mix of thin potato fries, delicately flavored with olive oil, kosher salt, rosemary, and garlic.  The taste was different/delightful but not overpowering and the ingredients didn’t get in the way of enjoying the food.

Lately, it seems that there is some agreement with the olive oil industry to distribute as much of their product as possible with every single serving of this formerly delicious side dish.  In recent purchases, oil smothers the fries so completely that it is difficult to tell what other ingredients may be attached to the small little potato strips.  And when one finishes a meal, there is a feeling that you have just done a 5000 mile oil change on one of your cars and a shower is necessary.

I’m not sure we want to give up just yet so I suspect that we will try “Smashburger” a couple more times to see if things can be salvaged. But I’m not very hopeful after the last several visits we have made.  Maybe it’s time to see who else has something good to offer in the burger market. 
If you have suggestions please let me know.


Thanks for listening.

Friday, August 1, 2014

DEBUNKING FALSEHOOD

There is a quote, attributed to Brigham Young, and used by many dissidents, in the Church and out, to create doubt in the words of living Prophets:

The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord.Brigham Young
 
The 2nd Prophet of this Dispensation

I have seen and heard this quote numerous times from people who preach that we must be careful to not take the things prophets teach at face-value.  They suggest that every word a prophet speaks must be challenged and considered before it is accepted as the word of God.  It appears to be a tactic to take away some of the power of scriptural revelations such as:    

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (D&C 1:38)

Here is a real shocker!!

The quote is not from Brigham Young.  It is not correct.  And it is not the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A fine young man who was disturbed by continual reference to the quote did some research and discovered the genesis of the message. 

His post is rather lengthy (for obvious reasons you will see) but very useful in debunking the false teachings of those who would cast doubt on the words of living prophets.


Prophets are fallible and can make errors in judgment concerning many things.  But when they speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, they are speaking the words of Christ.  Our response is not to doubt, but to confirm the message using the same method by which the message was given.


This truth is the kind that you can rely on in all circumstances.  Of course, you will need to have a testimony of prophets and apostles before it will make sense.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I AM RIGHT

“Pride is the great enemy of unity…just days ago I watched as two people – good people – began with a mild disagreement.  It started as a discussion of what was true but became a contest about 
who was right.(Pres. Henry B. Eyring)


Pres. Henry B. Eyring

 It is difficult to go a day without hearing or seeing discussions (sometimes heated) on topics of seeming import to the whole world.


Opinions are created by the things we believe and the environment that has influenced our own reality.  These deeply held beliefs are so ingrained in our character that often times we only vaguely understand where they originated.

Our world is not made up of individual entities, living out their existence devoid of contact with outside influences.  Societies are a conglomeration of separate people who have chosen to band together for safety, convenience, and association.  Recognizing the need for joint efforts, most communities develop systems of compromise that allow for the beliefs of the individual while still protecting the group as a whole.

Difficulties arise as one or more individuals determine ‘their’ needs are more critical than the group as a whole.  The focus then becomes not the benefit to the society but the specific need of the one.  And the ensuing discussion changes from how to improve the society to how to accommodate the individual.

Imagine the difference if parties involved in leading were to sit down and discuss their desires, needs, opinions, etc. and do so with the intent to benefit ALL and not just the individual or small group.  When personal agendas are set aside and “what is good for everyone” is considered, I suspect better solutions would arise to nearly every problem encountered in this life.

The world is full of lobbyists, specialists, religionists, scientists, and any other kind of “ists” you might know.  Each is focused on their own little part of the world – at the expense of anything that gets in their way.  Often their agenda creates ‘unintended consequences’ – to the detriment of everyone but their own “ist.”  The end result can be devastating and deadly.

Unity is the only solution to problems like this.

Not unity in opinion, but unity in purpose.

The best example I can think of is the founding of this nation.  A group of men, varied in their beliefs and desires, recognized a need to do something good for the people in their care.  These men worked, discussed, fought, and endured until they were able to create something wonderful – a government unlike anything the bulk of the world had ever seen.

Were there contentions? 
Of course!!!

There were some pretty strong-willed people in this
gathering -- but they found a way!

Were there petty desires? 
Undoubtedly.

Did many individuals have to give up treasured opinions or agendas for the sake of the whole? 

YES.

The result of their efforts was the United States of America.
Notice the first word. 

UNITED

Unity was the key. Not necessarily unity in belief, but unity in the desire to join together in a process that was greater than the individual flames burning in each person.

Unity

Not in who was right, but in what was right for the whole gave the world an example of what could be.

Is it possible to change the course of where we are headed (or where we find ourselves today)? 

I don’t know. 
I certainly hope so.

Things will not change until everyone determines that the course of the world/nation is more important than the petty (or major) desires of one group, person, or entity of any kind.

And things will not change until the desire of the group is to live in such a way that the truths of right are the baseline for any actions we take.

Decency, morality, honesty, love, hope, patience, selflessness, and faith must take precedence over all other desires.

Yes, I know, that sounds like we need to be religious. 

We do!! 

Without some form of godliness or goodness in our lives, we will be forever wandering in darkness struggling with how to be happy.

You don’t have to be a Latter-day Saint or a Christian but the principles of good and right must be part of the equation if unity and peace are to be established once again. 

Life can’t always be about what “I” want.

Let me give you a modern day example.

At the beginning of this essay I quoted Henry B. Eyring, a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He is one of 15 men on the earth today who leads the Church.

The First Presidency
When the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meet together each Thursday, they discuss important decisions that must be made for the benefit of the Church and the world.  Each item on their agenda is presented and discussed and a decision is made about what to do. 

There are usually three choices for each item:
1.    Proceed and do what is proposed
2.   Remove the item from the agenda
3.   Table a decision until a later time

Sounds pretty normal.

Kind of like a business meeting with high-powered executives in any large company you might imagine.  (BTW, these men are not novices to this process.  Most have had extensive careers in the world to prepare them for their calling).

The Quorum of the Twelve
But here’s the kicker to their process.

NOTHING can proceed, no matter the importance to individuals or the Church as a whole, unless there is complete unity between all fifteen. (see D&C 107:27)

If one holds out, the matter is tabled and reviewed at a later date.

Unity is required for approval of any decision.  

No exceptions!

Imagine how Congress would look if that were the criteria for getting things done.

The resulting chaos, based on today’s Congress, would be disastrous.

 Things have to change in our country/world.  We can’t keep separating ourselves by the name tags of our desires, wants, attractions, religions, or anything else that piques our fancy.

We must find a way to unify and improve, not divide and tear down.

Enoch was successful -- after 365 years.
In the history of this earth, there has only been one society that exceeded the expectations we have for the United States.  They succeeded because they put away their selfishness and worked for the benefit of all.  It took them 365 years to accomplish their goal, but they persevered until they won the “battle for unity.”

I believe it is possible but it has to start with individuals.  Each person has to decide to seek for unity and peace or nothing will ever happen.
It’s hard to change.

But it can be done.


I’m willing to try.  How about you?