Posted by: Jeremy Peterson | March 26, 2009

For the Sole Purpose to Get Gain

I’ve gotten many questions lately why I seem to have abandoned my blog.  Yes, it’s been too long since my last post.

I was suffering through my own personal malaise, looking at all the destruction of wealth and freedom our government is currently engaged in, thinking “what’s the point?  We’re all doomed!”  Melodramatic?  Probably?  Helpful train of thought?  Not hardly.

Then, Glenn announced his “We Surround Them,” campaign, following it up with “The 9-12 Project,” which I’m getting really excited about and encourage all my readers to participate in.

So, I’m energized again for the first time in weeks.

A couple of nights ago, my sweet wife and I were reading in Alma, Chapter 11.  The whole section starting in about Ch. 8 and going through about Ch. 15 chronicles Alma and Amulek’s missionary efforts in Ammonihah, a Nephite city plagued with pompous and self-righteous citizens.

Anyway, Mormon–the chronicler and historian who’s recording these events–gives us an aside for the first few verses of Chapter 11 to explain Nephite currency:  “this is worth 2 of that and that’s worth 10 if this,” etc., etc.  The names of the pieces of currency don’t really mean much to us but his point was to sort of demonstrate some of the peoples’ greed.

In verse 3 he writes, “And the judge received for his wages according to his time…” and then, skipping past the currency lesson, he says, in verse 20, ” Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might get money according to the suits which were brought before them…”

The principle I’m learning here is that the lawyers and judges would stir the people up against each other to make money off the contentions they caused.  After the same manner, Rush Limbaugh is fond of telling his listeners to “follow the money.”  I speculate that the the Nephite judges–at least some of them–probably started out as lawyers who aspired to judgeships.  The Nephites had instituted a system of government similar to the ancient Israelites under Moses (at his father-in-law Jethro’s insistence) in that they had judges at different levels administering the laws of the land.  So, these judges would loosely correlate with our modern politicians.

So, our politicians stir the people up to all manner of disturbances and wickedness, pitting one interest group against another and seeking campaign contributions or special favors or even jobs after leaving public office because of the profit to be made in doing so.  Don’t think for an instant that debacles such as these stimulus packages, bailouts and power grabs aren’t payoffs of one sort or another and won’t lead to lining the pockets of more than one politician in Washington.

We Mormons have heard from Primary on about the Pride Cycle, one of the overarching lessons taught in the Book of Mormon.  As a people humble themselves before the Lord and serve Him, he blesses them with peace and prosperity.  This prosperity leads to pride and arrogance and some force–foreign or domestic–plagues them until the people find themselves humbled once again and begin the cycle anew.

We, as a nation, have pretty successfully been turning our backs to God, trusting in our own wealth, power and accomplishments and have ripened for a fall leading us to humble ourselves anew.  I hope that we like-minded individuals can either seize the opportunity to educate our neighbors and communities and avert the fall and arrest the cycle or–more likely–stand as leaders subsequent to our nation’s fall, whatever form it will take, and lead us in humility and gratitude to a new era of service to our fellow man and to our God, however we worship Him.  In doing so, we will once again be blessed with peace and prosperity.

Posted by: Jeremy Peterson | January 5, 2009

Mormons and Republicans

Generally speaking–and the last two presidential election numbers bear this out–Republicans can count on the voters in Utah as some of their staunchest supporters.  In the 2008 general election, 63% voted for McCain, while 34% voted for Obama and the numbers didn’t vary much for other national and local elections (except for Jim Matheson–but, that’s another blog).  In 2004, Utah had the highest percentage of any state voting Republican–76%.  The long and short of it is that Mormons have generally bought the notion that the Republican Party stands for their values and principles.

I disagree.

I must preface my reasoning with as little mormon doctrine as necessary so the non-mormon reader can understand our mindset.  We believe we’re on Earth for a purpose:  we’re here to be tested how obedient we’ll be to the principles God has given us that, when obeyed, lead to exaltation–or living forever with God.  (Incidentally, these same principles are also calculated to bring maximum satisfaction and joy to our earthly experience).

So, we’re to be tested.  Well, it follows that there MUST be some opposition.  Lehi, a Nephite prophet described this best:

11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

Without the pull of opposites, there would only be stagnation, no progression.  We believe that we purposely CHOSE this path (being subjected to opposites and choosing for ourselves) in what we call the pre-mortal existence, or the time we spent, as spirits, before coming to the Earth.  We believe a great council was called in which God wanted to present His plan to His children for their salvation and happiness.  This plan was essentially as Lehi described it to his son.  However, one of God’s brightest and most promising sons–Satan– took exception and proposed an alternate plan that, he assured the council, would result in every single soul being saved.  He wanted to FORCE salvation on mankind.

This alternate plan was rejected and he and his followers rebelled, resulting in a war which ended with he and his followers being cast out of heaven into hell.  That part’s not nearly as important to this post as the part relating to choice and coercion.  We describe this freedom to choose as agency, or our capacity to make choices–to act as our own agents.

To sum it up: all of us chose to accept God’s plan, rejecting Satan’s.  We came to this earth to be tested, through our use of our agency.  We are free to choose and we are presented with opposites from which to choose–good and evil.  We rejected compulsory “goodness.”  However, lest you think I’m advocating choice without responsibility, let me make this clear:  all choices have consequences, some good and some bad.  Although we may be free to choose, we cannot be free from the consequences of our choices.  In other words, we believe that our decisions–and their outcome, good or bad–are our responsibility and no one else’s.

Now, getting back to politics, spend just a little time reading through the 2008 GOP Platform here, and you will start to notice keywords like “safety,” and “security,” or “protection.”  You’ll see that the platform embraces propositions which limit agency and freedom and defend those concepts by invoking such keywords.

Reminds you of Benjamin Franklin’s statement, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Or, Patrick Henry’s call to arms of, “give me liberty or give me death!”  The Republicans want to ensure our safety and protection by stripping us of liberty and agency.  Witness, as just one example, the USA Patriot Act.

We Mormons have had our blinders on concerning Republicans because, “well, they’re the conservatives!”  Yet, it’s these same “conservatives,” that liberals, socialists, and democrats count on to help pass legislation each year that ever further erodes our individual liberties and agency.  As Glenn Beck puts it, each party is leading us toward socialism; it’s just that one (the Democrat Party) is riding a jet plane while the other (the GOP) is riding a steam train.

And what’s so big about socialism?  Just that it’s nearly a mirror-image of Satan’s plan.  Socialism posits that humans are either too stupid, or too greedy, or too self-centered to make the “right,” decisions so the government must mandate the “right,” way to live your life.  Just as Satan wanted to “force,” us to live in such a way that would guarantee our salvation, socialism wants “force” us to live the way the government decides is the “right” way.  And Republicans are complicit in passing the legislation that’s getting us there.

Action item:  Decide today that you will not simply “pull the lever,” for a straight-party ticket of any party.

Involve yourself in the political process even if it’s only to the extent that you’ve carefully selected candidates–of any party– who have publicly committed to jealously guarding your Constitutional rights.   Seek out candidates who have committed to abolishing programs which clearly violate God’s plan (agency and responsibility) by adopting Satan’s (coercion and abdication of personal responsibility).

More times than not, the Republican candidate is NOT that candidate; he must conform to the national committee platform and principles in order to receive campaign contributions and support.

And what if no such candidate is running for office in your district?  Consider running yourself.  This guy did it pretty cleverly.

For more on safety and liberty, I’d recommend here, here and here.  And, if you’ve got some time, this YouTube user has posted some amazingly cogent and easily understandable videos on a range of topics related to individualism vs. collectivism (i.e. socialism).

Posted by: Jeremy Peterson | December 21, 2008

To Have Loved and Lost

I have been putting together a new post which should have been up on Saturday. However, I recieved a decidedly unexpected and unwelcome call from my beautiful bride mid-morning Saturday morning.

Her oldest sister’s husband was involved in an early morning car accident in Cache Valley that ended up claiming his life.

Needless to say, something like this tends to reprioritize your agenda.  It’s left me reflecting on our mortality.  He leaves behind a wife and 4 children, ranging in age from 14 down to 5. 

At times like these, some people ask themselves such questions as: “why me?”  or, “why would God allow this to happen?”  Many of us would have a range of negative emotions filling us.  My sister-in-law, though, has shown tremendous restraint and even compassion for the other driver.  She does not hold him responsible for the accident, even though the police report found him to be at fault.  Yesterday, she asked the Highway Patrol to relay the message to him that she felt convinced, through various means, that it had been her husband’s time to be “called home,” and felt deeply saddened  only that it had to be him behind the wheel of the other car. 

In turn, she’s felt such an outpouring of generosity and support from her community that she feels overwhelmed with gratitude and love.

For me, the lesson learned has been that as we emulate Christ-like compassion we will, in turn, be blessed in a like-manner.  My passion for liberty sometimes causes me to get angry with those who–either wilfully or blindly–advocate stripping men of their individual rights and liberties for the “common,” or collective good.

I see too many people with the right intentions misguidedly focusing their anger on individual politicians or special-interest groups.  I admire their passion and dedication but the goal should be educating our family, friends and community the truth and value of correct principles with the same compassion my sister-in-law has shown.  If we do this, our cause will grow much stronger much more quickly than with vitriol and antipathy.

As the old saying goes, “it’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.” May our efforts be sweetened with honey and may we forsake the vinegar in all things we do.

Posted by: Jeremy Peterson | December 18, 2008

A Prick to the Conscience

I subscribe to The Cause of Liberty Newsletter.  Stephen Palmer, the founder and author of this week’s newsletter, wrote, “we need an army of dedicated citizens harnessing every available resource in this noble cause. We need thousands of freedom-loving bloggers replacing the garbage[on the internet] with light. “

So, by way of a freedom-loving friend pushing me, and others, to do the right thing, I find myself with a brand new blog.

James, an Apostle once taught:

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

I have, after a fashion, been a hearer in the cause of liberty only.  I regularly listen to conservative talk radio, soaking up the meaning of constitutional government, liberty, agency, personal responsibility, etc.  BUT, I have not regularly and actively participated in spreading the cause of liberty except for a few phone calls to my elected politicians, my vote on election day, and some e-mail and FAX issue-oriented drives.  It’s time I took up the mantle and started doing, rather than hearing only.

Don’t get me wrong; I would not be posting this were it not for men like Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and especially Rush Limbaugh.  Had my mom not handed me The Way Things Ought to Be when I was 15 years old, I may well have been just another mind-numbed Gen-X’er voting for Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama with no clue as to why, other than some vague notion of the Democrat party representing the “little guy.”

That initial induction into Constitutional conservatism opened my eyes to the principles my parents had tried to instill in me for years.  Glenn and Mark speak out almost daily about the trampling of our nation’s founding documents by our elected leaders.  These men–all teachers and mentors to me and millions of others–gave me a solid foundation on which I’ve built a passion for protecting and defending our Constitutionally-guaranteed liberties.  Now, it’s my turn to engage and speak out; to be a doer and not a hearer only.

So, welcome to my new blog as I explore the potential the web gives me and others to reach out to other like-minded individuals as we seek to preserve and defend our unalienable rights, endowed to us by our Creator.