Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Breakdown of Marriage and the Family: Same objective, different process

We, in the United States, have an extremely narrow cultural perspective. If we are honest we have to concede that we are largely unaware and uninterested with events taking place outside our own boarders (often outside our own town, state or region). So while we have been obsessed with the issue of homosexual marriage and the redifinition of the family, centering around California's proposition 8 (and well we should be), we fail to see the larger war that is waging literally around the world. It is time to expand our vision and recognize the global struggle that is taking place. One lesson from the following article is the insulation a free and democratic people provide in this essentially moral question (i.e. notice the express mandate by the communist party/revolution concerning the insignificance of "the family"... its just a problematic relic. Interesting that this is the same view of many current progressives and secularists) . Please take five minutes and read what is and has been happening in Russia:

The Russian Effort to Abolish Marriage
This article first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in July 1926; Volume 138, No. 1; page 108-114
The question whether marriage as an institution should be abolished is now being debated all over Russia with a violence and depth of passion unknown since the turbulent early days of the Revolution. Last October a bill eliminating distinctions between registered and unregistered marriages and giving the unmarried consort the status and property rights of the legal wife was introduced in the Tzik, or Central Executive Committee. So much unforeseen opposition to the proposed law developed that the Tzik decided to postpone its final adoption until the next session, meanwhile initiating a broad popular discussion of the project.

Since that time factories, offices, clubs, and various Soviet organizations and institutions have passed resolutions for and against the bill, and the halls have not been able to hold the eager crowds that thronged to the meetings in city, town, and village. One must live in Russia to-day, amid the atmosphere of torment, disgust, and disillusionment that pervades sex relations, the chaos, uncertainty, and tragedy that hover over the Russian family, to understand the reasons for this heated discussion, for these passionate pros and cons.

When the Bolsheviki came into power in 1917 they regarded the family, like every other "bourgeois" institution, with fierce hatred, and set out with a will to destroy it. "To clear the family out of the accumulated dust of the ages we had to give it a good shakeup, and we did," declared Madame Smidovich, a leading Communist and active participant in the recent discussion. So one of the first decrees of the Soviet Government abolished the term "illegitimate children." This was done simply by equalizing the legal status of all children, whether born in wedlock or out of it, and now the Soviet Government boasts that Russia is the only country where there are no illegitimate children. The father of a child is forced to contribute to its support, usually paying the mother a third of his salary in the event of a separation, provided she has no other means of livelihood.

At the same time a law was passed which made divorce a matter of a few minutes, to be obtained at the request of either partner in a marriage. Chaos was the result. Men took to changing wives with the same zest which they displayed in the consumption of the recently restored forty-per-cent vodka.

"Some men have twenty wives, living a week with one, a month with another," asserted an indignant woman delegate during the sessions of the Tzik. "They have children with all of them, and these children are thrown on the street for lack of support!" (There are three hundred thousand bezprizorni or shelterless children in Russia to-day, who are literally turned out on the streets. They are one of the greatest social dangers of the present time, because they are developing into professional criminals. More than half of them are drug addicts and sex perverts. It is claimed by many Communists that the break-up of the family is responsible for a large percentage of these children.)

The peasant villages have perhaps suffered most from this revolution in sex relations. An epidemic of marriages and divorces broke out in the country districts. Peasants with a respectable married life of forty years and more behind them suddenly decided to leave their wives and remarry. Peasant boys looked upon marriage as an exciting game and changed wives with the change of seasons. It was not an unusual occurrence for a boy of twenty to have had three or four wives, or for a girl of the same age to have had three or four abortions. As the peasants of Borisovo-Pokrovskoie bitterly complained: "Abortions cover our villages with shame. Formerly we did not even hear of them." But the women, in self-defense, replied: "It's easy for you to talk. But if you just tried to bear children yourselves you would sing a different song."

This is just the beginning of the article, a complete reading is definitely worth your time.

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 6

My post of Feb. 18 (Wacky Wed., Vol. 5) included several pictoral evidences of man's misplaced self-assurance. In this particular case "man" is not synonymous with human kind... it specifically applies to the male species. I neglected to include a picture that hits close to home and will now unveil a rare picture of some friends cleaning up at a recent church activity. You may think the LDS church does not allocate funds for ladders considering the unconventional use of things like rolling chair carts. I'm sure there is no danger here... certainly no liability issue.

Monday, February 23, 2009

More Truths

I began this blog with a few posts where I shared truths I've gathered in the course of my years, my experience and my reading. It is past time for more. As always, your thoughts are welcome:

-We do not operate in this life without affecting someone else in everything we do.

-No one is born into this life with a guarantee. We are not assured 87 years or even 18 years. Knowing so much we are wise to treat each day as priceless and give God thanks that our time here, as has that of our spouse, children, parents and friends has been prolonged as much as it has.

-a sign of emotional and spiritual maturity is the recognition that pain is the primary catalyst of character and advancement. It is to stop running from it and to face it with nobility and purpose. A child fears pain, an adult In childhood we fear pain, but as we mature we view pain as the core curriculum to divine development.

-control and order are eternal principles (and as such have efficacy in this life as well, even for those who are undeviatingly athiest as well as for those systems or organizations that are secular). Control will be maintained either by internal or external forces. The form of control in which the individual is most free and ensures the highest degree of liberty is self-control. The less self-control exercised by individuals in a collective the more political, police and other authoritarian control will be required.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 5

Just a few observations regarding the pictures below:
1. Idiots
2. Notice that they are all men.
3. There is a strong relationship between observation #1 and #2.
4. Considering observations 1-3, why do women marry men? Do they just feel sorry for us...
5. Is it any surprise that the average life expectancy of women is so much higher than men?
6. Darwin couldn't have been right or else natural selection would have selected all men OUT of the human race.
7. the ladder has got to be the most stupid invention of all time.
8. a man must have invented the ladder.
9. Oh no, I just realized that I gave my dad a ladder for Christmas... I need to make a phone call, got to go!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Abraham Lincoln... in his own words

As promised, here is evidence of the greatness of the man:

"Die when I may, I would like it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle, and planted a rose where I thought a rose would grow."

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
-Second Inaugural Address

"We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness or our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
-institution of a National Fast Day

"...politicians; a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people, and who, to say the most of them, are, taken as a mass, at least one long step removed from honest men."
-speech in the Illinois legislature

"The way for a young man to rise, is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him. Allow me to assure you, that suspicion and jealousy never did help any man in any situation. There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down; and they will succeed too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel to brood over the attempted injury."

More to come later... I fear that in posting too many of his quotes the reader will too quickly read through them desiring the discovery of the next one. There are some things so profound they out to be read in 10 seconds and then considered for 10 minutes. Each of the above qualify.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln

Anyone who happens upon this post will be reading it after Feb. 12th because I am just now writing at 11:07 PM. My apologies. I hope, however, you will take a few moments to consider on the life of one of the most remarkable men not only in the history of the United States, but in the history of the world.

Abraham Lincoln is one of my heroes. I have few public heroes. Most of the people I honor are not necessarily publicly known but this does not make them any less heroic. I will have to expand at a later time on men like William Backenstoss and Levi Savage -two men who are largely anonymous but whose nobility of character are beyond mortal measure. The Honorable Abraham Lincoln however is one of those rare people whose public estimation and public fame are both prominent. While history has certainly cast a legendary shadow and we may suffer from some degree of romanticism with the man we envision instead of the man of reality, I have no hesitancy in speaking his name with the great reverence and respect.

It was his 200th birthday today, Feb. the 12th. I will have to leave it to others more agile in the art of language to compose a tribute fitting of his greatness. The best I can do is borrow a few words and then to let him speak for himself.

When I was learning and attempting to commit to memory the poem that serves as the title of this blog, I was struck by the sketch Mr. Wordsworth offered. The proposed nature of the Happy Warrior seemed almost too much for a man to achieve. He, I supposed, could only be a fictional character. I wondered if Mr. Wordsworth had in mind some being as he crafted his description…. I wondered who it might be that he was describing. As I pushed more than half way into the text of the poem, focusing intently on the words as I repeated them over and over in my mind in an effort to memorize this seemingly endless poem I came to the stanzas that led me to believe that Wordsworth was describing none other than Abraham Lincoln:

Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
to homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;
Sweet images! which, whersoe'er he be,
Are at his heart; and such fidelity
It is his darling passion to approve;
More brave for this, that he hath much to love:--
'Tis , finally, the Man who lifted high,
Conspicuous object in a Nation's eye,
Or left unthought-of in obscurity,--
Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not--
Plays, in the many games of life, that one
where what he most doth value must be won:

I have read much of Mr. Lincoln; I am familiar to a small degree what animated him, what bedeviled him and what pained him. He was a defender and a champion, not necessarily of the country –because the country he found himself a citizen of was not what it should have been- but rather, he was a champion of the truth and of the right. And because he held up the standard of truth and took action to reestablish what was right, he brought the country with him and made it congruous to these principles. He saw a great country that was falling into something less than what it should have been and did something about it. Doing something about it –doing the difficult thing about it- cost him his life, but in the end the country was righted again and delivered into the hands of the next generations. God bless the man and the memory of Abraham Lincoln, The Happy Warrior!

PS: More to come on and from this most remarkable man (since I promised to let him speak for himself).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 4

When at a loss for something a bit crazy and funny, go back to the basics: Sienfeld! I hope you enjoy this clip, it contains all the most recent pressing social challenges: employment stress, lay offs, etc. And yet we can still laugh about it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Some thoughts on fear and crisis

As far as I’m concerned the answers to the challenges of the present are found in abundance by exploring the policies and the tight places of the past. This nation appears to be on the edge of despair. Perhaps I am unfair and ascribing to the general populace what should be a reserved to our so called leaders. The media is complicit in the current contagion. Fear is the text of our current national diet and it occupies both the headline and the political pulpit. And since acceptable answers appear to be few and far between (although all of them seem to carry with them a hefty price tag), I have decided that the most prudent course of action is to rely on a bit of wisdom that brought my fathers and mothers through a more difficult day nearly a century ago. It may sound trite and it may lack in specific policy direction but it is, nevertheless, a profound truth that may just carry the day: we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

So first, let us take a collective breath and “be still”. Slow down, calm down and come to a rational estimation of our present condition. Are things bad? Yes. Is Feb. the 10th 2009 a more difficult day than was Feb. the 10th 2008? Yes. Do I know what the next week, the next month and the next year bring? No. I am not implying either a fatalistic stance on the one hand nor a frenzied “doing anything is better than doing nothing” approach on the other. I am merely applying to some common sense that we should be smart enough to apply:

Historical context: we (speaking of the United States as a nation and the American citizenry in general) have been through much darker days and much more desperate times. The Revolutionary and the Civil Wars quickly come to mind even if we simply consider the economic consequence of those two eras. I am not an economist but I would guess those two periods saw much more relative damage (if considering financial loss and damage to business) than the current situation. And yet we came out OK. Americans have a way of doing that IF they put their mind and their backs into it. We have never been a nation to lie down and ask someone else to rescue us… and if we do so now, then we do not deserve to be considered by the same name as our predecessors.
Turn off the TV, the news, the radio, etc. and focus on your immediate sphere of influence. This does not mean to hide in ignorance. Yes we are a global community with sophisticated interconnections that effect us but if you are overwhelmed with the prevailing sense of fear, step away. Take a look at the joy that surrounds your life -the important things: your family, a sunrise or sunset, your health, the wind against your face. Many of these blessings are free and convey a sense that much in the world is still operating as it always has, as it should and as it will irregardless of the mess we have made of our social and political reality.
The reality of our relative prosperity: While things are undoubtedly challenging (my financial and employment situation is as tenuous as anyone’s) we should recognize that our world is unbelievably affluent. “A chicken in every pot” was a goal during difficult days of the past. We can’t seriously claim to be in a comparably dire situation when cell phones, televisions, DVRs and $75 shoes still adorn our homes in great abundance? A little perspective will do much to allay our condition.
Beware the vernacular of a crisis: I have learned that whenever someone shouts “crisis”, you had better watch your wallet, your freedoms and your intellectual foundation. A crisis is a highly emotionally charged state and frequently those with power (or those seeking to obtain more power) will leverage conditions to their own benefit. A crisis is synonymous with the magician’s technique of distraction. Case and point: the contemporary and loudly proclaimed “environmental crisis” is nothing less than a rouge to amass political power and control the lives of the citizenry. The antidote for nefarious crisis-mongers and their strategies: a rational, intelligent, and involved citizenry (in other words: rigorous scrutiny that leads to truth).
First do no harm: PLEASE politicians, do us all a favor and consider this maxim that is not only applicable to the practice of medicine -it is as appropriate to the body politic as it is to the human body. Before we pursue any course correction, be it on a macro-economic or micro-household scale, we MUST remember that many of the devastating conditions we created for ourselves were commenced in the name of good intentions.

So while the application of the above suggestions may not fix the current problem, these are time-tested guidelines that will help us along the path that leads inexorably into the future.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 3

This woman is so worried about the health dangers of the construction that she had to relax with a cigarette... enuf said!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The First Law of Political Freedom

There are a few statements made by various men and women that I consider to be of preeminent importance that I suggest them to be nothing less than political, social and spiritual law. These are my socio-political laws comparable in force to and just as efficacious as the law of gravity, of laws of thermodynamics and any other statue governing they physical world. Periodically I will outline these, here is the first with a bit of context:

One of the most profound statements to capture the essence of the genius and foundation of the United States of America was declared by a British statesman during the era of the colonial revolution. He wasn’t even a citizen of this country but rather he was a member of the oppressing government from whom our forefathers sought their autonomy. But as is so often the case in history, the situation regarding this man was more sophisticated than first appearances. He was a man of courage, character and truth more than of narrow-minded or generational trends. From his position of leadership within the beast that was the British empire he cautioned the King from making war with the colonies. And although his voice was clearly the minority view, He understood men, human nature and governments. History vilified the rightness of his position with respect to the 13 colonies across the Atlantic and more recent history, unfortunately, is demonstrating the truth of another of his declarations; this may be the most profound and imperative exhortation for us to consider as a people today if the great American experiment is to continue into the next generations:

"Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon the will and appetite is placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within the more there must be with out. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of untempered minds cannot be free."
-Edmund Burke

Numerous social indicators suggest that we are on the verge of disqualifying ourselves… a most disturbing situation to occur in less than 250 years.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Our Socio-moral Environment

Several years ago Boyd Packer wrote a fantastic essay and address called "Our Moral Environment", I recommend it to all who enjoy reading my blog. My post today follows the theme of his address and is a departure from my previous posts. I am reticent to share thoughts directly emanating from my study of scripture. These, I think, are more appropriately shared in a more intimate contexts. But these particular thoughts have specific relevance to our social reality (as I analyze it) and so I share them with you. The fact that they are tied to scripture is not essential -an atheist or agnostic could come to similar observation from a non-spiritual standpoint.

Some quick context: many of us believe the United States has a divine destiny and inspired origin. We also believe that this land has some unique promises that bind its citizens to serve God or else forfeit their blessed condition in God's sight (this idea was frequently referenced in the writings and addresses of pre-twentieth century political leaders and as such was not some fanatic view but reflected the mainstream).

I am particularly interested in the following scriptural text: "And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done." (Ether 2:11)
-the great and most pertinent question is: where are we now? With the idea of “a fullness of iniquity” as a threshold measure on a sliding scale from righteousness to wickedness, where does our society sit, what direction are we headed and how rapidly? More than being concerned with our political, economic, environmental or academic status in the world –concerns which occupy talk radio, the news and the concern of the nation, enough so to distract us from the most pertinent issues of our society- we should be addressing the moral standing of our lives as citizens in this promised land. But the moral indicators bemoan a perilous condition: fraud (of all degrees) and greed are rampant, honesty is compromised from Junior high to Senior executive offices, pornography represents the most viewed content on the Internet, fifty percent of marriages dissolve, one is every three children is birthed by an unmarried woman, homosexuality and other sex-centric lifestyles are gaining general acceptance, individuals are incurring record levels (unsustainable levels) of debt to satiate carnal appetites for status and things and signs of social cohesion and basic civility are deteriorating. But each of these measures is a condition to which individuals can immediately make profound influence and change. This drift could be reversed in a single day by the actions of individuals and the unabashed vocalization of a more moral way. Wickedness persists largely by public permission of an apathetic, distracted and sometimes complicit populace. We, as individuals and as a collective, allow it to remain, to get rooted in our laws and eventually to define us.