Freedom after the 4th of July…

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What a weekend.  It was packed full of activities and I ended up a little sleep deprived and sugar fueled but it was great.  Isn’t that how it is supposed to be when family, holidays, and weekends are combined?

My weekend started a couple of hours earlier than planned with me making a run to the doctor with my son.  Long story short: no strep throat, just a case of tonsillitis.  And to make it better, we didn’t have to sit in the office for hours on end.  Nothing better than a visit to the doctor that is done in 30 minutes or less.  A diagnosis as fast as a lube job.  Imagine the marketing material that doctor isn’t going to put to use.  Maybe I should contact him about being his social media manager.

After the doctor, it was time to put on my Boy Scout uniform and pretend to be a leader.  I went to Scofield Reservoir in central Utah to meet up with my troop.  Truth be told, I am not a Scout leader, that is why I said I was pretending.  I am on the Troop Committee, so using the uniform was legit.  But these boys had been at camp all week and here it was the last night when I was going to join them.

My purpose for going was to be a helper.  You see, our troop has an equipment trailer that needed to be towed back home.  Nobody else in the neighborhood that was involved with the troop was available to go, so I went.  My uniform made me look more official.  So did my brown, felt, cowboy hat that makes me feel like Indiana Jones.

At this particular Scout camp they have a program to close out the week.  It involves a few songs, skits, awards, and even inspirational messages.  The closing message that was given actually fit with the holiday that was to follow after the weekend.

The speaker talked about the importance of the Scout Law… you know, the one that says a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent, and always prepared.  Oh wait, that last one is the Scout Motto.  Regardless, those are virtues that are important for all Scouts to abide by.  But as I think about them, I don’t think they should be limited to Scouts.  I think all Americans, heck… let’s include the whole world as well, should be living them.  Of all those words that belong to the Law, the speaker said that the most important word of is “is”.  As Scout IS…

How about “An American IS…” or possibly “A Human IS”?  Think about those virtues for a moment.  I will come back to them.

The weekend continued the next day (after my drive back from camp with the trailer) with many family activities that included not just my wife and kids, but many members of my wife’s family.  There was a picnic followed by a hike in one of the local canyons, some swimming, and a great fireworks show.  And that was Saturday.  Sunday was more relaxing but we still gathered for Sunday dinner, games, and conversation.  Monday started with a breakfast in the canyon, an afternoon at the park as part of the Provo Freedom Festival, and once again, a fireworks show.  All fun times.

So here we are on the day after the 4th.  We celebrated many freedoms and liberties yesterday.  Today, the country moves on, and with it have come some news stories (both nationally and locally) about events that question freedoms and liberties, integrity and justice, and those virtues that Boy Scout near and far try to extoll.

On the national front today, we heard of a court case in which the verdict from the jury was not guilty.  The case?  Casey Anthony was accused of killing her two year old daughter.  If you don’t know the story, you may not think anything of the “not guilty” verdict.  But reading the known facts about the story and the trial, it appears to be another OJ Simpson case.  I will leave it to you to decide if justice was served or not.  All I know is that a two year old girl lost her freedoms a few months back as someone took them from her.  The fact that her mom didn’t alert authorities of her disappearance for a month afterwards sure makes it sound like some integrity, justice and Boy Scout virtues were ignored.

There was obviously some reasonable doubt for the jury to acquit the mom of any wrong doing.  But they convicted her of obstruction of justice by providing false information to the police officers and detectives that were trying to solve the case in the death of her daughter.  Four counts of obstruction in which she was found guilty.  Recap: daughter goes “missing”, not reported for 31 days, tells lies to authorities, not guilty of murder, guilty of lying.  She might still get some jail time. 

Her daughter still doesn’t get her life back.  Her freedoms were taken and she is now gone.

Locally, we heard of another court case in which the verdict had already been reached as guilty.  But today was the sentencing.  Shawn Leonard was convicted of multiple crimes, two of which involved brutally raping and attempting to kill a local university student.  She survived and is recovering.

Today, he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.  His freedoms were also taken away.  Justice was served.  And the victim still has her freedom.

These two cases brought back a sad reality on the conditions of the world that we live in today.  There are people that are greedy and want all that they can get.  They will even hurt, maim, or kill to get it.  There are people that are selfish and will unlawfully take what will help them and just as unlawfully dispose of what will not.  There are people with cold hearts that are filled with hate.

We also have people that are generous, loving, selfless, and care about more than themselves.  There might actually be more of these people in the world than those that aren’t.  I sure hope so.  Especially in the United States of America.  Isn’t this the land of the free and the home of the brave?  Isn’t this the land where people throughout the ages have come to escape persecution?  Isn’t this the place where the “tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free” are meant to be as welcome to live as those that are otherwise?

In church on Sunday we sang the Star Spangled Banner.  In civic and sporting events we only sing the first verse.  At church, we sang all three.  The third verse struck me as I thought about the words, and today those words are even more poignant.

“Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand, between their loved homes and the war’s desolation! Blest with vic’try and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!  Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto; ‘In God is our trust!’”

Is that how we feel as a nation?  Do we really recognize that this is a land that was rescued by the providence of God?  Do we feel gratitude for those that have fought for the freedoms that we have today?  Do we have trust in God?

I think many have either lost or never had that trust or belief and therefore don’t want to live the higher ethical code that are a part of the foundation of this country.  Can’t we all be more trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent.  Can’t we all have more trust in God?  We can, and we should.

Maybe we should make it a requirement for everyone to participate in Boy Scout camp and see what it is like to live those virtues.  Unfortunately, we can’t make anyone do it because that would be taking away their freedom to choose and act how they want.  And that is what the Adversary and adversity is about: taking away our freedoms.

So today I am looking at life from a four-day weekend perspective, the most recent four-day weekend to be specific.  I want to live my life even more with good virtues as my governing law and trust in God as my driving force to live those virtues.  I will do what I can to spread the cause and share my views.  Maybe we will have fewer court cases because of it.  Maybe we will have more peace because of it.  Maybe we can live as “one nation, under God, indivisible” because of it.  Will you join me?

Just another view from a Palmtree.


Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly…

Last night I participated in a “Board of Review” for the local scout troop (I am a member of the committee) as there are 6 of the boys that are advancing in rank at a Court of Honor this coming Sunday. During the interview with one of the scouts, another leader asked him “When are you a scout?” It was a bit of a trick question in that the leader wanted to see if the boy would respond in some manner about acting as a scout at all times. The boy in essence got the answer correct. The interesting part was in his response.

Before the questions started we asked him to repeat the Scout Law. It goes like this: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

The boy talked with us about how people always need to be trustworthy. Trustworthy to everyone that knows us. He talked about being helpful and friendly to everyone we meet. The leader that asked the question mentioned how great the world would be if everyone could at least be more trustworthy and friendly.

Another question asked the boy what the three most important words of the Scout Oath are. (The Scout Oath reads: On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty, to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”) The boy’s response: “All of them!” He was correct. However, the leader was referring back to the beginning where it starts, “On my honor…”

In our everyday life, do we follow the Scout Law? Are we believers of it? Does it matter? Do we act with integrity? I read earlier today an excerpt from a talk that was given by one of the leaders of the LDS church back in 1960. From the talk I quote:

“I picked up his book and turned to the section where I read the Boy Scout oath. You remember the first few words are, “On my honor I will do my best. . . .” As he grows up, what will this little boy learn about honor or dishonor? Who will teach him? Or does it really matter? How important is honor, anyway? Is it something sacred? Is it sacred to you? Is it sacred to very many Americans?

“In my opinion, America needs a rebirth of honor more than it needs any other one thing. It needs honor more than it needs its atom bombs and nuclear submarines. Put weapons in the hands of dishonorable men and what have you?

“America needs honor more than it needs wealth and prosperity. Put wealth in the hands of dishonorable men, and what have you?

“America needs honor even more than it needs professions of religious piety. What good is a profession of religion in a man who has no honor? Such men lived in the days of Jesus. He called them scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.”

As stated, this talk was given in 1960. How much more does the statement apply to us today? If the entire world acted honorably, friendly, courteously, trustworthily…we would see the world peace that so many people long for. There wouldn’t be wars as we have. There wouldn’t be murdering, stealing, adultery, drug abuse, etc.

So, the next time you or someone you know talks about wanting world peace, look into your soul and ask yourself if you are living your life according the Scout Oath and Law. You don’t have to be a scout to live by those words of counsel. And those that are or have been scouts, are you still living as you were taught? If not, why? Something to think about the next time you act impulsively.

Just another view from a palmtree.