Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A good king. . .

We no longer live in the days of regal monarchs and feudalism.  We have, since then, realized that the wealth of nations is in the goods, services, labor, and infrastructure and not what treasures can be found in a royal vault. Loyalty is no longer the currency of the realm, and colonization and conquest are essentially things of the past.
Those who would've been nobles in medieval times, instead of being the only permitted social class with the right to fight for the kingdom, never take up arms in defense of their titles and wealth.  Political leaders are no longer concerned with God's approval over their reign, only with their approval rating.

In many ways we are better off, and no one would dispute that fact if we looked at standards of living.  However, historically we have always said that we must learn from our failures--but then never discuss them.  Why did monarchy fail?  Why do we still have bits of it in our societies today if it was largely a failure?  What, about monarchy, is a success that enabled the institution to endure for several millennium?
Well, I believe I have the answer--and it can all be summarized in the attributes of a good king.

A good king raises no army, but is the sole defender of his realm.  Every tyrant in history has been labeled so because they compelled their people into conquest and fighting.  A true leader would take the burden of defense and military conquest solely on himself.  If that meant he was the only man taking up the sword to defend the realm from an army, then a good king would do so even to his death.  It is also worth noting that a good king would never, in reality, stand alone--his people would want to defend him and would take up arms willingly beside him.

A good king would always seek to help and uplift their neighboring kingdoms.  Whether political opinion considers them allies or enemies, aide and service would always be provided and available from a kingdom's abundance.  It is hard to go to war with someone who has willingly subjugated themselves to you in service, and harder still to get any kind of public opinion in favor of doing so.  If a king does so at his own apparent expense without any hope of financial return, he will find quickly that trade and cooperation vastly overcome any drawbacks of giving freely.

A good king rewards titles, honors, and responsibility.  He motivates those he rules to be the best they can be.  He harnesses the ambitions of his people to become the best they can be and to work for the good of the nation.  He acknowledges the nobility and capacity for honor in all his subjects, and seeks to recognize and reward them as capable.  He relies more on this than internal discipline and taxation.

A good king is the most prominent patron of the arts.  Without nobility and visibility, we are not inclined to view and study the past--market forces have proven that with modern entities of high culture (symphonies, operas).  What good would titles and honors be if they did not carry historical significance.  Speech writers, musicians, dancers, painters, all of these move towards subjects of note and portray (and often embellish upon) their triumphs and shortcomings.  Having these as part of a monarch's role specifically makes titles of honor carry actual power and influence.  The arts, above all other institutions, make a responsibility of weight and importance beyond the lifespan of the individual granted it.

A good king has no servants.  He is capable of and obligated to fill his own needs.  Doing this, more than any other activity, will enable him to relate and empathize with the people he leads.  If he works hard and fills his responsibilities well, then one would hope that his subjects would want to serve him--but never as a full time position.  Regardless, he is esteemed as the greatest among his people, and is therefore designated as their eternal servant.

A good king spends the majority of his time pondering on the difficulties of his people.  He is worried about all he serves and is never able to set their problems aside until they are solved to satisfaction.  It's not enough to just work through problems, he must address them in a patient, wise, and loving fashion.  Some matters are delicate, some parties are wrong, some issues only exist when given attention.  It is a king's duty to resolve these, and not let them fester or escalate.  If it means the king needs to play the bad guy, or the knight in shining armor, or simply needs to be present to solve an issue, than he does it.  Within the responsibility, I consider the charge to carry forth and encourage research.

Lastly, a good king is accountable to God.  He acknowledges (regardless of his religious background) that there is an abundant supply of powers greater than his own, and that he, himself, is subject to them.  A good king acknowledges and accounts for his actions to these powers.  A godless king is still accountable to the powers of his people, but will never lead his people to be greater than what they already are.  Whichever power you account to, that is what you will lead your people to become and the greater the power you follow the greater your nation can become.

Now for my point (and reason for making this post).  We have a lot of crappy leaders.  Most of us, if we were honest with ourselves, would make crappy leaders.  We don't have guidelines for good leadership--we barely have a measuring stick to serve as comparison.  I am not just referring to political leadership.  These principles apply to any person who fills a role of governor.  Good fathers are, in a way, good kings in their homes.  Leaders of school boards are kings in their sphere of influence.  Many matriarchs are the monarchs of their realm.  Many adults do serve in king-ship style roles in one way or another.

My real hope is that some few people will take this to heart and start to make a measuring stick for themselves to see how well they are filling their leadership role within their sphere of influence.  I don't, honestly, know what the criteria would be for a good queen.  I'll leave that post up to Dani.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shouting (well, speaking in civil tones) at a wall

By Todd

For the first time in my life, I've been actively engaged in the US political process.  This is not something I ever saw myself doing.  I've been a political passivist my entire life.  I have not been ignorant to what's going on around me at any point in my life.  I carefully read all the political debates and opinions regarding homosexual activism along with the judicial activism accompanied it.  I understood the views being portrayed.  I felt it very odd that the voting majority stayed silent on the matter -- with the exception of church entities who rallied their members to vote in support of their beliefs.

I read all the debates and after affects of the abortion issues.  I usually read the peer-reviewed articles about these issues too (though they are rarely without political biases).  I carefully studied each candidate in the last presidential election.  I keep an eye on local politicians and how they vote regarding things in my community, and what things are planned.

I stayed my voting right under the premise that I do not, in reality, know who has the right or best views.  Homosexual activism I felt was wrong--largely because it had to be brought up.  There's no reason anyone should mistreat another human being.  The fact that people felt compelled to bring this issue to the public forum was a symptom of a greater problem, namely that of mistreating fellow human beings in individual lives.

I've read carefully the blogs and posts of the 99% and occupy wallstreet movements, and I concur and agree with their premises for protest--but their procedure is unenlightened and unoriginal.  Ultimately, these protests could merely be a change in form of governance, and not actually improve upon existing governance.

I believe the underlying disease is an unwillingness to accept self-governance.  I can manage my own life better than any proud and haughty Harvard graduate.  Government (and people in general) don't like to give up control, and won't unless compelled to.  For all their learning and education, no one inside of the political forum is particularly wise.  I really just want to be left alone.  I don't want to control other people, and I want those who feel it needful to control me to start sharing my sentiments.

This time around, one candidate has come to my attention.  He largely demonstrates the same half-truth and lack of insight into actual governing problems, but the precedence he wants to set is to get the government out of people's lives.

I'm in favor of that on grounds of belief.  I am a follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  In the early history of this church, polygamy was practiced as a way of uniting families and caring for the destitute daughters of God.  It was never about oppressing women as the general public has fallaciously believed, nor concerned with stealing women from their husbands as some people citing statistics about early church leadership would like you to conclude.  It was not founded or even compatible with the middle-eastern tradition where women were considered inferior to men.  It was a means to creating stronger and greater homes.

The US government used that practice as leverage to seize all the property of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, deny its members the right to vote, and threaten them with military occupation should the practice persist.  To me, that was a moral wrong--and I believe people now in days would agree that such rebuttle to a controversial practice was unfair and unjust.  However, the practice of polygamy and the persecution of it was so isolated and the harm of practicing it so small in numerical quantity that it NEVER should've become an issue for a government to be involved with.  Even today, those practicing it are so small in number that they hardly merit our attention (if you want to help women being oppressed inside of fundamentalist compounds, volunteer to help them and share your beliefs with them individually and not with a court-order; even shouting over the compound wall with a megaphone is better than that).

That being said, the precedent exists inside of the US for mistreating members of the Church of Jesus Christ.  We still see it today when popular culture is praised for mocking our beliefs and our well-intended programs (paragraph 3).  We still hear the ignorant masses referring to our practices and temple worship as being cultist.  Regardless of the morality of the situation, the US culture and government are largely at odds with my beliefs.  Ultimately, I don't really care much about popular culture or cinematic whims, so long as it does not interfere with my free practice of religion.

I want them to stay out of temples and temple worship.  I want them out of our beliefs.  I want the US government to mind its own business and to let the people of the Church of Jesus Christ who are not guilty of grievous moral wrongs worship how, where, and what they may.  The larger the government gets, the more oppression the Mormon people will experience.  The more we force our American culture on people, the less likely we are to discover and adopt the culture God would have us participate in.  The more involved the US becomes with our lives, the more the moral and cultural values of the masses will be forced on people of faith.

From what I've written, many people would think I'm supporting Mitt Romney (an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ).  I am not.  I honestly believe, after studying what Mr. Romney has said, that he intends to continue the precedent of increasing the size and scope of government.  He is in favor of war and universal military presence.  He is confused on moral values when the issues are controversial (paragraph 2 and 3).  He says exactly what people want to hear.  His positions and policies are as equally confused as any other candidate.  He is not above ridiculing his opponents for mistakes or difficulties they've faced. His only mention of religion is that his "Mormon" faith will not affect his role as president.

In the end, I believe Mitt Romney is a typical run-of-the-mill politician, and will do little more than point out to the masses that members of the Church of Jesus Christ are people with some peculiar traits to them--a fact that has already been established and accepted into the political and cultural forum.  He might enact some policies that will make more useless bureaucratic jobs in this country, but I believe congress is already well on their way to accomplishing that regardless of the next president.

I don't support any candidates' platform, and I don't think any of them would help with the actual issues we face today (and I'll likely make more blog posts illuminating what I think those are).  For that reason, I have chosen not to participate in government for the entirety of my life.  I refuse to vote in favor of people who would give me the greatest financial gain or personal benefit.  I refuse to vote for people who are morally confused. I only will vote for someone who actually wants to treat the causes of our social diseases and not merely reform programs to address the newest set of symptoms.

I'm voting this year, and I'm voting for Ron Paul.  While his policies are of ambiguously beneficial nature at best, his rallying cry has always been, for the 30 years he's been in office, to reduce the size of government and get it out of people's lives.  He's always voted consistently with that view, and never made a campaign promise that he didn't keep.  I respect that in a politician, even if I have marginal respect for his actual policy ideas.

As an example: Ron Paul believes there should be no federal restriction or support of abortion-despite a personal experience with early abortion where he helped deliver a baby and then saw it literally thrown in a garbage can screaming and left to die.  If I had been there and watched that new born scream and suffer as he died of exposure, I would be outraged.  He personally believes abortion is wrong, but his belief only affected his personal medical practice.  He does not force that belief on anyone, and his voting record on legislation has remained consistent with that for 30 years--to remove both regulation against abortion, and funding for government-provided abortion.  He's not conflicted, he's consistent.

Getting the government out of individuals' lives is the ONLY platform available that could contribute to my faith and my freedom.  Regardless of the good intentions and good results of government programs, they all say the same thing to the American culture "I know how to govern you, better than you do."  That is a cultural and a moral wrong.  It's a very pure form of the deadly sin of pride.

There's no room in a just and fair world for oppression, racism, ridicule or affirmative action.  Treating a group of people different for any reason is wrong.  No amount of legislation or government funds can reverse a personal habit of hatred.

I would be inclined to believe that people in favor of government programs are seldomly found volunteering their labor and talents implementing their beliefs.  How many homosexual activists draft and debate actual legislation--as opposed to those who just shout in the streets that they've been wronged?  How many pro-choice people volunteer in abortion clinics?  How many pro-life people volunteer funds and time towards early sex-education?  How many people are shouting at congress to make more jobs instead of engineering new ideas and avenues of work in their own community and lives?

I'm not conflicted in voting for Ron Paul.  I want the US government to accomplish nothing--I want it to shutdown frequently and force a reduction in bureaucratic nonsense.  I want some counter-voice to be brought into the American culture that says government isn't the answer to individual problems.

I really just want people to stop pushing agendas on me and into the public forum and start actually doing what they say they believe.  That's the cure to the political ills we face, not a political representative or platform.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....