The Price of Knowledge

February 27, 2008

By Janet Walgren
There is a certain responsibility and accountability that comes with knowledge. William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a British statesman and member of Parliament who toiled out his days fighting to abolish the slave trade said, “Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way… but you can never say again that you did not know.”

In the D&C, Section 123: 13-17, the Prophet Joseph Smith instructed the saints on their duty in relation to the persecution that had been heaped upon them:

Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven –

These should then be attended to with great earnestness.

 Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.

You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.

Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

The Mormons were suffering severe persecution at the time of this proclamation. The prophet Joseph Smith was imprisoned in the Liberty, Missouri jail. The jailers had given him human flesh from a slave for a meal (that he didn’t eat) and were boasting of raping the Mormon women. The Mormons had been driven from state to state and Governor Boggs, of the state of Missouri, issued an extermination order against the Mormons. (The political power of a voting block that was against slavery was considered a threat to swing states and others, especially those in the clergy of other churches, didn’t like Joseph Smith’s claim of having a vision where he saw God the father of our spirits and Jesus Christ, his son.)

Today physical slavery still exists in many parts of the world including the United States. Works of darkness and evil still prevail around the globe. Governments are bribed and corrupted. Voters are lied to. Consumers are defrauded. Financial slavery has reached pandemic proportions with no government that dares to check the power of the global financial elite. There is a war of evil against all that is good among men. A secret combination here and silence there enables the enemy of righteousness to conduct this clandestine war which results in carnage and havoc among all the nations of the earth.

So, what do you know? Knowledge is never free. 

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Integrity, Engineers & Structural Design

February 25, 2008

By Janet Walgren
One of the top instructors where I work graduated from one of the top universities for architectural engineering. Then, he got a job as an architect at one of the top five architectural firms in North America. The firm has designed some of the tallest skyscrapers in North America. The job didn’t last long because he refused to design substandard buildings that would fail after the warranty expired. His employer told him that they had purchased his time, talents and signature and that he would do what he was told to do and keep his mouth shut, and if he left the firm he would never get another job as an architect again. He had invested years and thousands of dollars to prepare for his lifelong dream, but he quit anyway. And, now he has become a multi-millionaire as a real estate investor.

I find his story refreshing when I consider his personal integrity; I find it alarming in that I know that skyscrapers have been deliberately designed to fail after the warranty expires. I wish I had a list of those buildings and their expiration dates. Lives are at risk.

Well this is an alarming story, but what about the other devices manufactured by man that are designed to fail when the warranty expires? Cars are well know for the trait so those who can afford it trade them in before the warranty runs out. Those who can’t afford it pay the repair bills after buying someone elses problem. Then there are the little things that break almost as soon as you buy them. As consumers, we should be outraged!

We would be outraged if someone watered down the milk or gas or other liquid commodities that we consume every day so why are we so placid and apathetic about addressing the issue of watered down structural designs? My water heater just broke. The two year warranty just expired. The replacement will cost over $500. The manufacturer said it was just one of those fluke things associated with that model. I disagree. When someone deliberately designs something that should last about ten years but will only last two years and a few months, they are robbers, criminals, thieves without integrity.


Organize Yourself

February 24, 2008

By Janet Walgren
In the cannon of scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints there is a book called The Doctrine and Covenants, commonly referred to as the D&C. It is a book explaining the history and government of the church. The book also gives guidelines on how to live in order to maximize your successes in various aspects of life. In one section, it gives a sequence to use in establishing a home and family:

LEARN:
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

PREPARE:
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God:  D&C 88: 118-119

 Lately I have watched the lives of several acquaintances, neighbors and friends unfold and I have come to recognize that a multitude of problems could have been prevented if the individuals had followed not only the counsel above, but also the sequence.

An unlearned, undisciplined or disorganized person be it a spouse, leader, friend or what ever is a very hard act to follow.


When the Clock Stops

February 22, 2008

By Janet Walgren
Have your ever considered that some time sooner or later you will die? It was on my mind this week, probably because of the “annual” or “you are now old enough to need this” tests and that screenings ordered by my doctor. Anyway, there is no sense procrastinating thinking about the inevitable, right???  So, what did my overactive, hyperactive mind conjure up for the occasion?

The Game of Life

Imagine a long thick rope stretched out for thousands of yards suspended about 3 feet off the ground. The Devil is holding one end of the rope and the Savior is holding the other end. The rope is so long that you can’t see the ends until you are almost to them. There is a mist veiling the ends of the ropes and people are stationed along the rope to entice you one direction or the other… The rope is for your own personal game of tug-of-war and your position and direction of travel on the rope when the clock runs out will determine your eternal reward. Unlike other games of tug-of-war where you are chosen for a team and take a position on the rope, in this game, you choose which side you are on and your position on the rope. In this game the rope doesn’t move; it is up to you to move on the rope. You are free at anytime to let go of the rope and reposition yourself. The only restraints are distance, time and agency or your strength and will to choose.

There is a dance between choice and obedience where your agency intertwines with the will of others as you position yourself on the rope.  It is an intricate dance; a costume ball. The music started long ago and you are well into the game. It is like a cake walk but everyone is dancing to their own music. You only get one chance; when your music stops, your game is over. Are you satisfied with your position on the rope? Are you traveling in the right direction? Can you afford detours in the wrong direction even if it is on the right side of the rope? Are you pressing forward towards the tree of life? Are you ready to die???

Well the good news is I passed all my medical tests this week with flying colors. Perhaps I should plan on living another 20 years or so… but perhaps I should keep pressing forward because I will never know when my music will stop.

(I am second oldest of ten children. One of my sisters had colon cancer so we were all told to go get tested. Five have done so. I was the only one out of the five without anything to be concerned about.) Life can be sobering at times. It is a serious business especially if you believe in a life hereafter.


Parking your bad habits

February 14, 2008

By Janet Walgren
I had a friend who loved donuts so much that she ate dozens every day. Then one day her doctor warned her that if she didn’t stop eating donuts she would soon die of a heart attack. My friend was devastated. Why hadn’t someone warned her sooner about the harmful effects that donuts have on the body? She vowed to make a change in her diet and promised her doctor that she would give up donuts completely. She was going on the wagon!

On the way home from her doctors my friend passed her favorite donut shop. Just the thought of chocolate donuts made her salivate. She reasoned that it wouldn’t hurt her to have a farewell donut this one last time, but just to make sure it was OK, she thought she would ask for a sign. “I will drive through the parking lot,” she thought to herself, “If there is a parking spot directly in front of the donut shop, it will be a sign that it is OK to have just one more donut.” Well sure enough, on her seventh trip around the parking lot there was a spot directly in front of the donut shop and before she knew it, she heard herself saying, “I’ll have a dozen of the chocolate donuts and…”

This may seem a little bit funny if donuts are not your problem, but we all have our favorite sins and transgressions.  How many trips around the parking lot does it take you to justify your harmful habits and inapropriate behaviors? Do you have habits that you need to overcome or areas in your life that could use improvement? This is my year to do better! How about you?


The Transition Child

February 10, 2008

By Janet Walgren
In a lecture at BYU, historian author, David McCullough stated:

One of the hardest, and I think the most important, realities of history to convey to students or readers of books or viewers of television documentaries is that nothing ever had to happen the way it happened. Any great past event could have gone off in any number of different directions for any number of different reasons….Very often we are taught history as if it were predetermined, and if that way of teaching begins early enough and is sustained through our education, we begin to think that it had to have happened as it did. We think that there had to have been a Revolutionary War, that there had to have been a Declaration of Independence, that there had to have been a Constitution, but never was that so. In history, chance [divine providence] plays a part again and again. Character counts over and over. Personality is often the determining factor in why things turn out the way they do.

 BYU Magazine, Winter 2006.

I fully agree and some what disagree with his thesis. History didn’t have to happen that way. I absolutely believe that. One of the greatest gifts that God gave to each of his children is agency. Agency allows for choice; we are free to choose our destiny and consequently the destiny of nations. History is a matter of choice. However, choice is bigger than this world, and history began before we arrived at this stop on our eternal journey. History is eternal in nature and God, being the omniscient being that he is, perfectly understood the nature of each of his children before he sent them on their journey to mortality. God understood how we would use our agency and so, before the world began; he prepared contingency plans to correct the course of individuals, families and nations.

It is a common belief that when God wants something to happen, a baby is born. I call these special babies “Transition Children.” There are many famous transition people that the world commonly accepts to have been foreordained to alter the course of history. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph are just a few that are mentioned in the Bible. Then there were the wonderful men and women of the reformation whose blood paved the way for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gandhi altered the history of India, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence altered the course of The United States of America. All were brave transition people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude and service.

Why is it that a concept that is so commonly accepted when applied to religion or to history is not very well accepted when applied to individuals or the family? Why is it that learned men of science, psychologists, and doctors of psychiatry tell us that labeling is bad and yet every word that proceeds out of their mouths label individuals, project behaviors, and predict outcomes that stifle the productive righteous use of agency in the people they purport to help?

Think about the messages that you have heard; “Children in broken homes”… go ahead; you can finish the sentence – “are much more likely to become drug addicts, alcoholics, immoral and predestine to divorce than children in a ‘normal’ family.” In other words, divorce produces defective goods. I am not so sure that I agree with that thesis. I believe that the behaviors that caused the divorce cause the damage. I believe that the negative behaviors that are attributed to divorce would still manifest if the marriage had remained in tact and the causal behaviors that contributed to the divorce remained unchecked.

Frequently women allow their children to be abused because of their own dependency needs. These women claim to be co-victims of the abuser. I say nay. You are not co-victims with your children; you are co-abusers with your husbands! Your family is broken and if you can’t check the abusive behavior in your marriage, then you need to fix your broken family by getting a divorce. 

Ultimately, healing from abuse in the Lord’s way involves leaving behind false and destructive family beliefs, traditions, loyalties, or even ties when they serve to disregard the sanctity of life… when one has the power mentally and physically to protect one’s self or other vulnerable people (children, elderly, handicapped), one has the right and the responsibility to do so, even if it means the disruption of family relationships.

Strengthening Our Families, pg 273. 

I once heard of a young woman who asked her counselor why some little girls come into families that love and treasure them while other little girls come into families where they are terribly abused. This inspired counselor told her that she had come into a family that had destroyed the human spirit and the virtue of man for generations. He told her that she had volunteered to come to that family as a transition child and that from her would spring a nation, a posterity of righteous individuals who would honor God and love and nurture their children. She had volunteered to endure abuse to change the course of history.

Why it is so hard for children of divorce to accept that “that nothing ever had to happen the way it happened?” Why is the good behavior of children in single parent families labeled an anomaly, deviant and overcompensating? Who are the teachers that teach us that history is predetermined?  “If that way of teaching begins early enough and is sustained through our education, we begin to think that it had to have happened as it did.” We know that, In history, chance [divine providence] plays a part again and again. Character counts over and over. Personality is often the determining factor in why things turn out the way they do. BYU Magazine, Winter 2006. Why not apply the transition child theory to individuals and families as well?


In honor of a prophet

February 4, 2008

By Janet Walgren
A week ago Sunday, prophet Gordon B. Hinckley died at the age of 97. He was the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for the last 13 years and served in the church leadership for over 40 years. He was full of love for all people and lived an exemplary life. He testified of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon and asked us to read and pray about it. In honor of Prophet Hinckley, I will be joining with over 22,240 other people in reading The Book of Mormon in 97 days. If you would like to join us go to http://www.hinckleychallenge.com/ and sign up. This will require reading about 6 pages per day. Below is a graph to chart my progress.