The American people has spoken and chosen a new president. The race was close, but a majority of the people has made their choice.
Was that a good choice? I have my personal belief, and I was hoping that Mitt Romney would win, but since this is a democracy, people have the right to decide.
However, this decision is so influenced by the media and other factors, like money, that I am not sure most people really understand what they are choosing. Voters are buying a product, and the best advertising campaign is the one that is going to win, not necessarily the best product.
Unfortunately, some choices have long lasting consequences, and many of them cannot be reversed easily.
More than with the choice of the new (old) president, I am probably more concerned with the choices made in several state ballots, choices that seems progressive and open-minded to many.
A democracy is the best form of government that men have been able to come up with, but there are problems with it. For example, a democracy is not the most efficient political system.
However, a democracy has a great quality, and this is the tendency to preserve the rights and freedom of the people.
The Book of Mormon in two verses gives a great overview of why a democracy is a good form of government, but also admonishes us about what may happen in a democracy when the majority of the people does not choose the right.
Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law--to do your business by the voice of the people.
And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land (Mosiah 29:26)
A democracy preserves freedom and justice better than any other political systems because in most cases the majority of the people chooses what is right. However, if the time comes that the voice of the people does choose iniquity, then this is the time that the judgments of God will come upon the nation.
To choose Obama instead than Romney is a sign of a people who prefers iniquity to righteousness? Not necessarily. Many prefer his political platform for a variety of reasons, and some may be good reasons.
However, certain results in state ballots, and the general trend of society is troubling. there are signs of moral decline all over the places.
Hopefully we are not yet arrived at the point when the “judgements of God will come”, even because there are still so many good people in the country, but the trend needs to be reversed. Hopefully Barack Obama will help reverse this trend, instead than moving the nation even faster in that direction. We will see in the next four years.
In the mean time, I am grateful to know that the true prophets of God are not elected, and especially that the principles and commandments of the Gospel are not modified by state ballots! We really cannot build anything long lasting and eternal on the shaky ground of people’s preferences and choices.
Since I arrived in the US a few years ago, I noticed that in spite of a part of the population working hard to stay fit, the average American was several pounds too heavy. It was easy to notice also that the quality of the food and eating habits were clearly related to the problem.
This is the “super size me” country, were people drink too much soda, eat huge amounts of popcorn when they go to the movies (and teach their kids to do the same), and so on. Unfortunately from this country the same bad eating habits are spreading around the world, so that currently fast food and junk food are becoming almost a plague, starting with children.
In these days of heavy political campaigning I could’t avoid noticing an article about Paul Ryan and the P90X fitness program. In particular I noticed this comment from Washington Post political reporter Dana Milbank:
It can only do us good as a nation to have as a role model such a fine physical specimen in high office. Hopefully, Ryan will inspire more Americans to get healthy. That’s important, because if Ryan succeeds in ending Medicare, they won’t be able to afford getting sick.
Milbank found a smart way to express her criticism of Paul Ryan’s proposal. I will not enter into the details of the program, I will just say that I do not think he is proposing to end it completely.
However, what I thought when reading that comment, is that probably one of the best ways to really solve the problems related to overspending in Medicare is to have a population that eats better and exercises more. For sure there are people whose problems have nothing to do with that, but in many cases, better prevention could really help solve the problem, perhaps more than never ending debates and political fights.
This morning I read an article about some of Romney’s supporters in Utah who adopted a well-known Mormon slogan “Choose the Right” to campaign for Romney.
While Mitt Romney has repeatedly made clear that his Mormon faith has no connection to his presidential candidacy, this group of supporters in Utah probably haven’t got the message.
Since in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this slogan is almost everywhere, and considering that the Church has a long and clear history of not supporting political candidates, I believe that this group of supporters are not doing a favor to Mitt Romney or the Church.
To choose the right, according to the Mormon Church’s slogan, is a reminder to obey the commandments, and you can still be a good Mormon and not necessarily vote for Romney.
According to BuzzFeed, one of the group’s leaders said
“We sought a slogan that would simply but directly capture our message and be the focus of our cause….While we considered other possibilities, ‘Choose the Right,’ a phrase familiar to our faith and upbringing, made sense; simple but direct.”
I believe that this group of Romney’s supporters are free to use this slogan, if they think that is the best they can come up with. However, while Romney is trying to become the President of all Americans, and seems to be overcoming faith-based attacks by his opponents, this kind of support probably goes in the wrong direction, even if it is limited to places like Utah or Idaho.
Finally, it seems parochial and a little bit patronizing to me to use that slogan in this context.
At the end of the day, however, most slogans and many political discussions are also superficial and narrow minded, so probably we can live with one more. It’s part of the game.
The important thing is… choose the right (whatever it may be)!
According to a recent new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that
about half of all voters, and 60% of evangelical Republicans, know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. That knowledge may have implications for the former Massachusetts governor’s nomination run because white evangelical Protestants — a key element of the GOP electoral base — are more inclined than the public as a whole to view Mormonism as a non-Christian faith. But evangelicals appear ready to back Romney overwhelmingly in a race against President Obama.
Perhaps what happened four years ago has taught evangelical protestant to lay aside their bias against Mormonism and focus on what is really important for them, if they want to have a chance to win against Obama.
Many Americans continue to see the Mormon faith as unfamiliar and different. Half say they know little or nothing about Mormonism, half say it is a Christian religion while a third say it is not, and roughly two-thirds believe Mormonism is "very different" from their own beliefs. There has been virtually no change in these impressions over the past four years.
Link to the full article Romney's Mormon Faith Likely a Factor in Primaries, Not in a General Election
Filed under: Mormon Church, Mormonism, News & Politics
It is becoming always more interesting the debate about Mormons and politics. In the next presidential elections there will be two Mormons trying to become the President of the United States, John Huntsman and Mitt Romney.
But as someone said,
one of these two guys could be our next president….the other one is John Huntsman (Colbert report).
Many Americans still do not know what Mormons believe and therefore are a little bit suspicious, but this presidential campaign is helping people to know Mormonism better, or at least it helps to put Mormon beliefs in perspective, even when this is done with a good amount of irony.
For example, again in the Colbert Report, the “weird” beliefs of Mormonism were compared to the similarly “weird” beliefs of Christianity and Judaism.
Mormons believe that Joseph Smith received golden plates from an Angel on a hill, when everybody knows that Moses got stones tablets stones from a burning bush on a mountain
Many may have never noticed how strange is Moses’ story while at the same time they attack Joseph Smith.
In another case, in an article titled ” The ultimate organization Men”, the author James Carrol does an interesting job of explaining the “organizational” propensity of the Mormon Church (and many of its members) as a consequence of Mormon theology. He writes,
For the Mormon God is not like other gods. God did not create the world out of nothing, as in other monotheistic traditions; according to the revelation given to Joseph Smith, God "organized it out of chaos.'' Drawing order out of preexisting "elements. . . [that] may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed,'' God was working with what was already there.
But what most impressed me in this article is when the author humbly recognizes the need of correcting himself from something he had written previously.
The distinction between God as creator and God as organizer matters because the perennial religious call to imitate God made organizing a defining act of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Note to readers: In my last column, I omitted "Jesus Christ'' from the formal name of the Mormon religion – a not insignificant mistake.)
Not everybody who writes about Mormon obviously is so ready to correct their own mistakes, but this campaign will help to make Mormon beliefs better known among the public, someway forcing the media to be more careful when they talk about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the wrong information that was so commonly disseminated in the past will have to be more carefully reviewed before publication.
Even this article (with a video) on CNN.com is probably a consequence of the political campaign and is fair enough.
Filed under: Humanitarian services, Mormon Church, News & Politics, Videos
Yesterday I read as the governor of Tokyo apologized on Tuesday for saying the earthquake and resulting tsunami that left thousands dead were divine punishment for Japanese egoism.
“I will take back (the remark) and offer a deep apology,” Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said at a Tuesday news conference, according to Japan's Kyodo News.
On Monday, Ishihara had told reporters, “I think (the disaster) is tembatsu (divine punishment), although I feel sorry for disaster victims.”
After reading that on CNN.com I thought of a passage in the Bible:
There were present at that season some who told Him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, nay; but unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all other men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay; but unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
It is true that we are told that in the latter days many calamities and destructions will visit this planet and its inhabitants, but as the previous scripture reminds us, the people who lost their lives or their possessions were not “sinners above all the others”. Our duty is to help, not to judge.
It is impossible to know, and useless to speculate, whether a specific calamity is a natural consequence of the way our imperfect physical world operates, or whether is the consequence of our sins.
Everything is imperfect in this world, and those calamities may serve as a reminder to all of us that this world will not last forever, and that we should not spend all of our time and efforts on what has no eternal value, but that we should focus on what really matters.
Filed under: Internet & Media, News & Politics, Videos
Last week I heard about the recent developments in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the army is helping the police to gain control of the favelas (slums). This video is an interesting analysis of what is happening.
An article on BBC explains that
“Everyone here is focused on the World Cup and the Olympics.” As Rio gets ready to host the matches in the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics two years later, the city’s hillside shanty towns are the target of a government clean-up that in turn is being used as a springboard to develop tourism in the favelas with special tours.
To have the privilege of hosting the finals of the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics is a responsibility that pushes governments around the world to make some real improvements (and some only for appearance’s sake) that will make them ready and especially “look good” to the rest of the world. In spite of their dominating ideology or current economic circumstances, they know that they need to live up to certain minimum standards to be considered good hosts. At each new event, the hosting nation tries to impress the world.
Even Hitler tried it. According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia
For two weeks in August 1936, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship camouflaged its racist, militaristic character while hosting the Summer Olympics. Softpedaling its antisemitic agenda and plans for territorial expansion, the regime exploited the Games to bedazzle many foreign spectators and journalists with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany.
Therefore, what we see in display during the games is not the reality of the country, but I believe that in most cases (Germany’s case was very extreme) there is a benefit in giving a chance to new and in some way problematic countries (and all are in some way) to open up and better align themselves with the “best practices” around the globe, and become more fully integrated with the rest of the world.
In the case of Brazil, for example, their soccer team is already good enough, but they need to make an effort of improving many other things, first of all, safety around the stadiums.
To choose Russia and Qatar to host the World Cup will also push those countries to do something real beyond lots of propaganda (and Russia is very good at it). Russia will try to show that is really becoming a modern and democratic country, and Qatar will be engaged in proving that Middle East countries are not all about extremism and intollerance.
This is obvious a very superficial and quick analysis, and a lot more could be said, but I cannot avoid feeling like these international sport events may provide many benefits in at least some of the countries they touch.
In Brazil, even after the World Cup and the Olympics will be over, many of the economic and safety changes will probably stay with the population. In other countries, such as China, or Russia, perhaps new opportunities will be created. Ideas and values may be shared, and personal friendships between people who normally would never be in touch may be formed. Those ideas and relationships over time may grow and produce real changes, in spite of the original intentions of those who are in control of a country.
Filed under: Internet & Media, News & Politics
After the last General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) there has been some unrest among proponents of same-sex marriage in Utah. Some of the comments made in the talk of President Boyd K. Packer have not been received positively by some in the gay and lesbian community.
To disagree seems to me a normal aspect of social life. During elections this become absolutely obvious, but even when elections are not involved (if this is possible, since we are always between some kind of election) different groups have opinions or beliefs that do not always agree with each other, potentially leading to some sort of conflict.
In some cases the disagreement relates to issues that are so personal that it is hard for some to refrain from reacting in some way. They do not want to accept other people’s point of view, but they want to silence them. This is clearly the case of those who feel attacked by the Mormon Church when its leaders openly teach that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and not between two people of the same gender.
This topic tends to become so laden with strong emotions that it becomes extremely hard to express a point of view that defends traditional marriage without being accused of discrimination and malicious intents. This is what happened to President Boyd K Packer. In his talk President Boyd K. Packer was teaching young (and older) people about the dangers of present times, and what is most important for their happiness in this life and beyond. He said,
This general conference was convened at a time when there is such confusion and such danger that our young people hardly know which way they can walk. Having been warned through the revelations that it would be this way, the prophets and apostles have always been shown what to do…
To be entrusted with the power to create life carries with it the greatest of joys and dangerous temptations. The gift of mortal life and the capacity to kindle other lives is a supernal blessing. Through the righteous exercise of this power, as in nothing else, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fulness of joy. This power is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness. It is the key--the very key (added emphasis).
As prophets and apostles of God, men like President Packer need to stand for what is right, they need to defend true principles, even if they are not “politically correct” , and the same is true for the members of the Church. At the same time, however, as so well explained by Michael Otterson (Church Responds to HRC Petition)
While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men. We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different - whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society.
Therefore, it is extremely unfair to compare the leaders of the Mormons Church (or its members) with those who commit those criminal acts against gays or lesbians. To commit such acts is not part of what the Mormon Church teaches. Michael Otterson explains,
As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.
My hope is therefore that
within this community, and in others, kindness, persuasion and goodwill can prevail (Michael Otterson).
Filed under: Mormon Church, Mormon Videos, News & Politics
Follow the link below to watch this interesting video produced by CNBC about the influence of a Mormon Mission on future business leaders.
For Mormons, religion has a huge influence on how they conduct business. A belief in the Mormon faith impacts relationships with employees, business partners, and competitors. It influences the manner in which they handle leadership, power, and their personal wealth.
On a smaller scale, the organization of a ward (local unit of the Mormon Church) can be compared to a business. The two main differences between a business and a local unit of the Church are the purpose of the organization (to make money versus improving the spiritual life of members) and the fact that in the Church people are all volunteers.
If we keep this clear in our mind, however, we can try to compare the organization of a local unit of the Mormon Church to a small business.
For example, we could compare the bishop to a CEO (but a very good one, one who care for the people and not only of the "bottom line"). In fact, a Mormon bishop cares for the people in his congregation, listens to their concerns, gains a personal relationship, allocates positions, and oversees the operation of the ward.
The ward members also hold various positions of leadership within the congregation, and do their various tasks under the supervision of the bishop. In most cases, wards operate smoothly and successfully. Although ward members have different backgrounds and hold differing opinions, they are able to join together for a common purpose, to worship Christ and serve man. Because a spirit of service and respect is alive in a ward, people feel appreciated and motivated to work harder in their calling.
Mormon wards have performed acts of service throughout their church, communities, and the world because they are passionate about what they are doing and a spirit of good will is manifested. It is no wonder why people who grow up active in the church are finding success in running businesses. Throughout a Mormon's lifetime, he or she will be called to serve in a variety of callings. They will work with children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. They gain experience working with people of all ages, background, and different challenges. Many CEOs simply adopt the set-up of a Mormon ward and use it for a model to run their business.
Filed under: Mormon Prophets and Apostles, News & Politics
According to Elder Dallin H. Oaks, colleges and universities have largely abandoned teaching religion and are actively pushing religious belief to the margins of society.
During his speech at Harvard Law School Elder Oaks remembered that most colleges’ and universities’ founding purpose was that of producing clergymen and to educate in the truths taught in their chapels. However, currently
“With but few exceptions, colleges and universities have become value-free places where attitudes toward religion are neutral at best. Some faculty and administrators are powerful contributors to the forces that are driving religion to the margins of American society. Students and other religious people who believe in the living reality of God and moral absolutes are being marginalized.”
See the full article at Deseret News.