Friends, Enemies, and Tomorrow.

     If you’re like me, everywhere you turn these days you see people who are so emotionally invested in politics that they are willing to consider their fellow citizens as enemies for no more than a difference of opinion about politics or politicians.

     What has happened to us?

     Up until a few years ago, it seemed as if we could all accept the fact that we disagreed on some things, yet remained amiable. We might have some animated discussions about politics at times, but we remained friendly, as a rule, to our neighbors.

     This has changed for many people this year. Some among us have allowed themselves to become so emotionally charged with the political arguments that they have apparently lost sight of the fact that in the end we are all still friends and neighbors. Instead, they have succumbed to the base temptation to assign those who disagree with them to the status of enemies.

     Again, what is happening to us?

     Let’s admit one simple fact: No two of us will ever agree on everything, but there will always be something with which we can agree with one another. There is no way around that fact. At any rate, when the discussion ends, we will still have to live with each other to some degree. We will still be neighbors.

     Yet some of us have decided to engage in the “enemy” game. They have lost sight that these political differences are simply differences in opinion on what our community problems are and how to solve them. That is all it is.

     Is a difference of opinion enough to justify having our community split into hostile divisions because some of us are willing to spread animosity and vitriol rather than engage in an honest discussion about the potential problems and solutions? For a rational person, I would think not.

     As long as we have a government, we will always have differences in how each of us thinks that things should work. We can’t escape that fact.

     The real solution is to enter into the discussion with all interested parties with an honest and open mind, having respect for the facts as they present themselves. In doing this, we must all bear in mind our obligation to love our neighbors and treat them with the same courtesy which we would expect in return.

     Still, we will all encounter those who would seem to value division and strife over neighborly good will, and who will level accusations without evidence, and insults without merit. I would ask the reader to, please, do not respond in kind, but instead simply remind these people that this is simply a disagreement over how best to manage our community. We will still be neighbors after the disagreement, and shame on us all if we allow such a debate to make enemies out of friends.

     If we want progress, we must discard the enmity and bickering, and embrace friendship with honest and truthful debates.

     Will tomorrow see us as a community of friends, or as several groups of enemies?

     It is our choice.

     Pray we choose wisely.

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Of Men and Kings.

We are involved in what is probably going to be called the election cycle which either ended our republic or restored it.

Every day, nearly at every hour, we can find the so-called experts attempting to explain what is happening in this presidential election process and trying to predict the outcome.

One thing that most of the “experts” seemingly fail to acknowledge is that history has an uncanny way of repeating itself. Some do compare what is going on in the US today to history from the last century, and a few go back to the Roman Empire. I think that today we need to go back just a little further.

I will be quoting 1st Samuel Chapter 8 in my comparison to today, as the incident described therein is an apt analogy to what is taking place in our lives today.

To set the background, Chapter 8 takes place at the end of the period of Israeli history in which they had no formal government as we would understand it today, but instead had judges to settle their disputes and to supply leadership when necessary.

Unfortunately, during this period they were repeatedly oppressed and antagonized by other people, most notably the Midianites and the Philistines. In short, the Israelites weren’t great, and they seldom won at anything. They were losers.

They were losers because they chose to leave their principles behind and follow their desires. They were not losers because of bad leadership, they were losers by way their own personal choices.

Now begins our story from Chapter 8:

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they serve at Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

How like today’s political world that sounds! Aren’t these some of our chief complaints about our current politicians? Perversion of justice rather than equal justice for all, and the enrichment of themselves at the expense of the people?

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

In today’s words, “We want to be great again, but it’s not our fault that we are losers, it’s the fault of our leaders. Give us a powerful leader, a king, and he will cause us to be great again. We want a country, and we want to win!”

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected as their king, but me. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

From the very beginning of our republic, we were warned by wise men everywhere, not the least being the founders themselves, that we would have a republic as long as we could keep it. We, collectively, chose not to do that. We chose to go about our daily lives, chasing our desires rather than our principles, while trusting politicians to keep our republic for us. We couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to what they were really doing.

Now that we have seen the indications of the level of damage that has been done, seen the level of debt we are in, seen the loss of freedom which we mistakenly took for granted, and heard ourselves branded losers, we have entered into a state of denial and chosen our scapegoat. The establishment. The man. The status quo.

We want a king! A king who will give us a country. A king who will make us great. A king who will make everyone see that we are winners.

Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifty, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves, and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for your own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

“Did you say something, Samuel? We didn’t hear you. A king will make us great.”

The words of Samuel sum things up rather well. The king will have an army to keep his power. The king will decide which course our lives will follow, based upon his needs, not ours, and not our desires. Self determination will be a thing of the past, as will our ability to follow our own dreams. We will keep the amount of our wealth, or our possessions, which the king does not want for himself and his favorites, leaving us the least desirable portion.

Our freedom will be gone.

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

“We still don’t hear you, Samuel. Did you say something? Look at how green the grass is in Sweden. Look at how powerful Russia is. Did you see all of the money those Saudis are flashing around? We want a king to give us comfortable surroundings We want a king to fight our battles for us. We want a king to make us rich.

We want a king!

When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.”

Most of us know what happened after this. The Israelites got their king, and although they had some good times, for the most part their kings were detrimental to their wealth, their security, and their freedom, eventually leading to their downfall, their exile, and eventually the holocaust.

Up until this point I bet you thought that I was alluding to a particular candidate and what may lay in our future. Maybe just a little.

I am not referring to a possible future. This has already happened to us. We asked for a king, and we received what we wanted, except in the form of a myriad of little kings instead of one big one.

We used to have unlimited freedom of life, liberty, and property. Now, our little kings control our healthcare, our travel, much of our wealth. We own property only if we pay the kings their taxes. We think that this is the way it is supposed to be. We have forgotten what it was like prior to the arrival of the little kings.

What will we do next? Are we brave enough to expel the little kings and return government to its place as a servant, exerting the daily effort ourselves to ensure our freedom and our lost greatness by maintaining control of our own destinies as the founders hoped we would?

Or will we ask for yet more powerful kings, hoping they will do this for us, and go back to our blissfully ignorant life of chasing our momentary desires?

The little kings of socialism, the little kings of the status quo, the big king of fascism, none of these will look out for us, they will all look out for themselves.

If we are brave enough, and find the determination, ambition, and resolve, we can restore the Constitution and the rule of law, becoming free again in the process. If not, we will soon cease to be subjects of the government and become slaves to it.

Gov’t panel urges ‘plant-based’ diet, taxes on sweets

Newsdesk International

Careful folks, big brother is watching. The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.

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Why I Want the Right to be Unhappy.

The Commentaries

     Allow me to open this with an excerpt from “A Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley.

     “…..Isn’t there something in living dangerously?’

     “There’s a great deal in it,” the Controller replied. Men and women must have their adrenals stimulated from time to time.”

     “What?” questioned the Savage, uncomprehending.

     “It’s one of the conditions of perfect health. That’s why we’ve made the V.P.S. treatments compulsory.”

     “V.P.S.?”

     “Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the whole system with adrenin. It’s the complete physiological equivalent of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconveniences.”

     “But I like the inconveniences.”

     “We don’t,” said the Controller. “We prefer to do things comfortably.”

     “But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I…

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A Difficult Choice.

     I have said little about it recently, but the Grand Rapids sales tax referendum is a hot topic locally. As I am outside of the city limits, I will not be voting on it myself, but would like to share a few thoughts for those who will.

     I am neither in favor of the sales tax, nor opposed to it. There are good arguments on both sides. For those in favor of it, there is the promise that an implementation of the sales tax will nominally decrease property taxes, and significantly decrease special assessments. I do agree that property taxes and special assessments should be reduced. The argument against the sales tax is a combination of the fact that Grand Rapids has too high of a tax rate already, combined with the potential of the sales tax hurting some businesses in Grand Rapids. These are also fair arguments. That’s why it is a difficult choice. Both sides are correct in their reasoning, so the choice is not between right and wrong, but between preferences.

     The concern I do have is something else. We, no matter where we live, already have more different taxes than we can keep track of. Most of us do not even realize how many taxes we already pay, and just discovering what they are would take more time than most of us, myself included, have available. Because of this, my inclination would be to oppose the sales tax, not because of its merits, or lack thereof, but because it is yet another tax being added to the far too numerous taxes most of us already pay.

     I would actually be likely to support it if the sales tax would be used to completely replace another tax, rather than simply being added to the myriad taxes we already have to contend with. Fewer taxes mean more transparency, more taxes mean less. Not necessarily by design, but by the difficulty encountered when trying to keep track of them all.

     Just my opinion, and something for you to think about in the days leading up to the vote.

          Mike Vroman.