Monday, September 21, 2009

Follow the prophet

Press reports have for some months indicated that a determined effort is in the making to establish in this country a compulsory universal military training designed to draw into military training and service the entire youth of the nation. [Although we dislike opposing any policy sponsored by the presidential administration], we are so persuaded of the rightfulness of our position, and we regard the policy so threatening to the true purposes for which this Government was set up...that we are constrained respectfully to invite your attention to the following considerations:

1. By taking our sons at the most impressionable age of their adolescence and putting them into army camps under rigorous military discipline, we shall seriously endanger their initiative....
4. We shall give opportunity to teach our sons not only the way to kill but also, in too many cases, the desire to kill....God said at Sinai, 'Thou shalt not kill.'
5. We them under a drastic discipline in an environment that is hostile to most of the finer and nobler things of home and of life.
6. We shall make our sons the victims of systematized allurements be selfish, idle, irresponsible save under restrain of force, to be common, coarse, and vulgar....
8. We shall put them where they may be indoctrinated with a wholly un-American view of the aims and purposes of their individual lives, and of the life of the whole people and nation, which are founded on the ways of peace, whereas they will be taught to believe in the ways of war.
10. We shall make possible their building into a military caste which from all human experience bodes ill for that equality and unity which must always characterize the citizenry of a republic.
13. By creating an immense standing army, we shall create to our liberties and free institutions a threat foreseen and condemned by the founders of the Republic...Great standing armies have always been the tools of ambitious dictators to the destruction of freedom.
14. By the creation of a great war machine, we shall invite and tempt the waging of war against foreign countries, upon little or no provocation; for the possession of great military power always breeds thirst for domination, for empire, and for a rule by might, not right.
15. By building a huge armed establishment, we shall belie our protestations of peace...and force other nations to a like course of militarism, so placing upon the peoples of the earth crushing burdens of taxation that...will hardly be bearable....
16. We shall make of the whole earth one great military camp whose separate armies, headed by war-minded officers, will never rest till they are at one another's throats in what will be the most terrible contest the world has ever seen.

[O]bedient to the divine message that heralded the birth of Jesus the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world,'...on earth peace, good will toward men,' and knowing that our Constitution and the government set up under it were inspired of God and should be preserved to the blessing not only of our own citizenry but, as an example, to the blessing of all the world, we...urge that you do your utmost to defeat any plan design to bring about the compulsory military service of our citizenry. Should it be urged that our complete armament is necessary for our safety, it may be confidently replied that a proper foreign policy, implemented by an effective diplomacy, can avert the dangers that are feared. What this country needs and what the world needs, is a will for peace, not war. God will help our efforts to bring this about.

[signed] Geo. Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, First Presidency.
Dated:December 14, 1945, and subsequently reissued on June 28, 1946.

Fast forward to present:

It’s hard to overstate how aberrational — one might say “rogue” – the U.S. is when it comes to war. No other country sits around debating, as a routine and permanent feature of its political discussions, whether this country or that one should bombed next, or for how many more years conquered targets should be occupied. And none use war as a casual and continuous tool for advancing foreign policy interests, at least nowhere close to the way we do … . For the U.S., war is the opposite of a “last resort”: it’s the more or less permanent state of affairs, and few people who matter want it to be any different
--Glenn Greenwald at Salon

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Souviens-toi, mon enfant--extraordinary hymn from the French LDS hymnal

Remember, my child: Your divine parents
held you in their arms, not long ago.
Today, you are here, a marvelous present.
Your gaze still shines, reflecting the heavens.
Speak to me, my child, of the blessed places,
for the veil of forgetfulness is thin for you.

Remember, my child, the woods, the cities.
Can we here below (on earth) imagine them?
And the evening sky, is it rose or gray?
Does the sun await snow or rain?
Tell me, my child, the color of the meadows
and the song of the birds of a forgotten world.

Remember, my child: At the dawn of time,
we were friends playing in the wind.
Then one day, in joy we chose
to accept from the Lord the great plan of life.
That evening, my child, we promised
by love, by faith, to meet again.

(sung to familiar melody from Dvorak's New World Symphony)

Do you want to live by faith? Do you want to know Christ aright? Do you want to awake and arise and live, but do not know how?

I will tell you:

Get up, and do something the master tells you. The moment you do, you instantly make yourself his disciple.

Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one single thing because he said, "Do it," or once abstained because he said, "Do not do it."

It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe in him, if you do not do anything he tells you. If you can think of nothing he ever said as having consciously influenced your doing or not doing, you have no ground to consider yourself his disciple.

Yet you can at once begin to be a disciple of the Living One--by obeying him in the first thing you can think of in which you are not obeying him.

Thus again comes the question: what have you done this day because it was the will of Christ? What have I done? If we chance to do his will because it falls in with our own designs, that may be a good thing. But it is not obedience. Obedience comes when, as a conscious act, we lay aside the appetite, the desire, the inclination of our flesh, our self, the tendency in which our human soul would go if left to itself, and instead do what he tells us, subduing our own will, mastering it, subjugating it, and bring it into submissin to his.

Have you or I today dismissed, even once, an anxious thought for tomorrow, because Jesus told us to?

Have you ministered to any needy soul or body, and kept your right hand from knowing what your left hand did, telling no one of your action?

Have you, this day, begun to leave all and follow him?

Did you set yourself not to criticize, talk against, or judge others?

Did you bring fair and righteous judment to your decisions?

Did you forgive your enemy and do him good or show him kindness?

Are you seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness before all other things? Are you hungering and thirsting after righteousness?

Have you this day given, of money, of time, of possessions, of skill, or of compassion, to someone who asked of you?

Have you shown consideration, done good, returned kindness for a wrong done you, extended patience, been a servant, rejoiced in adversity, taken the role of humility before others, prayed for someone you don't like, trusted God to supply a pressing need? Have you done any of these things, suppressing your natural tendency to the contrary, and done them with rejoicing because Jesus said to do them?

Tell me something that you have done, are doing, or are trying to do because he told you. If you cannot, it is no wonder you have difficulty trusting him.
--George MacDonald

Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others." ~ Edward Abbey