Americans must accept some irrefutable facts, like it or not. First, moral decline inevitably precedes societal decline. Next, societal decline inevitably precedes a decline in the government’s ability to make and act wisely upon tough decisions, which inevitably precedes a decline in national power, meaning a nation’s power of self-preservation. Finally, having lost the power of self-preservation, a nation is at the mercy of every other nation with the weaponry, the cunning, and the will to destroy it.

Few in this world would deny America’s power to defend itself. Few would deny its capacity to annihilate an attacker. But our nation’s foundation is being undermined by the rats of this world, both internal and external. And no foundation is impervious to the quiet, under the radar, so to speak, gnawing away of its structural strength. That is where America is today.

Let’s look at rat number one: An astonishing percentage of our young, strong men and women, our country’s foundation in reality, are drug-addicted. They are useless, self-destructive, and destructive of others. The production and/or importation of those drugs is always done by criminals. As that criminal class grows in numbers, it also grows in both the power and the will to destroy all who oppose it.

Rat number two: 44,000 non-Mexican illegal aliens were arrested last year. And many – including those from Arab countries – have been released into our population, because our immigration control people have so many with which to deal, they take the path of least resistance and simply turn them loose.

According to Congressman Norwood of Georgia, an estimated 85,000 illegal aliens, whose names and fingerprints we have, are violent criminals. That doesn’t include those already in prisons. Some illegal aliens have been discovered working for oil refineries, nuclear power plants, on Navy surveillance aircraft, in many positions for commercial airlines, and even as security

Rat number three: Even in a small town in the Rockies we have big city crime. A woman is mugged as she leaves work. A credit union is robbed at gunpoint. Drugs are "cooked" in every rural area, both here and in the Midwest, often in residences occupied by small children.

Rat number four: Our homes have fallen – and are falling – apart. Children shuffled from parent to parent by foolish judges grow up unattached and filled with rage, and as they grow, they develop the power and desire to destroy. Many are put in foster homes, and some are sexually molested by predators, who know where to find unprotected children.

Rat number five: Pornography. It destroys homes and especially the women and children who live in, and are dependent upon, those homes. It creates a sexual appetite that cannot be filled within a marriage. It is the poster child for the law of diminishing returns. Whatever level of sexual activity and perversion satisfies its consumers today, will not satisfy them tomorrow. That level must be progressively elevated to appease the sexual need created by pornography. Many of its users advance to "snuff" pornography, in which the victim must be killed for maximum sexual gratification.

Rat number six: The deliberate perversion of the first and second amendments to our constitution by our judges. They have been twisted so profoundly, they are successfully used to deprive citizens of the very freedoms they were designed to protect, especially those of religion and speech and the right to bear arms.

Rat number seven: Our universities employ thousands of rabid anti-American professors. And, predictably, their students become the same.

Can rats be killed? Yes, but only if their victims have the will to do so, and the strength of Americans’ will is still in question.

Until next time,

Return to the Neighborhood.

I'd like to take you back to a moment in time where character defined itself rather clearly in my life:

The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments ... by all those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of temptation ... the decisions that, piece by piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness; habits of self-sacrifice or self-indulgence; habits of duty and honor and integrity — or dishonor and shame." (Ronald Reagan)

A couple weeks ago, I was on my way to an appointment and to take perishables from our place to a friend, when a huge nail flattened my rear tire. I stopped; a young man, Walt, stopped behind me and asked if he could help, confessing that he had never changed a tire. My husband had changed the only flat we had experienced in my car, and I didn’t know how to get at the equipment. We looked at each other and grinned, knowing this was going to be a learning experience.

He had found the jack and the "doughnut," when I mentioned I had a physical therapy appointment and was almost late. He immediately offered to take me into town and come back to change the tire. He said he would come get me in an hour. I was embarrassed, but gratefully accepted his offer.

He had a college friend who would put my perishables into her refrigerator and let us pick them up after my appointment. Accordingly, he dropped me off and left. An hour later, he and his friend gave me the bad news that the wheel wouldn’t come off. She had changed tires and had tried to help, but without success. It was time to call my husband.

Walt hung up the phone and said, "He told me to kick it really hard. He even told me how to kick it. (‘Don’t kick it with your toe. Turn around and kick it with your heel.’)" We laughed as we envisioned applying this high-tech advice. Arriving at the scene, he walked over, turned backward and gave the tire a tremendous kick with his heel. It immediately fell off. When we stopped laughing, he and his young friend set about finishing the job. She really had done it before, and her experience came in handy.

Putting the doughnut on my car, Walt instructed me to drive slowly; he would stay behind me with his hazard lights on. They waited outside my friends’ house while I completed my errand, then continued to follow me. As I pulled into the driveway of the tire shop, I honked and waved at them; they waved back and went on their way.

This young man and woman were top of the line. They don’t get any better. They drove all over town, willingly running me here and there, though I was a complete stranger. They changed my tire, then stayed behind me to insure that I would reach the shop in safety. If they had been my own grandkids, they couldn’t have been more thoughtful and kind, yet great fun (their good humor neither flagged nor failed).

By now they are in Fort Collins for practice, he for football and she for volleyball. I hope they have fun while they learn.

To the two sets of parents of these young people: You can be proud of them. America is safe in their hands. They have made those little choices that have led, bit by bit, to habits of discipline, self-sacrifice, duty and honor.

Congratulations. You have done well.

Return to the Neighborhood.

This is for all who remember when courts didn't turn violent criminals out on the streets to kill our little girls. It's also for those who insist that American life always has been this brutal. They're wrong. Though I can't speak for other parts of the country, that's not how it was out here. We have shed our tears, and we desperately need a break, so let's look backward for relief:

Several years ago, my husband came from the barn, announced that he had wet socks and guessed it was time to get his 5-buckle boots out of storage. He put them on the hearth to warm - last year's dried manure firmly attached - spreading that familiar barny odor throughout the house.

As we laughed over the vicissitudes of life with livestock - including the recycled hay on his boots - I remembered a story from past years.

Years ago, a family of kids, all girls, did the milking (by hand) each morning before school. They were often late, which earned them a tongue-lashing from the coach, their first-hour teacher. He railed on them mercilessly. They patiently explained that they had to milk the cows, then make their way to the school, which was some distance. It didn't help. By now, the pattern seemed set in stone.

One day, as the coach repeated his seemingly ritualistic chastisement, he added that, as a youth, he had milked cows before school, yet had made it on time. Then he made the mistake of adding a challenge. He would come to their house and help them do their milking the following day, thereby proving that there was no excuse for their chronic tardiness.

Now, is there any farm kid out there who does not know what this guy had done to himself? He should have been smarter than this!

Some animals are hard to milk, some are easy. Some are obnoxious, some are docile. Additionally, there seems to be a natural law that the worst cows give the most milk. I didn't make the law, but I can testify to its veracity.

Milking started early because they had many cows, and the route truck, which picked up the milk cans, came very early. When the truck got there, the milk had to be ready. No excuses.

The girls knew which cows were a royal pain, and they were "lying in wait," as it were, for their coach (Revenge can be sweet!). They split the cows evenly, giving the coach his fair share. He didn't know they had given him the worst, hardest to milk cows. He had no easy ones, the kids had taken 'em all!

The girls went at their task with considerable gusto, milking those easy cows in record time. The coach did the same. At least he tried to do the same. The kids finished, cleaned up and left for school. They were on time. The coach was not. He was still in their barn, milking the worst cows in the county.

After some time - considerably after the tardy bell had rung - the coach showed up. He said nothing. He made no explanations, but never again did he rail on those kids for being tardy.

It is likely he never discovered how they had sabotaged him. If he did, he kept it to himself. It would have been too humiliating to admit that they had gotten him good! To this day, those dignified ladies who were "the kids" tell the story of how they set up their coach. We always laugh, because it never stops being funny, no matter how many times we have heard it.

Ah, yes! Revenge can be sweet.

Until next time,

Return to the Neighborhood.

One day, as I flipped the TV on, I saw a psychologist addressing a large studio audience and a TV audience of unknown proportions. She was telling them that their children wanted them to be happy, and that if they were not happy with their spouses they should get a divorce... that their children would want them to get a divorce.

As the fun story goes, I am sure this woman told lies about other things too, but none of them, repeat, none of them, could have done as much damage as that one massive lie.

Divorce is one of the things which is most responsible for the monumental destruction of American society as we have always known it. Worse yet, it is very often a precursor to the other destructive factors. A divorced, therefore single, mother or father of a family is very like a football player with a well-made artificial leg; he looks great, but he is so handicapped that he will never play great. It takes two legs to play good football, and it takes two parents to play good family. Does this mean that single parents can never succeed? No, it just means that the job will be difficult beyond comprehension and that our modern societal structure will make it even harder.

Widows and widowers have, in past centuries, usually had an intact family structure as a support system. Many a family has opened home and hearth to a widowed daughter and orphaned grandchildren. Two sets of grandparents and numerous aunts and uncles and cousins have provided love, care, companionship and, especially, identity to orphaned children.

Divorce puts a new and destructive ingredient in this healthy mix. Each parent tends to become the target of great animosity from the family of the other parent. The children are dragged into this venomous mixture and are, too often, deprived of the family of the non-custodial parent.

This brings to mind a couple who have not, throughout the years of their marriage, particularly liked each other. You couldn't say that they hated each other, but there was very little liking there. Now that their children are all grown, the virtue of their staying together has manifested itself in no uncertain terms. The children, raised by two devoted and effective parents, are healthy, happy people. The grandchildren are healthy, happy young people having so obviously benefited from the solid structure of two sets of grandparents and cousins beyond number.

No, children do n0t want their parents to destroy their family. Yes, divorce does harm both children and parents.

No, divorce cannot always be avoided, especially with some TV psychologists promoting it, but should never be implemented until all else has failed, not a pretended failure, a real one.

Healthy, intact families are good and are worth fighting for. In fact, since playing good family is so important, let's work just as hard at it as a football player works at playing good ball.

Until next time,

Since I have had the fun of being stuck at our daughter and son-in-law's house, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to question him concerning kids and gangs. Here are some of the things I learned:

If a child is to resist joining a gang, he must have a nurturing mother IN THE HOME, who is emotionally available to him. He must know that she loves and respects him and is concerned for his needs. He must have a strong father IN THE HOME, who is more intimidating than the gang members. He must know that his father is strong enough, not only to keep him in line, but to protect him, and he must have a fear of incurring his father's displeasure. Not a very fashionable reality, to be sure, but then, truth and fashion rarely have more than a nodding acquaintance.

The fashionable father, who is supposed to be more feminine than masculine, is not strong enough to give boys a solid sense of security and the social and moral direction they require. They desperately need a strong male role model, but, too often, what they get is a sensitive, squishy-soft, Mr. Mom sort of guy.

Last evening, I listened to a young woman whose older sister horribly destroyed her life and, then, committed suicide. She explained that her sister's diaries describe how she always tried to push their father into a position where he would be forced to show strength, rather than, as she described it, always be the "good guy." He never did. We have known him for many years, and he is an unusually sweet man and an unusually unwise father, and his entire family has paid the price of his lack of willingness to be as tough as they needed him to be.

Even when a child has had the influence and training of two good parents, he needs something else - a sense of right and wrong, of good and bad. There must have been a sense of moral responsibility instilled in this child, to give him the strength to resist the tendency to go along with the crowd. It must, also, give him a capacity to feel guilt, which our son-in-law says is essential; without it, he will still be at risk.

Strong spiritual faith, contrary to the protestations of many in the social fields, is of great importance, for a child must have a sense that his parent's teachings of right and wrong are tied to something... something both real and eternal. Without that, instead of struggling to avoid destructive behavior, he only struggles to avoid detection.

One young man has told me that, because of his trying financial problems, he wouldn't hesitate to sell drugs, to get money, if he didn't know how wrong, how deeply immoral it is. He says he knows many law enforcement officers who sell drugs, and he sees no reason why it should be anymore illegal for him to do so, than it is for them. Nevertheless, his childhood teachings, of right and wrong, are such a powerful deterrent, that he resists the temptation to solve his money problems, by preying on other people.

he home training that keeps this young man from selling drugs, for a living, is the same training that keeps teens out of gangs, but, in the 90's, effective home training is something of an endangered species. Parents are abused on one side, for neglecting to train their children; on the other, they are threatened if their training doesn't fit the criteria of the modern social pattern, and that modern social pattern is, too often, an unmitigated disaster. It has given us gangs, perpetual welfare, unwed mother and fatherhood beyond our worst nightmares and a level of violence and criminality that is destroying the very society that spawned it.

I remember during my many years as a school girl, a number of my teachers taught me that my parents were old fashioned. I was taught that if the things my teacher said disagreed with my parent's teachings, my parents were wrong, because my teacher was better educated and knew more than my parents. Actually, none of the above was true, but, as a child, I had no way of knowing that. Neither did my parents know that their rightful position of mentor to their own offspring was being undermined by a few arrogant, unprincipled teachers, and, unfortunately, neither did I; I was just a child and didn't understand what was happening.

Often teachers quote Socrates' lament on the social conditions of his day (2400 years ago); in addition to bemoaning the lack of respect children showed their elders, he described most of the social conditions with which we are currently struggling. His lamentation is used as proof that, socially speaking, things have always been and always will be the same as they are now. Wrong! If history were well served, those who quote Socrates would mention that a few decades after his statement, Greece fell and has never amounted to a hill of beans, from that day to this. Their society simply rotted from within, and they lacked the strength to resist the predation of their neighbors. History is not kind to America's modern thinkers. Gangs are not a new phenomenon; they have been around for millennia, and they have always been caused by the same social conditions. Children need to be nurtured by loving mothers; strong fathers are a necessity, not a luxury. Children must learn the difference between right and wrong and be capable of feeling guilt. If we cannot provide those few things for our children, it really doesn't matter what we do provide, because an extinct society has no needs.

Until next time,

Have you noticed that humans marry someone very like their opposite sex parent? That is not a problem, unless that parent is a destructive person. One would assume a person would avoid marrying such a mate, since they have years of experience with that type, but it doesn’t work that way.

A family friend is an example of this phenomenon: He has (in essence) married his mother three times. It has turned out the same each time. She is verbally abusive and overly self-absorbed. His mother is exactly the same.

So, why has he married this type of woman each time, when surely he should have learned wisdom? There is a peculiar link that explains this type of behavior: Throughout childhood, the children of this type of mother suffer the consequences of her never-ending belittling verbiage, except when they are in the company of other people. Then, when she has an audience, she is kindness itself. Her manner becomes the diametric opposite of her normal behavior. She treats her husband, children and others with an overwhelming sweetness. It can only be described as "sticky-sweet."

Children who live in this environment begin to crave that sweetness with which she treats them in front of others. They develop an extreme hunger for it, almost an addiction response, because her usual manner is so abusive.

Then they grow up, determined not to marry a woman like their mother. Unfortunately, the craving they developed in their childhood works like a saboteur.

When they get that phony treatment from another woman, who is turning her charm on them, that old childhood craving kicks in and they react to her behavior like an addict does to a drug. There is a naive yearning inside them that tells them this woman will be loving, kind, supportive, etc., all the things they crave, and which their mother never was. Unfortunately, the reason this woman is behaving this way is because she is like their mother. She is putting on the same show their mother did, because they are now the "audience." They are, in fact, the object of the performance.

In today’s world a marriage between a woman, who is a masterful performer in public and an abusive tyrant in private, and a man, who is the well-trained victim of an equally abusive mother, probably won’t last. Then the children of such a union will be doubly damaged, first by their mother’s abuse and their father’s submission, then by the breakup of the marriage. The children of such families tend to go out into the world and recreate the disastrous messes from which they sprang.

Is there a cure for such heartbreak? Yes, but it is spelled "r-e-p-e-n-t-e-n-c-e" on the part of the mother and b-a-c-k-b-o-n-e on the part of the father. Fathers/husbands should never submit to this type of viciousness. They must be willing to call their wife on her nastiness, just as a wife should be willing to call her husband on the same. The lifetime welfare of the children, both girls and boys, is dependent on the victimized parent standing up to the abuser.

Is this going to be a piece of cake? No! It will most likely be the hardest thing the victim will ever do, but it is the only thing that can work. If the abused parent permits this to continue, not only will that marriage be a disaster, the children who come out of that home will repeat the travesty in which they have lived.

How does this awful behavior start? Simple. The mean-mouthed mate uses it as a control mechanism. Then it turns into control/contempt. Let’s face it. Anyone who lets himself be treated this way is going to earn a hefty helping of contempt, and the nasty lady he married is just the one to give it to him!

What a tragedy! This young man married the sticky-sweet girl of his dreams. His eyes were full of stars, and his heart full of devotion, and all he got for those virtues was a life full of nastiness. Any wise grandpa would tell his grandson, "Don’t do it! Stand up for yourself. Don’t let her treat you with disrespect." If he was especially wise, he would tell the young man, if he did not stand up for himself, he would condemn himself to a life of misery, and he would destroy the lives of all the children born into such a home.

Until next time,

With self esteem being the most aggressively touted attribute in modern society, why do we still have so many people who hate themselves? Remember when Madonna published a book filled with pornographic pictures, in which she was the star? A well known psychologist (whom I respect) looked at that book and said that it showed an extreme depth of self-hatred. What makes a famous performer with great talent hate herself, and why would she expose her troubled personality so blatantly?

Where does it start? Are the parents at fault? If so, why do three children in one family like and respect themselves, and one hate and abuse himself? It happens all the time, and everyone knows it. There is usually one child in a family whose character and behavior patterns are more constructive than the rest, and one whose patterns are more destructive. Why? No one knows all the answers to this tough question, but it helps to realize that each of these four children has a distinct personality and behavior patterns. They have their parents and home in common, but everything else is separate. Every attribute they bring to their parents and home is different than that brought by their siblings. Some bring overwhelmingly positive attributes and others overwhelmingly negative attributes, and the parents have to try to make sense out of this crazy quilt of personalities, character patterns, talents and weaknesses.

And guess what? The parents bring their own personalities, character patterns, talents and weaknesses to this wondrous collection. Depending on your own personality, it's enough to give you either a headache or a sense of wonder and awe. To quote the kids, it's awesome!

How did good American families of a century or two ago keep most of their kids flying right? And contrary to the vehement denials of modern thinkers, they did. For one thing, each family member knew what his job was and usually had to work very hard, in order for the family to have enough to eat. A youngster who rises before dawn and works hard all day, after which he spends a considerable amount of time cleaning and sharpening his tools for tomorrow, has little time or energy left for either making or getting into trouble. Daughters worked just as hard as sons, but primarily under Mother's tutelage. Dad was in charge, and he kept the kids in line. More to the point, it was his job to keep the kids in line, and if he didn't, he was a poor parent, and everyone knew it. The training an 1796 father received was exactly the opposite of the training a 1996 father receives.

Today's fathers and mothers aren't supposed to be too firmly in charge, because such parents are labeled controllers; that's supposed to be bad for the kid's emotional health. So, too many modern parents, confused about how much controlling is too much, don't control enough; they let their kids rule the roost. That's bad for both their kids' and society's health.

Another fact: Until the last few decades, families tended to remain intact; single parent families were almost always the result of death, rather than divorce. The children in such a family didn't have to contend with battles between divorced parents, as do so many of today's kids. Kids can't be expected to handle such conflict very well, especially if one or both parents tell them that the other parent is unfit, or even coach them to accuse the other parent of abuse.

Another extremely disturbing problem is modern parental abandonment of children to the school or the "village." Schools don't do a good job of rearing kids. They do some educating, depending on the skill, commitment and philosophy of the teachers and administration, and they do some indoctrinating, again, depending on the philosophy of the teachers and administration, but they don't make good parents of someone else's children. More to the point, they shouldn't have to be parents to other's children. As Abraham Lincoln said (slightly paraphrased), "It's a teacher's job to learn 'em," and while it is a teacher's job to "learn 'em," it is not a teacher's job to parent them.

Another peculiar thing in modern American culture is the deliberate baiting of kids to defy authority, especially parental authority. This is being done by our culture, in general, and segments of our entertainment industry, in particular. For about three decades, the words to teen's songs have encouraged rebellion and defiance, and the themes of teen's movies deify rebels and encourage violence. Partying, with drugs, booze and sex, is represented as the ultimate in enjoyable activities.

There is an over-riding theme to all of these self-destructive activities, which is that having fun should be at the top of everyone's list, because life is short, and when it's over, it's over. Work all week, if necessary, in order to collect the means to have fun all weekend; in a nutshell, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die, and if we die of an overdose, it doesn't matter, because everyone has to die of something. There are no consequences, and the only reason people don't indulge in these activities is because they are too old or too fearful, and, therefore, deserving of nothing but contempt.

To those parents who doubt: This is the message your youth receive, on a daily basis. Is it any wonder they foul up their lives with drugs and disease? We harp constantly on self esteem, while neglecting to tell our kids that self-esteem has a price. Though its secondary price is, indeed, accomplishment, its primary price is adherence to one's own code of honor, which is really nothing more than a bone-deep knowledge of right and wrong. Even if we hate that code and do everything we can to prove that we have rejected it, it can and will extract its pound of flesh in selfhatred, as it has with any number of celebrities across the globe.

Until next time,

I know a man who has indulged in just about every self-destructive act he could think of. He used to be the most miserably unhappy man around. After many years of this dumb-headed lifestyle, he married a good, patient woman who had high standards and lived up to those standards.

As a result of his marriage, he dramatically improved his behavior; unfortunately, though he was less unhappy, he still had a long way to go. After several years, she became pregnant, but he was still an unhappy man, as both a person and a husband. The baby was born, and the man seemed to improve a little more, but he still had a long upward climb, so far as his behavior was concerned. He seemed unable to escape his old friends and his and their old lifestyles, and he seemed, equally, unable to attain any significant degree of happiness.

He got a job with a good company, and, in a few months, they transferred him to another part of the country. An astonishing thing happened; in a new environment, with new friends, he began to clean up his behavior and become more the man his wife had always known he could be. As he made significant changes, he began to experience some degree of happiness. That small taste of joy not only gave him a vision of how things could be, but it gave him the hope and determination to strive for greater joy. The result has been nothing short of astonishing. He has begun to discover that fulfillment comes from within, whereas, in the past, he had always been convinced that if others would treat him more fairly, he would be happy. Now he has found that if he is to enjoy life, he must continue to develop his internal capacity for contentment. He must learn to appreciate the good people and things he has right under his nose, and he must cease to even consider the use of stimulating activities and substances as an option in his quest for happiness.

Many people depend on others for their internal sunshine, because they have a very limited capacity for happiness. Let's face it; a capacity for happiness is an internal strength and the lack of that capacity is a critical, internal weakness, and while a person who has lacked it, in the past, can develop an internal strength, it can never become external. By that, I mean that no other person can ever take over a job that is intrinsically yours. You are, and must always remain, responsible for your own happiness.

I have known people who have married many, many times. Such people can and do experience a feeling of exhilaration when a new "mate" comes on the scene, but the emotional excitement rarely lasts very long. Therefore, they are forever searching for someone else who will provide them with that which they must, in truth, provide for themselves.

The reason no one can push the responsibility for his/her own happiness onto someone else is because it doesn't work, no matter how much we want to convince ourselves that it will, if only we look long enough and try hard enough. In short, others do not have the power to make us happy. Unfortunately, many people are so determined to find someone else who will give them happiness that they refuse to do anything for themselves.

While it is true that infatuation can be pleasant, each of its components, whether excitement, entertainment, companionship or hormone-induced euphoria, is external and can cease just as easily and quickly as they begin. This is why we have these newfangled marriage ceremonies in which the partners vow to remain married for "as long as we both shall love." When infatuation wanes, the marriage is history, because infatuation has everything to do with emotional excitement, which is temporary, and nothing to do with real happiness, and happiness is what the participants were really seeking.

The euphoria created by infatuation is no more substantial than cotton candy, but real happiness is made of sterner stuff. It is made up of responsible behavior, such as treating others with kindness and consideration and living up to one's own standards of decency and goodness. Being just as concerned for another's welfare as for our own is an integral part of happiness, because selfishness and happiness cannot successfully co-exist. Very selfish people are not happy and happy people are not selfish. Such a simple formula is pretty easy to work out.

Abraham Lincoln once said that people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be. To his great advice, I should like to add that they are about as happy as they are willing to make other people. Making others happy is an easy skill to develop, but it is still totally dependent on others willingness to be happy, because, in the final analysis, no matter how many people are trying to make you happy, you will only be happy if you truly want to be. To those who are on the receiving end of someone else's efforts to bring them contentment, I would like to recommend a formula Jane Austen used in " Pride and Prejudice. She has her character not only willing but eager to be pleased; in fact, more than willing and eager, he is determined to be pleased. People who have a great capacity for happiness are, invariably, willing and eager to be pleased. They are, in fact, determined to be pleased.

Come to think of it, what do you get when you cross someone who is willing and eager, in fact, determined to be pleased, with another someone who is willing and eager, even determined to please? Yup! You guessed it, two people who have discovered the elusive secret to happiness.

Until next time,

A puzzling dilemma has been placed before me, and I am struggling to analyze it logically: On what do humans base their belief about God, whether that belief is that God exists or does not exist? Many individuals are happy to deny the existence of a God, because their lifestyles are such that they fervently hope there is, indeed, no God who can and will hold them accountable, eventually. This is simple self interest and I see no reason to address it... so long as I am not forced to suffer from the activities of those who make this choice. Ah! But therein lies the rub, as we shall see:

Many make the decision that there is no God based on the pain humans suffer from sickness, natural disasters, wars, etc. I heard one man say,
"I believed in God until I went to fight in Vietnam, but I could never worship a God who would permit such suffering as I both observed and experienced in that country."
I was left wondering whether he meant he had decided God didn't exist, or whether he was so enraged by the pain of his observations and personal experiences, that he refused to worship, as his God, any Supreme Being who would allow such suffering.

It is logical to some that if a compassionate God actually does exist, it is to be expected that He would automatically step in to alleviate the suffering of a starving child who has been deserted by one or both of his parents; and since He doesn't, at least not in the manner they expect, He must not exist. We experience outrage when we see orphanages in war-torn countries bulging with children, many of whom are outcasts, because they are national halfbreeds, fathered by soldiers from another nation.

Some reason that a compassionate God would never tolerate such "man's inhumanity to man," and if He doesn't care enough about the people on this earth to stop such outrages, they see no reason why they should worship Him. I am not sure such people deny the existence of God, as much as they are so angry with Him that they reject Him, personally.

Being forced to watch the suffering of innocent people causes distress to all decent humans, and well it should. Seeing a starving child causes observers terrible pain, and again, well it should. We hate the discomfort we experience when we see such things; and that is right and good. That discomfort makes us take action, whenever and wherever possible, which is what it is supposed to do.

But what about our own actions that harm others but don't make us at all uncomfortable, because they are fun? Do we want Him to stop those too? Where do we want Him to draw the line? Should He step in and stop people from having sex, if He knows that a child will be born, and then deserted, as a result of it? And how should He go about stopping such activities? Or do we want Him to stop others from having sex under those circumstances, but not us? After all, most of us really don't want Him to interfere with our own fun.

Is that really what we demand of a God? To keep us comfortable? Are we so naive as to suppose that we can create the parameters within which God must act? And when He refuses to fall in with our infantile plans, making us angry with Him, do we actually suppose that we have the power to make Him cease to exist, just by declaring that we don't believe in Him?

It seems to me that we want a God who will allow us to have as much irresponsible fun as we want, who will allow us to indulge in behavior that creates situations destined to cause others pain, but we want to be able to insist that He stop that pain before it makes us feel bad. That doesn't make a lick of sense.

In the South they have some hilarious, though pungent expressions, one of which is, "You don't have the sense God gave lettuce!" I think that is probably most apropos under these circumstances, because when this curious thinking is extrapolated to apply to the whole of humanity, it makes for a fascinating, though absolutely ridiculous, concept. It would permit despots to behave as viciously, as abominably as they might choose, but, magically, their subjects would be relieved of the suffering that would otherwise be a natural result of such behavior. It would mean that Idi Amin still would have been permitted to slaughter as many people as he chose (And he did choose!), but his victims would have suffered no harm.

That's a whole new concept!

Let's apply it to Bloody Mary, King Henry the Eighth's eldest daughter. She hanged anyone she considered a heretic. Actually, she hanged just about anyone she could get her hands on, and she got her hands on an astonishing number of people. She not only had them hanged; they were hanged in chains, and their bodies left to rot, as a warning to others who might have it in their minds to cross her.

I don't think we can classify her actions as irresponsible fun, because by all accounts, Mary wasn't much on having fun. But if we apply the concept of God's not interfering with the activities of No.1 (Mary), then dutifully stepping in to nullify the effects of those activities on No. 2 (her suffering subjects), we create a dilemma. How could Mary be permitted to hang her not too loyal subjects all over the place, which gave her some sort of perverse satisfaction, if God were to step in and save those subjects from being hanged. How could He arrange to permit Mary to experience the satisfaction she wanted to experience and still keep her subjects from suffering pain?

Those of us who think this is how it should be, don't want a God; we want a fairy with a magic wand. If we really do have the sense God gave lettuce, we must realize that He is not ours to command. We have no control over whether He does or does not exist, as we will one day discover, whether to our joy or our chagrin. Each of us may decide what he does or does not believe, but surely we must see that our personal beliefs have no power to affect reality.

Until next time,

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

In olden days, a respected man was loved by his friends and feared by his enemies. If he were insufficiently love or feared, he was less than he should be. He had failed in his quest to become a truly honorable man. Modern people are much inclined to take issue with the fear inspired by a man of honor in ancient days, but we must remember that the code required it.

An analysis of this code will bring us to an understanding that if a man were feared by his enemies, those enemies had good reason for their fear. It proved that he had the power to destroy, and power was the bottom line. A man of power was great; a man who lacked power was less than the dust of the earth.

Within societies where the code was different, the behavior was also different. If the code taught compassion and a love of peace, the people learned to be peace-loving and compassionate. Where the code taught gross immorality, the people were grossly immoral. Where the Ten Commandments was the code of the people, the standards of behavior were completely different than they were for their contemporaries. In Assyria, it was totally acceptable to attack the neighboring nations, including that nation we know as Israel, and dismember, skin and otherwise torture the citizens to death. The reading of their history gives the average American the creeps. We don't even like to hear about such things, much less contemplate the manner of death visited on their unfortunate victims.

It all came down to the code by which the people. Lacking a code that decried brutality, the people were brutal, as ancient history teaches us. Lacking a code that required honesty, rampant dishonesty became the norm, as English history teaches us. Lacking a code that teaches the people that it is wrong to indulge in destructive lifestyles, the people will destroy themselves, both individually and collectively, as modern America is doing.

When our modern social engineers changed the code, they forgot that the people would revert to savagery unless the new code they adopted to replace the old code, decried savagery. It didn't, and vast numbers of our people have, indeed, reverted to savagery. Their savagery is not a result of society's victimization. It is a result of their being told that the old code no longer applies to them, BECAUSE they are victims. It is a result of their being deprived of the fruits of the old code. Those fruits are homes with strong fathers, who have authority and who feed and clothe their own loved ones. Those fruits are mothers, who are available to their children. Mothers who teach and guide, rather than holding down three jobs in a struggle for survival.

The code, by which an honorable nation lives, sheds its light to all of the nation's citizens. When that code is changed, the light is blown out. When the light is blown out, the people cannot see. When the people cannot see, they lose their way. When the people lose their way, chaos rules. When chaos becomes the order of the day, it is only a matter of time before a dictator arises, promising and capable of delivering, order and safety. This safety is, inevitably, secured by sacrificing the liberty of the people.

We have reverted to a code in which power is everything, and he who has no power is less than the dust of the earth. Is that really what we had in mind?

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Some people harbor, within themselves, a crippling sadness, because they are convinced that their mother or father did not love them. They may be correct, at least to some extent. There are many degrees of love, and the love of parent for child should to be of the highest caliber; sometimes it isn't. Some have even known, or at least thought, that their parent loved a sibling more than they.

These are realities, unpleasant, but, nonetheless, realities. Let us assume that you suffer from the conviction, or worse, the knowledge that you were loved less than you should have been. It accomplishes little to hide from it, so if it's real, let's face it and accept it for what it is, a reality.

Such an acceptance is almost always accompanied by pain and rage. So be it. Now what are you going to do? Where do you go from here? Are you going to wear that pain and rage around your neck for the rest of your life? If you choose to do so, you will find it a heavy necklace, indeed, and it will become heavier with each passing year.

There will, hopefully, come a time when you will outgrow your pain and rage, but you will never finish outgrowing it unless you begin to do so, because beginning always comes first, and finishing always comes last.

Elementary to be sure, but most human beings want to reach the end of a painful process without ever having had to begin it.

Don't beat yourself over the head with your unhappy feelings toward your parent. Back off and give yourself and everyone else a break. Let time work its healing miracle, while you grow in wisdom and compassion.

Sooner or later, you will arrive at a point of forgiving your parent, but that step will probably not come until after you have become a responsible adult and a parent in your own right. It is probable that, for now, you will simply go on with your life, flinching from time to time with the pain, and it will be that way until you begin the process of forgiveness.

Your relationship with your parent is probably made up of love and anger. This is normal, but you are responsible for the percentages of love and anger, because, like it or not, you own them. By this, I mean that if your feelings are half love and half anger, you are in charge of working with those percentages until, at some future date, the love becomes 75% and the anger 25%. If you really want it, the time will come when the love is 100% and the anger 0%. Do you think it will never happen? You are wrong; it will happen, and the sooner you begin to work on it, the sooner you will crawl out from under your incredibly heavy load.

It is painful for those of us who have completed the process to see others still enmeshed in and crippled by pain and anger, but those emotions will go away, as soon as you want them to badly enough to turn them loose. I promise you that, when you do so, you will come out free of pain. It is worth striving for.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.